The Last Psychic Node In New York

April 03, 2016:

Emma gets a hit on the last psychic node in New York. Time to go to work (emits by Rowan and Ulani)

New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Psychics are, as a percentage of the general population, a pretty rare breed. Most of them are mutants too, who are a statistically a fairly rare breed to begin with though clustering tends to skew that a little. Psychics powerful enough to do more than a light reading or flick a lightswitch are even more rare, and the depth and range of ability afforded the most powerful ones is rather shocking and frightening at times. So perhaps, all things considered, it's a good thing that they're rare.

One of the things that rarity does, though, is make them identifiable. Most of the more powerful kind of psychic has practice at masking his or her presence and mind from others and for the most part that works pretty well… with a couple of exceptions. One, some people have… shall we say advanced tools that make locating them easier. Two, a psychic actively using his abilities is a little bit like a radio tower: broadcasting for those who know what to look for.

In the past couple of days the psychic world has been pretty damn noisy. The Blue's suspicion about the Lord of the Deep's psychic command network was quite correct and their recent offensives against him have caused that creature to use it again and again and again. Unsurprisingly, much of the activity is in New York itself. The high number of mutants to victimize or convert made that fairly inevitable and there's seemingly half a dozen powerful 'nodes' in the area. One of them is in Midtown Manhattan, in one of the nicer housing districts a little bit away from Times Square. That one's been active almost constantly for the last twenty four hours. How someone sustains that level of psychic activity is a really good question.

The Blue have assigned three Elites to the X-Men. All communication specialists who have been working with their new allies.

"Kapua and Mikhala, are we ready to test the integration of our allies comms systems to ours?" Lio, the team leader asks.

"Almost, Lio." Kapua glances up after entering a set of changes into the systems. "Hows, that Mikhala?"

Mikhala looks at the system she's working on and gives the other two a nod "Perfect. Ready to test, Lio."

The three have spent a few days testing and patching. Now it's time to test and not too soon by the looks.

With the number of talented telepaths currently working with the X-Men, and the resource of Cerebro, it should come as little surprise that the Blues' allies have been on top of helping to track these psionic nodes of activity. Thus far, they have handled these nodes by directing teams of X-Men to the sites with portable scanners to confirm the identities and then take action to subdue the targets.

But those teams who were available have now been dispersed. None are in range. And Emma herself is currently in Cerebro, tracking the last signal. She quickly realizes this particular target has actually been present throughout their efforts, masked by the other 'flareups.' But now this target remains, whilst the others have been taken offline. Unfortunately, Emma has no further X-Men resources free to direct to the target.

"Lio. I have a location. But we are going to need to deal with this together. Send word to the Blue that we are on the move to the last local target. I will get our transportation ready." Emma offers. Then she reaches out, commanding her driver telepathically. He won't even remember this drive, as she's keeping him from rotating any of his short term memory to long term memory. But he'll do what she asks unquestioningly; that's why he's her driver, after all.

The platinum blonde telepath disconnects from Cerebro, and gathers up the Elites to follow her. "Mikhala, please stay, and monitor further communications from the other teams. We will stay in touch. Hopefully, we will be back shortly." She offers a bow to the Blue Elite warrior in respect, and then guides the others with her to the SUV.

Soon enough, they will be in the city, closing in on the target. Since Emma is not driving, she can continue to scan and narrow down on their target, then guide the driver where they need to go.

Mishka Andropov isn't a wealthy man, though he does well enough for himself. He's a relatively fit, 40 year old consultant for an engineering firm that specializes in energy efficiency and heating and cooling systems on large buildings. It's a decent living, he gets out of the office a lot.

He's also a life long adherant of the Cult of the Deep. His paretns were in it and their parents before them and so on in a line stretching back possibly thousands of years. When he was told he had an opportunity to bring his god's plans to fruition and establish his reign over first the oceans and then the surface there wasn't any question in his mind what he would do, and the direct communion with his deity is worth all the pain, the nightmares, the voices in his head. All of it.

He's presently headed home, his mind abuzz with voices and commands that he casts out into the aether, sending them far and wide, instructing others to do their god's bidding. Not that you'd know it to look at him as he exits the subway and turns up a mostly deserted street toward his apartment. It's been raining so he's moving a bit more slowly, careful of the slick sidewalk and unaware of what's bearing down on him.

At Emma's direction her driver heads unerringly toward their destination as they get ever closer to their mark. When they get within a couple of blocks there won't be any doubt at all exactly who it is.

