Repayment

April 15, 2017:

A Manhattan Shoe Factory

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Obadiah Stane

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Lucky Yin sits in a signal insulated office in the third basement level of a lady's shoe factory serving as a front for the Flying Dragons in Manhattan, owned by a subsidiary of Sebastian Shaw's greater technical design consortium. His office is a simple but austere affair, designed with a combination of Western utility and Eastern reverence for art. It is a small room with a ventilation shaft up top, to keep the air circulated, the walls lined with shiny black posters and gold serpentine dragons, a symbol of good luck for those who seek profits and money and children. He's sitting at a smooth metal desk that curves along the wall, with a flat computer monitor before him displaying a standard Microsoft operating system, and a monitor to his left, on the corner of the curve, displaying a code program that lets him toy with the systems he's using. With the network down, he's isolated to systems affairs inside his own network, but he's kept busy, working on a project for his own entertainment. And to stay sharp, of course.

He's presently playing poker with an artificial intelligence he's designed from his scan of Stark Industries' systems and his personal observations of FRIDAY's handiwork, plus his own tinkering. The program itself is working to the left, so he can see it, while he gambles against it before him.

—-

It's a quiet arrival in some regards. A dark limousine that pulls up in front of the building. A driver emerges from the car in a perfectly tailored uniform, and his shining shoes crunch against the gravel of the street as he makes his way to the rear passenger-side door and opens it, with a murmured "Miss."

A white patent leather stiletto becomes visible as the occupant emerges. "Keep the engine running. This won't take long." In a high-collared, sleeveless, knee-length dress of snow white brocade, Emma Frost clearly cares very little about blending in. Instead, she closes her eyes for a moment, searching out a brain and its owner before beginning to make her way into the building with her sharp, militaristic step.

—-

Yin's mind is a strange thing, even before the addition of a neural implant. Pure cunning and manipulation of the environment, a dance of art and motion and mathematics, like a ballet dancer that dances even off stage. Movements, trials, tribulations, considerations, at all times, sharpened into a razor sharp knife. Even sitting alone, doing what Yin clearly considers entertainment, Yin's mind is working at manuever. Pure manuever, making the simple obscenely difficult in terms of analysis, then beating it, surmounting challenge after challenging, before a cyclic breath flows out at the edge of a meditative reversal of his breathing. Then, his mind unspools, and there's a quiet smile across his face, before the veneer of cold, mechanical precision returns, his true nature retreating. It is a man who has challenged himself his entire life.

The addition of the neural implant makes this long distance runner an architect of a vastly different mindscape than the regular mind, mathematics running even as Yin sits at rest, working with the poker system he's playing against and simultaneously monitoring the movement of on the code screen to his left. He's a cheat with the neural implant, at his math, using the cybernetics to play at game theory logic beyond his neurology, safely partioned into the implant and then ciphered in and out at his will, with verbal commands in Mandarin, all of them related to obscure mathematical theory he picked up at MIT, the most complex coding possible for the dangerous work, simple gambling terms in Chinese for various systems, ranging in all manner of traditional casino parlor games. They're all designed to Yin's preferences and needs, with a hint of desire here and there as he orders a piece of fruit one would find in Macau, triggering visual imperatives in his mind's eye related to the data he is working with. His imagination is an oddly synthetic affair as a result.

—-

There's a minuscule twitch of Emma's upper lip—an easily missed mark of distaste—as she encounters the neural implant. But she has what she really needs: a location.

She makes her way towards it with her clutch purse tucked under her arm, hoping that she doesn't meet any bodies between point A and point B. But, even if she does, the woman does know how to mask her presence well enough for most everyday purposes.

Eventually, however, she finds her way through the winding factory and shows up at his doorway and leans gently against its frame, soft blond curls resting against the walls. "I hope I'm not interrupting." She hopes. The woman doesn't actually care.

—-

Yin can hear the stilettos approach from a range down the corridors of the basement, knowing very well that it's the queen bee herself from the cant of her stride. He remains unshifting as a moving statue as he codes and plays and observes, looking from screen to screen, as if he was a barely organic automaton, but with the smooth organic countenance from his biology's constraints marking him as human. Emma can tell that Yin knows she's coming, and deliberately pushes his mind's eye away with a command 'Fold' in Mandarin, to keep his thoughts clear so she can read them. A lower apologetic is the potential of masking his mind against other telepaths, and a blasé statement of potential utility that he believes they mutually appraise.

