The Quest
Roleplaying Log: The Quest
IC Details

Emma Frost is set upon by the Guardians of the Galaxy, who need her help for an important quest.

Other Characters Referenced: Tony Stark
IC Date: December 22, 2018
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 23 Dec 2018 22:40
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Battlemaster Gorax, Scott Adsit
Associated Plots

It's that perfect end to a perfect day, before the sun dips behind the buildings entirely and casts all of New York in the kind of shadow the rest of the world has to wait a little longer for. With not a cloud in the sky, it was quite beautiful out, the air unseasonably warm for this time of year but still a little chilly, But aside from the weather that graces 5th Avenue, the first thing Emma might notice as she steps out of the Hellfire Club's side entrance is that someone almost stumbles into her. Not that it's his fault, really. He wasn’t looking at where he was going.

He was looking at the massive, shaggy grey and brown goat standing just a few feet away, towards the edge of the sidewalk, and the oddly dressed red head sitting atop it. Using Toothbender as a kind of bench, Atli swings her feet - bare feet, and more than a bit dirty from the looks of it - back and forth. Beaming a smile of child-like wonder to her companions, she pats Toothbender's side, the goat quite busy at eating from a great big pail of melting ice cream she had set out for him as a treat. Of course, Atli's smile does hide a certain concentration.

Her brow furrows, and she turns one of the objects in her hand upside down, only to find that it does not matter. A finger presses to her bottom lip, tapping there as Groot's question hangs in the air. Quite confidently she lifts her gaze to look at them both, and proclaims with great confidence.

"Verily, Go Fish."

Of course when Emma makes her appearance, Atli's cards drop from her hands, to show that she did indeed have Groot's card. As well as the last one Rocket asked for. Also a punch card for Chipotle with three punches in it. It could be that Atli has no idea how to play Go Fish. Stepping from her goat, Atli leverages the diplomatic skill all Asgardians are known for.

"Ah, Rocket, Groot! There she is! Lady Frost, please might we bask in your most frigid presence for but a moment! It is a matter of great importance, and we have ice cream! " Atli nods vigorously and asides both hands to the goat, who has almost finished licking the ice cream pail clean.

It was supposed to be a brief trip from Point A to Point B.

Point A: Club.

Point B: Car.

Club to Car. No cameras, no spectators. Just one woman in her platform stiletto boots of white leather and fur-collared cape, appearing through the side door of an organization that specializes in privacy and disappearing into a nondescript sedan to go about her shadowy business.

But then said woman hears her name, and her head with its salon-fresh blonde curls turns with its cold, narrowed eyes on full display.

Harmless, she’d been told in a warning call from one Agent Phil Coulson. They’re mostly harmless. The public strutting of her name in such close proximity to the Hellfire Club, even if no one likely knows enough to care on the busy streets of Manhattan so close to sundown, is not something that Emma Frost would necessarily call harmless. But she doesn’t make an attempt to destroy the one who calls her, so that’s something they have going for them.

She doesn’t speak to confirm or deny; she doesn’t need to. If they were at Phil Coulson’s show of a funeral, or in the car after, they would recognize her.

Her expression darkens further for it in the speechless void, and her brow knits a beat later.

As it turns out, Rocket doesn't know how to play Go Fish either. For the past five minutes he's been more set on if the cards he's got in his hand are suitable enough for a straight flush.

When Atli produces her own hand the raccoonoid promptly tosses his cards away with a grumble. Should have known better than to expect a sensible game of anything in present company. At least it looks like they're through with playing the waiting game.

He doesn't bother to get up right away as Atli calls attention to the woman they've been looking out for. Recognition however crosses his face as fuzzy brows lift upon catching sight of 'Lady Frost.' He looks her up and down. Lady's got style, he won't argue that.

"Oh, it's you," Rocket says as he gets to his feet, dusting off his pants and straightening his sweatjacket.


For all he knows, it sure isn’t anything like Uno.

Not like he really knew the rules to Uno, but…whatever.

Groot just thought this was all dumb, waiting around for an ice cream lady to show up. Was it ice cream? He didn’t remember. Well, whoever she was, he thought she was taking her time.

He scowls into his popped jacket collar when Atli tells him to Go Fish, picking through the card pile with a grunt. Of course, the second the Asgardian tosses the cards aside, he spots the card he wanted, jabbing a gnarled finger accusingly at it. “I am Groot!” he raises his adolescent voice, glaring at Atli’s back since she’s too busy with Emma Frost’s arrival.

Emma Frost? He glances over at the woman, brow furrowing in a similar strain of judgement. Slowly, yet surely, he recognizes her.

When comparing expressions, Atli holds the equal and opposite of the wonderous Lady Frost, the beaming smile of someone without a care in the world. Well, maybe one care, and she gets to that in just a moment. Of course, the silence does dampen her enthusiasm just a bit, and she looks back to Rocket and Groot momentarily, just to make sure Rocket isn't pointing a net gun at Emma, or Groot making some sort of adolescent obscene gesture. Of course she sees him pointing then, and her eyes narrow on Groot a moment, and then she's all smiles back to Lady Frost again. Must not fight in front of the Queen of Frost, she tells herself.

"It all began with Ugli, son of Fugli. Ugli is a troll, or was, until my grandfather and I slaughtered him for being a fool and attempting to do harm to the innocent. Well, it appears Ugli had been busy over the years and had more than a few children, including a great big bulbous troll named Smugli. And, as trolls are want to do, Smugli sought me out for some sort of vengeance or whatnot."

Atli makes a vague sweeping gesture with her hand, as if the reason Smugli was after her is not so important. Then she looks up and off to the side, squinting a little. "Though he did mention some prophecy he needed to stop. Probably not important. In any case, during the battle he had disarmed me, so once I had hold of him, I spun him about and delivered a great, swift kick, intending to catch him between the legs, where all men keep their most precious of possessions. I was.. a bit off target, and so… well. I lost my boot. Deeply. It was about then I was so incensed at this fool stealing my boot with his hind-parts that I hit him with a lightning blast that utterly incinerated his Smugli ugly face, and everything else. Except for the scroll he was going on and on about. Somehow lightning proof, which is odd."