"Of course, Ms Frost." Lio responds as he gestures to Kapua. "Kapua and I will go with you, Mikhala will stay and provide communications." The Blue Commandos are dressed as Surfacers, jeans, shirts, jumpers - there's nothing to distinguish from human, they'll blend right in for the time being.

As Lio and Kapua depart with Emma, Mikhala signals the Blue. That message is immediately relayed to Ulani and Rowan who are recovering … somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Ocean

"Our allies are taking down the last psychic node, Lio and Kapua are assisting." Ulani looks to her squad and the Dragon Blue.

"We're getting close. Maybe several blocks away." Emma comments to Lio, as she continues to guide her driver closer. "Once I can narrow down the target, we'll have to be careful how we neutralize them. Less attention to our activities would be best, obviously." Operational security, after all, is tantamount. Let's not start a panic about fish men assaulting citizens, shall we?

Pursuant to that, Emma reaches out telepathically for one of the minds she knos best in the world. « Elizabeth, how close are you to the north side of Midtown, above Times Square? I know you were headed back towards the Institute after your target was dealt with, but we've found another, stronger target. I'm in the city, closing in on the target. I would prefer some help subduing them, if you were available. »

~I'm at Massimo, darling,~ comes the near-instant reply. Betsy's psychic self touches Emma's in response. Standing on a tailor's dais, she twirls experimentally in the three-pane mirror across from her, watching the pleats of her half-finished dress flaring with the pivot of her hips. ~I'll be along presently.~ The mental connection conveys precisely how long that'll take, much more efficiently than any guestimate expressed in words. She stops and shimmies out of her outfit and pulls on her street clothing, exchanging a few words with the seamstress. Cards trade hands and she slips into her heels, then starts moving quickly towards the rooftop via an emergency door.

~I don't have my gear handy, it's in the Aston. I hope I don't have to sacrifice another pair of Jimmy Choos to this operation.~ She grips her purse in one hand, tightly, and with a focus of psychic effort lifts into the air. It's a bit ungainly, but she gains speed fast and heads towards the area Emma's marked in her mind.

By the time that Betsy and Emma have both zeroed in on Mishka he's in a well and truely deserted part of Northern Midtown. The streets are quiet, the lamps are just coming on, though it isn't quite twilight yet. People either haven't arrived home yet or never left. There's even a fewer than usual number of cars parked along the side of the road… well, where parking is legal.

Abruptly, 'visible' to only Emma and Betsy, there's a psychic flare. To most people it simply appears as if Mister Andropov is just stopping to admire the scenery. Actually he's relaying a complex bit of strategy to a monsterous army in North Pacific, one that just came under attack. Even in passing the feel of the mind is alien, the human bit of it overlaid by the will of something much more potent, much more ancient and utterly malicious. Acting through a human 'node' attenuates the Lord's raw might (which is half the point of using it) but those sensitive enough to know will still feel exactly what is behind this psychic 'network'.

A Hydroport opens a few blocks away and deposits Ulani and whomever she chose to bring with her but again, these operations are very covert. The few people involved and the quicker they go the better.

Emma's driver has finally brought them up to the street in question too. Even better. Or perhaps not. Depends on how sensitive she is to that 'flare'. If nothing else, it makes the guy real easy to pinpoint.

As the SUV pulls around the corner, Emma squeezes her eyes shut, her hand going to her forehead as she emits a most unladylike grunt - a nigh-unheard-of thing from the ever-proper White Queen - as the flare of that alien mind slams home through her senses. "There." she utters, eyes almost fluttering closed as she points towards Andropov. The driver pulls the SUV up to the side of the street just in front of the man, as he obeys Emma's direction without any idea what she needs or intends. But here is where she pointed, so here is where he stops.

Betsy's landing isn't terribly gainly, but by the same token, she comes down in an alleyway and almost completely invisible to thought and sight. The second her heels hit the sidewalk, she swathes herself in murky psionic shadows to hide her thoughts and literal shadow to conceal her from sight. Only Emma has the faintest glimmer of sense of Betsy's presence, because the leggy kunoichi maintains that faintest of links. She angles the approach to where the 'flares' centered presence is, trying to get a second set of eyes on the situation and priming her psionic talents for the potential moment of violence.

Lio and Kapua wait until Emmas' car pulls up and silently slip for the back seat. There's nothing special about them to draw the eye, and they wait for Emma's instructions. Attacking a pyschic … requires co-ordination.

