Just In Time For Valentines

February 10, 2017:

Obadiah Stane takes a chance on a genie in a bottle

Hydra Saferoom, somewhere under New York

An interrogation room.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Peggy Carter, Tony Stark


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

"Please, PLEASE. It's dangerous. Everything we understand about it inevitably leads to RUIN! SIR, you can't jus-" The fist of the man next to the researcher silences him, initiated by the wave of another with a bristling cigar pinched in his mouth. The smoke rises and the glare on his bald head heralds his step from the shadows, and as the researcher is forced into a seated position, he'll feel the statuette tumble into his lap.

The cigar comes away and the measured voice of Obadiah Stane expresses his dissatisfaction without further need for violence.

"I wasn't asking your opinion, Dr. Koronov. I wasn't even making a request. Summon the creature. Repeat your words as instructed."

Shaking, covered in sweat and blood and tears, the good doctor looks to the statue and somehow manages to pick it up. He has a card, too. An index card, and as he presses the statuette to his lips, once, twice, he invokes Grymalkin to join them in this, a very plain sort of interrogation room filled with four others - men of high training and low morals, loyal to a fault to The Iron Monger.

"Hear me, hear my wish. You are to never to to speak or write this man's name, nor describe him by any means in any fashion. Do you understand my wish, great creature of old?"

A shaky finger points, quivering, in the direction of Stane.

The flare of violence leaves the room with tension. The warnings making the simple black statuette seem far more menacing than its modest appearance would suggest. The softest breathing can be heard from the professional mooks standing as a vigilant quartet.
A pindrop would be deafening in the aftermath of the very specific instructions read from the index card. Droplets of blood mixed with sweat tease at the fearful man's eyes.
A palpable anxiety beneath the severe lighting of the interrogation room, drawing sharp shadows on the table before them.
An incongruous sound shattering the disquiet. A black cat now rolls his head against the Doctor's pant leg on the floor, purring softly.
A cat that was very certainly not there moments ago.

Whether that was agreement or otherwise is difficult to tell, but it seemed to be a form of response. From beneath the table the cat leaps up upon the table top amidst them all, seating himself on his haunches but staring straight at the Iron Monger himself. Blue and gold eyes stare with feline curiosity.
It's clear whom is giving the orders around here.
The thick, sweet cigar smoke floats beneath the hard light, curling into unusual shapes near the cat's head.

There's a long moment of quiet contemplation, one hand slipping into Stane's pockets to take hold of some object or another. Magic is not his area of expertise, but he's an educated man, and he's dabbled in technology in such high form as to be magic unto itself. He knows the lines are beginning to blur. It's why Hydra has attacked their little problem from both his angle, and a very mystical one.

His brows rise and a flick of his fingers sends a bit of ash flying sidelong. "Now look at that, doctor. All that fuss for such a small endeavor. Nothing bad happened to you, did it?" He circles behind the man as he says it, but never takes his eyes off the prize, giving Koronov a little squeeze to his shoulder before completing his circle.

And removing himself from the line of fire.


The pistol returns to it's drop holster before Koronov finishes slumping over, his body shaking as it catches up with the horrible truth: His brain is no more than a leaking slurry, delivered to the back wall by one of the Chessmen's bullets.

The statuette falls, tumbles, and rolls to a stop at Stane's foot.

As he picks it up he marvels at the simple things: How it feels in his hand, how very old it is, and all the places it must have been in it's time. Certainly their research is most promising, very in depth, but he can't know everything there is to know about this creature. And so he will not pretend to, pressing his lips to the statue in much the same way.

"Assume human form, so that we might speak. I am sure it has been a long time."

When he lifts his gaze, it will fix on the cat again, his cigar handed over to a subordinate to find it's end in the crush of a gloved hand.

Most felines would startle and bolt as high as the ceiling at such a loud, terrible sound.
The black cat merely licks his paw, even as a splash of brain-blood slurry falls on his tail.
As the body slumps to the floor and the statue is lifted. It will need a touch of cleaning from the Doctor's demise but it otherwise seems perfect. The only ornamentation upon the sleek feline's body is a small six-pointed star sigil pressed to it's throat.
Where King Solomon himself bound a King of the Jinn to his service with his legendary ring which allowed him governance of Heaven and Earth if the tales be true.
At Obediah's bidding, the cat turns his head back to him lazily. A very unfeline expression falls over the cat's lips as they pull back into a fanged grin.

