AoA: Knowledge is Power

October 02, 2017:

Secrets are revealed as President Stryker and Doctor David Moreu reveal how they have been manipulating Emma and preparing her for the return of the Shadow Thief. Emma takes it as well as expected, but power is power. (emits by Nate)

The not so abandoned Breeding Pens in New York


NPCs: AoA William Stryker, AoA Dr. Moreau

Mentions: Jean Grey, Nate Grey

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Running away saved Emma the worst of the fight. Polaris and Phoenix tossing things around, War pulse and blasts. She missed most of it, although the sounds of fighting were pretty loud. The humans in the park, well-drilled for emergency evacuations, left the place orderly, while soldiers rushed in.

Nate’s psychic presence vanishes abruptly.

Not even two minutes later two of Graydon Creed thugs manage to find the blonde, and invite her to climb up their jeep to take her to a safe place. Instead going to Stark’s Mansion they seem to head south, towards the still mostly abandoned Lower Manhattan.

The invitation comes, and she climbs up into the vehicle with a thoughtless ease. But it's when she realizes that they are not headed for the place that she was expecting, that Emma Frost in her knee-high boots and heavy coat narrows her eyes and attempts the careful monitoring of surface sentiment.

She once was good at this. She doesn't know if "good" would be how she'd describe herself. But today, she's better than yesterday or the day before. And progress is /something./

"Where are we going?" she asks, the unsettled tone of her voice feeling magnified by the volume she needs to be heard in the noisy vehicle.

The 'thugs' minds are simple to read. Those men were picked for their loyalty and muscles, not for cunning or brilliance. They are taking Emma to Apocalypse Breeding Pens, a very guarded facility that should have been demolished long ago, along with the rest of Apocalypse Citadel, which sit above the Pens. But there is still a small group of scientists there, endlessly working in deciphering the secrets Sinister and Apocalypse kept hidden. In truth many useful tidbits of knowledge have been pulled out, things that have been used to protect the city from the monsters that were created there.

"President Stryker is currently at Area Zero, ma'am," replies one of the men.

Meeting there is HIGHLY unusual, but these men have not even thought about it.

And Emma has absolutely no desire to be en route to the facility. But that is where she is going if that is where they are going, and she's not about to sacrifice her scavenged protection.

The fact that Stryker is there is… helpful, perhaps. And so she makes the most of it after she's unbuttoned a couple of her coats toggles to cool down after the running.

A glance is cast behind her, and then she presses in to ask more with but a single syllable. "Why?" And then, a moment later, a little more specific: "Why there?"

"President Stryker is here," replies the driver away. "We don't know, ma'am," replies the other in a flash of insight. The heavily armed perimeter guards leave the jeep pass without hesitancy. There are defensive turrets. There is a rumor Creed keeps a few fully functional Sentinels here, despite officially all have been disabled.

The jeeps goes down through the ramps. Five years here and the place still smell of sorrow and death. The psychic echoes of the thousands tortured and murdered here are obvious for any telepath.

Finally, Emma can see/sense Stryker waiting at the end a passage. The jeep slows down and stops. "Miss Frost," greets Striker, nodding to the woman. He has left his presidential suit somewhere, instead wearing the army fatigues and body armor he used as the Prophet. "David Moreau," he adds, introducing the middle-aged man with him. "He is the lead scientist studying this facility." Moreau murmurs a greeting, looking at Emma with some apprehension.

It looks like Mureau did something Emma probably won't like to hear. He is worried.

Emma grits her teeth against the dark psychic stain over everything here, her jaw setting. That feeling of dread hopefully doesn't convey across her features, aside from the clenching of her jaw that could just as easily be explained away by the horrific locale as anything else, especially as she comes into the presence of her boss.

"Mister President," she offers courteously enough, and then she looks towards Moreau. His look of apprehension does not go unnoticed, and she answers it with an inquisitive arch of her eyebrows as she stretches her hand out towards him in offer of a handshake as she moves towards him. "Doctor Moreau."

Moreau shakes Emma's hand cautiously, stepping back immediately after. "You must be wondering what is going on, right?" Asks the President rhetorically. Then he listens to radio he has attached to his ear for a few seconds and sighs. "Looks like one of the visitors was captured by an unknown mutant claiming to be Horseman War. The heirs of Apocalypse are hitting with impunity, Ms. Frost. We need to rally all our resources, and find out if we can trust these newcomers." He heads inside deeper into the facility. "Please, come with me," to the genetic labs of mad geniuses. There are people working there, and it is not a 'small team'.

She must be wondering. Yes, she is, say her pursing lips, but Emma does not elucidate upon the point. Instead, she zeroes her attention in on the good doctor as she falls into line behind him with a simple, "Of course."

But then the world of a not-so-ancient legacy of evil science unfolds before her and Stryker is shot a downright accusatorial glance. She gathers her secrets to her like the best of the politicians, but this is beyond the pale.

And then she levels all of her attention on Doctor Moreau, who will no doubt feel the weight of her displeasure. "Heirs of Apocalypse?" The words make her sick, just saying them.

Moreau looks properly cowed, and then is when Emma realizes he is so afraid because he knows she is again a powerful telepath. His mind is not as disciplined as Stryker's. He was part of it, somehow.