As Emma comes in, he does not make a show of defiance to her as a boss, knowing of her ability, merely completing his final work, saving it, turning to the code and hitting a few keys, not apologizing this time as he works with a moment or two to make her wait, before he turns about in his chair to face her, his sunglasses tucked in the pocket of his suit. "Hello, Miss Frost," he says with a neutral tone, a spike of anxiety in the back of his mind, deeply suppressed under the considerations of tactic and strategy so deeply intuited into him since childhood that the anxiety would almost be advantageous, if it wasn't a clear motivation for his superhuman level of consideration towards others. "You are not interrupting." He slides his fingers together over his lap, interlacing them. "How may I assist you?" The swivel of his thoughts indicates a curiosity at the network downturn, and a consideration that it could be due to a compromise he's caused, although that is met with zero anxiety, merely a classification that he leaves open in a boolean synaptic sense.

—-

Pushing herself off of the doorframe, Emma folds her bare arms. She makes no secret of her irritation, crimson-stained lips turned downward in a disapproving frown and kohl-framed eyes narrowing.

"You can begin by apologizing for the Stark Industries incident," she says, getting straight to the point. He might feel her presence move through the presented thoughts before she pulls her awareness back and sets herself instead to the task of scanning the area to ensure they are alone.

"Then you can move along promptly to promising you won't drag the Hellfire Club into whatever feud you're trying to pursue again, and then conclude by apologizing to me for making me having this conversation in the first place. It's caused me to be late to an engagement, and that's unimaginably irksome."

—-

Before Emma retreats, she will feel an odd movement of his background social anxiety forward, pitching into his decision making process, and the fact that it is a deliberate movement, the kind an athlete makes to evade a trap. It is a move that she is most certainly familiar with, inducing biochemistry into a normally 0-1 equation. An emotional decision, as it is called, his eyes alighting on her eyebrows, a scantly readable reflection of his people awareness, as he assumes the posture of an intelligence subordinate instead of a criminal one. Or even a military one, from the position of his gaze up instead of onto the mouth.
"I am sorry that I was compromised, Miss Frost," he begins, unlocking his fingers and laying them flat on his thighs, deliberate stiffness to them as he displays his own composure force to her. It is a necessity, not a willed action he can control and simultaneously retain his footing. "I will avoid the interaction of our Hong Kong affiliates with Stark Industries in the future, as this is your territory, White Queen." His fingers relax and he draws them inwards, into loose fists, gentleman cuffs. "And I apologize for forcing my chastisement, it was a costly error, clearly."

He purses his lips. "I hope fortune finds itself in this affair." His eyes move down to Emma's, from her eyebrows, the read going away. "Fortune is not what is found, after all, but who looks."

—-

Fortune? Emma snorts softly at the notion and her pale brow furrows. "Stark is a member of the club in good standing, as is Mister Stone, also of Stark Industries. You uploaded your intel to servers they could access." A delicate hand stretches out in Yin's direction, and then she tilts her chin. "You cost me a favor. I'll be expecting repayment."

There is a brief pause, and then her glare at last relents a degree. "Do I need to say anything else, or can I trust you to know how to not frame our little gathering as a threat?" There's a glance down to the golden chained watch on her wrist.

—-

Lucky Yin's mouth spreads into a slow smile, displaying a few front teeth. He turns about in his chair, turning his back on Emma without a word. He types at his computer for about thirty-five seconds, with rhythmic precision, before he slips a thumb drive into the computer. He taps two keys, hits a third, and then the code screen flashes a message. He turns about with the thumb drive in his hand, depositing it in Emma's waiting palm. "I keep my work on a closed server. They have not seen this. I work on private projects for entertainment." His smile parts into a grin. "You could call it my own version of JARVIS. It's a game theory artificial intelligence. Rudimentary by the standard of a network maintenance and personal assistant, like Mr. Stark's, but quite noteworthy for using mathematics to manipulate human behavior into desired outcomes. If you want to acquaint yourself with it, introduce it to a card game program."

He spreads his hands. "I hear and obey, Miss Frost. I hope you find the software useful. Particularly if you want to practice against a psychological predator without your ability." His face returns to a neutral veneer, but his left hand is up, displaying the datajack on his palm. "Cheaters only prosper when we practice fundamentals every so often." He drops his hand.

—-

The White Queen allows her host to perform his tasks without comment. And as he approaches, there is only a small tightness of her jaw that betrays suspicion. But then? An offering.

After a brief lift of her eyebrows—a mark of surprise, perhaps—Emma curls her hand around the thumb drive and then deftly slips it into her purse. "I'll bear that in mind," she quips, smiling softly in amusement at her own little joke. A mark of her seeming placation. "Do have a good evening?" The curvy blonde, without further ado or further psychic intrusion, turns to go with her swaying stride. Over her shoulder, she offers a last simple warning, "I look forward to never having this happen again."

—-

Lucky performs a quizzical frown at the joke, which may be a show of bemusement. "Hopefully that will not impede a further meeting between us," he replies, before he turns a quarter and rises, moving to a small refrigerator to the side of the office, to pull out a soda and one of several sets of cold cuts he has there, along with a simple round bun. Although he has picked up a taste for American deli meats, he could never understand the attraction to blondes. For a man of manipulation, he could only see their outer selves.

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