A Conflict of Action

August 06, 2015:

Upon Scott and Rachel's return, passions run hot as some consider deadly methods of revenge.

Xavier's Institute - Westchester County

Xavier's Institute grounds are located on 1407 Graymalkin Lane in Westchester County between Graymalkin Lane itself and Breakstone Lake (30 miles outside of NYC itself). A large portion of this is acres upon acres of woodland forest. To the farthest eastern portion of the Institute's grounds there is a stretch of low foothils. Upon entering the Institute grounds immediately past the heavy gated entrance one finds themselves on a carefully paved road that splices in two directions, west and east.

The west leads to the School for Higher Learning where gifted youngsters are educated and taught to use their unique talents. Here almost year around children and teachers are housed.

To the east miles away lies Xavier's Mansion where Professor Xavier himself and some faculty members of the school live. These "special" individuals are those aware of Xavier's more clandestine operations, the adminstration and training of the X-Men.

Beyond the neatly walled mansion's yard in those foothills is an obscure landing strip that leads to a hangar complex and a subtly hidden facility. A facility that houses underground sublevels, a danger room, Cerebro and the training halls of one of the most advanced mutant fighting teams in the world.

An underground monorail connects the School for Higher Learning with the Charles Xavier's Mansion and the X-Men's Hidden Complex. Security is tight in this region, by means of limited magical warding, advanced future tech security systems and telepathic sweeps. Tread carefully.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: Broken by Seether

Fade In…

By the sixth full circuit around the Xavier Institute grounds, Scott Summers is finally growing winded. By definition, a circuit around the grounds is not a circle around the school itself, but rather, a full run that circles the Xavier Institute itslef, Charles Xavier's Mansion, and the edges of the grounds out to Breakstone Lake.

Twenty-one days in solitary confinement, without legal representation, without human contact beyond that of the guards who slipped their meager meals into his ruby quartz prison. There were plenty of reasons for Scott to not come home, but he had nowhere else to go. He didn't want to be here, even though his sense of obligation drove him here.

Wearing sweat pants and a sweatshirt bearing the Institute's logo, Scott pulls up by the basketball court in the rear grounds, stopping to bend down and stretch out his legs. His chest is heaving; he's out of shape. Twenty-one days in a small cell will do that to a person; he'd been limited to pushups, situps, and run-in-place calisthenics, a far cry from a proper workout.

Fortunately, the run has done well to wipe the brooding scowl from his face. Now, he simply has a thousand yard stare, which comes to life when he rises from the stretch and stares out at the quiet grounds. Summer break was always a lonely time around the school… somehow, it feels even lonelier this morning.


From the basketball court, it shouldn't be hard for even the scowling, perspiring Summers to spot the gleaming white limo that pulls up through the circle at the front of the Mansion, stopping at the apex. Whether or not he can then see the pristinely white-clad platinum blonde who steps out of the car when the driver opens the door is a different question. Emma Grace Frost has come to the Institute.

~// Good morning, Elizabeth. Thank you for understanding my late arrival. Obligations, dear. //~ Emma sends with crisp formality just barely edged in warmth as her mind finds that of the Brit trapped in that purple-haired oriental's body. She glances around as her senses acclimate to the Institute once more. And then she stops. How … odd. What a gloriously tightly woven ball of angst. No shields around that mind, it cannot be young 'Nate' - how deplorable a name that is. But who could it be?


Having had her morning workout already, Betsy had retired upstairs to don her day clothes, something relaxed and still suitably fashionable. Drifting around the near-empty corridors, Betsy had stopped only to speak with one or two other teachers who were around at that same time. None of the students were apparently out roaming the halls. Someone had mentioned seeing Scott going off for a morning jog, and immediately Betsy had forced herself to check her automatic snarl/eye-roll combination at the mention of anything Scott-related. Promises to Jean, and all.

On her way to the court, she catches a familiar telepathic 'voice' in her head, and the set of her jaw relaxes a bit, something about her eyes suggesting a small smile that few would identify correctly as such. ~Hullo, Emma,~ Betsy replies with polite but sincere warmth. ~I'm coming around the south side of the school near the courts- I can greet you at the entryway,~ she offers. Emma is just as likely to take a beeline towards wherever Betsy is, but it's still polite to offer a formal greeting at the threshhold.

However, the momentary distraction from the Summers problem is only passing; she senses that tightly coiled spring of frustration as well, and glancing out the basketball courts, sighs and forces herself to detour that way. ~I might be a mo', Emma, there's someone I need to speak to at the courts.~

"Scott." Damnably silent, even in her wedge pumps, Betsy doesn't announce her approach until she's less than ten feet away from the red-spectacled man, standing with her arms folded across her chest. Suddenly recognizing her over-assertive posture, she forces herself to relax and shift her weight to one hip, tucking her fingertips into the faux pockets on her white pants. "I'm glad to see you're back in one piece," she says, visibly forcing herself to 'be nice'.

Hey, it's an effort for her, sometimes.


Beneath the glasses, Scott's eyelids flutter in a rapid burst; Betsy had taken him by surprise, but he doesn't jump. A deep breath pushes out his chest - it was taken in through the nose and released through barely parted lips. Interestingly enough, Betsy is not the recipient of an outburst. He seems relieved to hear her voice.

Its not Rachel, or Jean, or any of the people who witnessed his state of mind last night. Beyond that, setting aside their history, she was one of the ones he trusted.

Turning away from his staring, Scott faces Betsy. He's quiet for a moment. The limousine noticed in his peripheral draws a rising of his eyebrows, but Elizabeth's greeting brings a tired smile to his face. "Thanks." A pause, followed by a dry attempt at humor. "The waterboarding really sucked, but I talked them out of the amputations."

