Welcome Back to School

August 24, 2016:

Classes have resumed for another year at Xavier Institute. Two of the teachers talk about their latest extracurricular issues.

Private Suite - Xavier Institute - NYC

Several interior walls have been knocked down to form a close but comfortable living space for three people, turning the one-person dorm rooms into a suite with a common area. The common area has a small dining table near the kitchenette, atop tile floor, and a big bay window in the kitchen to let light pour into the room. A living room of sorts includes a sofa, high-backed reading chair, and a massive beanbag chair all turned to face one another with a television pushed into the corner.

One bedroom is decorated with a tasteful if Spartan view, a combination of baroque British Imperialism and sparse Japanese aestheticism wrangled into a relatively pleasing juxtaposition.

The northmost bedroom looks more like a study, with a large desk and computer station against one wall and a rumbled queen bed against the other. Books are everywhere, from novels to reference materials, and it's obviously someone's workspace.

The third bedroom is divided precisely in half like a cheap photo trick. One full half of it is done all in steel and glass, looking precisely like a high-rise corporate office complete with workstation. The other half sports white carpet, a four-poster bed with white sheets, and white furniture that costs as much as a midsize sedan. The room is surprisingly well noise-insulated, too.

Obvious Exits:
*<O> leads to Xavier's Institute [NYC]

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The school year has begun again. The problem with the Institute is that it is as close to a year-round school as any American school can be. There are frequent breaks and extended weekends, but classes really don't stop. They just roll over. Still, the longest break of classes is the one in the height of summer, between the end of one school year and the progression to the next. And that means when it is over, the students aren't the only ones pulled back into the daily grind.

So are the teachers.

After four hours of teleconferences, six hours of classes, three hours of paperwork, two hours of workouts and one hour for meals, Emma Frost is tired. Classes have only been back in session for half a week, and already she is feeling a bit frayed at her edges. This is not helped by her ongoing extracurricular concerns.

This is why, at the moment, the platinum blonde is soaking in a tub of just barely tolerable water full of suds and restorative oils, eyes closed, listening to a Brahms concerto. She needs all of the break she can get. One more hour, and then she has to manage to get her ever-active mind to shut down so she can sleep.


There's no knock at the door. Telepaths have ways of hanging a proverbial sock on the door— letting others know they don't wish to be disturbed. Betsy walks into Emma's part of the suite, sits on the edge of the tub, and crosses her legs at the knee, hands loosely clasped atop her thighs.

"I've been thinking about our problem with the club," Betsy says, without preamble, flicking some dust from the hem of her skirt. She's barefoot, naturally— old Japanese habits die hard. "I keep thinking, we should come back to Pierce. I can't quite put my finger on it, yet," she admits. "Just… instinct. Have you been investigating his financials?"


The platinum blonde lets her very light blue eyes drift open lazily as she looks up at the purple-haired telepath seated on her tub. It's true, had she really felt the need to demand privacy, she'd have done so. Still, she groans in mild protest as Betsy not only comes in to visit, but brings all kinds of stress and mental deliberation along with her.

"The latest financial report on Pierce and his connected holdings is on the tablet." Emma offers lazily, lifting one wet hand to point towards the offending device, which lies on the counter across the bathroom, near Emma's phone and a few other vital bits, mostly jewelry or other tech disguised as jewelry.

The report is the fourth Emma has ordered on Pierce during their investigation, each one more in-depth, plying through more layers of obfuscation and misdirection. This one, at last, unearths the connections to Ironwell, and a shell corporation which appears to have been a midpoint clearinghouse for monies headed there and to the Sapiens Foundation. The monetary figures are staggering, to say the least.

"I am still running down the board members and other financial contacts." Emma comments, as Betsy looks through it all. "But whether or not he was operating with the help of others, this makes him the best lead we have for the figure using Club resources to back the Reavers and the Purifiers." The Bostonian blonde purses her lips for a moment. "Problem being, Selene has mobilized some very significant resources, including herself, to disuade others from pursuing these lines of inquiry."


Betsy brings the tablet winging to her with a thought, catching it and examining the data with a quiet patience. She flicks through the screen with a carefully manicured thumb, going through some of the raw data with a flickering disinterst— Emma's far better to analyze it than she is— and focuses on the final assessments.

"If I'm reading this right, then we've been a victim of a shell game of staggering size," Betsy says, pursing her lips. "Purifiers, Ironwell, hidden agents, double-bluffs…"

She taps the tablet against her palm and frowns thoughtfully at Emma. "But /why/?" she asks. "What's to be gained from this? This game has the potential to make conflict on a seriously global scale— to destroy the national economy. What could his end game be? World domination?"


"Potentially. But I think the real aim in the middle ground has been to foment concern and concentrate development interests. The threat of the Purifiers and the Reavers has mobilized a great deal of scientific and business interest in weapons technologies, both in capitalizing upon metahuman talents, and developing advanced technologies and reverse-engineering alien tech to leapfrog the future." Emma explains, as she stays leaning back in the tub, her eyes closed even as they talk so seriously. She's trying to be as relaxed as possible, despite the intensity and depth of the subject matter.

