Management Issues

February 22, 2016:

A few Avengers meet up at the super secret Avengers base and talk.

Avengers Base

Characters

NPCs:

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [* ]


Fade In…

Audrey is something of a mystery. She shows up for missions, then she disappears, often for days at a time. To add to the oddity, she goes through all the motions of shaking a tail every time she leaves. Wherever she goes, though, she's back at the Avengers base of operations today. Maybe it's an attempt at being personable. She could use a little more practice at that than she can at the shooting range or on the mats.

At the moment, though, she's sitting outside the hangar the team uses as a base, apparently experimenting. There's a piece of paper on the ground on front of her, at which she stares intently. There are a few dark spots on the paper, though not many, and as she stares, a wisp of smoke starts to rise from it.

Peter's actually much like Audrey in this. When he comes and goes, he's always taking evasive action to make sure no one can track him back to the Institute. Though he's less worried about the other Avengers than he is about the ones who've been hunting him for years. He's also coming to the Avengers base to try to get to know who they are and whether he can trust them and to what degree. He comes straight down from above, landing lightly on the ground not far from Audrey, the brief breeze from his landing blowing across the paper.

Storm is the most easily trackable of the three. Even so, her life comes with the basic set of security precautions that come part and parcel with being a member of the X-Men. It's just that she doesn't have anyone chasing after her at the moment, so she's free to walk without constantly looking back over her shoulder.

Ororo is in flight, above the Mysterious Unknown Location that houses the Avengers' facility, codenamed Shed-Base Two. She's dressed in her superhero costume, but has not yet really begun her descent. This is probably her way of giving Audrey time to re-set her piece of paper, only for another flyer to blow it away by landing.

Audrey glances up from the paper as Peter lands, reaching out to put a hand on the edge of it. "Hey," she greets with a small smile, the wisp of smoke thickening as the edge of the paper curl with a few embers. "Nothing interesting going on in strange and nearly empty corners of Mexican wilderness today?" Like she has room to talk about showing up in odd places.

As she talks, the smoke thins again, fading away, and she reaches up to rub her thumb between her eyes. Working on new things is hard.

"I haven't run out of pot yet." Peter answers easily. "I don't smoke much really." Oxy is quicker and medicinal. Pot is just for fun but he needs to be in the mood. "Practicing laser beams?" he asks, nodding to the paper.

It's then that Ororo begins to land, gracefully setting herself down without disturbing the paper at all. She looks from Lux to Sting, Sting to Lux, and nods once. "Lux. Sting."

Ororo casually dusts off the arms of her costume — or perhaps smooths them out after flying. She also visibly suppresses a yawn. Tired? "Is Captain America on-base?" she asks.

"Pretty much," Audrey nods to Peter. "It's either lasers, one-way viewing, or force fields, and I've never been able to wrap my head around the hard light thing, so. I did manage a makeshift visor for Cyclops once, though." She shifts, stretching her legs out in front of herself and shaking her head to Ororo. "I haven't seen him," she answers. "Though I wasn't looking for him, either. He could just be busy."

Peter nods back to Ororo. "Storm." He's seen the woman around the school but never ran into her. Perhaps intentionally on his part since it's all still so new and now two things are. "He's not nearby." he answers without really thinking about it. He'd be able to hear Cap if he was.

Storm nods her head shallowly a few times, as if considering how to adjust her game plan. "Thank you," she says to both of them. She rests her hands on her hips, and looks down at the piece of paper. "Actually, speaking of."

Ororo looks up, taking in the two young superbeings with her cerulean cat's-eyes. "I never took the time to properly thank the both of you for your assistance in the mission to Kenya." It's true, since after the mission, Ororo basically spent the entire time fulfilling the contractual obligations of a goddess, speaking with village elders, the children, etc. It's like going on the campaign trail for an unelected metaphysical title. "Without both of your assistance, some or all of those children would have come to harm or perished. Kenya is the homeland of my ancestors. It was very personal, for me. Thus my appreciation for what you did multiplies a thousandfold."

"It's what we're here for," Audrey replies simply, gaze steady. "Why we joined this team. So that when something like that is happening, we can do something about it." Picking the piece of paper up from the ground, she folds it in half, looking between the others. "Though it did bring up the issue that if we're going to be a team, we should probably spend more time training together."

"Didn't do it for you." Peter points out. "But you're welcome." And that's that. But now that Audrey brings it up… "Why did you think I could teleport? Can the other psiots you know? Do you know how it's done? I don't think Harada can so he never talked about it to me." He looks over at Ororo and asks "Can anyone at the school?"

Ororo spreads her hands in a gesture that's not a shrug — but maybe something like a shrug's third cousin. "We can try," she offers. "There are often times when a mutant's powers are… more complex than they originally believe. Often, when they manifest, we use what aspects of them feel intuitive, or present themselves to us most obviously. Sometimes, this means that whole other abilities go unrecognized. Sometimes this can be discovered through scientific examination — and sometimes only through experimentation with oneself, or in the heat of the moment."