The cigar smoke swirls through the air, thickening a windless tornado before dissipating quickly. Revealing a young man seating himself leisurely on the edge of the table facing Stane. The blood dutifully rolling away from him on the tabletop as he adjusts the lapels on his English coat at his throat. Completely unconcerned about being surrounded by threatening humanity he suddenly reaches his hands out to the corpse and shouts, "Wait! Order me to protect you! I?"
Lips forming an 'o' as he offers Stane a 'whoopsie' expression, holding a hand over his lips, "Guess I should have mentioned that."
Those same mismatched eyes narrow as this newly human cheshire grin widens, clapping his hands slowly, "You are a cautious man. I was just about to give you this whole lecture about ordering me by proxy and how it's not a good idea. Kudos! You are one step ahead of me sir. By the way."
He waggles his finger in the air, "You'll need to give me your name. If you want to order me not to speak of you."

It's all in the eyes, the slight widening, not immune by far to the wonders of the impossible, even through all he's seen. This wasn't his beat, his paradigm. Others were supposed to be handling this, using resources like the good King here to their bitter ends. Stane is certain that there's a reason he was kept in the bottle, so to speak, a good reason he was not utilized, other than the mismanaged act of grandeur he had been told of in the aftermath of certain powerful forces.

Forces that had weakened Hydra. Shifted certain burdens. It was burden that kept him cautious, and his smile at those theatrics, the mock warning to Koronov, and the compliment and instruction that follows, turns on his fatherly charm at the edges.

It does not diminish the serious measure of his tone however, both hands in his pockets, one moving a few coins against one another, the other curled around a ring he does not put on.

"I wish I could say I had much vanity left, or I might appreciate high praise from someone who has seen so very much. No. No I don't think I do need to give you my name. While the very nature of your being seems to suggest your masters commands have lasting effect… your imprisonment, being just one example, even if they do not persist beyond the grave, I've never felt that those who can be compelled are very good at keeping your best interests, bound or not."

Obadiah indicates one of the chairs at the table that The King is leaning against, his arm outstretched towards it, while he moves towards the other. His expression waxes into something almost philosophical, and the very nature of his manner, disarming and lacking the greed most of Grym's masters have displayed, show value in something else entirely. He sets the statue between them, even as he takes a seat.

"All knots come loose eventually, and maybe I'm wrong about the doctor's wish holding, and maybe I'm wrong to think that offering you choices is a better way to get the things I want. I'm old enough now that the consequences aren't really all that dire if I'm wrong, and I so rarely am wrong that the surprise alone, well.." His mirth grows, and so does his smile. "It's the little things that make life worth living these days."

The body on the floor is more than enough warning. The blood leaking from a failed heart, pooling near the boots of the nearest professional killer who most certainly was watching what just happened.
Any one of these four men could repeat the process moments ago and claim vast riches. How well are they paid? How well does Stane know each of their motives? They've been hired for their rock-bottom sense of morality.
It is not a supernatural threat that oozes from Grymalkin. It is a very human one.

As the suited creature is lectured to about his own imprisoned nature, Grymalkin again claps his hands together and sniggers, "Sure. Sure." His response markedly ambiguous but certainly not following up asking for a name. He does not seem to care all that terribly much.
Grymalkin remains on the table, folding one well-dressed leg over the other as he leans back on his hand. Watching this unknown man overtop of his own statue. At the final statement, Grymalkin points at the main to punctuate, "You are absolutely correct, sir. Can I call you Cigar? I mean I have to call you something. But now, see?" He leans in a fraction, "Now you've made me genuinely curious to know what you want. Not to mention I think you've broken my previous record of Master turnover time. In my opinion that is worth something. So!"
Clapping his hands once, holding them out, "What do you want?" Service with a smile.

There's an annoyance, something with his tie that he fiddles with for a moment, but once it's all done he leans back as if to get greater perspective on the 'man' before him. He doesn't answer the question about what he can call him, that part is important. Names are important too, and that's why he avoids it all together. The files they have on true names, on power, they go on for terabytes.

"It's a hard question to answer. I used to think that I wanted power. I have power, now."

One leg crosses up, and he taps his shoe against the edge of the table, finally brokering a small smile as he becomes the mirror, a finger waggled in Grym's direction. "I want you to tell me what you want most."

There are levels of confidence in the world, and he exudes some measure that can't be bought with protection, with guns, or anything else. He has the manner of a man who has a contingency, or the manner of a man who does not care if he lives or dies. And yet, he does not think he is so savvy as to outplay this creature, old and devious. The stories they have on him, gathered from books and research and first hand accounts are enough to breed an abundance of caution. But the way he acts now, the move on the virtual chess board of the mind is not just one of caution, it is the respect given to an unknown, but highly vaunted opponent.

