AoA: Shadow in the South

September 26, 2017:

Emma Frost (the AoA one) returns from Latveria, her powers restored, to find herself in a SITUATION. Who is pulling the strings now?
AoA Emma is played by Emma. The rest are emits by Nate

Stark's Mansion, New York

It is the Avengers Mansion, but more Presidential.


NPCs: AoA Graydon Creed, AoA Willian Stryker, AoA Thaddeus Ross

Mentions: AoA Magneto, AoA Psylocke, Shadow Thief (AoA Shadow King), AoA Jean Grey

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The cross-Atlantic trip in an airship has been rather boring. 4500 miles from Doomstadt to New York at 45 mph means almost five days flight. The airship Merlyn is old but fast. Five years ago it was one of the flagships of the Humanity High Council sent to bomb the Eastern Coast. It survived and was reformed as a transport.

Crossing the Atlantic is still too dangerous for small planes. Too many flying horrors spawned from Apocalypse's Breeding Pens prowl the winds. It will be decades before all of them are hunted down or die off.

Which is why the Merlyn has an escort of two unreformed warships, of course.

It was a boring trip except for those fifteen minutes of raw terror that cost the life to two crewmen and six refugees halfway the crossing.

But now New York is on sight. The Statue of Liberty, rebuild in steel by Magneto the same day Apocalypse died, greets the airship. Only way to approach New York from the air is through the south. Anything else would invite a lethal response from the canons of Susan Storm's flying fortress. The alien ship that once belonged the Horseman Mikhail now guards New York airspace.

"Madame Frost, this is Captain Taylor," speaks the cabin's communicator. "We are docking in 12 minutes, Secretary of Security Graydon Creed is awaiting you at the landing platform. He requests your presence as soon as possible."

It's been a whirlwind, the new change of affairs. But a welcomed whirlwind. A needed one.

Madame Emma Frost, however, is hard pressed to stifle the sigh that comes on the wake of Creed's name. Still. She does. She chokes it back and looks towards the disembodied speaker.

The blonde woman in her immaculate charcoal grey suit and bright amethyst-hued shirt smiles instead, the curve of it tinting her smile a brighter tone. "Tell Mister Creed that it will be my pleasure to accommodate him."

A hand reaches over to change the page on the novel that is her latest policy draft. Wonderful policy, radical in scope. The dreams of dreamers, set in a classic serif font. Even Creed will be hard-pressed to dull the shine of her inspiration there.

Ah, yes. Graydon Creed. President Stryker's right hand man. Codename Horror Show when he was a rebel leader, because he carried high-tech flamethrowers and deadly fighting skills into the battlefield.

Flamethrowers happened to be a good equalizer against most mutant powers.

But they are dangerous things, and Creed's body carries the burns and scars of twenty years of fighting. He is a stocky man in his late forties that has never kept secret his distrust of mutants, even those who fought against Apocalypse as hard as he did. In his case it is not exactly blind racism. His parents were both mutants and he was an abused and neglected child because of his lack of X-Factor.

At least that is what he says. No one has asked Mystique. No many would believe what Mystique had to say anyway. And Sabretooth has been MIA since the last battle.

"Miss Frost," he greets, chill in his voice. Despite Emma's sacrifice Creed has never quite been cordial to the ex-mutant. But then again, he is pretty cold with everyone. "We have a meeting with the President and General Ross in half an hour. Good thing the airship was on right on time. There has been an… event." Shutting up, he guides the blonde woman to a flying car. One of the half a dozen Stark has built the last year for using in official business.

New York is not what it was. Still the greatest city on Earth, but only a quarter million humans and mutants live on it, most of them occupying central Manhattan, living around the old Stark Mansion that is now the Presidential residence and at the other side of Central Park, the West Side is now Mutant Town.

Emma's chin pricks just a little higher as she disembarks her ride, a mark of pride pried out of the hands of lesser beings.

She doesn't need Creed's cordiality. To be fair, she can hardly be said to desire it. No, what she needs is his willingness to keep his mouth shut about her genetics and do his own job. He does that, and so she allows the lack of fond feelings go without comment or complaint.

As she comes up alongside him on the platform, she doesn't look at him. Not at first. "Creed," she greets in kind, still walking. Until he mentions a word, a word that bids her own pale gaze to shift in his direction. She tilts her head towards the side of her longer locks, the short-cropped right side of her head turned upwards as she continues to walk towards the car. "An event?" she asks, as she climbs inside.

Creed grunts in assent, "We lost all communications with Washington. But Stark just returned, I don't know the details yet," which obviously bothers him. But Secretary of Energy Anthony Stark does not report to Creed. In fact that man barely reports to President Striker.

But Stark built the arc reactors that give energy to the city. And designed the army VTOL quinjets, the flying cars and is working on power armor that he says would make the Sentinels look like toy soldiers. (Which, on the other hand, is a rather alarming statement).

The flight to the Presidential Mansion is short. And Creed lands the car just by the side entrance, avoiding the reporters that probably were waiting for Emma at the lobby to ask her the latest gossip about Latveria and King Von Doom.

"I see." The words are offered to her, but she doesn't immediately respond. She takes her time and considers, watching the scenery pass for the short flight. It gives her a moment to collect her thoughts. To tamp down the sharp spike of fear that comes of one too many things going so desperately wrong in the course of a life not seeming to be nearly long enough to hold them. But the same could be said of so many who did not watch the fall of Apocalypse, and so many have horror stories far worse than her own to tell for it.

Bypassing the reporters is a good thing, particularly as Frost feels an unpleasant drop in the pit of her stomach.

