Infernal Diplomacy

May 25, 2017:

Scott and Illyana arrange a meeting with Nate and the DEO's X-Men liaison; Valerie Cooper

Limbo

Characters

NPCs: Val Cooper

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's a sign of how unusual the lives of the X-Men are that when they need to meet on neutral ground, the best they can come up with is a demonic hell dimension.

Limbo as the United Nations. If the circumstances were even slightly different, Illyana would find the idea hilarious.

However, matters are currently a little too serious for even Illyana's somewhat twisted sense of humour. Nate may have just put the Xavier Institute in the US Government's crosshairs, and as might be expected, Cyclops has requested a meeting to discuss the situation and Illyana has obliged.

As the stepping discs deposit their passengers, their destination is not, as perhaps might have been expected, Illyana's throne room. Instead, the delegates will arrive in a large chamber walled and floored in stone, with a high, vaulted roof. At the center of the chamber is a large, circular table of polished stone, with high-backed stone chairs surrounding it. A pentagram is inscribed in the center of the table, and it's lit by a light well from above, illuminating the table with the sickly, reddish daylight of Limbo. Endlessly burning torches stud the walls to add some additional illumination, and cause the shadows in the chamber to jump fitfully.

The delegates may also notice that beyond the light well, the chamber doesn't appear to have an exit.

Illyana is already in the chamber when the others arrive, standing with one arm draped possessively across the back of one of the stone chairs. It might not be her throne, but the back IS noticeably higher than the other chairs'.

===

Nate waits there with Illyana, he just arrived, took a seat and put his feet on the table. "I had never seen this room, did you create it for the event?" He asks somewhat curious. The young man looks tired, and somewhat tense for those who know him well. He is a weird one in that he can actually relax while in Limbo, but he is too worried to relax at all now, flippant posturing apart.

==

Cyclops is a statue of composure as he appears in the stepping disc. His arms folded across his chest the navy blue body suit covering his muscled lengthy form and that golden red lit up visor rolling back and forth.

The figure next to him is not so composed, Valerie Cooper a leggy blonde with a high-tied pony tail staggers to her knees spilling her coffee cup across the Illyana's floors. A gagging sound escaping her. She isn't vomiting she is just panicking. The laminated badge on her left jacket pocket is large and reads DEO.

Scott breaks his stoic posture to kneel down and begin helping her up, a hand on her wrist and another under her elbow, "Sorry, Agent Cooper… "

"That is the worst, absolute WORST experience I have ever endured." The woman manages in her panic.

"It definitely requires some getting used to. It is helpful with warning… " Scottscowl #3 in a week for Illyana.

===

When Cyclops and Ms. Cooper arrive, Illyana is staring balefully at Nate's boots, propped up on her table, in her castle, in her dimension. It's a sign of disrespect that would niggle at her if he was in her good books and right now he isn't.

"Limbo has rooms for all occasions. Including dungeons." She replies, but it's obvious he's not getting the message. "And just in case you think you're forgiven." She tells him, quietly, as the portal opens. "/You're not./"

All signs of irritation are wiped from Illyana's features when she meets Scott's latest scowl. "You did want me to set this up as soon as possible." Illyana replies with a shrug. "This was as soon as possible." Straightening up from her slouch by her chair, she walks around the table to meet Scott and Ms Cooper, glancing at the spilled coffee before offering perhaps a smidgen of contrition. "Welcome to Limbo, Agent Cooper. The worst is over." She smiles encouragingly, before adding, "Well, probably." She waves a hand at the mess on her floor, and it obediently vanishes.

"Please, sit down." She offers, gesturing to the table and stepping back. "The refreshments are perfectly safe." Were there carafes of probably-water and almost-certainly-wine on the table a moment ago? There are now. And goblets too. Illyana is doing her demon-hostess best, here.