Atli chin-rubs here, and then shrugs. "So you see, my companions and I are on a quest. Or will be, and only you can assist us. As someone well versed in the ways of adornment and style, a veritable empress of making good look good, I call upon your expertise in finding new footwear to accompany my otherwise heroic outfit. It was suggested that I might find what I need at some sort of 'Foot Locker', but then I thought to myself, would Lady Frost wear something from a Foot Locker?" Atli gives a skeptical squint through her smile, making it clear she doesn't believe Emma would be caught dead in such a place. Perhaps her most perceptive moment in her entire life, really. "Verily, I think not."

Finally, the Asgardian steps forward, her eyes filled with all the eager, earnest enthusiasm of one of the world's greatest heroes, of which she very much thinks she is. "What say thee, Lady Frost?"

And why is Phil Coulson missing from this motley crew?

He was, after all, at the buffet restaurant where this most noble of quests set forth. Or…whatever. He even got them to the ice cream shop. And that, my friends, is where it all went awry.

Some of his cards are frozen (no pun intended) because some of his accounts thought he was dead. He hadn't quite realized it yet when he handed one over to pay for the…well. Industrial-sized cartons of ice cream he ended up buying for the three of them. He went through another, and another, before he found one that worked. Ahh, American Express, mostly irritated about the 6-months late payment, which he promptly made from his still-working bank account. His debit card seems to have disappeared though. Getting documented like a real person again is a whole headachy process.

TL;DR - He looked like a guy who can't manage his finances worth beans as he frantically tried to pay for ice cream, and by the time this comedy of errors was complete, Atli, the Wundergoat, Rocket, and Groot had somehow moved on without him.

Of course, he'd sent his warning text to Emma in the car on the way to the ice cream place. The one that declared the incoming adventurers harmless. Mostly harmless.

The car, at least, is there, but cars are not nearly the noble sort of steed goats are. Especially not in New York City. It's not Lola, for one thing, because Lola is still locked up somewhere at the Trisket, and as of this day he has not yet been back to the Trisket. That's tomorrow.

TL;DR, again: Phil Coulson is sitting in the middle of a New York traffic jam, thrumming his fingers on the wheel and scowling as he tries to decide how big the steaming crater he expects will result from this encounter is going to be.

Emma, to her credit, does not immediately resort to violence. Despite being intercepted on the way out of a private entrance. Despite being delayed in getting to whatever meeting she was headed to. Despite being kept out in the chill a little longer for… for shoe advice.

She even manages to keep the irritated twitch under her one eye suppressed to the point that the others probably won’t notice it.
“No,” she offers flatly, if slowly. “You would be correct in that assumption.” As if the thousand dollar boots that she wears weren’t clue enough.

“But,” she continues, her voice off a subtly warning dryness, “I suppose not everyone has the same criteria for footwear.”

Rocket hasn't even bothered with drawing any weapons. He is also quite obviously without his rifle since it doesn't fit well under his jacket like his pistols do, and even those make it a snug fit. His hands are stuffed into pockets because it's cold and he doesn't like gloves that look like baking mitts.

As Atli spins her tale of lost boots, he yawns without covering his mouth, unafraid to show all his little sharp teeth for which people greatly seem oblivious to whenever the urge to pet him for his fuzziness strikes. By now it seems he's used to the Asgardian's strange capers enough that he hardly bats an eye at the odd misadventure and the roundabout way in which has brought her to seek out Emma Frost's assistance in finding new footwear. If they ended up having to steal a few tubs of margarine to do it in the process, that's still within his range of plausible circumstances. Butter and its sort may be an odd inclusion, but it by now has become a default. Tooo many times.

Lifting his head to glance between Atli and then Groot, his dark eyes settle upon Emma again as she speaks, slowly, deliberately. Her comment has him looking down at his own feet and the boots he wears. Well, they're not exactly antigrav space-tested shoes, but they're fine for keeping his feet cold, if still obscenely chunky. Then again no Terran shoefitter seems to have any sizes that would fit his almost dainty feet.

Although if anyone called his feet dainty he'd shoot 'em.


An extended middle finger could have been exaggerated in Atli's general direction, yes. Groot is sorely tempted and tried as the same hand that points hovers between flexing the so-called index and middle bark-covered digits like a flimsy tree branch swaying in a gusty breeze. He meets the Asgardian's momentary gaze with a hard stare of his own, brown and dark and full of things he can easily rant because of the advantage the language barrier gets him.

But…he doesn't.

He can do it, but he'll have both Rocket and Atli on his case about it. Thankfully Coulson isn't with them or else it would be three against one and he's had a lot of that going on of late. Adults, man.

Those stick-fingers contemplatively flex and reflex, even after Atli goes back to speaking with the expensive-looking Emma Frost, his whole hand finally dropping back down to his side once the story stretches on. He does make a big show of rolling his eyes, however, muttering under a breath as he shoves his other hand into a pocket to pull out his trusty gaming device.

Since he normally doesn't wear clothes, shoes aren't important to him. Except his stumpy tree feet can actually take New York's streets. There's a huge difference in the response and reaction between non-human feet and very human feet coming into contact with filth on the ground.

As Emma carefully navigates these Guardian infested waters, Atli looks on with the kind of hope only a child could have, even as some ancient animus in the form of Groot stares into her back. Thankfully, Atli never considered her companion's footwear (or lack thereof) in her own declarations of needing a higher quality of boot, or she might feel at least a little absurd. But no, no risk of that any time in this millenia. This all makes perfect sense to her. There is a slow squint at she tries to pick apart Emma's response, biting her lip as she dares to hope, and as Emma does not tell her she will not help, Atli assumes that not immediately saying 'no' to this adventure is a lot closer to yes than it really is.

"Ha! Splendid! In return for your aid on this quest, I would gladly compensate you for your time. But first, let me introduce you to the rest of our party." Stepping aside slightly, Alti motions to Rocket and Groot, her longest friends on this world, and her closest companions. "It seems you already know my good friend Fair Rocket, the most beautiful creature on all of Midgard. Look at how his fur catches the wind, and how his teeth glimmer as a threat against all those who might harm his friends, or dare possess mechanical limbs. Rocket is, perhaps, the most deadly warrior I know. If you require a weapon or explosive, I have found his means and advice most helpful." Atli beams at Rocket, then Emma, before looking to Groot.