Ulani didn't attend herself. She's sent Kukana and Liko as support. The Blue male and female are obscured from view and will provide assistance as required. Lio, Liko and I are here. Approximately 600 feet from your location. As soon as this engagement is done, these two Blue will Hydraport back.

Now Mishka senses Emma. Well, it'd be hard not to sense her on some level given that she just pulled up out of a car right in front of him. Which also blocks off one method of egress. At the moment, though, he doesn't appear to be thinking of egressing.

The engineer turns as that 'flare' dies down a bit and regards her. "Hello Miss. Nice night for a walk." The two Blue get looked over very quickly. There's nothing to distinguish them visually from an ordinary human being but to a psychic mind they stand out. A lot.

Without preamble the telepath lashes out at Emma. He's good. Potent. Had a lot of practice. Probably not on Emma's level really, not on his own anyway, but he's got the backing of an alien god. Even if it can't bring it's full weight down on the mutant Ice Queen, it's nothing to seenze at. The psychic attack is so potent that even the four Blue (and Psylocke) can feel it, despite not being the targets. The good news, if there is good news, is that it's only aware of two Blue at the moment and seems to be too focused on Emma to have realized that she has a compatriot very nearby.

Now Mishka senses Emma. Well, it'd be hard not to sense her on some level given that she just pulled up in a car right in front of him. Which also blocks off one method of egress. At the moment, though, he doesn't appear to be thinking of egressing.

The engineer turns as that 'flare' dies down a bit and regards the car. The two Blue with Emma feel a brief but very intrusive psychic presence. There's nothing to distingish them visually from an ordinary human being but to a psychic mind they stand out. A lot.

Without preamble the telepath lashes out at the car. He's good. Potent. Had a lot of practice. Probably not on Emma's level really, not on his own anyway, but he's got the backing of an alien god. Even if it can't bring it's full weight down on the mutant Ice Queen, it's nothing to seenze at. It's a telekinetic attack, the 'node' attempting to simply crumple the car in on its occupants like a wad of paper. It's also really, really noisy. The good news, if there is good news, is that it's only aware of two Blue at the moment and seems to be too focused on Emma to have realized that she has a compatriot very nearby.

Betsy staggers and presses a hand against the wall for support at that flare hitting her again. It's bright, like staring into an eclipse, and even the otherwise redoubtable ninja is temporarily blinded by the force of it. Only raw, stubborn instinct keeps her moving forward.

And there's the opening, and it's almost just too perfect, as the psychic picks Emma for his target. Betsy lunges forward with perfect poise and control, even in those stiltlike heels. Shadows and misty thought sheds around her as if she plunges from a fog, and flickering amethyst light glitters around her face. One hand curls into a fist, hard light gathering into an infinitely sharp edge of raw psionic energy, and she takes that expert's tenth of a second to line the infinitely sharp tip of the insubstantial blade up— focusing on the psychic marauder's pituitary gland. Potentially a killing blow. Fortunately, they're just taking captives today.

Lio and Kapua cringe at the feel of the Lord for a moment, they recognise the feel, they've been in enough fights. That's all it takes though and the pair launch into action.

Water blades form in their hand, from the very water in the air, Lio spinning low to hamstring the 'node' and Kapua bringing the pommel of her sword down on his head. Not … as surgical as Betsy's, but hopefully effective.

Instinct is all Emma has, as the attack is unleashed at the car. She senses the darkness of that alien intent, and she initiates the transformation that turns her human, fleshy body and powerful psionic mind into an unassailable mind with no outward psionic ability, and a body composed of organic diamond. With the Blue out of the SUV, she and her driver are all that remain in the car, so she struggles to kick out the rear door and then drag her driver over the seat and out the door with her.

Sadly, that is not to be. The car crumples around the glittering diamond form of the White Queen, doing no damage at all to her. Sadly, Jeffery does not survive. Quite messily, in fact.

Emma kicks forcefully at the crumpled remnant of the SUV's door, and then rips herself free, then steps out onto the sidewalk. It's a display she would have preferred to avoid. But she's not the one who decided to act like a junkyard car crusher in the middle of an uptown Manhattan street. She strides quickly forward, personally ready to see what a diamond fist powered by diamond muscles can do to the face and skull of her attacker, assuming he is still standing after Elizabeth's blow.