Another glance is given to the white limousine, it's occupant drawing a crook of the eyebrow. "We expecting someone?" Subspeak: someone who drives that. Or, most likely, is driven in that.


~// Ah. Interesting. Perhaps I shall join you there. That seems … an interesting presence. //~ Emma responds to Elizabeth, not yet aware that said ball of tension is in fact the presence known as the once-missing Scott Summers. Emma has not yet gleaned the location of his holding cell from those she has been rifling through of late, but she had been intending to continue that effort. No one told her he was back and that her pilfering of thoughts and memories was no longer required.

Oh, let's be honest. Emma will probably take the excuse to keep going. The more intel she has, the better she can manipulate everything and everyone to her own best benefit. Because her name is Emma Frost. What more excuse does she need?

As such, by the time Summers and Braddock are sufficiently engrossed in one another, Emma finally turns away from the porch and starts towards one of the walkways that will lead to the basketball court. She does recall Rachel's tour upon her first arrival; that perfect recall of hers is uncanny, and Emma /hates/ to be lost or feel out of control. So she takes care of it herself, complete with four-inch Ferragamo heels. Emma is not silent; she is not a ninja. She's a Queen, perhaps planning to annex this realm into her domain.


Betsy makes a vague gesture with one wrist, arcing up and away from her hip for a few inches. Sort of acknowledging that Scott made a joke, albeit not a terribly funny one. "People don't start screaming until you get to the fingernails, anyway."

Betsy probably shouldn't deadpan such black humor, because it comes off as having an air of creepy familiarity with the topic. The awkward silence that hangs on the coattails of her quip is mute evidence of that, and she stares at Scott until she realizes the joke isn't going to land anytime soon. Her eyes shift sidelong, towards the limosine, and that seemingly jars her thoughts to Scott's question.

"Yes, our new associate," Betsy informs Scott. "Emma Frost, the CEO of Frost Industries. She quite lives up to her name, however; don't expect a warm reception from her. She probably won't care much for you," Betsy tells Scott, bluntly. "Also, she's quite a potent telepath. I'd think quite stridently on your lessons from Jean and Charles if you don't want her sniffing out your thoughts."

Simultaneously, she extends her thoughts out to Emma's, finding her presence and sending a polite signal for her to home in on. ~Scott Summers,~ Betsy tells Emma telepathically. ~Our strategic leader. Do please be a bit forgiving if his manners lapse; he's had quite a harrowing few weeks in prison and he might be more rough around the edges than you're accustomed to.~

In the privacy of her own thoughts, Betsy curses Jean for not being there to be the diplomat. Good sense of etiquette can cover up a lack of any sense of tact, but not for terribly long.


The joke landed, then skipped off the runway and made for the mountains. It does draw a bland smirk from Scott's face, but that's that.

An expression of familiarity comes to the man's face when Elizabeth identifies their new associate. He draws another deep breath, then let's it go; he'd trusted the decisions to be made by others, so he's not about to argue. Quite frankly, he's not entirely convinced that he wants to reclaim the proverbial throne, not to mention that right now, he's certainly not ready for it.

"I know who she is." While he may not have intended the response to come so clipped, it does. Scott immediately goes about the business of building his defenses; he's become surprisingly practiced at it. Imprisonment had given him a wealth of spare time. That little ball of angst is burrowed deeper, thoughts of Rachel and Jean summarily filed away. Rahne, Brinley and 'Berto come next, for they are a reminder of his outburst last night.

When Emma becomes visible, Scott turns to face her. It's been a long time since he's seen the woman; she's clearly doing well with life. "Associate?" Scott asks in a sideways manner toward Betsy. He's got a great deal to catch up on.


The White Queen - the imagery of the name is startlingly apt, as she approaches with such a regal air, clad in nothing but white as she is - strolls down the walkway in those high heels, and stops at a sociably distance, includingher platinum blonde head fractionally in greeting. "Mister Summers. Quite the surprise to see you. I was planning to do more hunting for your prison later today. Apparently that will not be necessary?" Emma comments and questions, all rolled into one.

~// I will never fully understand the fascination some hold of continuing to coat oneself in perspiration, as if it is some rite of purification. //~ Emma comments rather dryly to Elizabeth, without even a flicker of her pale blue eyes towards the other woman. Emma's droll humor is in full evidence. "Might I take that to mean, then, that Rachel has also returned? Or should I continue my search?"


"Not quite fully into the fold, no," Betsy tells Scott, sotto voce, watching Emma's approach well before the woman's quite in eyesight. "But given her talents, recruiting her required a more open tact than we might have employed otherwise. There's very little she doesn't know, and less she can't find out. She's… determined."

When Emma approaches, Betsy lifts a hand from Scott to Emma, palm up. "Miss Emma Frost, permit me to introduce Scott Summers, leader of the X-teams. Scott, this is Miss Frost, CEO of Frost Industries," she says. It's all done quite urbanely and correctly, with none of Betsy's usual awkwardness. Niceties are easy, at least.

~Pain and sweat is weakness leaving the body, Emma,~ Betsyrebuts to Emma's statement. ~I'll be damned if I turn 30 and can't fit into my summer bikinis anymore; I already had to replace a wardrobe once.~ She seems inclined to let Scott fill in the blanks in Emma's vocalized questions, turning her amethyst eyes to regard him steadily.


Betsy's clarification is certainly appreciated, given the touchy relationship that exists between the Xavier Institute and the X-Men. Scott is also a man who values information; perhaps not to the same degree as a woman like Frost, but the metrics would challenge each other. Knowing of her determination is valuable to him. He doesn't nod his head, he doesn't make any outward signs of acknowledgement, but Elizabeth ought to know him well enough to discern his gratitude, in spite of how he works to mask the emotion from his mind.