She certainly would have nothing to offer them about Von Doom anyway.

"Who is still unaccounted for, from the cabinet?" she asks, sharply. "Anyone? …And we know where the president and Erik are, of course." It's a statement, born of a sincere hope.

Central Park looks magnificent. A patch of bright green in the middle of the drab city, still mostly ruined. Green among the bleak grey-brown that is most of the world after four years of nuclear winter. No nuclear winter on Central Park, because Ororo Munroe is there. But this was the first summer the harvest was semi-decent, and Stryker expected to end the rationing next year.

But it is not going to happen if something has happened in Washington. A hundred thousand humans and mutants were working hard to rebuild the old capital city, the cornerstone to stabilize the center of the East Coast. The breadbasket of what little remains of America.

"Lensherr is not here," mutters Creed. Not a fan. He hurries to the second floor, to the presidential office, not caring if Emma follows or not. The powerful psychic bafflers make the air of the Stark Mansion feel heavy and oppressive. Emma couldn't notice them before, but they are painfully obvious now. Definitely she is not going to do any telepathic snooping here.

The security service people open the door of the office as the pair comes. Obviously they had been notified of their presence. They are Creed's people.

Striker and Ross stand up politely. One calm, clean-shaven and slender, the other gruff and broad-shouldered, sporting a huge grey moustache. Ross was one of Emma colleagues in the Human High Council, his smile is genuine. Stryker's? Who knows. "Please, sit down," offers the president.

The president, security and defense. Stark is not here. Magneto is not here. None of the other secretaries is here. Emma is Education, why has she been invited? Something mysterious is going on.

Why, indeed.

Emma offers the respectful declaration of her superior's title, and then she follows his request to the letter. Her place as the odd piece in the game of 'one of these things is not like the others' is not missed, but she does not show it any more than she betrays her awareness of the abominable dampeners. The others gathered get a curt dip of her chin. "Gentlemen." For Ross, there is a subtle softening of her eyes to betray her relief to see him in the room.

And then, she waits for the President to begin to sit before she does. But once he does, she settles in comfortably and crosses her legs. And then she waits.

For she os indeed the Secretary of Education, and at a complete loss as to why she's been invited into the gathering.

"As most of you know all contact was lost with Washington two days ago," starts the President. Emma is the one that did not know, of course. "We contacted some of the nearby communities and they sent people. We sent a quinjet and no one reported back."

So far nothing new for Creed and Ross, obviously. "This morning Mr. Stark went there personally," continues Creed, "in a quinjet full of sensor gear and with his fancy armor," he snorts. Anthony Stark's armor is a clunky, heavy thing. But he keeps adding functions to the machine, and slimming it down.

Striker nods, and concludes the story. "He reported to be under telepathic attack about a hundred miles from the city. The quinjet was heavily shielded, as is his armor. Still, he had to knock himself out with an electrical discharge. Fortunately the auto-pilot brought the airplane back. He is currently in the hospital, but he is conscious."

Creed and Ross look worried and a little pale. No one likes telepaths. Even Apocalypse ordered them all killed. Emma escaped death through lobotomy.

"Lensherr is bringing Psylocke back from New Japan," continues Stryker. Well, there is ONE surviving telepath. Or so they think.

"To what end, precisely?" Emma asks, clearly out of the loop, and decidedly unhappy. To the outward observer, her drumming fingertips could very well appear it's because she doesn't want a telepath in the mix, either.

And, to a certain extent, that's absolutely true. All she needs is for someone to find out—

"We're going bring Psylocke back and, what?, let her loose in some battle royale down there?"

"Self-defense," replies Ross. "And expertise," adds Stryker, looking Emma at the eyes. Emma also has expertise, which explains why she is here. "There is more," adds the president.

"Yesterday there was a power spike in Staten Island. Soaron was in the area and went to investigate. There was a redheaded young woman in a tattered uniform. With an X on her chest pocket. When the army arrived to investigate this woman tried to telepathically influence the quinjet's pilot. Them she stopped Soaron's plasma gun blast with telekinesis."

This is new to Ross, too, and the old man gasps. "Was she…?"

"No," interrupts Stryker. "She was in her early twenties. Jean Grey would be in her forties if she was still alive."

There was once a telepath almost everyone liked. And her name was Jean Grey. She died five years ago and some people can't get over it. Even Stryker liked Jean Grey.

"There is another telepath unaccounted for we have tried to find for five years," adds Stryker. The room goes very quiet. Because they have been tried to find 'it' for five years. But not very hard.

"Yes. I believe the Shadow Thief has finally returned," concluded President Stryker. Codename Prophet, because during the war he was always right.

So the facts:
Victor Von Doom, in a moment of incredibly generosity restored Emma powers.
Just as Apocalypse telepath-killer, the Shadow Thief, returns.
And an unknown redheaded girl with telepathic powers showed up yesterday.

For five years Emma has been a player in America's political landscape. She has planned, manipulated, tricked, awed and doing a freaking great job at creating the education system of the new America. She has been a major player.

Now suddenly Emma feels maybe she is just a piece in someone else game.

It's a good thing there are no other telepaths in the room, because there is a very loud and resounding monosyllabic thought that booms within the confines of Emma Frost's skull.

And it's not appropriate for mixed company.

"Well, that's lovely," she mutters under her breath. Ross is given a look, and then she uncrosses her legs, knits her fingers, and leans forward. "How can I be of assistance?"

She'll figure out how to drag Von Doom across the coals for this later, if he had a hand in this. And she has every intention of figuring that part out.

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