Tact and Subtlety

June 19, 2015:

Scott speaks with Betsy about her plan to create a black ops, off-the-books X-team.

X-Men HQ - New York City

Secured, warded, monitored and highly, highly secret, this is the operational base for the X-Men, containing most of the high tech monitoring equipment the organization possesses along with relevant specialized gear for individual X-Men and mission ops. The facilities themselves include living and sleeping quarters for the teams and guests (though not all of the teams operate out of the base proper), a medical facilites, storage for supplies and of course the hangar for the Blackbird.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's a sad fact of life that even in the X-men, paperwork's a fact of life. And it's awful. Betsy is down in the actual X-Headquarters, working on one of the computers, a glass of wine at her elbow and the remains of one of her low-carb chicken burrito monstrosities at the desk.

She stops typing and presses her elegant manicure to her brow, massasing the chi lines, and then leans forward, chair sliding back so she can press her forehead into the heels of her palms. Her posture is one of irritated fatigue as she finishes updating Clarice 'Claire' Ferguson's profile, codename 'Blink'. One of the most recent newcomers to the school, an adorable teleporter with a few serious mental blocks. She spins the control unit over to a partially finished report detailing her side of another recent event, struggling to compose it in as objective a manner as possible. The report was getting hard to write.

Betsy rolls her head forward and shrugs her shoulders in a yogic posture, trying to remove the tension creeping along her spine and neck.


Access to the integrated Cerebro network is, of course, limited to the Senior Members, but the network provides constant intelligence on the location of all X-Men, whenever possible. Far better than GPS, and impossibly accurate.

Scott walks into the room with purposeful steps. "You have any idea how hard it is to nail you down?"

For a moment, he pauses, considering how he could have put that differently.

"… anyway, stay put." He turns around to press a hand against the control pad, shutting and locking the door behind him; not to keep anyone in, but to keep others out. "We need to have a chat."


"Why, hello, Scott. I'm fine, thank you," Betsy says, not looking up, rubbing the back of her neck. "Thanks so much for asking. A new outfit, you say? Why yes, I bought it at a smart little clothier in Queens." A beat. "Oh why, yes, thank you, I /am/ doing something different with my hair."

Betsy sits straight again, reassuming a princess-perfect posture, and goes back to work on the documents in front of her, fingers clicking smoothly against the keyboard surface, eyes scanning the lines of text. "You know, there are times I wonder if we made a mistake breaking up. And then I sober up, or you open your mouth, and I'm suddenly reminded of all the reasons the Professor keeps urging me to anger therapy."


Scott merely stares at Betsy. At first, he wonders if she's finally lost her mind (Or minds? How the fuck does that work, anyway?), but he eventually registers the snark, and it brings a sour smirk to his face.

"Perhaps you should limit your drinking," he fires back. The whole incident with the dance club was her fault, after all. "Jean talked with me about the idea you and Rose have been kicking around."

He grabs a spare chair, drags it across the floor without soaring the ugly noise of stainless steel scraped across polished cement, and plops it next to Elizabeth's computer. He sweeps a leg over the back Riker style and plops down, staring at her with that unblinking, ruby lensed glare. "I want to hear how you plan to make this work, without backfiring. Without setting off a fucking chain reaction advancing the Sentinel program twenty years."


Betsy sits quietly for several seconds, typing busily, eyes focused on the holographic display. She's been a bit awkward betimes since returning- people have commented she seems stiff, even uncomfortable around other teammates in conversation and discussion.

Absolutely decrying all of those rumors, Betsy starts speaking just as Scott inhales to break the silence. Nope- she's just being shitty. Sort of a bitchy version of comedic timing. "Of the many words your vocabulary lacks, Scott, I'll introduce you to two. Tact, and subtlety," Betsy says, finally finishing typing. She swivels in her chair to look at Scott, legs crossed at the knee and her loosely interlaced fingers atop her thigh. "Tact is, of course, the act of not simply interdicting oneself into any given situation or problem with the glaringly false assumption that one is the sole solution to it. Subtlety is doing so in such a manner that your presence is either construed as innocent, or noticed at all." She blinks at him, face utterly inscrutable. "I know- shocking concepts. Take a moment. Consult with Cerebro. I believe we have access to the Oxford English dictionary, if it'd help."


Under that mop of perfect hair, Scott's slightly tanned skin reddens. Not from embarrassment, but from… yes, mostly from embarrassment, also from his bruised sense of ego.

"You're going to kill people, and you want to do it in the name of the X-Men. I don't care if that's not the point, it's my job to make sure it doesn't become the point. Right now, I don't give a shit about tact and subtlety. What I care about is knowing exactly how this is going to go down, because if it goes down the wrong way, it's my ass, not yours."


"No, Scott, I'm not," Betsy corrects the man. "The entire point of a covert organization is that we /don't/ operate under the open blessing of Xavier's Institute. You can't have plausible deniability if we're flying the Blackbird and wearing X-logo on our belt."