"And this is Wise Groot. Even though he is smaller now than he was before, if not quite as small as he was just a few months ago, his wisdom does nothing but grow. For instance, he uses words now that he certainly did not use when I first knew him, and though my understanding of Groot is less than exemplary, he still manages to make his intentions known with his wondrously wooden expressions and creative hand gestures. He is perhaps the second most deadly warrior I know, and is quite versed in the ways of both Midgard's handheld beeping devices," Atli gestures to Groot's handheld video game. "..and its pizza. If mozzarella had its own Valhalla, it would be filled to the brim with the scream of Groot's many victims." Atli puts her fists on her hips, almost with pride, and then looks to the goat.

"And then there is Toothbender, who is a master tactician in his own right. Now, don't let his strange eyes and horns fool you, he is capable of both poise and subtlety that his monstrous, goatly appearance might otherwise hide." At about this time, Toothbender begins EATING THE PLASTIC PAIL THAT CONTAINED THE ICE CREAM, which of course forces Atli's smile into something a little flatter. "Yes, right. I suppose we should plan our journey." It is here that Atli reaches into her various pouches, and finally produces a scroll. "Won't be needing this for anything el-" And then she does drop the scroll, quite by accident, the scroll she took from Smugli.

The Scroll that contains the Prophecy Smugli was going on about.

There is a subtle light illuminating from it as it rolls open on the ground, and there before them all is a most curious sight, etched in an ancient style: Rocket, Groot, Coulson, Kitty, Atli and Star-Lord. Sure, they're all crudely drawn, but it's hard to miss the Guardians in any form.

And they're all looking up at a blond woman, dressed in flowing white, a crown on her head, while she sits on a throne of sculpted ice. At her feet, a glowing chest of some sort, the same kind of glow that's coming off of the scroll. Atli simply stares for a moment, mouth wide. Eyes shift to Rocket. Then Groot. And then slowly she looks to Emma, her entire face a bastion of eager excitement.

Emma’s expression is a subtle sort, although it’s hard to imagine that there is anything less than a tried patience hiding behind her gaze. The driver has since gotten out of the sedan, concerned that his passenger has been waylaid when they have places to go. She stays his progress towards them with but a single, opera glove-clad hand emerging from the warm confines of her cloak and bidding him stop.

It’s too cold for this, but she affords them a valuable piece of her time.

She exhales, slowly, sending tendrils of misty breath into the air from her nostrils like an angry dragon and draws her hand back in.

At talk of explosives, one flaxen eyebrow flicks upwards and her eyes narrow by the slimmest margin. But still, she listens.

And then the scroll happens. That’s definitely a thing.

…Everyone’s revering her, at least. That’s a start. Truth be told, that’s probably why Emma doesn’t turn into an actual dragon in some ways. That and the remembrance that Phil Coulson is her vindicator in this instance, and that someone’s head will roll for this.

Her smile is small when it finally appears. “I am afraid that my time is not for sale,” she says with a strained politeness to the trio. “And if it was, you could not afford it.”

Rocket looks on at the scroll as it falls open at their feet, taking no more than a glance at the image revealed in its unfurling. He sighs, bringing a hand up to run over his face.

"Here we go…" he mutters.

The image of the raccoonoid in print and the one standing there in the snow stand in sharp contrast. Slowly raising his gaze to eye the blond-haired woman in more of a dubious manner than the one afforded her on Atli's discarded glowing scroll, the small Guardian then grimaces at the response Emma gives them.

It's not out of disappointment for her words. Actually he looks somewhat sympathetic. Intimidating as the White Queen may be, he nevertheless seems to pity her for thinking that she can so easily dismiss an Asgardian on a Mission.

Quest, rather.

Groot, on the other hand…fails to care. There may have been another eye-roll moment in there somewhere during introductions, but still. Nothing.

The miniature game console in his hands already consumes most of his attention span, and it continues to do so the moment Atli finally produces the scroll relaying a prophecy foretold. He doesn't even look up to take a gander and question the coincidence in having the Guardians looking up at the Ice Queen upon her throne. Not once.

It's just up, down, down, left, right, up for him.

This also means he misses Atli's barely-contained excitement, Emma's cool reply, and Rocket's noticeable grimace. But that isn't anything to cry over. He has levels to pass. Scores to break.


At last. A goddamn parking space.

The Phil Coulson who leaps out of the car at a run, barely bothering to snatch his keys, both resembles and does not resemble himself, really. The run shows a vigour, spurred by panic, he has not really had in him since his awakening. Nobody is more intimately familiar with his sorry state in those early days than Emma herself. The very lovely ice queen reason he is not barking mad.




As an example.

You know. Just off the top of the old balding head.

On the other, he still hasn’t returned to his suits. Slacks and a t-shirt and a brown leather jacket. It’s not quite the woodsman’s gear he bummed around in at the safehouse, and it’s not quite as professional. It’s as if death was some last straw that had him in some sort of hate affair with formal clothing. Maybe it’s because that was what he was buried in. Maybe it’s just because he’s got far fewer fucks to give these days.

He skids to a stop. He’s opening his mouth to apologize.

Oh look. A glowing scroll.

Phil stares at it as he makes out the figures on it. He raises his harried hazel gaze to one Emma Frost. Turns a slow look on the others.

And then points an almost accusatory finger down the scroll as he fixes his gaze on Atli. As he asks a highly salient question, one that says he has just shifted 100% into work mode, all shoe wackiness utterly forgotten. “Atli Wodendotter. What is this?”

Because of all the things he expected to run up on (and really, his mind conjured up a long list that may or may not have involved Emma peeling all of their hides off in strips), an apparent scroll of prophecy/084/child’s drawing was not one of them.

He’s not even on duty yet.

As Emma explains the situation as only Emma can, Atli scoffs through a smile and reaches for her belt. "Don't be so ridiculous. I have Asgardian gold! You see, each and every one of these coins is worth something like, a bazillion human dollars." And as she holds out the bag, which looks a lot bigger now that she's drawn it from beneath her cloak, she does open it before Emma to let golden light shine and flicker against Lady Frost's skin.

Rocket shows his customary enthusiasm for one of Atli's very important, always successful quests, and Atli does not yet notice the look the raccoonoid is giving Emma. But if she did, she would likely just think it was Rocket fawning over Emma's expensive taste in everything. Never let it be said that the Guardians do not have high class tastes, even if they can't always afford them. Except, apparently, they can?

"I think, also, a few precious gemstones might be swimming around in the bottom he-"

'Atli Wodendottir. What is this?'