===

Nate actually straightens when Cooper falls down, feet down and a momentary look of concern in his expression. But he recovers quickly. Cooper? Waller mentioned her, and he remembers something about her being X-Men liaison with the government. But he has never met her. And government agents are pretty low in his esteem this week. Still he manages not to make a sarcastic comment, or give Cooper an evil glare. Rose is safe right now, and he is relatively calm.
Illyana's words make Nate give the blonde a frowny glance. This time he doesn't bite his tongue. "If your brother had been the victim in this, Illyana, Belle Reve would be a smoking crater now." Maybe he is exaggerating for the public? Not many have seen what a really angry Illyana could do.

===

"Some civility, Illyana. We'll work on this." Scott huffs in a quiet level tone. He doesn't look like he is pressing it though, perhaps more of his dry humor. "I did and this is Agent Valerie Cooper our Liaison with the Cabinet of Metahuman Affairs and the D.E.O. As you are familiar."

Valerie exhales, chest rising and falling as she takes in her surroundings. Shes a brave woman, shes been through a lot but this is new. "Am I in another dimension?" Still in awe and a little distracted by the sheer overwhelming aspect of what is going on. Her empty coffee mug is clutched tightly in her hand, knuckles whitened.
It is a friendly and firm squeeze on her elbow from Cyclops that has her straightening up, clearing her throat.
An offer of, "Hello." Finally escapes her towards Magik, "Thank you for the welcome… " Acknowledging the fact the young mutant sorceress knows who she is already despite Scotts introduction. Valerie imagines most if not all of the X-Men know who she is even if they have not met her.

Scott nor Valerie go after the refreshments but they do take seats.
"Nate… " Scott says to the telepath. "Give it a moment." Firm, detached.

===

Nate gets a Look from Illyana. The sort of Look that says 'this is not about me' and warns him not to push the point. He probably won't take any notice, but then… it's Nate.

Illyana's attention switches back to Agent Cooper as she acclimatizes to her change of scenery, appraising how long it takes her. There's a flicker of disappointment in her eyes when she takes in the death-grip on the coffee mug, quickly hidden. "Yes." Illyana answers the question whether it was meant for her or not. "It's not much but I call it home." The false modesty seems to amuse Illyana, because Agent Cooper gets another smile.

The blonde demoness walks back to her own chair and and sits down, her eyes flicking around the table to note with an amused smirk that no-one is touching the drinks. She draws a carafe toward her and pours herself a drink, sipping from the goblet. "Take as much time as you need. I'm not charging by the hour."
===
Nate grimaces, and looks at Scott, making an acquiescent gesture with his hands. He was asked to come to this meeting and he is at least willing to talk, isn't he? Illyana's suggesting Limbo was a great idea, too.

But he wants to be with Rose, not here. Not even the 'refreshments' draw his attention.

Deep breath. "Ms. Cooper," he nods, keeping his voice even. "Thank you for… being here." His body language hints he is not very hopeful the meeting leads to anything useful. But two people that he respect quite a bit (not that he would admit it) are here, so he is struggling to behave.

===
"It is very you." Scott comments to Illyana before looking over towards Valerie, "It is safe here. Illyana will not let anything harm us and she really isn't about to poison us if you need more coffee."

Valerie smiles tightly but it is still a smile, "No I am sure. It is just… sorry it is taking me second, sorry." Which she seems to be better now, no longer as pale and she is loosening her grip on her cup.

"Let me get straight to it. Several days ago it came to my attention a member of your X-Men assaulted a government official, several actually to gain private and confident information, information that is meant to be secret for the sake of national security. The specifics are not incredibly important but the higher ups are not at all pleased and to soften the blow of this I have to run an evaluation on my end, I have to meet with you and make sure you're not an actual terrorist and report back to them. This is bigger than all of us. We have made monumental steps in solidifying good relations with the X-Men and mutants in general recently, exposing Genosha was a massive win last year… I want to see unity continue, I don't want the 90's to repeat themselves, we just started burying all of the proposed Sentinel Programs strictly for mutants and metahumans in a very deep dark vault." An exhale, she sits back a little in to the seat accepting its comfort. That was a mouthful for her.