Ororo does not cite herself as an example, because she's always been a weather goddess. "Lux, you do make a good point. As with Sting's example, there were… issues in that mission, I felt. Some of communication, some of lack of experience with one another, and some of individual members' temperaments." Clearly, Ororo isn't talking about how she hail-mary'ed the battlefield into a torrentially-raining mudpit while screaming about her goddessly might.

Audrey quirks a brow at Peter. "You're not a standard telepath," she answers bluntly. "But. Telepathy and telekinesis occasionally show up together with higher-level power sets. And teleportation can be an extension of telekinesis. Most of the teleporters I know use magic, though. Or something like it," she admits, shrugging. "But it was worth checking. Assumptions don't solve problems."

She nods to Ororo, folding the paper again. "It's normal, of course. Figuring out the balance with people who haven't worked together before. But the more we work together, the more efficient we'll be."

"I was born with my powers." Peter tells Ororo. "So they didn't just suddenly happen one day." He considers what both of them have said, nodding at Audrey's point. He has abilities beyond those two as does Harada. Maybe he could teleport if just knew how. "How does scientific examination work?"

"You would have to talk to Hank — Beast, that is. He would be able to help you in that regard, if anyone. If you would like, I can get in touch with him, and perhaps set up an appointment." Ororo has a lot of gigs at Xavier's. X-Man. Health teacher. Flying tutor. LGBTQ Club faculty liaison. 'Go-between' isn't usually one of those roles, but if Sting's part of the Institute, that means he's basically family. Family members help each other out. An email from Storm might get read faster than one from Sting.

"I do have a question, actually. About someone I had not worked with before. The Hulk. I assume the two of you saw him on the battlefield." Ororo's arms cross under her breasts. "What were your impressions, if I may ask?"

"That's a complicated answer," Audrey grimaces at Ororo's question. "When Banner's the Hulk, he doesn't exactly have control of what's happening. In my experience, he always tried to avoid bringing out the Hulk. But whatever's going on there is well beyond my understanding when it comes to psychology and the science behind however what he does works."

"Yeah, sure. That would be great." Peter says, more than willing to take Ororo up on her offer. As for the Hulk… "I thought the Hulk was like a mad beast that couldn't be controlled? And what was with him last time? All smaller and in clothes."

Ororo nods. "What struck me was not necessarily issues of duality, or sartorial choices," she says, keeping her arms folded. "It was his bloodlust. Had he not chosen to respond to Captain America's orders… I dread to think how many lives would have been lost. I will admit — I am not familiar with either of you, or at least, not as familiar as I would like to be. Please assure me that I do not need to explain the difference between taking a life because there is no other option, and outright murder." Ororo looks between the two, but her poker face is immaculate. What she's thinking, she keeps to herself, as is a goddess's prerogative.

"Of course we do." Audrey doesn't look away, or even look the least bit conflicted or guilty. "We're also fully functioning psyches. The Hulk is not. Expecting the Hulk to understand the difference between killing and murder is like expecting a cat to understand. They're not capable. It means we have to do a little more managing, but it also means that when twenty tanks roll up, we're not actually outnumbered."

"Of course not. The difference is obvious." Peter agrees. Not that he's condemning one over the other, just answering the question. "And believe me, having him in my mind is not something I look forward to."

"Then we are agreed on one thing," Ororo points out. "He DOES need to be managed." Ororo says it a little darkly, like she's talking about taking a mafioso out to the docks with some bags of quick-dry cement.

"I will discuss the matter with Captain America further. However, part of being a team is being able to solicit the opinions and thoughts of one's teammates. As I hope you two will do should you ever require such from me. My door is always open, as it were." Storm unfolds her arms, finally. She's kept up her poker face, but when she makes it clear that she can be reached out to, she gets friendlier, her tone warmer. Less of an angry deity and more of a den mother.

"As far as I ever knew him, he was managing himself," Audrey shrugs. "But the Kenya version was new." There's a flicker of something across her features, confusion and concern, before she locks it back away. "But. Yes. Teams function based on communication." Not that she's going to open up about everything.

Managed. Peter considers the word and the Hulk. "I wonder if I could." he muses, more to himself than the others. "It might work better if he was calm and willing. Something that would keep him from doing anything extreme when it hits the fan."

Ororo has to smile, just the tiniest little bit. "While I heartily encourage experimenting with your powers, Sting — I would not suggest the Hulk as a test subject." Ororo does give a small look to Lux, though. Maybe something's setting off Ororo's Stormy-Sense, but she refrains from commenting. "Perhaps what the team could use is a sparring session, of a sort. The X-Men fight so well as a unit because experienced members can almost read each others' minds — even when the phrase is not used in a literal sense. I would chalk that up to our training sessions." The Danger Room, appearing in an unnamed cameo role in that sentence. "While our resources are scarce compared to the Institute's, I think organizing some manner of team-building exercise would do exactly that. Working with each other will make us aware of how we can complement each other's strengths, and working against each other in a friendly setting will help us learn how to compensate for each other's weaker points. Thoughts?" Ororo looks between the two, more open and sunny (pardon the expression) than before.

