Wildcard
Roleplaying Log: Wildcard
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Domino, investigating the incident in Ossining days afterward, finds a few lucky pieces of information — and has an encounter with the man at the center of the mess.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: February 14, 2019
IC Location: Ossining, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 15 Feb 2019 04:45
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits: Kiefer Kassmeier, who has Had It With Warren
Jack Werner, a CEO
Frank, a put-upon security guard
Associated Plots

It's been nearly a week since the incident at Alternative Air Labs, and things are still not quite back to normal. The company is still shuttered for repairs and inspections, with its workforce on paid leave, and the premises are quiet — especially this late, long after regular working hours on a Thursday evening.

Alternative Air is, as its name suggests, an outfit specializing in R&D on alternative jet fuels for aviation — an area which has always been a particular focus of Worthington Industries overall, which was likely the reason for the acquisition. It's quite new, and as such, the grounds don't comprise much more than a main building for offices and administrative workers, and a lab building attached to a warehouse for the actual research, production, and storage of the biodiesels being trialed.

There's still some warning tape strung up around the lab and warehouse, though now it cautions of 'repair work being done' rather than of the chemical spill and propane leak which apparently caused the evacuation. Despite the claim, there's no one around, and no actual sign of repair equipment.

The main building is largely dark, though there are a few lights on that shine out the front windows, and three cars parked out front.


It's always a bit of a gamble being the last one to investigate a scene but sometimes you just have to roll with it and see what happens. Not having to worry about the risk of hazardous chemicals in the air is one step in the right direction. That there's only three cars parked out front would be another. It's never going to get any more quiet than it is here and now.

Domino doesn't look at the caution tape while passing around it, hunkered into a long black leather coat with fur trim at the ends against the cold air. It only helps so much to hold back the wind but she needs to keep it light and simple.

The research wing becomes her first target since it seems to be completely dark. So long as there's a little breathing room to take her time then she'd be a fool not to take it. Though what she's mostly keeping an eye out for at the moment is the evidence from the shootout, itself. No doubt Alternative Air has its share of secrets but they're not the focus of her investigation. Not yet, anyway.

Someone had guns, motivation, and a whole lot of nerve to so brazenly attack somewhere like this. That means there's also money involved. Money and guns? Two things which she is rather lacking right now.

Yeah..okay, and MAYBE this might help out another mutant, whatever. This is the job of federal investigators, she's in it for the personal edge.


Most of the evidence of the fight that transpired unveils as Domino crosses the grounds outside. Though the news articles claimed reports of seeing massive displays of flame searing into the air, none of the vegetation is scorched at all, and there is zero sign of ash or smoke. Many of the trees look oddly twisted, however, as if they were all-at-once bent out of shape by a violent gust of — something.

The tallest of the trees, a ways behind the buildings, sports a dangling broken branch, and the ground beneath it is still torn up and disturbed with traces of blood. The disturbed ground forms a trail between the tree and the main building; no one has yet smoothed the earth back over and there has been no rain since last week, though the broken white feathers that once adorned the trail have long since been carried away by winds.

Though no care has been taken to wipe away that trail, care has been taken with other kinds of cleanup. Though a great deal of gunfire was reported, the spent casings have been cleaned up for the most part. One was missed, however. It's from a 5.56 round. Whoever was running around back here shooting had military M4s.

Along that trail, Domino would also find a dropped crucifix, its chain broken, the silver of it glinting where it lies half-embedded in the earth.

The lab itself is dark, with no sign of any kind of spill. After so short a time, one might expect residues and signs of corrosion or damage to linger, even if cleanup crews have already been through. There's nothing to indicate any of that. Everything is in its place, orderly. A door at the far end leads directly into the warehouse.


What happened to the trees around here..? That's something you don't see every day. Meta involvement, maybe? It looks too quick and thorough for any biological agent. Not unless someone found a way to make trees grow insanely fast. So long as the trees aren't going to try and take a swing at her they're noted and mentally set aside for later.

Torn up ground, that seems ..violent. Claws, blades, talons? Probably not blades. More like a feral animal, perhaps. Hmmh. Or… Warped trees, disturbed ground -around- the trees. Could the roots have been involved somehow?

"Who did you piss off so badly, Worthington?" she mutters.

A little moonlight can do wonders for highlighting spent brass on the ground. Sometimes you have to see it from just the right angle for it to be noticed. The telltale marks are all there. Feed lips, chamber contact, extractor and ejector marks. Firing pin indent. She'd recognize an M4 casing anywhere. All the same, this one goes not back to the ground but into a pocket. Can't hurt to hang onto it for a while.