Scott is quiet still. He just listening and watching. Calculating.

===

"Oh… I admit it was wonderful to see the Purifiers finally labeled a terrorist organization. Too late for the hundreds of mutants they murdered, but it was progress," admit Nate, leaning forward on the table. He gives an unfriendly smile to Cooper. "But on the other hand the US Government still does pretty nasty things without the knowledge of the citizens. And some government officials have set themselves above the law and the judicial system and are untouchable. They kidnap, torture and blackmail with impunity, in the name of 'security' and 'America'. And sometimes they target our lovers, family or friends. You are being awfully coy about the details of what really happened, Ms. Cooper. The specifics are not important? Do you even know? Or are your orders just to give some vague warnings and threats so we never again dare to oppose criminals with too much political power?"

===

"And do you have actual physical evidence of these accusations?" Crystal blue eyes stare at Nate. Valerie's posture straightening at his words. "We are all well aware the government is a flawed and convoluted beast that doesn't always appear to have it's people's best interests at heart, I should know, I work for it but that is not what we are discussing at this moment in time, not specifically. The matter at hand is your actions, what transpired in Hub City, what you have done and why you feel justified. Are you above the law and if so who sanctioned your actions or was this entirely you and you alone, was there accomplices?"

"I am not being coy about the details. If the details of what transpired would fix anything to help you look better I would give them but frankly, you look like a villain in this. I am not here to threaten you or give warnings. I am here on an official capacity and to give my professional and experienced opinion on the matter. I seek to understand you and deliver my judgement on your character and level of threat to my superiors. Do you wish to carry on with hostility towards me?" Valerie flashes a smile, "Because honestly, we're off to a great start."

Scott tips his head to the side as if looking at the table from an angle, a hand idly smoothing over it before he takes up one of the cups sniffs it then drinks. It is the only thing he can do right now to keep himself quiet. A look is given to Illyana, the only way to tell is that she can feel his eyes on her and that red dot centers in place. He will remain silent for now.

===

Nate's decision to verbally square up to Valerie Cooper right from the get-go has Illyana fighting the urge to roll her eyes. Understanding /why/ Nate felt he had to act doesn't mean that Illyana's convinced that /how/ he acted was the best or only way to resolve the situation. But justified or not, Nate (and Rose!) are in a hole right now and it's time to stop digging.

From where Illyana's sitting it seems like Nate's just looking for a bigger shovel. She's already taken the decision to kick Nate in the shin before she feels Scott's unique gaze upon her.

She does it anyway.

===

Nate leans back, studying Cooper for a few seconds. "I see. No, I am technically a vigilante, Ms. Cooper. I acted completely alone here. I did not involve any X-Men because I was told recently they prefer to concentrate in teaching and protecting the kids at the school, not fighting crime proactively. You can label me a terrorist, too. Since this time I didn't hit a drug lord or a super-villain robbing a bank. This time the criminal was a government officer."

Poor agent Cooper does not even know what happened. Her work is really shitty, isn't it? "I can give you some memories of what is going on through telepathy. You alone. Not these X-Men here, since that could put them in the hit list too. I could also maybe get you some physical evidence, or tell you where to find it. But if don't have the rank to have been told at least the official version of what is going on, I doubt you have the power to move any kind of investigation against these people, agent. No offense meant, but knowing too much may get you killed."

Should he say more? Yes, why not? Then Illyana kicks him. He looks at the blonde and sighs. "I am a very powerful mutant, Ms. Cooper. I try to use my power to help others. You might know I fought Apocalypse a few months ago, along with Iron Man and several other crime-fighters. I prevented that maniac flying fortress from falling on an inhabited city, and almost killed myself pushing thousands of tons into the ocean. You probably don't know I came from a parallel reality. I was raised in a place without law, and I was amazed and very happy with the American justice system. I am incredibly glad I don't have to kill criminals anymore and instead they get a fair trial and a second chance after a time in prison. Most times. I am a warrior… or a killer if you don't want to mince words. But I will kill -only- when I have no better options. I acted how I acted to save the woman I love from unlawful imprisonment, being forced to kill people under the threat of death and being tortured at the whim of a sadistic bitch."