"What I want to do is assemble an expert and discreet team of highly trained individuals who have no temerity about using lethal force, when the situation allows no other option," she clarifies. "If we're compromised, then you or Jean need not admit to anything. Dismiss us. /Disavow/ us, if you wish. We'd be nothing more than a band of rogue operatives, ostensibly operating under the cover of X-men, but without any endorsement from the Institute. You can tell Xavier or SHIELD anything you want, but at the end of the day, it does us little good to have a team of assassins if we actively advertise our status to the rest of the world."


Surprisingly, perhaps, Scott's attitude changes. The redness fades from his face, and he seems to be paying very close attention. Even his body language suggests it, by the way he leans forward, hands folded, forearms resting on his knees. Its a shame the glasses prevent Betsy from seeing the earnest look in his eyes.

"You're going to have some likeminded individuals out there," he answers her. "People like this one." He reaches over to turn the terminal his way, enters a security code, and draws up a heavily encrypted file on an individual named 'Partisan'.

"We aren't quite sure what her metahuman abilities are, behind immortality. She, or perhaps 'it' may be more appropriate, has been a factor in major socio-political shifts ever since history has been recorded with any sort of accuracy. Today, she intends to kill any police officer who operates one of the metahuman scanning devices. Her goal is to frighten them from being used. Which will probably have the end result of such items being incorporated for use by SRD, or worse, the military."

Turning away from the computer, Scott rests his attention upon Elizabeth once more. "You'll need to navigate those waters carefully. That's just an example of the world you're stepping into. Rose is talented, and she's driven. I like that. But she doesn't have the experience with our ideals that you have. If this goes down? You'll be the field leader, calling the shots day by day, and you'll only divert significant occurrences to my oversight. That train runs two ways. I won't be giving you orders. but when the situation demands, I will give you direction. As far as SHIELD goes… leave that to me. Nick Fury and I have something of an understanding. If I can manage it, I'll do my best to keep his children out of your way."

These words aren't spoken without pointed severity, but that severity is touched by an undertone of understanding and approval.


Betsy shakes her head slightly, glossy purple hair tossing across her bare shoulders. "There's a difference between /wanting/ to kill and being /able/ to kill, Scott," she reminds the man, her tone becoming a bit less acidly confrontational as well as he drops his sense of swaggering authority. "I don't want anyone along who has those inclinations. This isn't a pogrom, or a group of revenants seeking a warped sense of 'justice'. There won't be any room for personal issues or individual grudges."

She goes stony-faced again, a small tic in her jaw betraying carefully controlled emotion. "An assassin with ambition is a step away from a politician with a gun," she says. "If one is resolved to end a life, then that must be undertaken with the utmost respect for the act. For the mission- not the purpose. The difference between being a killer and a murderer is emotion. I have no problem taking a life. I've killed many, many people, Scott," she says, her tone flat and utterly unlike Elizabeth Braddock. "With my hands and feet and weapons and poisons. But I've never murdered someone."


"You may have changed your face, Bets, but you haven't changed your spirit." She didn't need to tell him that the team won't have room for bloodthirsty vigilantes.

For a moment, he wonders if she's been made privy to what happened when Stormwatch came for Rose. It wouldn't take much for someone to piece together the swath of grassless earth, the uprooted trees, and the freshly repaired front gates leading up to the Institute itself. Scott still wasn't sure whether his actions that day could be classified as 'killing' or 'murder'. Was he protecting the students? Yes. Was he protecting Rose and the X-Men assets? Absolutely.

A significant percentage of the act was based on vengeance over Jean's presumed murder.

"You'll need to leave the X-Men. On good terms, so it won't be odd to see your face around campus if it's warranted." His words still come quietly, more subdued than usual. "But I'll trust you to discuss this with Rose, Lunair, and anyone else you'd like on your team. Just keep your people close. In check."


For a moment, Betsy looks stricken. It resonates psychically about her, before she swiftly stomps those emotions away and out of place. She swallows, blinking twice, and a harsh stillness stiffens her shoulders.

"Scott, if you really want to 'sell' this, then it'd be best if I left in a huff," Betsy says, forcing a raspiness through her throat. "A departure on happy terms would do nothing to stop rumors or speculation, particularly if I were to return here for some necessity. But if… if I left," she says, forcing her way through the words, "in a public and vitriolic manner, then were I compromised, I'd be easily dismissable as a 'rogue member' of our companionship, long since sent to the proverbial curb for excessive and violent behaviour." She smiles bitterly, not quite looking at Scott. "Jean could even write up a psychological profile detailing explicitly how deranged I've been since my return from being kidnapped."


"Not tonight," Scott answers. "The grounds are pretty empty. When you go, though? Make it count. You and I both know I'm good at taking hits."

Scott pushes off the chair, scooting it back and turning for the door. "I don't like that it's come to this," he offers, and then turns around, eyebrow raised behind his glasses. "But if anyone's got the wisdom to do it right, it's you."

Before she can say anything else, he puts his hand to the pad, unlocking and opening the door. He walks out without another word, only to release the sigh through his nostrils when he's a good ten paces down the corridor.

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