The blade goes right in. In fact the Elizabeth's blade goes right in followed by a pair of water blades. It should put the guy down. In a way it does, though not quite in the expected way. Instead what Betsy feels is an upwelling of power. Something seems to have snapped. Mishka starts to float above the ground, about a foot off the pavement, turning to face his new attackers. He lets out psychic shriek of rage and pain that is abruptly cut off when a diamond fist knocks him to the ground. Eyes aglow the now very wounded engineer thrashes, attempting to rise. The human mind is gone, knocked out at least temporarily. The Lord of the Deep is using his body as a meat puppet. On the one hand, that's dangerous and there's a feeling like just before a lightning strike that tells everyone that the thing is gathering power to unleash a devastating counter attack.

On the other hand, if the link can be cut, they have themselves a helpless prisoner.

Betsy sets her jaw and grabs onto the floating man with both hands, hanging onto his neck and shoulder with one arm and shifting that psionic blade around. Were it a stiletto, it would be seeking his heart, but there are other ways to deal with a target. Here, she sends a needle-thin spike of psionic energy tickling around the base of his brainstem. Bypass thought, bypass will, get around psychic shields, and just send enough raw power into the medulla oblongata to cut the marionette's strings— to turn the figurative puppet into one as useful as a literal one. "He's proving quite intractable," Betsy says in a clipped, tense tone, face set in controlled worry. She can sense that pending explosion as much as anyone else there.

The Blue are not telepathic but they understand the basics. The water blades disappear to be replaced by bands of water. Bands that wrap around Mishka, holding him in position and restraining him - to let the two telepaths, do their thing.

This isn't an easy thing to do, either. The bands have to be sufficiently tight enough to hold him but not so tight as to kill.

With the immediate telekinetic assault anded, Emma reverts to her flesh and blood form, going a bit pale at the intensified presence of that alien mind overshadowing the area. Shielding another mind is not easy, but it can be done. It can be done, and Emma has done it before. Against an alien godling? No. But she'll only know if she can if she tries. Which she does, as she steps up and places her hands over his temples, extending her own will to surround his brain and try to cut off all access of the godling to his mind, and thusly any ability to use him as a node of power for whatever assault is coming.

Of course, if she fails it will mean all of that power will explode /inside/ her shields against Emma's largely unprotected mind. That could be messy.

Mishka being physically restrained at least prevents him from physically lashing out, but that was never the real danger here. Betsy and Emma both attack the problem from different angles. The power they're fighting against is likely more than either have encountered from a single mind, but it's not in direct contact with them. The psychic resonance begins to build up in the White Queen's mind as she tries to cut off the node from it's master. For one horrifying moment it seems as though it might all go wrong…

… and then Betsy finally manages to ram her spike home, causing the Lord of the Deep to turn it's attention to attempting to repair that damage. It's a long shot and it's too late anyhow. Emma's mind shield closes around Mishka, preventing further interferance.

Which leaves two mutant psychics with a captive and four Blue soldiers in the street… less a car.

Betsy takes several seconds to make sure he's utterly incapacitated. The psionic spike disrupts every non-vital nerve operation in the fellow's brainstem, leaving him as paralyzed as a week-old kitten, and she finally dissipates the psionic blade and leaves only a sliver of energy in there to prevent him from reassuming control of himself.

"Nicely done, darling. That proved a bit of a sticky wicket," she congratulates Emma, cool as a cucumber. She looks to the two Blue, and sketches a bob of her head that is a suggestion of a regal curtsey. "Well done." It's a terse bit of praise, but it's not remotely lacking in conviction.

The two Blue that Hyrdaported in, don't waste anytime in getting a Hydraport out. They'll be gone before any realises they were there. Good job, Lio.

The other two stand 'at ease', the water bands still surrounding Mishka's body. Both Blues return Betsy's nod with one of their own.

"I take it, that another conveyance will be organised? And then you will wish to interrogate this man?"

"As we will the others who have been captured." Emma answers, nodding. She reaches for her phone, then frowns as she looks towards the crushed car. "Elizabeth, would you be so kind as to make a phone call, and fetch another vehicle and driver for us? We need to get back to base, so that questioning can begin." She pauses a moment, and then amends, "And thank you for showing up. I'm glad you were here to help."

Emma and Betsy have done enough of a number on Mishka that he won't be waking up anytime soon, at least not without outside inducement. They've got plenty of time. Fortunately the collateral damage wasn't too bad… though they'll want to be away before someone notices that crumpled up car and the body inside.

In any case that's the last of the nodes in the New York area. There may be others somewhere in the Northeast and if the X-Men care to commit more effort to it, certainly more in the nation and around the world, but losing a cluster of six in so short a time, that has to hurt.

The question is, really, what will it do to pay them back?

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