Cocktails With Devils

April 18, 2017:

Emma Frost, Betsy Braddock, and Jun Yin enjoy drinks at a private Hellfire establishment.

Hellfire Club Lounge

A sedate bar with eloquent trappings and the finest accoutrements available in New York City.


NPCs: Bartender



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The Hellfire Club is a social club—but it's a social club for a certain kind of people. Not necessarily villainous… but people for whom 'winning at any price' is a life mantra.

Betsy Braddock remains a strange enigma to many. Neither a white collar criminal nor sneak thief, she's a woman with a dark past and no apparent interest in the 'games' of the Club. At least one person spent a few days in a hospital after pitching an assassination at the kunoichi.

Still there's a certain deadly elegance and patience about her. Someone waiting for the right job to come along. Sitting at the bar, alone, in a slinky dress of glittering dark amethyst, Betsy's attire fits in with the finery of the Club quite nicely—though somehow, she remains cooly aloof and diffident to the undertows of power flowing around her.


Lucky Yin's black shoes softly glide onto the club's featureless floor, his hands in the pockets of his leisure suit. His face is a stiff mask with soft corners, eyes hidden behind his sunglasses. Chinese, with just a faint hint of Portuguese blood indicating he's from a wealthy family of Macau, he looks to his right at the bar, the mask contorting smoothly into a thoughtful frown, eyebrows shifting together for a faint flick within time. He takes a slow step forward with his foot as his hands drift out of his pockets, and he moves to the sit one stool down from Betsy's right, selecting the favorable side of her optical psychology, while keeping her on his guarded side, his left. He raises a finger at the bartender, his pinky curled inwards but emerging at a knuckle, flagging him down.

"Southern Comfort and tonic, with a splash of Grenadine," he requests, ordering a fond combination with no name. It's a gambling hall trick, to make him harder to bracket socially.


The sharp clack of knee-high boots bounces off the walls of a long corridor from the back reaches of the establishment, only occasionally muffled by the appearance of a runner along the herringboned hardwood. And swaying atop the pristine patent leather of those daring shoes is one Emma Frost.

To say sobriety is not a common virtue here…. Well, it would be a silly thing to think in the place that not just recognizes the myriad vices that the world has concocted for the purposes of pleasure, but celebrates them. All of that to say: she, too, has a cup of sparkling wine in a flute—the last of an exclusive bottle from a Napa vineyard that was poured out by moderate enough measures.

Emma's just got an early start to the drinking game this evening.

The bustier-wearing blonde is comfortable in her club—in her own skin—and her lips curl upwards in a satisfied smile as she feels the presence of another familiar psychic in the room. Even before she's made it to the bar, Betsy will likely feel booze-warmed thoughts sent in her direction. // » So good to see you made it, dear. « //


Betsy's attire is as glamorous as Emma's is provocative—off the shoulder, slit hip, five inch stilettos with a flash of red sole visible. Her makeup is simple, and exquisite, but oddly she wears very little jewelry, save for a torc on her bare left arm and a short, glittering pendant shaped like a tiny crystal butterfly at the hollow of her throat.

Sitting as she is, half turned from the bar, Betsy's positioned to effortlessly survey the room, so Lucky's approach is not missed at all. A flashing gestalt glance takes him in: clothing, posture, attire, the flick of a pinky, even the odd drink order.

Her vividly aubergine eyes jump from Lucky to Emma at the blonde's approach, and her haughty features break with a curl of her lips. With her hair pulled back into a purple spray, held back by two chopsticks, the effect is akin to a dark halo behind her smooth features. // Emma, darling. Anything for you,// she projects telepathically.

"Good evening, Emma," Betsy says, aloud, as the White Queen stalks towards the bar. "You're looking lovely."


Lucky watches Betsy with a quiet bit of evaluation, a faint hint of deeply hidden dislike for Braddock because of her Japanese heritage. Despite being an enemy of the Chinese government as a Triad, he is still nonetheless bred as patriotically as the rest of those inside the People's Republic. The rivalry is particularly deep due to the competing business concerns of the Chinese and Japanese organized crime syndicates. Although there is not as much threat there as it would be if Psylocke was from a rival Tong. He merely looks away as she does, receiving his drink from the bartender. His reflexive cultural enmity aside, he appears comfortable here.

"Hello, Miss Frost," he says quietly to the White Queen, lifting his drink quietly and tipping his head forward to take a mild sip of the glass, drawing it into his mouth from beneath his upper lip with a calm, svelte movement of his mouth. There is no sound as he tilts the glass slightly, before setting it down, his movements highly calculated, simply for image alone.