With attention turning toward the White Queen, Scott has to fight the urge to throw the woman an all-too-casual upnod. Instead, he bows his head in a manner that somewhat resembles a nod of greeting. Proper etiquette would ask for a greeting of hands, but his hand is particularly sweaty at the moment.

"Miss Frost." He's biting his tongue; the snark that wants to roll free bubbles at the edges, but he's a good boy and holds it back for the time being. The effort causes his next words to come with a slower and more deliberate pace than is usual for him."It's a pleasure to see you again." 'Surprise' casually replaced with 'pleasure'.

Word that she was searching for his would-be Gitmo has his eyebrows rising once more. He's a bit surprised by that news. "Well… I, uh, thank you, but no. It won't be necessary. Rachel and I were both released, yesterday." The perceptive may notice, in that moment, his jaw working back and forth. There was a hell of a lot more he'd like to share with them regarding the particulars of his imprisonment, but for the moment, he keeps his thoughts to himself.


"I see." Emma offers, coolly. One might almost assume she'd borrowed Bobby Drake's powers, the way the arctic cold breeze washes through the social interaction unfolding between the three. "Well, then, that should free me up to deal with that other intelligence gathering mission. Congratulations, I suppose are due, upon the returning of your civil liberties. I trust it was not in fact necessary to eradicate anyone to effect your release?" She sounds almost disappointed by that reality. Emma really would have rather taught the arrogant monkeys a lesson in humility and respect. That she has to find another excuse now for doing so is inconvenient and irksome.

Though Emma has seen Summers enough to recognize him, this is the closest they've ever been, and she is definitely taking his measure unabashedly. She is a woman of intense focus and detailed orientation. Knowledge is power. And Emma Grace Frost knows well that only she who has all the knowledge can have all of the power she needs to effect change to her own benefit. She learned her lessons well: trust none, and always be ready to break any foolish enough to threaten her or hers.

Anyone can be excused for wondering when and how Elizabeth Braddock apparently became part of 'hers' in Emma's mind. They certainly don't seem like they are very close. But anyone reviewing the notes that have been made by others outside those two would likely spot clear evidence of a pattern.


Betsy keeps her opinions on the matter of monkeys to herself. In spite of Jean's posture of letting the law handle things, Betsy had been feeling a familiar itch to 'do something', even if that was not necessarily adviseable or wise. Surprisingly, in this case, it was her Kwannon-self who advocated for patience and deliberation, where Elizabeth was ready to charge to the rescue.

Times change.

~Perhaps a /bit/ less disappointment at the lack of a homicidal imperative, Emma darling,~ Betsy projects into Emma's mind- chiding her playfully, but not disagreeing with the sentiment itself. They'd talked, at length, about Xavier's dream for peace, and the often unreasonable lengths to which they'd pursued it. They'd disagreed about the practice, if not the principle, of pacifism, but Betsy had found a little exultant glee at someone who passively encouraged her more vengeful nature.

Sensing Scott's distress at his statement, and Emma's pointed question about murdering his way free (and knowing Scott could easily have done it), Betsy makes a game effort at deflecting the question. "In this case, the politics of the situation were made to work in our favor," she suggests to the two of them. "Fortunately we can focus now on getting Scott and Rachel re-settled into the routine here at the Institute."

The RP beyond this point in the log has been retconned by agreement of the parties involved, as the actions of the telepaths present were based on erroneous information.


If Emma and Scott had noticed Scott's unshielded mind, Rachel's must have been like a wildfire of emotions and thoughts simmering just below the surface. It's clear the young woman's powers are weak, an after-effect of not having access to them for three weeks.

The telepathic shields over her mind are so weak, only a student here would have issues breaking through; any telepath worth their salt would find their way past the barriers with ease, no effort required.

It's obvious she's trying to avoid attention as she steps out a side entrance to Xavier's wearing a hoodie pulled up over her head and jeans. Her steps are slow and deliberate and she looks at every single person who passes her with an almost fearful expression, especially those she does not know.

She has all the demeanour and poiseof a frightened stray cat at the moment as unruly and unkept scarlet locks poked out from beneath the hoodie.

For a brief second, a flicker of relief crosses through her thoughts when she sees Emma and Betsy but when she sees Scott; her mind reverts back to pure terror.

Rachel was terrified of Scott.


It would have been nice to simply congratulate him on being out of the slammer. Instead, Emma had to go on and pry for more details about his imprisonment and release; the very thing that drove him to get so sweaty in the first place, not to mention a significant portion of that tightly wound ball of angst. There is a visible change in his face, a sharp inhalation through his nose, and he's inches away from blasting the both of them with vitriol regarding his civil liberties, as a United States citizen, the particulars of his imprisonment, the lack of legal representation, the…

Instead, Elizabeth interjects before the verbal assassination can come, and the volley of unspoken angst continues. The inhaled breath is slowly let loose, and his jaw once more grinds back and a forth while he so bravely vanquishes the boyish tendencies in favor of something far more proper and respectful; silence on the subject.

"It would be helpful to understand what's happened in my absence," he says cooly, not yet noticing Rachel. "During my incarceration, I was notgiven access to media feeds, the internet, anything. I don't like being cut off."


The cool, calm and collected vision in white actually glances momentarily at Elizabeth, those arctic blue eyes meeting amethyst for a moment as their exchange of thoughts registers to the adorably catty interplay. "Welcome back, then, Mister Summers." Emma offers with prim politeness and enough formality one might imagine a steel rod in place of her spine.