One he hopes can leave their little battlefield as a mutual friend.

Only now does Grym take advantage of the chair offered earlier. Sliding fearlessly back across and off the edge of the table, flopping onto the chair and leaning back way too far for physics to mandate his leisured posture. Crossing his shoes on the table and folding his arms behind the back of his head.
And then his usual deal is turned right back around on him. Color the Jinn surprised as his lips twist downward into a blatantly impressed expression. If this is his poker face, Grym seems to be doing a poor job.
The long con has always intrigued Grymalkin the most.
"Alright." His mismatched eyes move to the ceiling as he emotes his contemplation, "Tell me what happened to the British Empire."
As he speaks, the lingering smoke in the air swirls and forms the British Isles. The blood drops on the table rise to form soldiers, of the Victorian Era by the look of them.
"My last master.. Well serious master before.." offhandedly gesturing at the corpse on the floor. "Said the British Empire would stand a thousand years. Did it actually last over a century, I'm curious?"
It would seem knowledge of the modern world is his current passion.

Magicians come in all forms, and Obadiah Stane operates on a level that would be described as some, including Gods themselves, as equal to their divinity, if not their morality. A small taste of that magic appears, courtesy of The God of Trinkets, otherwise known as Tony Stark. A phone on the table, a gesture of his finger, and a holographic display lights up between them, casting a halo over his blood drop soldiers.

"Show me a visual representation of the British Empire, include dates and boarder changes."

The show begins, spun in light and shadow, showing a globe where influence increases until a bloat in 1913, and a subsequent withdrawal as years wane and grow closer and closer to 2017.

Finally there is only The United Kingdom, and it's protectorates, some close, some far away, but it's status as a global power is diminished, even if it is not completely toothless.

"Several centuries and counting, if you count what's left at all. Empires. Kings. Transitional things at the top layer are like so much soil or rock. They erode over time no matter how strong. Your other Master should have looked to the water that did the eroding. The men and women who stoke conflict behind the scenes, those who do not have boarders so much as agendas. Patriotism? National Pride? Interesting concepts for the followers of the world. But as with all things, your Master was not entirely wrong. His truth is yet unproven and all together miserable in it's claim for how very useless it was."

A wave of his hand, and the little holographic sphere turns to show where they are in the new world, situated somewhere in New York City.

Somewhere beneath it, to be exact. But those details can come later.

"Do you have enough information now to answer my question?"

His brows lift, because he knows that 'what he wants the most' might require several information hoops, but he seems to have the patience for it.

Now this gets Grymalkin's attention. As the holographic image flares to life, his eyebrow raises as he sits up. The smoke dissipates above the images as he leans closer. He did not think of this man as much of a sorcerer, he has not that sense about him. This tablet puzzles the Jinn. It takes several moments for him to begin to understand it's nature and he seems duly impressed.
That said, he pays attention to the small history lesson and the lecture that comes along with it. All told.. Nothing new.
Nothing new.
"He seemed so certain. I almost bought into it when I saw neither Orient nor new world savage could deny it." Grym smiles to Cigar then, shrugging his shoulders, "It was further than Iskandar or Genghis got. It seems every century men get just a little closer to holding this whole Earth."
His eyes falling upon New York City, so strangely unlike any previous edifice forged of mankind that he does not recognize for what it is.
As the mystery man questions if this gives him enough to ask for a true boon. Grymalkin laughs to himself, lacing his fingers together across his stomach as he leans back into the chair once more.
"You said yourself it's about the little things. Seems like you've aged well enough to understand that. You ask what I want and I'm being honest. I want to know about the world and see it for myself." He gestures to the damned statue prison between them.
"Its difficult to hear the bards sing praises of Kings from in there. You give me a long leash to sate my curiosity and you will be amazed at how good a friend I can be to you." His grin returns as he mentions.
"Keep me in a cage at your side and.. Well. I'm sure you'll be just as amazed at the things I don't tell you as that guy." Dipping the toe of his shoe at the cooling corpse in the corner.

There's consideration there, about the truth of those words, but in the end his expression turns to something resigned. It does not matter if there's truth, and the wrinkles in his forehead show it. This is a game that cannot be played in theory. The battlefield must be a live one.

"Setting someone free is a rare gift. I don't know enough about your curse to know if it's really possible, of course. But in the meantime, I have no qualms about letting you roam as free as you can, to do as you please. And then, my curious friend, once you've had your fill of this new world, getting assimilated to it's customs in as subtle a way as possible, my hope is that we could strike a bargain."