The crucifix is an odd one. She crouches down and picks it up by the chain, lifting the pendant higher to get a good look at it front and back. Apparently someone was a believer, they probably lost it during the skirmish. Odds are that they'll be missing it, too. This is one half evidence and one half bargaining chip. And now it's coming with her. Potentially garbage, but also potentially an ace in the hole.

The pieces aren't lining up yet. Fire was reported but nothing was burned. A lab focusing on biodiesel, something which is very much combustible, and fire had been used. Yet -nothing- is burned? No scorch marks, no chemical trails, nothing seeped into the cement. Unless AAL managed to create the cleanest burning diesel ever then something is very wrong here.

Domino goes so far as to sniff at the air within the lab building. A confined space like this, if anything DID spill or burn there's a good chance that it would taint the air for a long time to come. That nothing seems amiss within the building almost makes her wonder if this fight had been staged… Plot thickens. It's time she went and checked on that door to the warehouse.


Meta involvement does seem likely. There's not a lot of other kinds of forces that can just bend trees out of shape like that cleanly, without leaving behind some kind of 'tell.' From the direction the trees are warped, too, the effect is easily pictured as radiating outwards from a single central point.

None of the trees attempt to do anything untoward to Domino.

The trail itself is easily deciphered as many people — at least twenty — violently dragging something that did not want to be dragged. From the half of a broken white feather embedded deeply in a mound of earth, a bird — though no bird was ever that big. Even though only half the feather remains, when pulled free of the dirt covering it, it's still as long as her forearm. The well-worn crucifix, the hatred that lingers in the air, the young heir publicly revealed to bear angelic wings… those three things seem to match up into a coherent picture. The military-grade hardware is a sour note among the rest.

There isn't much of interest in the lab, which in itself is baffling, given that there was supposed to be a spill here; or at least, that's what the warning signage indicated.

Now, in the warehouse adjacent is where the biodiesel on which Alternative Air was working is stored. Funny thing about biodiesel, it starts to gel at cold temperatures, so a reliable source of heating is imperative. Propane, easily transported via delivery truck and not reliant on pipelines or a working power grid, is a popular choice around more remote areas like this. There's a few large propane storage tanks in a far corner of the warehouse, though they have been drained of their contents as part of the cleanup.

The piping at the back of the tanks that carries the propane out to is a natural area of interest. One of the tanks has a connector that is noticeably worn, and is no doubt the culprit for the leak that was described in the papers. However, what the papers said was that natural wear and tear had resulted in the leak. This was made to look like natural, but to a careful eye the damage looks fresh and rather deliberate.

This is about the time there's the sudden sound of a front door opening and shutting. The main office isn't too far from this corner of the warehouse, and the voices are distant but audible.

"Might as well head out yourself, Frank," says one, as steps head towards the parking lot. "There's not much to look after here, not until we get things squared and back on track again."
"Yes, sir. But… do you know when that's gonna be? Been nearly a week."
"Hard to estimate that. I don't wanna rush the investigators."


(An Angel hunt.)

The feeling weighs heavy in the pit of Domino's stomach. Hits against mutants are nothing new. She's even cashed a few of those checks, herself. But this was a big hit. Funded, organized, aimed to make a statement. They took on one very rich kid on his home turf. Maybe Warren had tried to interfere with some other objective, but then why does it look like they dragged him through the dirt? A powerful motivator was at work here. Maybe more than one.

Tanks lead to piping, piping leads to another tank, and — hold on a miiinute… The valve. Worn parts have their own tells. Areas that don't get used start to show rust but where the paint gets worn down from actual use they're -smooth- underneath. You don't get jagged, well-defined chip marks in the paint and rough steel beneath when it's worn from heavy use. That it also happens to be the only component here which shows such abuse? How could the investigation have missed this?!

The sound of the door spikes Domino's adrenaline and sends her to cover behind a nearby tank, ducking low and listening. Nothing terribly useful at first listen, unfortunately. It's a slow night on a temporarily shuttered operation. The only kinds of concerns they need to be watching out for are the ones they aren't paid well enough to notice.

On the slim chance that one of them mentions something of interest she'll shadow them for a little ways, though her interest is now angling toward the office. Two fewer people? One fewer cars. More breathing room for her. Get skulking while the skulking is good. There has to be -something- big here that she can sink her teeth into.