===

Scott turns his head now to look at Nate, /prefer not to fight crime proactively/? This is nothing the X-Men have ever declared as far as he is aware. They have always been freedom fighters who uphold a dream and a vision, Xavier's and their gifts are never to be squandered. An intake of breath and a muscle beneath his jaw twitches. Perhaps he is simply protecting them but for the most part Valerie Cooper knows about the practices of the X-Men.

"No. You will discuss this in your own words without resorting to shortcuts or images that you can produce, I'm sorry but that is out of the question." Valerie highly doubts he can find physical evidence and is not about to do the legwork or paperwork to go through the proper channels to find it. Plus that would be fishing in to something and this matter is supposed to be handled as quietly as possible, if possible. She is under orders. "You are making a lot of assumptions about what my paygrade is and what I may or may not know, sir."

Valerie listens after the shinkick and then speaks after thought of her own, "Your exploits are to some extent documented and I am grateful, it does some favor in your character but just as easily… " A wave and she looks curiously at Scott then Illyana studying their expressions before she carries on, "So, you took the law in to your own hands. You and you alone? No one assisted you and you find yourself fully justified in all of your actions? Even using telepathy to 'rip' through the minds of government officials not directly connected to this offender to find out information? " She lays it out simply ignoring commentary on what might have transpired with Amanda Waller and possible extras like Rose Wilson. She knows Waller, Amanda Waller is the dark horse of the DEO and spoken about in hushed tones. A boogeyman of sorts but shes never been described as someone who engages in torture but that is also not Valerie's department or is she inclined to poke that bear. Not without something solid.
===
"I was alone," insists Nate. He looks at Scott. "Truth is most X-Men wouldn't do something like this, they are too law-abiding. And I didn't think I needed help to rescue my girlfriend. Which I managed to even if not as cleanly as I'd have liked. I also was trying to get strong evidence to shut down this operation, but I failed and I doubt what I have will hold against a tribunal. And besides it would endanger other victims of the operation. So… I am willing to keep it quiet for now. And I am also willing to work for you secretly in getting evidence of the crimes if you are truly sincere in conducting a real investigation."
===
Valerie sighs. "Okay, I will make sure none of the other X-Men are implemented or tied to ANY of this. I will declare you're a rogue mutant acting on your own accord and under no influence but your own."
She looks Nate over and offers a weak smile, "I understand why you did what you did, it is almost romantic but you went about it in the wrong way." Agent Cooper looks at the walls as if adding herself some security, "Amanda Waller is a necessary evil. We may not agree with her methods but if you lost someone to her organization it is likely they volunteered themselves or have proven themselves to be, by the law, a criminal. A danger to society. I do not and will condone many of the things I have heard from that particular sector but its beyond me, beyond all of us and you're shaking a stick at a very big and dangerous dog. Mutants have it hard enough already, please, pick and choose your battles more wisely. I can only offer so much help.

Scott finishes his drink and pushes it forward. He looks unreadable, broody maybe. Still in his own thoughts.

"Thank you for being a gracious host." Valerie offers Illyana, "I will go present my evaluations and you will be hearing from me. Nate, if I can be so personal, I suggest stay low for a time. Do not draw attention to yourself and steer clear of anything that has Amanda Waller's name attached to it." Nothing is added about the crimes or him hunting evidence. It just sounds like a bad idea all around.