"I'm not sure," Audrey muses at Peter's suggestion. "I mean, the way he showed up in Kenya was also calmer. Which was an improvement in terms of not indiscriminately rampaging across the countryside, but." She gestures slightly to Ororo. "Still not exactly ideal. And it looked like there was a tradeoff in size, and possibly strength. Probably best to understand how something works before trying to alter it."

"A little bit of capture the flag wouldn't hurt," she smiles faintly to Ororo. "And it might be a good…adjustment for some members of the team. Getting used to a slightly less lethal approach." Hopefully.

Peter's never seen the X-Men fight or heard of the Danger Room. So he'll just take her word for it. "Sure, seems logical. Harada had us practice with and against each other for the same reason." Though it wasn't so friendly really. "Captain America might know. He didn't seem to be surprised, was he?"

"If Captain America was, I am not entirely sure he would show it." Storm's one to talk on that front. "I will speak to him when I am able — particularly about the idea of group activities." The way Ororo says 'group activities,' she makes it sounds like they're going bowling or antiquing or something. "For now… I hope that you will both excuse me. It has been a somewhat trying day. I am going to make use of some of the furniture for a nap." Ororo Munroe: X-Woman. Avenger. Wind-Rider. Weather-Witch. Goddess. Den mother. Napper.

"Of course," Audrey nods to Ororo, setting the folded paper back in the dirt. "I'll look forward to it." It sounds like she will, too. It's just that she'll look forward to the chance to take everyone's measure more than she'll actually have fun with it, but those are just details.

"Sleep well." Peter tells Ororo, glancing down at the paper Audrey is playing with. "Do you want me to encourage you? It'll be interesting to see if it makes a difference."

"Thanks, but no," Audrey shakes her head. "I'm actually experimenting with a couple of different methods right now. Focusing on light to heat more than lasers. So. I can either concentrate light into an area just by pulling it there, or I can make a lens to focus light that's already there. In the second case, it's more like creating a magnifying glass than anything else. Which, by the way, is a new one I worked out recently."

Peter just nods, not all that interested in the methods. He can't control energy so it doesn't apply. He waits till Storm has disappeared before he says "It's not murder if they attack you first." It's not quite a question.

"Or if they're armed. If they're enemy combatants. If they're threatening someone else and there's not a better method." Audrey doesn't have any arguments about it, either. And Peter may sense the purposeful shielding she's got going on, too. "If it's war."

Peter nods, his own thoughts on the question being in agreement. A dead soldier now is one who can't try to kill you later and that goes for mutant hunters. "Right." He suspects Ororo wouldn't necessarily agree and he's pretty sure Captain American wouldn't. So he just won't mention it.

"Cap's building an interesting team here," Audrey says quietly, glancing back toward the hangar. "It's heavier on people who are willing to do dirty work than you'd think. But he's brought in more pacifist members too. He's a soldier," she muses. There might be a little bit of hero worship there too, no matter how hard she tries not to. "And he knows what he's doing."

"If you say so." Peter's only heard of him in the abstract, really. Less so the concrete details. And much less about the rest of the ones on the team. "He was really in World War II right? That's not just a story? So he's had to have killed people. It was a war."

"Exactly." Audrey holds her hands over the paper, the air between them shimmering as the paper itself comes into sharper focus. "Not that he hasn't tried not to when he can, I'm sure. But he's not someone who's only ever seen the bright side of things." The paper starts to smoke again, and she moves her hands, tracing a line of char across it. "Shift's not afraid of it, either. Lunair too, though she's astute enough to know who you can do it around and who you can't. Less out of morality and more out of following the rules and the expectations."

"Storm obviously not. Though I thought she was more than ready to kill them all with lightning if they hurt any of the kids." Peter says. "I'm guessing Superboy won't if he's anything like the older one. I don't know about the purple catboy. Vorpal."

"Almost certainly not," Audrey shakes her head, letting the light dissipate. "But he has a lot of options, like Lunair. Like you can. Like all of us, once we've trained enough to do it without thinking about it. That's the difference. Sometimes killing is necessary. But it's also messy, and permanent, and requires a whole lot of explanation. So it's more efficient to avoid it."

That's a matter of opinion. Then again, Peter's not on the run any more and going from city to city. "Maybe." he allows. "Are you going to quit that other team now?" he asks curiously. "The one you don't like or trust?"

"The one I'd rather not come up in conversation?" Audrey looks up with a quirk of her brow, a ghost of a smile crossing her features. "No." Shaking her head, she folds up the paper to tuck it into her pocket. "I joined that team for a few reasons. All of them are still valid."

Peter nods and shrugs. "All right. Think I'll take off. Getting a little hungry and in the mood for pizza. You want to come?"

"Sure," Audrey says, standing up and brushing herself off. "I could use something to eat after all the practice."

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