It's really a good thing Atli grew up without proper parents, other than her fool of her Grandfather, otherwise she would understand she should be far more alarmed when someone uses her full name like that. Turning suddenly to regard Phil, Atli's eyes light up. "Son of Coul! Did the gatekeeper of Baskin Robbins finally give you leave to join us? OH, that. Well, that is a prophecy of some sort. You see, it all began with a troll named Smugli-"


Atli's brow furrows, and she thinks to start her story over again, despite the rumble in the distance, hands gesticulating wildly, her bag of gold wavering in one fist.


Somewhere in the distance, a car is kicked aside. But that is neither here nor there. What is here, and not there, is a great big spear that sails in -

And right through Atli's bag of gold. Coins tumble to the sidewalk and bounce every which way. Passers by look onward, torn between the sudden deluge of precious metal and gems and the rumbling roar of something down the street. Something big. Something….


BATTLEMASTER GORAX, WARLORD OF THE CLAN JAU-SUM roars. People begin to run, and Atli squints as as the ten foot tall shark man and two large trolls continue their casual rampage down the street. "ATLI, DAUGHTER OF WHO CARES, GRANDAUGHTER OF FOOL PERSONIFIED…"

A great axe haft smacks into his palm, and the shark man and the two bearded, ugly trolls with spears at his side begin running at the group. "YOU OWE ME A POOL!!!"

Atli's brows lift, and she does vaguely remember speaking to Gorax about a pool while trying to free Stark Tower from the clutches of demonic forces. That seems so long ago now, almost as if it had happened a universe away. In fact, it had only been a few weeks, but Asgardians have no real sense of time at all. "Hmm, THAT DOESN'T SOUND RIGHT!" she calls back, through cupped hands. When another spear lands just next to Emma's car, Atli jumps a little, and then scowls as she draws her sword, which quickly becomes a spear of her own. "No time to explain now, Son of Coul. Verily, there is an angry fish headed our way."

To say that the White Queen fails to be impressed by the Asgardian gold is a bit of an understatement. She looks at it, and then returns her flattened, poisonous expression to Atli.

The look that Emma offers to Son of Coul is one that without word or projected thought perhaps sufficiently conveys, Get them out of my sight before I eviscerate them. But he’s already handling the situation, even without his power suit, so it seems for a brief moment that she might be mollified.

Except that then Gorax appears. With friends.

The configuration of porcelain smooth features becomes an outright murderous one as Emma turns her gaze in their direction.

That’s probably when the crowd on the sidewalks start fleeing. When the screaming starts. When Emma feels the niggle of a headache to come as the population erupts into a panic. And as her driver draws a side arm and begins firing at the troll who threw the spear.

Frost, meanwhile, has very little patience for the whole thing. And without consulting anyone else, she sends her thoughts racing ahead of her to Gorax with every intention of making him acutely aware of all the places to find his nerve endings were he of the mind to be so. Because she has other things to do than deal with a ten foot tall shark man who is not intelligent enough to find his own water.

Really. Of all the things you’d expect a shark species to do…. That would probably be rather high on the list.

"Oh hey Phil, nice'a you to join us."

Honestly the death look that Emma's shooting them right now is per the norm, although it helps that it's mostly directed at Atli.

Rocket blinks at the first 'BOOM.' He has to check himself to make sure it wasn't him who'd accidentally set something off. At the second one he's turning, ears perked in the direction of the loud noise. Now that sounds like something more interesting than this wild boot hunt!
The sudden, swift movement that hurtles towards them nearly has him giving himself a whiplash as he turns his head in an attempt to track it. Now that's a big spear. …ooh, free for all!

The raccoonoid gives Groot a nudge and points him at the spear. "Merry Christmas," he says before moving to pick up the fallen treasure that had been spilled from Atli's ruined coinpurse, even as other bystanders have directed their attention to the towering sharkbeast who bellows angrily at the Asgardian. Sighing a bit, Rocket resumes pocketing things, not even casting a glance in the shark's direction- not yet. He's pretty sure the guy's not done talking yet anyway.

When he's satisfied that he's gotten whatever was within range and his pockets are as full as one can expect from a child-size 6-8 coat, it's then that Rocket shifts around to squint at the huge beings down the street as they make their approach. He rolls his eyes, slipping his hands beneath his coat to brandish not one but two obviously otherworldly pistols of some sort. Giving each a jerk to cock and lock them into kill-everything-ready mode, he steps around Atli and Coulson, away from Emma to take aim.

"So that's permission to shoot these guys, right? …pfah! Why'm I even asking!" Letting out a cackle (ah, stress relief!), Rocket opens fire without further preamble.



Nothing. Not even the arrival of Coulson gets Groot to look up from the challenge of a level on his gaming device.


The second one, however, shakes him bodily. And it's very easy to shake a skinny tree. An annoyed sound comes out of the young ent as he finally turns to see everything erupting into panicked life around him.

Everything except for his group of friends and the Lady Frost, that is. For them, it's like a Tuesday.

He gets nudged and his line of sight changes drastically to look down at the raccoonoid. "I am Groot?" He then glances over at the large spear that tore through Atli's coin pouch moments earlier, staring at it dumbly before scowling. "…I am Groot!"

For someone who acts like an unsatisfied teenager, Groot still goes through the proper theatrics for emphasis, promptly stuffing the device back into a pocket so that his hands are free to dislodge his newly-acquired spear from the nice shark man.

Which is where he looks next. Battlemaster Gorax gets a moody teenage glare. Things were fine until this had to happen. "I AM GROOT!" he yells with a voice that threatens to crack at an inopportune moment, wielding the spear awkwardly but with gusto for instant fighting.

'Verily, there is a very angry fish headed our way.'

"Somehow I feel like that statement about sums up my entire existence," Coulson mutters, exasperation spilling over as he draws his weapon. It is the little pistol Rocket gave him, not the standard issue SHIELD weapon.

He takes a few steps back as he levels it at the creature, making sure he's got a clear line of fire. Then he squeezes the trigger, getting in on the business of simply working to take the giant down. To think this all started with shoes.


"Verily, Go Fish."


If Atli noticed the poisonous look, or replied with anything to Emma other than a gleaming smile, well, no one would know or notice. She is oblivious to her ire, just "Hmm, it isn't like Gorax to join with trolls. I wonder what he's on about. After all, I did give what was left of his clan the blasted wasteland of Mars to live on. I can't imagine why he is so irate. Oh, also, Son of Coul, this is very important. There could be as many as a dozen Man-Sharks living on the world of Mars now. I understand as part of your job you may wish to keep track of these things." Atli beams at Coulson. She's helping!