===

Nate laughs bitterly. "There you admitting your government has a monster in their ranks that is too powerful to be touched. Well, thanks for your sincerity, Cooper. Ah, I am going undercover. Waller petty evilness is a minor thing compared with Apocalypse, I usually do not go hunting for all the minor assholes. But that, Cooper, is -your- job."
Then he snarls. "She never volunteered to have a bomb in her head. Rose is a mercenary, yes. But she never harms innocents. She has far better morals than your Waller. And your 'necessary evil' was destroying her!"
===
Valerie Cooper's spine goes ramrod straight and anger flashes through her pretty blue eyes at Nate's response. Very tightly Val looks at him responding coldly, "Thank you for meeting with me. I hope you have a good day. Can someone please send me home?"

Scott stands up pushing from his seat as well, "Illyana? Will you return us?"

That crimson gaze levels on Nate, "Stay away from the mansion. I need to speak with the Professor, Ororo and Jean before we even consider welcoming you back." His demeanor is gruff. His tone flat. He is not pleased with this but he is also not enraged or acting on too much emotion. "If you need somewhere to stay Muir Island is the only option I can extend right now."

===

Illyana's faintly surprised that Nate actually manages to rein himself in, kick to the shin or not. She doesn't regret it.

Illyana's eyes narrow when Agent Cooper decides to brand Nate a 'rogue mutant', and her eyes slide across to Scott, narrowing a little more when it becomes apparent he's not going to say anything. She has a feeling that she knows which way this is going to go…

And sure enough, Nate loses his temper.

"Yes." Illyana says, standing up from her chair. "I think that's a good idea right now." A circle of light appears on the floor, surrounding Agent Cooper and Cyclops, and then rises upwards. When it vanishes, she and Nate are alone in the room.

Illyana blows out a breath, her irritation clear, and the torches that line the walls flare a little brighter as if mirroring her mood. "What the hell was that, Nate?" She asks, her blue eyes cold. "I don't know if Cooper is as useless as you think she is, but you don't need any more enemies. It'd be a good idea if you stopped pushing away the people who are still on your side, too." The torches flicker and spit, and Illyana grits her teeth. "If you're about to yell at me, too, about how nasty Waller is, don't. Your problem isn't that people don't believe you."

Illyana raises her hands to massage her horns… horns? No, probing fingertips only encounter the smooth skin of her forehead, but do nothing for the headache that's building. "If you want to stay here, you can. If you want me to bring Rose here, I will. But please, don't buy any more trouble for yourself before I get back." A stepping disc appears beneath Nate and swallows him up, sending him back to wherever she found him.

Alone in the room, Illyana looks around at the chairs, the carafes, the goblets, and lets her lip curl. What a waste of effort. With a snap of her fingers, the torches go out, plunging the room into semi-darkness, fitting her mood perfectly. A flash of light, and Illyana's gone too.

===

"I am out of it already, Cyclops. I left as soon as I decided to act to save Rose." Because Nate knows the X-Men have many enemies, yes. He is reckless, not stupid. "It will be best if I stay away for long time even if you decide to fight for me. You don't need me there right now, things are peaceful, and I don't need education or protection."

He doesn't need to tackle with Waller again either, he is not -that- vengeful as to go to punish her for what she did. But unfortunately he promised Rose he would try protecting her friends.

And then there is the 'likely they volunteered themselves or have proven themselves to be, by the law, a criminal'. Was Cooper saying the truth? Rose has been very reluctant to talk about the identities of her friends. But he recognized a criminal or two in the crowd the other day. Rose volunteered at first, too. It looked to Nate like a nice gig, being a mercenary for the US government sounded almost as if Rose was going to become a soldier. But the jailing and the bomb were not things she ever wanted.

Still, he has to admit there must be more in this business that it looked at first glance. Rose will have to explain him some things sooner or later.

When Scott and Cooper are gone, he looks at Illyana and smiles. "I am not going to yell at you. Waller is mostly the responsibility of the government, vigilantes or heroes shouldn't have to get involved in cleaning their thrash. If Cooper is genuinely a good person, she should be doing something, not justifying Waller's existence. Thank you for arranging this, though. It might help to keep the school out of the way this time. And don't be a stranger. I think you would connect with Rose easily, you have a lot in common, and she needs friends." And the disk swallows him.

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