Whatever Emma might well have been ready to share with Scott aloud, regarding events that have transpired since his disappearance, falls to nothing. Emma's mind naturally notes the presence of another when Rachel moves closer, and then picks up on several other imperatives. Another telepath, this demands immediate attention and identification. Identified, Emma is curious and a bit distressed to note the radical lowering of Rachel's apparent strength and ability. That attention was all it took.

Emma's pale blue eyes close, momentarily. Unseen, save by the only mind actually in contact with her thoughts, comes the flood of images, memory fragments, sensations, and feelings. A few moments later, her eyes drift back open, their temperature having gone from 'cold' to 'sub-Kelvin'. A frozen, arctic rage washes through her mind, and then is gone, leaving a wasteland of deliberate intent behind. The only other outward sign is that Emma's hand at her side has gone from a casually open stance to a fist, her already pale skin standing out as the compression of those muscles reaches the extreme.

"I … Excuse me, Mister Summers. I am sure you have a great deal of catching up to do, with Elizabeth and the others. You'll want nothing to do with associating with my actions. I will see to it no such connection exists." Emma nods to Scott and Elizabeth, even as she then turns sharply on her toes and starts to march towards the limo, which is mysteriously pulling through the gate again seconds later.

~// Elizabeth, do not follow me. Take care of the child. I will take care of this. //~ For one of only a rare few times in all their association and connection these last months, some of Emma's actual emotions leak through with her thoughts, as Emma's nightmare visions swamp across. Somehow, she is now certain how it will happen. And yet, she seems intent on galloping towards that outcome, like a Horsewoman of the Apocalypse. (No, no, not of En Sabah Nur.)


Though she'd felt the flickering edges of Rachel's anguish for most of half a day now, Betsy hadn't gone trampling in, despite her curiousity. Mostly because Jean had urged her not to go riffling through Rachel's thoughts- or Scott's- and reminded her a bit pointedly about the difference between 'right' and 'easy'.

But there, exposed to Rachel's naked terror, Betsy could't help herself- opening her psychic senses, she picked up every flickering nuance that slipped past Rachel's normally resolute shields. And then with that crashing fear and pain in her expression, Betsy simply pours herself into Rachel's mind, demanding, peering at the crackling and fragmented memories, and awash in all that pain for a brief moment.

Betsy glances at Scott with a familiar scowl- perhaps channelling some of Rachel's fear of him- and moves swiftly towards the girl, marshalling her emotions. At the same time, a wondering sort of fearfulness sends an emotional hand to Scott, to grip his in the shadow of his mind. Despite their differences, they were once quite close, and in moments of pain it's often hardest to remember the pettiness of recent disagreements. She gives him a look, then, baffled and questioning as to how Rachel is so broken, how he is not- and why is she so terrified of him?

She approaches Rachel, hands outstretched and offering a rarity from Betsy: a reassuring embrace. What she projects to Rachel isn't sympathy or panacea, though. She offers the solace of a psychic battleship, putting Rachel protectively in her shadow. Jean is the hot tea and a warm hug sort; Betsy's more of a mind that you deal with nightmares by helping to hunt the monsters.

Upon that demi-reality of the Astral plane, Betsy puts herself in front of Emma's rampage as the head of steam starts to billow, before, forestalling her momentarily. Rage, dark and bilious, simmers off of her avatar, barely constrained by sheer willpower. She's as furious as Emma.

~Not by yourself,~ Betsy tells Emma, her tone authoritative. ~There are ways to subvert psychics. They held Rachel in full check for three weeks, and she's easily my equal in raw strength. Nearly on par with Jean.~ And the mental landscape momentarily reflects the truely awful, cataclysmic power either of those redheaded women could have unleashed, enough to scorch the world or break reality. The next words, chosen carefully: ~You are not sufficient for the task, alone.~ Not inadequate; not too weak; just not /enough/. Anymore than a hammer is useful as a wrench.


Emma's actions do not go unnoticed by Rachel. Did she cause the other woman to leave? She tries not to think too hardly about it, when she feels that silent nagging in her head that says 'you are not alone'. After peering around in so many people's minds, it was a little alarming to be the one on the receiving end of it.

Even if she had the will to fight back right now, it would be like a mewling kitten before a lioness, there was no contest in her current condition.

The embrace is returned tightly and Betsy can sense something; the only thing Rachel had wanted when she got out of that cell was a hug from her father, instead she was met with disappointment. A feeling of worthlessness.

Her lower lip trembles slightly as she hides in that psychic shadow and she leans her head on the other woman's shoulder and whispers, "Thank you."


Noticing the subtleties in Emma's disposition, notably the clenching of her fingers, Scott finds himself less plagued by his own concerns, and considers the words that she speaks. The manner in which she begins to make her departure has him perplexed, and for a moment he looks on, blankly. "Oh… kay…"

Betsy's look and similar departure, also, causes the man to draw a blank. For a few moments, he is satisfied with being left in the dark. He didn't come home to lead the X-Men, or to teach, or to do anything more than shave his face, have a shower, visit Jean and sleep in his own bed. Only the thing is… he just can't help himself. He's too deeply invested in Xavier's dream to stand on the sidelines. As such, his glasses drift along after Betsy, and when he catches a glimpse of red hair, he begins to understand what's going on.

It would seem as if he may be stalling, or content to remain put where he is, but in truth, Scott Summers is thinking. He knows something of Emma's history, given what Charles had shared with him. He's been around telepaths enough to have an inkling as to how they think, and his guesswork is impeccable.

Scott is angry with Rachel. He has been ever since the foolish decision she made in Washington. That anger notwithstanding, there is a very big place in his heart that feels empathy for her and what she's been through, a place that has been mangled up in anger and worry, but not so damaged as to be destroyed. He's well aware of how hurt she is, and for good reason… but nobody, to his knowledge, has truly addressed the gravity of what happened to them. The laws that were violated, the rights withheld, and the many courses of action that could be taken in vengeance.