As Rocket and Groot prepare for war, the Goddess of Thunder draws her sword and spins it about, turning it into a spear. And then Rocket unleashes hell, one troll taking the brunt until Rocket shoots him right through the eyeball and pops his ugly green head like a grape, which splatters all over some poor passerby. There is a shriek, and the troll falls over. "That was my brother, Skugli!! How dare!!" The other troll yells this just before a Rocket-blast hits him in the knee, he stumbles… and begins rolling right towards Groot.

A few blasts catch Gorax on the nose, but the old leader of CLAN JAU-SUM takes it in stride. "OW! STAHP OW!" He waves a big hand in front of his face, and raises his arm back with axe in tow, preparing to leaps for a strike at them all. It is about then that Phil Coulson hits him mid-air, spinning him backwards to land on his frontparts. "GUH!! FOOLISH RATLINGS, I WILL COLLECT THE BOUNTY ON YOU ALL AND RESTORE MY CLAN'S HONOR THIS DAY, SO I SWEA-erk!!"

It's about then that the slow brain function of the shark-man catches up with him, pure ire and rage having kept the tingling from making much sense, nor the needling pain in his skin from bothering him too much. But just as he thinks to get up, he shudders, his wide, fetid maw hanging open in a low shark-wail of utter pain. "OH IT HURTS! IT HURTS SO MUCH! IT'S LIKE MY SKIN IS BEING GNAWED ON BY SPACE FLEAS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME BEING LICKED BY SNIFFLEBEARD SANDTONGUES. OWOWOWOWOW!!! NO REALLY THIS IS TERRIBLE UGH, IT FEELS AS IF MY EYEBALLS ARE STUCK WATCHING KARDASHIAN FOOLS ON THE ONLY CHANNEL WE GET ON MARS!! IT FEELS AS IF MY HEAD.. AH… AHrfgghhfdhfdh…nowmypeoplewillalldie."

And Atli was just going to spear him too. Huh. Her brow furrows, and then she looks to her companions. "What the Hel? Verily, Gorax, what are you going on about? Have you gone soft in your old age? We barely touched you!" This she says while a troll rollrollrolls right towards Groot. The Sharkman shakes, tries to rise, and Atli takes some amount of pity on him. Sortof.

"Verily, Toothbender. Go, Fish!"

And Toothbender does. The crippled-in-pain, shambling form of Gorax edges forward, jaws slobbering and prepared to be his only weapon, when goathorns smash into him and flip him over once more, crashing him to the pavement with a low groan.

‘Nowmypeoplewillalldie’ mutters the writhing Gorax, although there is little sign from Emma that she has registered the smushed up words. She has, in fact. She simply doesn’t seem to very much care right now on account of his cohorts having tried to skewer her car.

He makes his pain known and vicious little Emma… What does she do?

Her painted lips curl up in a vicious, satisfied, knowing little smile, of course. What the Hel, indeed.

But then there’s Phil Coulson who fires to one side. Her driver who fires. Rocket, the disturbingly violent little rodent, who fires. And a spear wielding tree. A giant shark. A glowing scroll. A couple of trolls. A goat.

The telepath would have, prior to this moment, perhaps thought herself to have seen the oddest of situations. She teaches mutants, after all. Taught. Whatever.

…And now? She thinks the bar has been raised.

Her ‘colleagues’ charge forward into battle. The White Queen merely stands her ground with the gloved fingers on one hand set against her temple to keep her focused, feet set until something forces her to move, looking to see to it that Gorax stays on the ground as she keeps those nerves afire.

Wall of fodder between her and the attack? Check.

"LANGUAGE!" Rocket snaps off in Groot's direction like a knee-jerk reaction, but other than that he makes no move to try stopping the treenage angst machine as he wields his newly bestowed Christmas gift. The sight of him jumping so eagerly into the fray might inspire tears. It's a complete 180 from when he was barely a foot tall and trying to do the same, where Rocket would be falling over himself trying to keep the tree tike from near getting himself killed.

As it is, this is some much needed action and Rocket is quite satisfied with the results. He blew up someone's head. Nearly took the other's leg off. He has no idea what's happened with the shark guy but he won't complain, he's feeling pretty good right now.

Coulson even gets a wicked grin of approval as he makes use of a very tiny but familiar firearm. The fact that the man hasn't gone flying backwards with the pull of the trigger is a definite improvement over the last time.

Just as well that Emma doesn't voice her thoughts nor project them. That'd be a surefire way to drag down the raccoonoid's currently exuberant mood. The woman's for the moment forgotten, with Rocket completely unaware of her part played in the taking down of the massive sharkman.

"What's he going off about now, Atli?" he mutters, almost regretting even asking as soon as the words are out of his mouth.


Teens need to vent. Heck, everyone needs to vent. If it's not video games, real-life violence is the way to go.

…Which is one of several choices brought up on a case-by-case basis, but this is the most readily available. Right now.

Ignoring Rocket's 'LANGUAGE' callout, Groot sees the troll rolling. Hatin'. As the others take care of the larger sharkman target, he tromps forward, meeting the rolling troll halfway. The spear angles, it points facing downward so that it ends up where it should be once he thrusts, putting all of his wiry tree strength into forking the creature up and over his shoulder like a bale of hay. But since he's so scrawny, it takes some oomph to get to the second half of the equation.

Hopefully he also tosses the troll away from Emma. Maybe it ends up in the street. Maybe. Spatial awareness and parabolas, what are they.

"Stop giving away pieces of our solar system!" Coulson says, in the sheer Dad-exasperation that he is frankly known for. "If you want to give away pieces of a solar system, give away pieces of your own solar system!"

Because verily, that particular clean-up will inevitably land in his lap.

He does flash a quick smile at Rocket, perhaps one tinged with a hint of color at the cheeks. Yeah, he's been practicing. He doesn't want 'Deadeye' to be a sarcastic name forever, space races or no space races.

It looks to him like there's no clear shot left, nor, necessarily, one that needs taking given the Guardians and Emma's thorough work.

But there's another matter.

He touches his bluetooth and starts talking to some dispatcher at SHIELD. Something about rerouting traffic from this block and standing by in case more is needed.

Which of course leads to a one-sided conversation with nothing but the deepest of patience in tones that speak of a wholly natural headache coming on, "Yes, Damian, I did say a giant sharkman. Yeah, I guess more or less like a street shark, only way bigger. And trolls."