Amidst the bright sound of crystal, laughter, and conversations, Emma's nothing if not a ready host. After a bracing sip from her glass, she allows a hand to quickly slide between the two who greet her. "Miss Braddock! Mister Yin." Arched brows lift, and her smile grows sharp with an amusement made mysterious as she rolls her shoulders beneath the warmth of a cape and locks away her deeper thoughts far from view. "Have you two met? If not, please do allow me to make the most basic of introductions."

Betsy transfers her look to Lucky at the introduction, and though the polite smile remains it becomes fixed and insincere. A model's expression, lacking intent.

"Mr. Yin," she tells him, cooly, and extends a hand to the fellow, fingers down and wrist relaxed. Her richly cultured British tonals are crisply polite and create an effortless barrier, and it's very obvious— somehow— that she's picked up on Lucky's racial disdain.

"I've not had the pleasure, no. A friend of yours, dear?" she inquires of Emma, glancing from Yin to Emma and back. "Or are you playing the social butterfly again?" she asks, with a tone of faint humor.


A faint curl of amusement is present in Lucky's thoughts, at the title Miss Frost uses. His neural implant clicks into a clear harmonic meant to be easy to read, and he informs, <The family name comes first in the People's Republic. Triads, however, resemble Americans in our fiscal and family culture. A key to a door.> The implant clicks away, his thoughts submerging himself back in his standard logic. The change is visual on his face, as it tightens, before he clicks out and he loosens back to a contemplative expression.

He extends his hand to Betsy, his smooth black gloved hand sliding to take Betsy's and he lifts it to his mouth, the gesture not performed with the typical anxiety born out of being a Portugese-blooded Triad family from Macau in a mainland Chinese boarding school, but a faint bit of friendly aggression at the gesture, his disdain curling about into a deferential body language at the introduction of the British accent. Macau is a neighbor of Hong Kong, after all. He lays his dry, inwardly turned lips across the very back of her knuckles, the side of his thumb raking upwards as he releases the hand and sets his arm on the bar, his hand allowed to lay atop the counter.

"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Braddock. I represent Hong Kong's club, merely as a technical expert, not a man of esteem."


To the accusation of forced mingling, Emma just offers a small and airy shrug. It's a gesture made famous—or infamous—by their ilk, who can afford the luxury of such shallow familiarity so long as it's got the wit to back it. Where the recall games of names and titles and companies and connections can mean the loss or gain of millions in backroom arrangements.

It's not really shallowness on Emma's part, but it's a fine game at it, though.

And as she's chastised, however subtly, she just looks to Yin. » Ah, yes. My apologies. Well, correct if you like. « She doesn't really look terribly apologetic, however. She sips again from her flute.

"I do like it when all of the chapters can speak nicely to each other."


"But the backbiting and intrigue is so much more entertaining," Betsy says. Even to Yin's cultural sensibilities and Emma's telepathic sense, it's difficult to tell if she's being sarcastic or playful—or serious.

"So, you're a black hat," she says to Yin, making it more statement than question. "Computer infiltration's an interesting specialty, but I suppose even the Tong need to stay with the times," she says. The bartender shows up with a glass of clear vodka and three cubes floating in it, and Betsy takes a sip quite calmly—and utterly dismissive of the fact she's bluntly called out Yin as a thief, and not just a solo act but as a specialist for the Triad.


Yin does not offer further reply to the White Queen's retort, his poker face remaining as he draws on his liquor while she regards him. It's evident, however, that he was teaching, not defensive, from his lack of argument. He sets his glass down with a lick of his upper lip to clear a bit of the cherry syrup, looking downwards briefly with thoughtful expression on his face. "It is not as new as you think. There is still street movement involved, if one wants valuable data. Only the fool places his treasure within range of anyone watching, and then, the treasure is worthless. Such is the value of information." His eyes take note of the vodka she has been delivered. That is the traditional drink of a killer, in any sense. He looks to Emma with a pensive thought process, a bit of idleness revealing his flaw as a gambler. He needs the game.

"Does the White Queen require anything?"


Mischief managed? Alright, so the chapters never really speak nicely to each other. At least it's entertaining.

Emma 'tsks' softly as the accusation comes spilling forth from Betsy Braddock's lips, although her detached amusement seems as though it will persist. For the length of Yin's posturing, it persists. And then her lips fall into a soft sort of frown. There's a sudden stiffness at the use of a title not meant for public consumption, and if looks alone could kill—for even a psychic such as herself needs a little more than just a look—the man before her might have cause for concern.