The men do not notice Domino at all as she shadows them. The rest of the conversation is fairly mundane, though the course of it reveals that 'Frank' is — as one might expect — a security guard, and the other man, Jack Werner, is in fact Alternative Air's CEO. Dedicated man, to be out at the premises this late. Too bad the investigation surrounding this debacle doesn't seem equally dedicated.

Werner heads towards his car. Frank gets in his own car, but he's not quite able to leave immediately, because there is another car coming into the parking lot. Nondescript, black, every inch of it speaks of a desire for unnoticed privacy. Werner responds in an interesting way by cursing under his breath. Closing his car door instead of getting in, he arranges his features into neutral.

The car stops, and the driver — a rather grim-faced young blond man — gets out. He leans back into the car, asks a question, waits a moment, and then shuts the door and leans back against it, arms folded, looking aggravated.

The rear passenger door opens, and Warren Worthington gets himself out of the car, unaided, though with a little difficulty that proves why he was presumably asked if he wanted help to begin with. It's unmistakably him; even if the low light didn't catch identifyingly along the blond of his hair and the sharp lines of his profile, the wide white wings folded visibly at his back would be more than tell enough. The left one is still bound up, presumably to immobilze it for the healing process.

"Mr. Worthington," Werner starts, "I didn't look for you, this late — "

"Neither did I." The interruption is smooth, with the dismissiveness of someone who Cannot Be Bothered Right Now. There is a brief pause, before Warren's voice lilts a little lighter, as if to soften the mood with a brief moment of humor: "I had a date I could have been on instead, and it's the second one I've missed in a week, so no one is more put out than I. There are some things that will not wait, however — "

"If it's about the investigation…"

"I do have half a mind to take it over," Warren says calmly. His blue eyes track past the other man, scanning the buildings, the area. If it bothers him to be back here so soon, it does not show. "Your men have been uncommonly slow. No, this is about the pay of your workers. Paid leave, I was told. Why have I received word they were not being paid?"

This seems to genuinely surprise Werner. "What?"

The transaction is transpiring in the parking lot, a rather fair distance from the main building. It doesn't seem too likely any of the men would see her from this far and in light this low, if she wanted to move in, even though Worthington is faced vaguely towards the buildings.


Oh, hang on. NOW this is getting interesting. What's this Werner fellow doing out here at this hour, without security detail -after the place had been attacked,- and this new player in the field —

— Is completely unexpected.

"The hell?" Domino speaks in the faintest of whispers while getting as clear of a vantage as she dares try to claim. What's -Warren- doing out here tonight? She has to hang around for a while and hear this out.

It turns into One More Detail, though she cannot determine if it's at all connected to the previous attack or not. A slip in the record-keeping? An opportunistic corporate type who wants the cash for himself? Pretty ballsy, if that had been his goal he should have skimmed a tiny percentage off of their pay instead of withholding all of it.

Something feels off about all of this. The whole kit and kaboodle feels off. But employees not getting the 'paid' part of their paid leave isn't her concern. Curious, but not why she's here. Warren and the CEO are a good distraction, she should capitalize upon that. It's time to move back inside.

She probably should have come out to investigate sooner. There's a few clues but no smoking gun, not much she can pursue. Not even a whole lot which she could share with some other party regarding the situation. No, Dom's still betting on finding paydirt somewhere around here and the odds of it being in the parking lot are getting slimmer by the minute. But what would the office hold in regards to a gunfight out by the labs?

Maybe Neena will get lucky but this is starting to look like a bust. Suspicion is running high but this is no time to let her guard down, it's doubtful that the offices are empty of other people.


"This needs to be hashed out," Warren's voice fades at Domino's back, as she slips into the building. "Everyone's already unhappy, and this is another kind of PR hit that is not needed right now."

The remainder of the conversation is quite brief, and from outside the sound of car doors closing seems to indicate that they are leaving rather than coming back in. This leaves only whoever the owner of that remaining car is — probably remaining security personnel, though there's no sign of them as Domino moves through the darkened offices.

Most of the doors are closed and locked, and those that aren't lead to rooms that are of no particular interest, being generic copy or server rooms typical of any office. Most of the names on the offices would probably not mean much. Jack Werner's probably stands out, though, after the earlier exchange. His door's locked too, but that's probably not an obstacle to someone like Domino.

His office, at first blush, seems as generic as the rest, though there's a flip phone in one of his desk drawers that seems rather out of place in this era of glitzy smartphones. Perhaps he meant to come back for it, but Warren's sudden appearance had a flustering effect.