"Yes, Damian…trolls. Look, just reroute the damned traffic already."

"Verily, I barely gave away any of it. Just a small cave system I found on the Mars of the future, that had water all the way at the bottom of it. Perfect for CLAN JAU-SUM to once again thrive! And.." And then the troll that was rolling towards Groot is promptly skewered, his head stabbed through and his body bulging as the troll-spear almost makes it through. The heave-ho finishes the process, and as Groot tosses the troll, foul troll-blood goes flying in an arc over several pedestrians, as well as Emma's driver. And her car.

Atli cheers at Groot's victory, and then chin-rubs at Rocket's question, walking towards the shark currently on the street to grab his foot in one hand and his axe in the other, throwing the latter over a shoulder as she drags the great writhing beast back towards the group, with Toothbender now standing on the shark-man's chest. Drool leaves a trail behind, and there's a great big welt showing on the shark's forehead where Toothbender slammed into him.

"I do not know, Fair Rocket. He seemed to think there was a bount-" And she stops talking as soon as she pulls a scroll from Gorax's belt, unrolling it to reveal what looks as if it is a good photocopy of the prophecy scroll. Except it says 'WANTED: ICE QUEEN AND FOOLISH MINIONS.' Atli frowns at this, and scoffs. "You stupid shark, we're are no one's minions!" And for this she gives Gorax a kick to the side, tossing the scroll down to sit nearby the other. Which of course, she picks up, wiping the prophecy scroll clean.

The kick seems to stir Gorax, who looks up at Atli and the rest with great, black, soulless shark eyes. Except.. is he.. is he crying? "…she came… froze all the water.. froze my people.. must …free them."

And then Gorax passes out once more.

"Hmm. Ice Queen. Prophecy. Mars. Guardians, Lady Frost, Son of Coul.." Atli turns to regard them all, smiling the most Asgardian of smiles. "I think a plan is forming."

As the blood splatters all over her dark car’s windshield and windows and her driver who promptly makes a face of disgust and begins trying to pull off his splattered shirt and jacket, Emma’s expression darkens. She had somewhere to be, and this will… make that more difficult.

Although Gorax’s little words at the end are not beneath her notice, they are certainly beneath her care. He splattered her car. If you look at it the right way.

A plan, Atli says, is forming.

So, too, is an expression of Emma’s disdain. “Oh, splendid,” says she, smiling a smile of perfect condescension “You can go execute that elsewhere, then. I have an appointment that I am already late for.”

Turning her attention to Phil, she gentles to something a little less caustic. She’s not precisely in what she’d like to be wearing while she’s dealing with him, but she doesn’t look as though she feels particularly underdressed. Even if she very much is. “If you’ll excuse me, darling? We’ll catch up another time, yes? Fondue, maybe? I’ll have Miss Beaumont make a couple of reservations at this lovely Swiss place that just opened. The menus still smell of fresh leather and ink. You’ll love it, I promise.”

The gaze that she casts back at Atli and company is not so genial. It is downright murderous.

And then she starts walking towards her blood-splattered car with her long, stiletto-booted stride.

"I think a plan is forming."

"Oh hell no," Rocket says, just as Emma smiles. While he's not familiar with her other monicker, the look alone suggests plenty. It's the look after that she shoots towards them that actually has the Guardian shudder.

It's a very familiar look to him. Aimed at him by one too many exes.

Stealing a glance towards Coulson as he tries to wrangle S.H.I.E.L.D. authority to deal with New York traffic, Rocket shakes his head as he looks to Groot to make sure things on their end are at least in some relative order before he slowly casts his attention back towards Atli and the overgrown shark-man.

"No," he says, pointing at her. "This is going very far from finding new boots! How 'bout you just skin this guy an' make some new ones outta that. Problem solved, we can go home and I can go thaw my toes out."

….it is SO strange trying to be the responsible one here. What's parenting done to him?


The tip of the spear, now covered in troll blood, scrapes against the pavement as it touches down to rest, the pole loosely wrapped in skinny arms as Groot lets out a sigh. His expression, however, remains the same as it has been, like he's had enough out of all of the adults and the shark man present.

Rolling a shoulder, the young treant meets Emma's frosty gaze with teenage apathy. Accidentally messing up the car and the driver is something he can live with. Emma, on the other hand, sends a chill down his spine, a silent warning he should never mess with the woman like Atli does.

If there are lessons to be learned here even if he doesn't pay close attention, let this be one of them.

Speaking of Atli — as Rocket calls the Asgardian out, he sort of grins. "I am Groot!" he agrees, kind of eager to see a live skinning demonstration.

Coulson gives Emma a weary, apologetic smile in return. "Sounds lovely," he says.

And then a slight exasperated scowl. "No, Damian, I'm not calling you lovely. I also need a team to either contain three very large prisoners or drag away their corpses. I'm really not sure which way it will go right now. Coulson out."

He again bites back the urge to give his version of I'm not even supposed to be here today.

Instead he turns to Atli and takes a deep breath.

"Atli," he says, as gently as he can. "Let's pretend for a moment that I have no idea what's going on. I need you to explain to me about this scroll, and this bounty, and what plan you think is forming, and for the love of all good Christ why can't we just buy you some shoes. There are a million high-end shoe boutiques in New York City. You do not need Emma's help to pick out shoes. And at this point, I'm almost with Rocket about making some out of Mr. The Shark here."

For the longest moment, Atli Wodendottir ponders the look Emma is giving her, for while she has seen a great many murderous looks, they are mostly from trolls, or LOH-KEY, SON OF LOW-KHEY, SON OF LOKI, or some other horrible monster. It is most confusing to say the least. Though, her brow does not start to furrow until Rocket shouts 'NO!' at her, her arms crossing like a petulant child in that moment, and a scowl overriding her normally good demeanor. "Verily, Rocket, Mars IS in the galaxy, you know. Besides, it's not as if these trolls will stop! For every Ugli, Fugli, and Smugli, there is assuredly a Vugli, Dugli, and Chugli, just waiting to take up the blood-bound mission to find those on this scroll and put an end to them! Which is why, Lady Frost, I suggest you reconsider. This is no longer about shoes, no no, this is about saving a people, and of course clearing your good name. And stopping trolls from raining down upon all of our heads!"