Now, it's Scott who finds his fists clenched, but he leaves Betsy and Rachel to do what they must, and instead, he regretfully picks up his feet and follows the retreating Emma.

"Now, you just wait one damn minute," he says quietly once he's in earshot, hoping that his words and the tone of his voice is enough to give her pause. "That's not how we do things around here, Frost."


Is this about the reactions of telepaths? Or is this about the reactions of women? Emma may have learned of what has transpired through telepathy, but her telepathy itself has no bearing on her /reaction/ to that knowledge, however much it may inform her getting that knowledge, or her intended responses to it. She is stalking towards the car with grace, with poise, and with a devastating intent. Connected to Emma's mind as she is at the moment, Elizabeth cannot help but be keenly aware of the ice cold determination and intent that are taking shape within that regal exterior.

~// I will do it without any of you, Elizabeth. It will not be enough to protect you. I know that. But at least they cannot blame any of you for what will transpire. What MUST be done. ~ Betsy would know, inherently, just how scorched-earth Emma is prepared to go with this. There is a ferociousness in the blonde's decision-making that is a glory to behold, for one with the martial focus Betsy so embraces. ~ You know what those foul beasts did to that child. And you know the only way to stop it. It is a black site. No oversite. There will be no investigation, no proof, no prosecution. Not unless we MAKE it happen. They have to be shown incontrovertible proof that we will not be hunted, or abused. Not even those accused of crimes. //~

Apparently, Emma not only intends to do this alone, but has reasons she feels that is best, no matter the price she will pay. She seems painfully aware that her actions are likely to precipitate the very dark future she has been striving to find a way to avoid. And yet she's haring off towards it without hesitation; there apparently are some things that can actually engender a genuinely irrational, emotional response out of Emma Frost. This must be one of them.

Emma's response to Scott's pursuit approach is swift. She spins on her toes, facing him disdainfully. "Oh, yes. I am painfully aware such is not the way things are done here. That, Mister Summers, is precisely why I told you - all of you - to stay here. I will not return. They will not tie this to you. But it must be done." She doesn't actually say 'someone has to do what you are too wrecked to take care of yourself', but perhaps her tone implies it? Or maybe not. "I will not allow this to go unanswered. I cannot."


Betsy just hugs the holy hell out of Rachel, looking as if she intends to stand there for as long as the girl needs her to. She's not terribly comfortable; she's too strong and mostly hard lines of muscle under her few soft curves. But, she's a terrible, terribly reassuring presence.

"It's quite all right, Rachel dear," Betsy assures the girl, with a surprisingly maternal tone of voice. "You're safe, here, and very beyond any reach." She gives it about four good beats, then breaks the hug and grips Rachel's triceps with a gesture more firm than reassuring, looking down at her tear-streaked features. "All right, that's quite enough of that," she tells Rachel, somehow encapsulating the gestalt of Rachel's emotional outburst. "Stiff upper lip, dear, all that. Have a tissue, you look dreadful," she says, flicking an ever-present little exfoliant cloth from her back pocket, where it sits next to her compact. She offers it to Rachel, running her nails through the errant red locks to shove them back away from her face. Her fingertips start twitching in a decidedly Betsy fashion, and it's clear her next step is going to be to assault Rachel with a comb.

In the voidspace of the mental landscape, Betsy listens to Emma's thoughts carefully. ~I don't propose willful ignorance of these travesties,~ Betsy tells Emma, perhaps a bit tartly. ~Just that you're going off… 'half-cocked',~ she says, struggling a bit over the idiom. She exhales and there's clearly some internal dissonance as her avatar fragments, aspects of her fragmented personality bickering with one another. Simultaneously, a fiercely pretty British girl asserts: ~Bollocks! Let's go stomp on their throats and have and be done with it!~ Another face, somehow tempered with expressions more present on Xavier and Jean's faces: ~We have to think of the larger picture here. Rachel deserves vengeance, but also justice. Vengeance can be had in private, but justice can only be served in a public forum. The world has to know what happened, and why that fate befell these perpatrators.~ Finally, a deeply angular face of purely Asian descent, shorter than the others and swaddled in shadow: ~A lone operative is a security risk. Your options are limited to whatever options are available to you alone at that moment. A good assassin works with a support team. Personal ego means nothing next to mission success.~

Betsy gathers her fragmented selves back into place and stares at Emma over that spectral plane. She happens to hold all three attitudes at once, so makes no offer of explanation to the White Queen.


Nate should have been here before, but the young man doesn't check his messages often, and a message in the cellphone was how he was told Rachel and Scott were free. How is Ray didn't sent a telepathic message? He will find out soon.

The three weeks that have passed and Rachel altered mental state make difficult for Nate to establish a telepathic contact with the young redhead. He could have if he had bothered to spend five minutes trying, but five minutes is pretty much how long it takes for him to fly from New York to Xavier's. Besides, he has no patience.

At least he can sense Scott's mind strong and all colors of negative. Which is not rare. So he uses the older man as beacon to find the small group. «Scott» he projects into the X-Men's leader mind. «Are you alright? Where… nevermind, I'll be there in as second.» And sureenough, he comes flying and lands a few yards from the others. Emma, Betsy and "Ray!" He grins and heads straight for his 'sister' losing the smile when he sees her face.


The words and actions of Betsy help to soothe Rachel a little, the wildness in her eyes subsiding as Betsy begins to try and fix her uncombed hair. She accepts the cloth tissue with a faint smile and begins to wipe away at her face, "Thank you Betsy." A pause, "Do I really look that bad?"

She hated this. Never had she been so powerless, in more ways than one. If she sensed Emma's intent at all, she would be grateful for what the other woman wanted to do.