…Huh… Oldschool flip phones seem to be a reoccurring theme in Neena's week. If there was any one way to draw her attention to a questionable electronic device, this would be it! Drawn like a moth to a flame the albino does the usual quick check for any obvious signs of security measures, cameras and all of that fun stuff, before reaching for the phone. It's unlikely to be rigged with cameras in here, though CEO's can be a right paranoid bunch and they sometimes keep their own mini security network just in case situations like what's happening right now were to play out.

MMf. Tech. If she were any better at this stuff she'd try to copy its memory but she lacks both the required gear and the knowledge to bring it all together. Taking the phone would probably not be the best option, either. Thus far no one has any reason to suspect that a foreign body was anywhere near the facility. She's going to have to approach this from an angle that's about as old as the phone she's attempting to break into…

Take pictures of the flip phone's screen with the camera on her smartphone.

Oh, and doing so quickly is in her best interest. Jack's probably going to be on his way back sooner rather than later. Does this office have any spare exits or is it a one shot deal..? Stay focused, get it done and get out.


It doesn't seem like Jack's coming back anytime soon. There's no indication of security measures, either; this place is pretty new, maybe they haven't had the time to install, or maybe Werner just isn't that bright or paranoid. Domino's got enough time to record what's in that phone, especially since what's in it only amounts to two phone numbers.

The first number was contacted the day Warren was attacked, early in the morning. The message sent to it was, very simply: 'OK'
The second number has not been contacted at all.

And with that, that sixth sense that hints at 'overstaying one's welcome' and 'the limit of useful information that can be retrieved' starts to tingle. Fortunately for Domino, there's a clear shot down the hall towards a rear door of the building, which from an internal vantage point seems entirely unguarded.

It's a clean exit out through that door. Well, except for the now-familiar voice that notes down from ten feet in the air above it, "I'm very curious what you might have found that the investigators did not."

Warren can hover quite quietly when the need arises. His left wing is still listing a little, but he manages. The angelic appearance is somewhat disrupted by the gun he's holding — looks like a Glock designed expressly for concealed carry — because he's not a complete reckless idiot, just sixty percent a reckless idiot.


It isn't much to go by but Domino at least has something approximating a lead or two now. Dammit, if she only had more contacts in the area to do some proper digging into call traces and all of that fun stuff! She's really more of the trigger-puller sort. Still..she's better off now than when she broke into this guy's office.

Something feels off, though. Something else. Different, but oh so familiar. For those web-slingers it might amount to their danger sense but for her it's mostly just instinct. The flip phone is put back exactly as she had found it then she's back out in the hall, making a run for the far door, then getting that feeling which leaves hairs raised on the back of one's neck.

(Oh, shi—)

Shoulders tense as the albino freezes in place, only moving so much as to look up toward the direction of that lone voice. Then she breaks into a huge smile. "Hiya."

The blood, the broken feather, the ripped up dirt, the bandage, and he can STILL FLY?! Talk about a tough sonuvabitch.

Neena's already identified Warren's pistol. Caliber, capacity, all of the important stuff. But she isn't here to pick a fight. Far from it, for once! "For starters I think you dropped something," she states while holding one hand nice and clear of everything while the other takes its time in reaching for that crucifix she had found out in the yard. If allowed she'll hold it up and let the pendant dangle from its broken chain between her fingertips. Peace offering time is go.

"Now how's about you put that wing to rest, holster the Combat Tupperware, and we can work this out without the threat of imminent violence? I've been doing so well up to this point!"


There's a feeling most people who do a lot of nervy work like this learn to trust, over the years. It's a feeling that tells them when to get when the getting's good. It might be kin to the feeling animals get when the hawk's high overhead. They can't always see the raptor, but they have a feeling it's there.

The metaphor is a little on-the-nose in this particular situation.

But for all his apparent position of untouchability in the air, there's a matching tension in Warren's features when Domino turns and takes a look up at him. His blue eyes are scanning in wide sweeps when they aren't pinned on her, no doubt watchful for any help she might have in the bushes. From the intensity of his gazes and the distant focus of his aquiline eyes, he seems able to see a whole lot, even in the semi-darkness.

He only relaxes an iota when she cuts him that huge, hand-in-the-cookie-jar grin. He probably shouldn't relax at all, but she's pretty and he's Warren Worthington.