Some of that might explain this to Coulson, at least a little, and finally she looks to Groot and gives Gorax a nudge with her foot. "No no, we can't skin the bastard. He is simply confused, and thinks that somehow killing us will free his people. Which is the part I don't quite understand. But if his people have been put in peril on Mars, freeing them from their plight may do well to bring Gorax to our side, and with the JAU-SUM clan as our allies once more, no fool troll in all the galaxy would dare come after us! No matter how many hundreds and thousands their are of them!"

Atli chinrubs, and hands the scroll to Coulson, her expression full of resolve. "The matter of my boots must wait. For you see, fate seems to think we will all be looking very soon upon Lady Frost as she takes possession of a kingdom. And look here, at the shiney box at her feet. Somewhat like a treasure chest. I'm sure that's something we would want to open. As far as I can tell, someone does not wish to see this prophecy come to pass. And though Gorax here might know more, at the very least we know he needs our help, misguided fool that he is." A hand reaches out to Coulson's shoulder, and Atli finds that she is indeed glad he has returned to Midgard, for the world felt most empty without him. "Don't worry, I didn't give the shark men much of anything. Just a nice, old, abandoned mountain fortress that certainly hasn't had anyone living in it for millions of years. And my plan is quite simple. I'm going to go to Mars, find whatever evil has beset these shark men and assured we'll be hunted to the ends of the galaxy, and put my spear through it."

It is only then that she looks from Coulson, to Rocket, and then to Groot.

"I hope, with the help of my friends?"

To see an Asgardian with such worry on her features where confidence should be might strain the heart to make sense of her expression, crestfallen, for she did not expect Rocket to yell at her, nor Coulson to grow so weary of her. Even the goat stares at her with raw, terrible judgement. Or maybe that's just his strange, goatly eyes. Hard to say. At the very least, Groot just wants to see her skin someone, and yet that does not yet raise her mood.

Emma draws to a stop, and then slowly turns her head to look at Atli with a narrowed and incredulous gaze. “Clear my good name? Who has my name?” Her eyes widen, and then she shoots her gaze to Coulson as if to demand an explanation.

Turning more fully, the woman in the cloak and bustier points to the shark man. “I had nothing to do with whatever woman…thingWhatever! who froze that thing’s people!” A finger is held up in Coulson’s direction as additional clarification and warning is offered: “Less than nothing.” She didn’t do it. She didn’t authorize it. She knew nothing about it. This is not on her.

Then her attention turns to back to Atli. “I don’t even know how you got me looped into this! Or if you drew that with some… I don’t know!… extradimensional Crayola on your way over.”

She looks to Rocket. To Groot. To Gorax. Pale blue eyes softly shut as she takes a bracing inhalation and sends it back through her nose.

When her eyes reopen, they fall back again to Coulson as Emma pleads with a transparent expression for a bracing dose of sanity in an otherwise absolutely ridiculous situation.

Coulson might get a disturbingly amused grin from Rocket at the admission made. To be fair the Guardian feels that they've all just about had it with this nonsense. But he's not completely kidding about sharkskin boots. He'd heard Terrans actually used it for stuff.

Somehow managing not to mouth off in the middle of Atli's explanation his brow furrows until he's practically squinting in his scowl at the obvious distaste he has for the situation.

"If there's one thing I don't like it's someone having it out for us when we didn't do a damn thing. I've never even been to this Mars place. Ain't that a Terran candy bar?" He shoves his pistols back into the holsters beneath his winter coat with a growl.

The look he casts Emma is entirely sympathetic, for the fact that he agrees with the White Queen in her perspective of how this shouldn't concern her or anyone who actually had no fault in things, and in that he knows Atli.

Atli Wodendottir won't take no for an answer.

Ugh, but what is that look??

Rocket sighs a sigh as though in that moment he were carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"Okay," he says, meeting the Asgardian's eye, folding his arms. "We go blow up Mars, problem solved."

Really, who's gonna miss one planet?


Disappointment. That's the feeling Groot gives off after Atli goes through another long-winded explanation with no chance of actually skinning the shark man.

He's not even completely listening to the exchange that follows, sauntering up to the downed shark between Rocket's exclamation and Coulson's growing percentage of done-ness, stooping forward once Emma Frost makes clear she's hanging onto the last threads tethering her patience. He oggles that lump of sad sharkskin, pulling the spear's tip forward as an afterthought — like he means do the skinning himself.

Fortunately, all he does is slap the guy with the flat of the spearhead. Which amuses for all of three seconds.

As Groot glances up from his earlier moment of adolescent brilliance, he catches Frost's stare, meeting her icy gaze with a quirked wooden brow. And there's a half-shrug. But the moment Rocket says something about blowing up Mars, he perks.

"I am Groot," he says as gruffly as he can manage within his vocal range, patting the shark man again with the spearhead. Anything to get off of this dumb planet for a while. Blowing things up is a bonus.

He then frowns, pointing the spear's tip at Atli, then toward her feet with some disgust, emphasizing this with air jabs. "I. Am. Groot!" For someone who doesn't wear shoes, this shoe business is getting on his nerves.

"Whoa. Whoa! Nobody is blowing up Mars."

Coulson takes a deep breath and counts to ten. The thing is, Atli's explanation mostly made sense to him. "But go to Mars, save shark-people, stop New York from getting a troll invasion. Okay. This I can do."

He looks at Emma and says, "This is my job. My whole job." Herding insanity.

But he rubs a hand over his balding head and says, "The problem, Emma, is that if they think you did something they might continue to send messes like this after you, even if we fix the shark problem up on Mars. Perception is more important than reality sometimes. But if you have a hand in fixing it, then that should clear up any misunderstandings."

He tilts his head to the side and says, "More to the point, the Chitauri invasion and the demons fueled a lot of this registration crap. I don't think mutants are going to fare much better if the sky starts vomiting trolls."

It's all said with deepest apology.

There is a moment there when Atli makes a 'nod bad' face at Rocket's suggestion they blow up Mars, but as she chinrubs and thinks on it she decides that the frozen shark people would likely not survive Rocket and Groot's planet destroying onslaught and quickly shakes her head. As well, she gently nudges Groot's spear aside, making an accusing face at him, just as Emma asks about her name. Despite Emma's apparent anger, Atli looks more focused than anything, considering as she once again looks at the scroll. "Yes, the Son of Coul is right. No one should blow up Mars. For now." Then, she looks to Emma.