The truth is, she wanted to burn that place to the ground to and free everyone in there regardless of what they did.

Nate's arrival, that fills her with some small bit of happiness as he approaches. Stepping away every so hesitantly from Betsy she wrapped her arms around her brother and bit her lower lip, "I'm so happy to see you Nate."


Trailing closely behind Emma, Scott pulls up short when she spins, apparently expecting such a reaction. His expression is masked by the glasses, save for the twisting of his lips into a frown that is both disturbed and concerned at once. He listens to her speak, but his retort comes without hesitation.

"And it won't go unanswered." He allows for the briefest of pauses, giving her time to acknowledge that there is at least a percentage of agreement here.

"It may benefit you to have a full understanding of the mess we're in," he starts, "but you need to understand something." His words are designed for Emma alone, spoken quietly, yes, but with vigor and passion that doesn't quite match up with the anger she sensed in him. "We've already come damned close to igniting a firestorm that can't be extinguished. We've dodged more than one bullet in that regard, and I will not let you run off and do whatever the hell you plan on doing. Not like this." His arm comes out, and he points at the ground twice to accentuate his next words. "What we do here affects everyone. Especially now. We, as mutants, either stand together on this, with a united front, or we perish. I didn't spend close to a month locked in a cube of ruby quartz only to come home and watch everything crumble." He gestures toward Rachel, as she's being comforted by Betsy. "She didn't suffer under the same circumstances to watch the future she's trying to prevent come to pass. Not because of her own stupid decisions, or mine, or yours."

Scott takes a single step back then, and folds his arms defiantly. There is a momentary pause, during which Nate's voice rings inside of his mind. ~I'll be alright, Nate, but right now, nothing is going right.~ The thought is bounced back without a moment's hesitation.

"With a single phone call, Frost, I can have lawyers lined up and ready to tear into the Federal Government over this. I have allies in SHIELD who will stand by our side, willingly or through subpoena, if we must. We have the capacity to tear this to the ground, and if that fails — if that fails, then we have the capacity to burn it to the ground, and we will. But we don't do it alone. We die alone."

He shakes his head slowly. "Don't get in that car."


Elizabeth knows that Emma 'heard' her thoughts, even if the blonde woman does not respond to them. Does not respond … and withdraws, cutting off contact behind that pristine white castle wall, showing nothing, offering nothing. It is the first time since they met, months ago, that she has ever cut off contact like that.

Emma's response to Scott is equally soft, but filled with fury. "You idiot. Lawyers cannot fix this. Those men are untouchable by the law. No oversight. Not even any names. And any physical evidence has long since disappeared. I can find them. And I can punish them. I can make sure it never happens again." Emma isn't one for raw or emotional appeal. Her words are cold razors. But the question is: is Scott wise enough to realize that coldness is evidence of the truth depth of emotion ground up into all of this?

"Nathan, I suggest you keep your people close." There is a mute sort of appeal in Emma's dead tone of voice. Frightening to any rational mind, to realize how many gathered here are refugees of one form or another, trying to avoid different but equally devastating futures.

"You have my condolences, Summers, for what you've experienced. For the pain you'll face, trying to help her rebuild. I'm no good at consoling. The only way I can help is to do what must be done. What none of you can allow yourselves to do." Emma answers. The truth is, she doesn't want the devastation to follow. She just cannot see her way past a failure to respond to the horrible crimes that have been done. She turns, starting to walk towards the car. "We all die alone. I'd have thought three weeks in a crystal prism would have made that clear."


As he watches from the second floor window, Wiccan looks down into the courtyard. He slowly opens the window in an attempt to hear what's going on a bit better. He whispers softly, "Enchanced hearing. Enhanced hearing. Enhanced hearing." As he waves a hand over his ear they both begin to glow softly for a moment.

The young man runs a hand through his hair and leans against the wall next to the window to make himself parrell with it in an attempt to remain out of sight for now.


That abrupt cessation stings. It stings, more than an insult would have. Receding into mere ad hominem could be excused due to the irrationality of the moment. Betsy's face remains cold, even placid, but in the moments before Emma severs that link entirely, a look of anger and hurt flickers over Betsy's face, impossible to hide or veil with pretense.

"Hullo, Nate," Betsy tells the other Summers scion, greeting him with a precisely polite tone. The tension in the air is abundant, even to someone not possessed of Nate's tremendous psychic talents. Betsy is ever the enigma and Emma little easier to read than a blank wall, but Scott and Rachel are bundles of raw nerves, and it's quite visibly affecting everyone there.

"You look dreadful, darling," Betsy says then, eying Rachel and speaking quite bluntly, forcing a neutral tone of voice. "Some girls look rather fetching when they cry, but I'm afraid you've your mums colors. You've gone all red and blotchy. Don't cry in public if you can help it," she offers, sagely.

Very helpful, Betsy is. When Rachel breaks from Nate's hug, Betsy produces a little black disc barely the size of her back pocket and clicks it open, producing a rather cunningly designed makeup kit that fits in her palm. The little comb even folds into a small if serviceable brush. "Hold still," she advises Rachel, and goes to work with efficient if not entirely gentle motions, starting with that mess of hair. It takesperhaps a few seconds longer than it would for her to do for herself, but in less than a minute, Rachel's hair actually gets some shape to it and Betsy mitigates the worst of the visible effects from Rachel weeping.

At no point does her face betray the furious debate raging inside of her, struggling for the first time in a long while with the multitude of voices each demanding their say, voicing a strident opinion about how to help Emma, mitigate her damage, or stop her outright. No option holds any more appeal to her than the next.

So, for the moment, Betsy marshals herself with the pretense of helping Rachel gather her poise again.