As she continues to talk, he watches her closely. After a moment — and the presentation of the crucifix, which draws the laser-focus of his eyes for a long few moments — whatever he seems to see in her face gets him to lower the weapon. Not holster — but it's a start. Especially since he does settle down from his hover, as well, though he doesn't quite land on the ground near her; he comes to roost on the overhang over the back door instead, his wings still half-spread. A huge bird ready to take flight again at any minute.

She was doing so well, she says. "Very well," Warren replies, very generous, leaning over to peer at her with cavalier balance. "You'd be free and clear — if I didn't see as far as I do. Well — let's have this be our little secret. My flying, that is. I'll catch hell for taking the bandage off this early."

His almost-flirtatious aspect chills slightly, a moment later. Back to business. "I'd very much like to work this out," he says. "There's enough going on here I have yet to unravel, without adding another piece in the mix. Now what do you propose for me?"


It's funny, with all of the wicked deeds Domino's been responsible for over the years she would have expected there to be a demon looming over her. Not an angel! Though so long as Warren's holding a gun he may as well be the Angel of Wrath for all she can tell. Winged critters don't mess about.

As he lowers his weapon there is some amount of shoulder relaxing happening with the albino. Her guard is still up but she's not totally on edge anymore. Little steps! He's right to not trust her. Not at face value, not at peace offerings. Maybe he's got some brains to compliment that beauty.

"You're such a sweet-talker," she teases at the compliment. "Least I know it wasn't a tripped system. Would hate to think I'm getting rusty."

Alright, looks like they can both be on the same level page here. That's good. Regardless, Dom lets out a long breath. She always hated this part. Making a case for herself, negotiating her way out of a box, whatever you want to call it. If she doesn't deliver the goods then things get ugly when they probably could have been avoided. It only happens to require patience and openness, two ideals which she is no fan of.

"Someone's really got it out for you, Worthington. Military-grade hardware, no shits to give about lighting up full auto carbines. I suspect foul play. ..Pun not intended."

"There was supposed to be a chemical spill. Where, exactly?" she asks with a showing of hands in something approximating a shrug. "This place is clean. The only piece I could find tied to the idea of 'chemical warfare' was someone's half-assed attempt to make one of the valves look worn out. I could have done a more convincing job with a piece of sandpaper. Now I'd tell you to keep an eye on your pal Jack but it seems I'm not the only one with some reservations there, huh," she suggests with a slight grin.

"Check his phone, and not the one he lets everyone else see him using. The boy's got a flipper with some questionable numbers in its history. I have copies if he deleted them by now, which if he had half of a braincell to work with he would have done -days- ago."

With all of this said her black-stained grin returns. "How am I doing?"


Wicked creatures all get their visitation from an avenging angel in the end. Though usually angels don't wield 9mm! It would be more on point if he had a sword, but that would also be hugely impractical unless he's putting on a show (which has become relevant before, to be fair), and Warren hasn't gotten this far in life by being a fool.

Maybe just a slight fool, because he smirks at her returned tease. She'd hate to think she was rusty enough to get caught in a setup. "My ego also prefers to think that only true professionals would be taking such an interest in me."

With the telling instinct of a flighted animal, however, he stays decidedly out of her easy physical reach, gargoyling on the overhang instead of coming to ground. He watches Dom carefully as she works up her thoughts, and then starts to speak. His blue eyes muse over her a long few moments, before he seems to accept — to some degree — her sincerity. Or something close enough to sincerity, anyway.

"Zealots have always had it out for me," he remarks, with a demonstrative twitch of his wings. "Never felt as personal before as it does now, though. This is a serious upgrade on their efforts." He is silent a moment, the low lighting casting his lovely features in defining light and deep shadows, before he says, "Werner was clean of any of that kind of thing when we went through him, last week. You must have come along right at a careless moment." His blue eyes consider her. "Lucky, that."

How is she doing?

"Compellingly," is Warren's reply, his long lashes half-lidding his blue eyes. "The cross you have," he says. "And the numbers you've got. I know some people who'd want to take a look." He leans forward, studying her, considering her like the wildcard piece she is in — all of this. "You willing to play?"


Warren really seems to be taking his time in processing all of the information provided. Dom doesn't mind so much. Aside from the cold, which has her hunkering deeper into her coat and coiling arms around herself. No, Warren is welcome to take some extra time on this. She certainly doesn't mind the view in the meantime.

"It's hard to resist when the stakes get this high," she easily replies. Ego, maybe, but regardless of what shakes out of this dilemma there are loads of money surrounding the whole debacle!