Fingers drop to the table, and scoops up his phone. The holographic image disappears before it finds his pocket, and he glances down at his watch. It's here that he drums those fingers, consideration etched into every feature, along with a genuine good will. "I don't want to give you orders, I want to give you a challenge. And if you pledge to overcome this challenge, I'll make you a promise in kind. I will do all that I can to break your curse, once and for all, using resources that even you cannot yet fathom in a world of fantastic new things."

The lean in, slow and calculated, ends with an extended hand. It might be presumptuous to do so, after all the terms of the challenge are not yet set.

Freedom is not something Grymalkin even considered asking for. He has not tasted that since long before the Romans executed Christ.
As easy-going as Grymalkin has been this time he does not flippantly respond instantly. An intense expression crosses his face as he watches this mystery man very carefully indeed.
The idea that this man could outsmart the wisdom of Solomon is laughable. But then again, it seems men have mastered fire and lightning to a degree that matches wizardry of any age.
Possibly. Possibly.
At the very least, this man is proving to be far more canny a negotiator than any of his masters of the last thousand years.
Notably Grymalkin's hand glides along the surface of the table as he rises from the chair. Near the Iron Monger's but not clasping it yet. A Jinn knows the power of bargains more than any human live.
"And what challenge would that be?" Speaking nothing of this promise of freedom, but there is an eagerness indeed in his posture. This 'New York' is so close to explore.

The phone slides across the table again, and another image rises, a woman with the kind of beauty that transcends the ages. It is not just her symmetry, the way her eyes brim with confidence, even in holographic form. It is an air of class that seems irrefutable.

"A challenge like no other, but only because every person is different. Every person unique in their situation, and what they want in life."

Perhaps he does not know the rules of this Jinn, because this has come up before, right? The dance of light in his eyes. The air of malice just behind that gentile veneer.

"I want you to make this woman, Peggy Carter, fall in love with you."

His hand tilts ever so slightly, a silent question, while his other gestures to the picture. It's important he's specific. There are plenty of other Peggy Carters in the world. Even a much older duplicate exits, because Peggy is a woman out of time.

A King of the Jinn verses the emotional whims of a mortal woman. His expression says it all: You got this… right?

The Seventh King of the Jinn listens with rapt attention. This man of mystery has earned Grymalkin's full attention. And there it is, an image of a woman floating amidst the cigar smoke with a confident serenity.
The challenge hangs in there air then. A surprising turn as there's a moment of heavy silence.
Then laughter.
Grymalkin tilts his head back in a full cackle, clapping his hands together before slapping a palm to the tabletop.
Sure, Grymalkin has suspicions over why this is done. Making others fall in love is hardly a rare desire, after all. Love for himself? There are suspicions there too but .. Grymalkin does not care.
"I accept!" This sounds like far too much fun. His hand claps to Stane's own with a peel of thunder echoing in the room harmlessly. The Jinn seems positively glowing at the potential for how much fun this is going to be.
"Of course your good Vizier mentioned to you that I can't control minds." He offers of the dead man's possible advice, and if not it's been mentioned right now, "But I have yet to meet a woman without want or need. Let me see this new world for myself and you'll see for yourself a loving couple."

When Stane's grip finds Grymalkin's, he will be reminded of the men of old who wrapped themselves in the finer things in life. Men who let themselves go around the middle, just a bit. Men who were still big, strong, of a stature that did not immediately scream how easily they could break a neck or twist an arm.

This is one of those men, but even his handshake is measured, giving a firm grip and then release. "Controlling her mind would not be a challenge. Love cannot be forced. You'll have to earn it. And just like helping set someone free is a rare gift, so is helping someone earn their freedom. My men here will see to it that you have what things you may need in this world. They'll help you out, if you get to close to crossing a line that might draw undo attention."

His warning is not a threat, and he hands the idol over to one of those men, not dressed in tactical gear, but a suit.

"Just think of them as another resource to help you through the paces. Then, once you feel ready, they too can go away." Unless of course someone needs to keep the idol close. Of course, neither of these men, Hydra loyalists and more importantly, Stane loyalists, would ever think of invoking Grym for themselves.

They already have everything they want.

His smile is the warmth of a proud friend, one who is all ready to congratulate Grymalkin on a love he has not claimed. "Just promise me one thing, my new friend from another age." He gives an incline of his head, and his smile turns ever so vile.

"Promise me you'll have fun."

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