"Well, no, no one has your name, it's only that someone seems to have used powers of frost on the shark people. And since your name is Frost, and you are known for your very own frost powers, such as creating ice and snow, which I assume you do every winter so that we might have a very snowy Yule season, I simply thought you would like to have a frost-off with whoever this fool person is, and once again prove yourself the superior Frost. Of course, with these trolls dead and Gorax no doubt ready to come over to our side after being soundly defeated by our heroic efforts, perhaps the trolls will come after no one but me. They seem to know me very well!"

Yes, Atli seems proud of this. She has killed a great number of them! Including that troll that was running an ice cream truck and eating children!

"Verily, Lady Frost, I ask this of you not lightly, knowing the burden of fashion we have placed upon you, as well as the burden on your time. But of all the heroes I know, none have ever done anything as grand or impossible as you."

There is a moment where she looks like she is, in fact, looking up to Emma, despite her exasperation.

"You have made Lord Stark somewhat less of a fool." A beat. She holds up two fingers, showing the measure by which Emma has made him less of a fool. About an inch's worth.


The flat look that Emma levels on Atli is for Atli and Atli alone. From the first comment to the last, Emma listens and seems to be seriously contemplating murder. She might be actively imagining it. She’s very imaginative in that regard, and she has no shortage of concepts to conjure up for the exercise.

“I do not control ice or snow,” says she at the last, her tone just as flat through clenched teeth as she just lowers her head and pinches the bridge of her nose.

"Nobody is //blowing up Mars."//

"Today," Rocket says under his breath, but his expression is soured in that his solution has been completely shut down. He snorts, folding his arms as he scowls at the sharkman while Atli and the others continue to talk around him in reaching some kind of sensical strategy.

Naturally Coulson is the one to properly reason out why matters should be dealt with. The raccoonoid slips a hand from his position, waving it at Groot. Ease off there, at least you got yourself a new toy. He's picked up on the treenager's relief in another potential space trip, and quite frankly he could do for one too.

To take the Milano though? Or their souped up necrocraft? The latter would be a tight squeeze if they ended up with too many people tagging along. The stupid shark alone would make things cramped, and they'd probably have to bring him along.

"Whatever. I don't care who does what, just lemmee know when you need something blown up and how many are hitching a ride or if we're callin' a taxi. C'mon Groot."

Rocket shoves his hands into his coat pockets, turning. His toes are freezing in these dumb boots and all the fun seems over.


Groot appears to make a face in response to Atli's nudging of the spear, but there's an air of horseplay hidden behind the mask of sourness. For now, he rests the side of his face on the pole, pitting his weight against the spear for balance. His eyes meet Rocket's, brow lifting in that 'what?' kind of teenage manner, like he's not doing anything. It's his spear, he can take care not to harm anyone until harming is a thing again.

The corner of his mouth pulls a bit more, though. They can't even explode planets. Not yet, anyway.

To be fair, it's been brought up and the discussion runs on for longer than any of them would like. Groot's been getting tired of hearing them all talk in general, perking the moment Rocket says his name and takes his leave.

"I am Groot," he grouses, blowing the tangled length of twigs away from his line of sight. He leans back to rest the spear against his shoulder before following the shorter Guardian, half-tromping, half-dragging his feet in a careless shuffling gait.

Coulson places a comforting hand on Emma's shoulder. He has laid out his case. He'll leave it to her to follow or not.

He does go lean over the Shark-Man…he's still unsure of its name, because there was lots of shooting during the introductions. Was it Fugli? Zuggy? He doesn't know. Normally he's better at name recollection.

"Let's go, big guy," he says. "We're off to save your people. Chop,chop."

And then he straightens and follows after Rocket. "After this is done," he adds, "I want a furlough to a space bar. Can you arrange a furlough to a space bar? I feel like there'd be some very good booze there. I have to be back at work at 8 tomorrow, but I feel like there should be time for this."

He's already been into the stash of Asgardian liquor Barnes gave him, one drop at a time. He had been surprised to find someone at SHIELD had arranged for all his bills to just keep on getting paid for the duration of his death, so all his things, at least, were untouched. Including that treasure.

"I feel you are being too modest, I am sure I felt a shiver up my spine when you looked into my soul just a moment ago." This, in response to Emma, followed by Atli’s beaming smile. "Do not worry Lady Frost, we will have our people contact your people." She has no idea what that means, other than she hopes Coulson can follow up with Emma, since the trip to Mars will probably take a day or two to plan. In the meantime the Girl of Thunder hooks the shark-man's ankle and begins to drag his drooling, unconscious form along, just as SHIELD begins to arrive and collect troll parts. They will even wipe Emma's car down to a pristine shine, if she will suffer the wait.

Helpfully, Agent Scott Adsit shows up, out of breath, long after Coulson, Rocket, and Groot have begun to wander off, one hand rubbing at his receding hairline as he looks around with a mild panic. "Has anyone seen the Asgardian? No no, the other one?! What? SHE DID WHAT?! OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO BE FIRED!!"

Woe to Scott Adsit, for the last SHIELD Agent to have his assignment had to die before he was able to take a break from the Girl of Thunder

The hand on Emma’s shoulder draws her tried expression back up to Phil, and she stares at him for a long time. One might, perhaps, think that she is using her formidable powers at that moment to have a conversation back and forth beyond the ears of man, Asgardian, and… sundry others.

One would be wrong.

You see, she doesn’t need to use telepathy. Her entire tale is there for Phil Coulson to peruse at his leisure, and she lets him flip through the proverbial pages before arching one eyebrow. And then he goes to handle the shark thing, and she’s got an appointment she’s already late for. She begins to walk back to the car in a rippling flutter of cloak, and Rocket and Groot get a slim uplift of her lower lids as she turns her baleful gaze in their direction.

Except that now dragging troll parts across her car, and she stops short. The driver, who is looking absolutely horrified about this entire sequence of events, doesn’t run. He does, finally, put his sidearm away.

And they do wait, albeit with nothing even remotely resembling patience.

Once the car is clear of parts, the door is opened for her and she slides inside. She waits again, this time for her driver to take off his splattered jacket and collared shirt.

“For the love of all that’s holy,” she growls, letting her eyes catch the driver’s uncertain ones in the rear view mirror, “let’s get out of here before something else decides it wants to take up the torch of madness.”

His voice sounds steady, at least. “Yes, Miss Frost.” He doesn’t wait to pull away.

He may even screech the tires of the sedan a little.

But just a little.

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