It's clearly unamused.

She waits a moment, an instructive beat, and then the tightness around her eyes and mouth evaporates. "I've no idea what you're talking about," she lies smoothly over another sip from her glass—the one that empties it and necessitates her reluctant surrender of it into the bartender's care. She has no intention of attaching herself to the request.

"But, since you two are getting on so swimmingly, I think I can leave you alone for a little while? Miss Braddock, do be sure to say goodbye if I can't get back before you need to leave for the evening…?"


Emma's perfect denial is matched by a look of cool curtness, Yin replying, "My apologies, Miss Frost, I thought you knew someone like that." He turns back to predominantly face the bar, sipping his drink. There isn't a hint of fear at Emma's look, besides a faint word in Portuguese, 'saudade', and an odd movement of his neural implant to prepare a defensive feed into his mind. There's a palpable aura of certainty in him, not of a theory or decision, but his action. And there's a decided mistrust of Braddock that has been added, without apology to Frost. He's an independent one, like most computer experts of any merit.

"My corporate financiers in Hong Kong require marketable work for their purposes. China's defensive networks are getting harder to crack by us, and their computer analysts continue to improve. It's an issue of survival."


Emma returns the mark of familiarity with a ginger-light touch of fingertips upon Braddock's shoulder. Yin gets another look, this time inscrutable. "Thank you for understanding. If you'll excuse me."

Without further ado, the woman simply slides around the pair and then makes her way through a nearby doorway into one of the other lounge rooms.


"Diversification," Betsy says, summarizing his position in a word. "Evolve or die, as they say." She sips her vodka, a perfectly manicured nail flickering one spherical ice cube in a clinking, silent spin atop the glossy surface of the perfectly chilled vodka.

"So you come to America looking for… more lucrative ventures?" she inquires, one immaculate brow arching. "It's a long way to go to make a few dollars. Not to mention that the Italian Mafia and Russian syndicates have the east coast locked down. I had thought the Tongs and Yakuza were content to divvy up the west coast and keep it between themselves."

Perhaps, its that social distance that is most unnerving about Betsy. The Asian predilection for stillness is somewhat stereotypical, but Betsy Braddock seems to have turned it into high art, making it impossible to guess from her expression what her feelings are.

More than that, there's a positively uncanny disconnect between her and 'everyone else'. No real sense of the woman empathically, even to that low, almost baseline perception of other people that almost all humans possess. She guards herself so well that it's not difficult for the brain to momentarily lapse and confuse her with something that's not quite human.

"You'll find America the land of opportunity," she tells Lucky, dryly. "But, with great rewards, come commensurate risks. The wealth here is harder to obtain and harder still to hold on to. Have you thought about making a mobile app? People are crazy for apps," she says, throwing back her drink and wiggling her fingers at the bartender for a refill.


Lucky Yin is still nursing his beverage, having taken his time to drink, only doing it for social reasons. He does not like the effect that being drunk has on his control. A single cocktail is enough to overcome his inward nature. "I've been to America before," he says with a neutral disposition. "I attended MIT and got an internship for a military contractor." He does not respond to Betsy's taunt by confirming or denying any suspicion she might have, instead remarking, "The app market is a way of collapsing income into fewer hands. Deflationary measure."


Betsy, on the other hand, is clearly a fairly hard drinking woman. She'd had at least two before Lucky had approached, and the third doesn't look like it's slowing her down one bit.

"Come now, are you saying there's -no- value in a little honest labour?" she inquires, mildly more languid as the liquid social lubricant kicks in. "Even the Triad recognizes the value of a day's labour. A single killer app could address budget shortfalls for the organization for an entire year. Even get away from nasty practices like human trafficking and prostitution," she says, and though she doesn't smile, there's something toothy about it. "Switching to a much -lower risk- agenda seems prudent, doesn't it?"


Yin looks up at Betsy appraisingly, as she shows more of herself. "You are a direct thinker. You think in terms of material possessions. But the information age requires post-modern economics. These are economics that understand the flexibility of the system, due to the heavy integration of the mental process. Allow me to explain the cheat that the information industry is playing, with their investments." He opens up his body language, spreading his hands as he turns to face her on his stool, his posture upright and rigid.

"A commodity is a good, an extracted, atomically singular good, or labor, produced by humans, which shapes the flow of goods for human survival, procreation, and various forms of mental, physical, and emotional hygiene."