'Zealots.' "Hey, you don't get to have this much power without drawing a lot of negative attention. Being a mutant only serves to make the bullseye that much brighter. You're kind of one of those 'ground zero' cases right now, Warren. Shit's going to happen quickly. Just like Werner."

At the 'compellingly' admission she dips her head and mocks a curtsey. "Looking's generally free," she jokes before he drops the next question onto her. Eyebrows hook upward and her broad smile returns. "Do my ears deceive me? Are you giving me an honest choice? Well, gosh. It would be foolish to go and stick my neck out when I don't have anything at stake, but prior experience has taught me it's boring."

"Tell you what, Hot Wings. You keep these minor felonies of mine between us and I'll come play ball for a while."

She's trying to sell it up like he's getting the better deal here, but if one knew the whole story they might think otherwise…


Most men might have preened with peacock ego at what Domino says, and how she says it: at the frank talk about his power and influence, and the target it makes of him. Especially when compounded with his visible mutant nature. Warren? His expression and demeanor don't change much at all. It is not that he likes the words, nor even dislikes them; he simply seems to take what she says about him as a matter of course, as plain fact. These are simple facts of his life, and he knows them well.

It's almost more egotistical than if he had given himself airs about it.

"Yes," is all he says, a brief determination coming and going in his blue eyes. "I make for a pretty big target right now. I set out to do that on purpose, in fact. But that's a story for another time."

He straightens up to his full height, looking down at her a few more moments, before he seems to make an internal decision and steps down from his perch. His wings fold tightly at his back after he drops to ground level, and he approaches her with the kind of reckless fearlessness which probably… got him in all this trouble in the first place. He didn't miss her phrasing, and it gives him the measure of her pretty quickly: looking's generally free. There's always a 'but' on the end of that kind of clause.

"I shouldn't have to say there's money in it for you," he replies easily, with half a lofty, patrician smile. "Me, of all people."

He cants his head, the motion birdlike — especially with those wings at his back. "And I won't turn you in for breaking and entering. Done deal. I'll give you some names to look up."


While the Angel is staring down at the albino she's looking right back up in return. Studying. Admiring, sure. Trying to get as much of a read on the guy as he seems to be of her. He's pretty stoic and there are a few noteworthy distractions to work past, but overall the guy is giving her curiously little thus far. 'Jaded' comes to mind. A man, a -mutant- who's seen too much back-stabbery in his time. Smiles are probably mostly fake and still a critically endangered species.

Not that Domino minds. The scowl's doing it just fine for her. Like a chiseled statue…

One which is coming down to her level. Where all of those 'mere mortals' like to tread. About the only thought which could pull her mind elsewhere in a time like this…

…is the promise of getting paid.

"This just might be the start of something special," she practically beams. "Lay 'em on me, Wings. ..The names, not — What do you have for m—who's first on the list?" Pause. Absently thumbing over a shoulder, she declares "There's blood on your grass."


There are multiple faces to Warren Worthington. It's easy to just think of him as how he presents himself in public, or how the media presents him in gossip rags or news stories — dilettante, degenerate, a shallow and overprivileged heir — but those faces are obviously masks, worn for the benefit of the society pages, or the front covers of magazines. Meeting him in the flesh, one finds yet another mask even beneath those masks: cavalier, dry, and — yes — jaded, in the way of most thoughtlessly wealthy young men who've spent far too much time in the shark tank of business.

Beneath that cool, blue-blooded mask? Hard to say. It could be yet another mask — like who he is to the X-Men, or who he is with his family. Or it could be Warren Worthington's most essential self: whatever that might even be.

It's not anything easily penetrated in a few minutes, that is for certain. And for all his considering stares at her — precipitated primarily by the fact his vision is his best sense, and people always try to gauge with their best sense — he's not getting much of a read of her, either. Not enough to truly trust her on any meaningful level, despite the fact he eventually concedes enough of a basic connection to step back down to ground level with her. He's got a few ideas how to vet her, at least: have both her and her information run the gauntlet of the formidable people he knows.

To that end, he suggests pointing her in the direction of a few names — and he suggests money. Her brief verbal stumbles as she replies garner only the enigmatic, Cheshire-cat smiling of a man quite accustomed to eliciting such reactions. "Come in, and I'll write them down like a civilized man," he says, turning back towards the door.

Only her last remark, on the blood, gets him to pause. He glances over his shoulder. "Some of it's mine," he says, with a casual air that isn't mirrored in his eyes. "But not all."


He DOES smile! There's one more of life's mysteries solved! Domino's on a roll tonight.

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