Nate pulls Rachel into a hug, "nah, you look great," he states quickly. Glaring at Betsy. But he is a pretty poor liar and not trying too hard. Guilt too, he should have looked for her, not waited for lawyers, or Xavier to act. He grew up in a place where law was a mockery of justice; he had very little faith in 'the system', but three years in the apparently civilized America have made him soft and complacent. «What happened?» He projects in the redhead girl. But he is not prying. His shields are up to prevent the unwanted memory sharing he often sparks when he is close to one of his 'family' telepaths.

Emma's words, of course, ring true to him. There needs to be some kind of retaliation, justice, vengeance. Whatever. Lawyers and stuff are good, too. But mostly, some punching and mind-stabbing.


"Lawyers have not yet tried," Scott retorts. "We're making assumptions based on blind paranoia."

Having said that, Scott turns again to look in the direction of Betsy, Nate, and Rachel. When he finally looks at his daughter, the vitriol he'd felt for her last night simply isn't there anymore. This takes him by surprise… a more rational mind might have easily disseminated that he was angry, tired, psychologically traumatized and reacting thusly. Scott, however, is an interesting mixture of rational and emotionally charged. Right now, he sees what he can see, and when he sees Rachel so traumatized, it cuts him to the core; for he knows that his heavy hand played a role in all of that.

The fire has left his heart for a moment by the time he looks back toward Emma while she offers her cold condolences. He doesn't speak, he doesn't retort; for a moment, he simply watches her walk towards that shiny, white, expensive limousine.

Cool resolve forms on Scott's face. He slips a hand into the pocket of his hoodie, retrieving a slender visor. Eyes closed, he trades the glasses from his face for the visor, and a moment later, a very slender optic blast sears out and punctures the rear tire of that limousine.

"Gonna come back and stop me, Frost? Or shall I punch out the next one?"


As he listens, he hmmms softly looking between Nate and Rachel. Wiccan says to himself, "I don't know those two…yet I know she is a telepath." His eyes move to Betsy. He begins to bite his nail at the amount of tension he can hear in their voices when they are speaking. His eyes move to Scott with a raised eyebrow when he speaks.


Ordinarily, Rachel would not make the best doll to stand still and be made over and fixed up; but under these circumstances she showed no resistance to Betsy's almost sisterly fussing when she releases herself from Nate's hug.

«I'd rather not talk about it..» Her telepathic response to Nate, was weak, faint and not at all filled with the same fire and warmth that would usually be there. It was like a void in comparison.

She seems to tense up when Scott attacks the limousine and Betsy will notice the trembling almost immediately.

There was obvious concern and worry for what might come next. She wanted to say something but for some reason, she just didn't have the courage.


"Punch away, Summers. I'll just forward you the bill for the tow and the replacement tires." Frost responds, coldly furious. An assault on her car is not an assault on her. It's not an assault on her driver, who is unharmed. It is not an assault on her company, for whom the price of the tire is less than pocket change. But it's annoying. Irksome. And out snaps the Starkphone. "Call hangar." she intones, and the device does its job, identifying the number in question and dialing it. "Capture my location data, if you will, please. I need our fastest passenger-capable helicopter to this location. Thank you kindly."

Yes. Emma's response to a flat tire is to summon a helicopter. Damned businesswoman billionaire does not fight fair. Then again, who the Hell would have been stupid enough to ever expect Emma Frost to fight fair. Seriously?

Never does Emma ever say, or even think, anything like 'If she were my daughter …' Emma has not allowed herself the tiny emotional luxury of ever considering children, or her own maternal instincts - or dearth thereof. But Rachel is a young female telepath. And something about that resonates with Emma in ways she's not even fully aware of, let alone capable of putting into words.

"I am sure Elizabeth would have told you about what I saw." Emma intones, softly, not wanting her voice to carry past Scott, though anything is possible; she's no acoustic wizardess. "That's why I came here. Why I tried to connect with her, in spite of it all." It's somethingthat has gone utterly unsaid between she and Betsy. With these women the way they are, it never had to be said to be real. "I wanted to stop that from happening. Now I cannot. I can at least make them pay." There's a genuine note of defeatism in that tone.


Betsy's fairly sneaky, and there's rumors around the Institute that she just enjoys scaring the hell out of kids who are up to a bit of malarky and suspect they're alone.

But she's also extremely fast, the sort of fast that marries both superhuman musculature and reflexes that defy belief- as well as intent to move decisively.

So one moment, she's stepping back from Rachel, and in the next, she's practically teleported to stand between Emma and Scott. And where Emma is a dizzying white tower of perfection and certitude, Betsy's posture is more reminscent of something dangerous and primal. If there is ever a nightmare a child had of something lurking in the dark, for a moment, Betsy has that presence, looking from Emma to Scott with a flat amethyst gaze, unnaturally luminous.

"Never. Ever. In front of the children," she murmurs, her voice barely carrying past the two ears they're intended for. Scott gets little more than a reminder of Charles' repeated pleas to always demonstrate nonviolence, particularly in front of students. Emma gets a look that's measures less charged; after all, Scott did throw the first punch, so to speak.

Resolving her aplomb in the form of a little tug at the barely-there hem of her cami top, Betsy glances at Rachel and Nate, and then looks back at Scott and Emma.

"I've said nothing, to anyone, about it," Betsy tells Emma. And there's a world unspoken there; the strident pleas she must have made on Emma's behalf, without speaking a word of why she suddenly trusted the woman so implicitly.

"I want this as much as you do, Emma," Betsy assures the woman. And she /means/ it. "More, even. I would happily wade ankle-deep through that blood." She exhales, visibly centering herself emotionally.