"He has effectively stolen from the Club staggeringly vast resources, but only for brief periods of time, and then replaced the monies he has taken with monies made from another scheme." It's a monetary shell game on a megalithic scale. "Selene is too lazy to see what he has been up to. And she is already worked up enough that trying to bring it up to her, to show her what he is doing, is almost as likely to have her attacking me as it is to get Pierce cut off."


"A Ponzi scheme," Betsy says with a sniff. "How droll." She shakes her head, purple tresses shimmering against her bared shoulderblades.

"Military doctrine would suggest we find a way to aim Pierce and Selene at one another," Betsy says, tapping her tongue against her upper lip in thought. "We might not be able to get Selena on our side, but we can certainly antagonize her. Disguise our attacks sufficiently, she might percieve that she's run afoul of him entirely and turn the weight of her resources against him."


Emma shakes her head slightly side to side. "She's as likely to attack us, or X-Red, rather than investigate who or what is after her and follow the breadcrumbs back to him." And Emma clearly thinks that's a terrible thing, to be avoided at all costs. "About the only good news I have is that there seem to be no connections between any of his shell corporations and subsidiaries and Cyberdata." Small miracles. That'd be the last thing they need.

"There is one anomaly, however." Emma points out. "I think it's on page twenty-seven. It appears that someone else has also been investigating him. I have another team following those leads, trying to identify who or what is looking. But that will be a while." After all, Emma's usual experts are all working on this … or on Cyberdata. She's having to recruit new firms to spread out her research net further. Most inconvenient.


"This is far more part of your wheelhouse than mine, darling," Betsy says, skimming her fingers through the water. She shakes her head, sorrowfully, and gives Emma a wryly irritated look. "I feel as if I'm being less than useful in this portion of the endeavour. If I had someone to stalk, to pursue, to interrogate— I'd be at least /helpful/. This is something that I've never once even considered needing to do, and I am profoundly grateful to you for pursuing this angle for the teams."

"What is our next step, then?" she inquires. "Do we sit back and continue to wait for the chessboard to change to our advantage, or make a move ourselves?"


Emma lifts a wet hand and flicks it lightly in Betsy's direction. "You are far better and more important than that, Elizabeth." she offers. "As soon as I have some leads, I would like to unleash you to stalk and track some people. Perhaps a few interrogations. I just need a little time to provide you with the lead to get started." Emma has complete confidence in Betsy's abilities, and she doesn't want to hear more of that negative thinking.

"Once we have that lead, our next step is to learn everything we can about whomever else is checking up on Pierce, to maximize our potential allies." Emma offers. "Beyond that, I think our next move will have to be coming up with a plan to put Selene onto his financial shell game. Once she knows the truth, she will brutalize him, which will shut down his access to Club funds as starting capital for the rest of his operations. And Selene is likely to gut him. If nothing else, he'll have to pull out, so that we can go after him without having to confront her."


Betsy purses her lips, thinking. "Wikileaks?" she suggests to Emma. She turns her violet gaze onto the blonde psychic. "Not that organization itself, but… there are ways to anonymously air dirty laundry in a very public fashion, no? An anonymous contribution to her intelligence organization, perhaps with the demand for a fairly paltry sum of cash— enough for her to suspect that one of this allies is needing a quick influx of wealth, but perhaps does not yet recognize the scope of the information they possess. If we let her /think/ she's 'stumbled onto' this somehow, she's far more likely to pursue it, much furthur than she would if she has any reason to suspect it's in our interests."


"Actually, that sounds like a decent plan to work on. A way to get the intelligence to her in a way that she would be more inclined to believe it, and pursue it." Which would pit Selene against Pierce, which would definitely be a big step in the right direction for them. Emma nods. "I'll work on finding the right cover to use to get that plan started, while you pursue these other investigators and see what and who you can find."

The blonde groans, and turns her head, which leads to an audible series of pops. "I just need to figure out how we do all of this with school back in session, atop everything else." Emma is definitely spread thin lately, in her responsibilities. And all of them are important; none are things she can just let slide.


"I'll handle school for now. I can cover the first two weeks at least, perhaps three— I know enough to at least start into the first few days of school," Betsy offers Emma, cracking her left knuckles with absent symmetry as Emma works her back over. "If something arises that requires us both, Charles is more than qualifed to manage classes for a few weeks. Worst case, we rearrange the school year slightly and the students double down on guided study next Spring, leaving us to do little but student reviewed work for the time being."


Emma eyes Betsy curiously, letting her pale blue eyes drift open to watch the British ninja a bit more carefully. "Really? You're willing to cover my classes?" she queries, rather amazed. Betsy has never been terribly interested in Emma's class subject matters. But she's not going to object. "We can talk to Charles tomorrow. If he is willing to help spell us to give us more freedom from class chores, then I am more than willing to accept the help, so that we can get more done on these other problems." Given that those other problems involve the safety and security of the students at the Institute, it's not all selfishness on her part, either.

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