He smiles, raising his left gloved finger. "But what if, you had a commodity that people would pay currency for, which represents a commodity, but you could clone the commodity over and over again? And what if the commodity was produced by easier labor than those who paid for the commodity performed, with an infinite output of profit in terms of saturation? And then, then, one adds a broad variety of luxuries without specialization for area, breaking Adam Smith's mathematical constant, the Invisible Hand of the market?" He raises his eyebrows at her, tipping his head forward as he regards her from behind his glasses.

"You see what unregulated internet commerce does now, don't you?"


"I think you've engineered the dollar, and you've mistaken the concept of printing your own money as making money," Betsy rebuts, with a lifted brow. "In the case of something that can be reproduced effortlessly and repeatedly, you've created infinite supply without equal demand." A finger traces the rim of her glass, smoothing a little crest of vodka ahead of a singing wave of real crystal from the lowball.

"Which is only sustainable in a world with infinite upwards economic growth. Britain's seen what happens when wealth concentrates with great excess into the hands of a ruling class," she tells Yin, smoothly and with a perfectly relaxed poise to counter his stiff formal posture— leaning back a little into her stool, long legs kicked out and a heel wiggling lazy circles in the air as she speaks. "Then the Reformation came and they threw out all the blue bloods. It took us centuries to claw back our land and titles, and we've never forgotten it. America, I think, is heading down the same boat—China, too," she points out, sipping more vodka. "Sooner or later, the wealth accumulates among a precious few who can't possibly spend it fast enough. Demand drops. Better to market to something the common people can afford ten million times, than the wealthy can afford but once."


"I think you regard me as disagreeing with this point," Lucky says with a mysterious smile, as if he is pleased. He lifts his drink, taking a longer, smoother sip. His face contorts briefly, as he allows his veneer to drop. "But we differ on one primary point: the course of action to undertake during this trend. You feel that the present pathway is the proper one. That is what you've stated. And I also believe the present pathway is the right one."

There's a brief grin. "But you do not know the hidden part of investment by the wealthy. You see, they know that the commodity markets are still the most valuable thing to the actual maintenance of the country, while the average man? He is lost in infinite supply from a good that is, despite being a creature comfort, candy. Simple, sweet, candy. They buy it ten million times, but they are spending money they have made once. And they are being paid the money by the faculties of the wealthy. And where is the money that is slowly being siphoned off into a computer company's hands going?"

He lowers his sunglasses with his hands, to look Betsy in the eye. "Nowhere. The same amount of currency in the system, but it represents fewer resources, and is backed by the word of the government. The common man is a slave to one thing, Miss Braddock, that all of this is centered around."

He lifts the alcoholic beverage in his hand between them.



Betsy slowly smiles at Yin. It's not a nice smile—but it is amused. "My opinion's informed by a stinging few hundred years of aristocratic hindsight," she suggests, rolling a bare shoulder in a shrug. "We all watched King George give up the only real wealth we had: the colonies abroad. Real estate, you know. It's the only resource with truly limited supply and limitless demand," she observes. "Think about it. Some lowly peasant in the Reformation stakes a claim on a little acre of land three centuries ago, and does nothing with it but pass it from parent to child, generation after generation. Now, that little parcel has ten flats on it in the heart of London, and what was once a pig farm with less worth than the animals, now generates more income than all but the wealthiest of royalty could have imagined a few centuries ago," she says, flicking a stray strand of hair back from her face. "Nothing else, anywhere, is so valuable as a little bit of land."


Lucky raises his sunglasses again, and turns back to the bar, finishing off his drink and setting it down. "I know of one resource more important than land, that has the same limitless demand, but a less limited supply, that trumps land's importance." He pushes backwards and off his stool, reaching his left hand to the inside of his jacket and revealing his sidearm with a toothy grin. "Arms." He releases the jacket to allow the holster to go hidden again, but the grin remains. "Land can be bought or sold, but if you are willing to pay for it in blood, that peasant's work is for nothing." His grin is not a pleasant one, but instead has some sort of gaunt pain to it, despite the reveal. It's as if he's an animal for a few moments, one trained savage by nature and cognizant of a natural predator. "Have a nice night, Miss Braddock. I have a craving for oyster sauce." His hands slide into his jacket pockets as he turns about, his grin fading after she is out of sight of his face.


"You should read about Tyler's Rebellion, Yin," Betsy suggests, as the fellow rises. The leggy socialite doesn't move, save to tilt her head grandly at Yin's polite withdrawal. "But a good night to you, all the same," she says, reaching for her vodka with an idle hand and tilting it minutely towards Yin, before taking a sip and returning to her implacable consideration of … whatever, as the sinister Triad agent takes his leave.

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