"This school is more than just an educational center. It's a gamble- that humans and mutants can co-exist, and that we can hopefully resolve our differences peacefully." The words grate, but she gets through them. "It is not always easy. Sometimes it's not possible," she admits. "But I've found that if we don't at least try- at least /try/ to be nonviolent- then we become like them," she says, somehow referring to humanity as a whole. "It's such an obvious problem with such an easy solution." Words she'd spoken to Jean not a week prior. "It'd be so simple. But it wouldn't be justice. Just revenge."

"It's not about what's doing what's right, or just, or even fair. If we want humans to treat us as equals, we must show them we're willing to give their way a chance."

She gestures at Emma, then, minutely- an entire plea given, and an admission of obligation to the woman in exchange for her concession.

"Please, Emma," she says aloud. Possibly the first time anyone's heard Betsy actually use the P-word as something other than a polite nicety. "Just please wait until we've all of it in front of us."


Nate shifts closer to Rachel, his hands on her shoulders, but his eyes in the argument going before him. He is conflicted, to say the least. Scott is trying to follow Xavier's way, which sometimes won't work. This might be one of those. The Emma he knew was about as headstrong as they come. This is not going to go well. "Scott is losing it," he comments to Rachel, speaking quietly. "Guess he is also a mess. Bastard just keeps his facade better."

So he closes his eyes and clears his mind. «This is better done without him knowing» he projects only for Emma and Betsy. «We can use anti-Purifier actions as cover. Emma. Do not leave. We need more devious/ruthless little monsters like you around. Also, I got the feeling you are going to need us. A lot. Soon.»


Rachel is clearly uncomfortable by the growing conflict, feeling very much like a catalyst that set everything off. Thank god Betsy is trying to intervene. She looks towards her brother as he places his hands on her shoulders and reaches up to touch his hand for a moment and give it a squeeze.

"That's an understatement."

She didn't tell Nate what Scott had said or done when they returned, but it wouldn't be hard for him to sense that it had hurt her greatly.


As he begins to notice the lack of conversation, Wiccan purses his lips and thinks, «I wonder if they are all telepaths. I mean I know Scott isn't." He turns his eyes on Emma and he frowns. "She is kind of a bitch. Why does she have to be so cold." Wiccan cocks his head to the side, "I wonder if I would get in trouble for making her nice." He looks down at his hand and hmmms, "I doubt I could." He turns his eyes back on the conversation back down at the conversation.


Various faces appear in the windows of the Xavier Institute after the sliver of optic red blasts out and punctures the tire; a slim handful of teachers and summer students, who are gawking at those gathered below. By nightfall, everyone will know that Scott and Rachel are back. Optic blasts on the grounds are a sure kindling to the Xavier rumor mill, after all.

Emma's retort has Scott's mouth parting, not to speak, but in an expression of shock. He stands there and observes as she calls in the proverbial air support. If there's deflation in Emma's tone, it's matched by the deflation in Scott's posture. He's not going to winthat fight. He's not even aware that Elizabeth has been fighting as well. When she supplants herself between the mounting debaters, he takes a step back, fixing her with a tired expression. His eyes glance toward the building to their right, and at the sight of those teachers and students looking down on it all, his entire posture deflates.

Once Betsy has said her peace, Scott turns away from the both of them. He's done pleading; this is now Elizabeth's fight. With every step, the deflated nature diminishes, until he's left moving with a dutiful measure to his steps and a thin line drawn across his lips, until he stops nearby to Nate, turning to look at the scion of the X-Men.

"We need to develop a comprehensive and detailed contingency plan, to protect the school from any downfall. I have some ideas in mind." He's had plenty of time to come up with them, after all. "Can you get Kitty, Doug, and Mike Drakos here? By tonight?" A glance is given toward Rachel. There was so much he wanted to say to her while he was imprisoned; now, there's even more that he will need to say to her. Sadly, that time is not now.

Scott looks back to Nate, adding quietly, "We ran out of time twenty-one days ago."


The platinum blonde in whitelooks curiously at Elizabeth when the purple-haired woman seems to apparate in front of her. She listens. She does not interrupt. It's just part of the way these two are together; she never interrupts Betsy's words, even if she doesn't agree with them. It's a curiously deep well of respect that lies between them, no matter what else has happened.

"You didn't tell them?" When Emma finally speaks, her voice is very soft, a shocked, almost bewildered tone. She couldn't imagine that Betsy wouldn't have said something to them. But she doesn't ask it because she doubts Elizabeth; she merely never imagined it might be so.

"I am useless for comforting, Elizabeth." Emma reiterates. Is it true? Or is it merely a Truth she has come to hold as part of her identity, regardless its validity … or lack thereof? For a moment, Emma's empty hand strokes over her midsection, then drops back to her side.

"The chopper is coming." Emma is silent for a very long several moments. Only then does she finally speak, making that declaration. "When it arrives, I will go home. Anthony can take care of the car. I will wait. Seventy-two hours. After that …" It gives them three days to do whatever they need to do, and then reach out to her. If they really want her to help, she'll be there when they call.

But if they say nothing, and have done nothing, after three days? Then the White Queen is going to clear the board. One smoking crater at a time.


Nate nods to Scott and glances to Billy. Hmm, innocent witness of angst and stuff? He is also going to leave Emma and Betsy to solve the issues, although if they want a telepathic conversation, he leaves the channel open. They should plot some underhanded justice, telepathic brand.

"C'mon, Ray. Lets hit the cafeteria. You look like you need some pizza," and he bets the jail food was garbage. He almost suggests a welcome party. But he suspects it would look more like a funeral. Maybe next week.


There is no argument from Rachel, she follows along with her brother; leaving behind the conflict outside sadly. At least she didn't look like a mess thanks to Betsy.

Time for pizza.

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