The reach one of the labs, although it is empty but for the three of them. Computer, looking pretty sophisticated even compared to the best the HHC had and Stark's people is building, line the walls. "I have known the Shadow Thief would return. And we can't protect all the city… all the cities of America from him. I had hoped he would be alone, free from Apocalypse leash. But I think someone else holds the leash now. The Shadow Thief, like this Gabriel Summers, have a new master. Still, the Thief is a major threat. We needed to counter it, but how? Very few telepaths survived. Psylocke learned to hide. You scarified your powers to escape. Jean Grey, the only one able to fight him, died. A few telepaths have manifested since," he enters a password in the computer; a screen shows a brown-haired boy. Quentin Quire, it says. "Hopefully you will train them. But we had no time to wait for these new mutants. So… Doctor?"

Moreau sighs. "Although Sinister destroyed most of the records of his experiments, the Pens had extensive information of every mutant he knew, including some that eluded his grasps. That is how I learned of your secondary mutation, Ms. Frost."

Yep. He said 'secondary mutation.'

Her life prior to this one moment was built on the thought that there were no acceptable losses, but that they were still inevitable. One saves what one cans. Striker's strategy in that regard earn him no ill will, save that the monstrosity in which they are presently located still stands. So much information, scurrying beneath the surface of the president's mind. So much that has been going on and she was unaware of its scope. Telepaths, teaching, all of it squirreled away with the thought and comfort of being largely unknown in her newly returned ability.

But then there is Doctor Moreau, continuing the conversation at said president's behest. It stops her cold, and her pale eyes narrow suspiciously and she feels her breath grow shallow. At her sides, her fists clench without thought. "I'm sorry," she sputters, as she asks the man to repeat himself by way of one singular, incredulous question: "My what?"

Moreau starts, "it is a known fact a small number of mutants manifest secondary powers, often related tangentially to the primary ones." Striker stops him with a gesture before he goes into a lengthy explanation. "When we learned, we contacted Doctor Doom, and he agreed to restore your powers in exchange for the Pens database. Your secondary mutation, Ms. Frost, will make you completely impervious to telepathy. You are the perfect counter to the Shadow Thief. Able to strike when you want, and able to retreat and become invulnerable when you need to."

"Uh huh." If ever there was a non-committal sound birthed into the world, those two dubious syllables should be strong contenders for the title.

And then there is the entrance of Emma Frost's notorious shade, cast in Striker's direction in a significant lapse of propriety. She turns her head in the president's direction, her head tilting to betray that side of her head where her hair is still growing back in from that butchery years ago. "You let me walk into this blindly. Let me go back on that murderer's radar, knowing…" There's a derisive snort of disgust.

"Not really," replies Striker, looking somewhat irritated. "We have been taking anti-telepathic measures from the beginning. You knew about the defenses at Stark's mansion and the Triskelion. Yet you accepted Doom's offer, and didn't bother to tell us you had your powers back. Which… technically is no crime, as neither mutants nor telepaths are barred from government positions. But let’s be frank, you kept is secret because it offered you a great advantage." He folds his arms, "well, now you are again powerful, and not just politically. But you will die if the Shadow Thief finds you. I am quite sure he targeted Mr. Grey the second he sensed his presence. And I imagine the young Jean Grey will be next. But if he succeeds in eliminate her, then it is just a question of time he detects you goes after you. Wouldn't be much better if you can take him by surprise?"

"Oh, now you're the telepath, knowing why I do everything? How long has it been, even? How many opportunities did you have to tell me what you'd done? To strike the bargain with Doom… You had longer to come clean. You're not any more innocent than I am, so don't pretend that you are." Emma replies, tone sharp and cutting. It covers poorly a feeling of betrayal, and also embarrassment. For being caught. For being surprised. But it is what it is. She's only human. …or the closest approximation to it, anyway, until not very long ago.

She's furious, unstained lips turned into angry snarls and sneer. "Is there anything else I should know, Mister President?" A glance towards the Doctor, then. "Doctor Moreau?"

"No, of course not," admits Styker. "I have done some terrible things during the war. And now… keeping this hellish place for instance. But I will do whatever is required to protect what is left of humankind, and of America."

Definitely there is much more he could tell Emma. And he will not unless it is necessary. Moreau cringes at Emma's anger. But Stryker does not even blink.

"We need to force your secondary mutation to manifest," adds the president.

"I don't even know how you'd do that." It's true. Emma doesn't.

It's a thing she intends to rectify, turning her attention keenly towards the more loosely guarded brain of Moreau. They know what she is; there's no need to pretend that they don't.

And so she doesn't.

No, instead, she begins sifting through the thoughts in his head as quickly and precisely as she can, searching for the mechanics of the 'how'. Her file. Everything he knows that she doesn't about herself. Including how, exactly, one forces a secondary mutation to occur.

"They did it here many times," comments Stryker, trying to be gentle about it. But Emma can see it now in Moreau's mind. Sinister was a sadist, as were most of his lieutenants. The means to force a mutant to manifest were brutal and painful.

Moreau's mind is labyrinth of plans, theories and madness. He has learned too much of Nathaniel Essex' science and methods and he is as badly traumatized as any of the victims that survived the pens. But he is quite sure Emma has a powerful alternate form. He is reasonably sure it will be something like Colossus armored self, and totally anti-telepathic.

All they need to do is pumping her with stress-inducing drugs in a padded cell and hope she makes it through with her sanity intact. It is slightly less evil than the methods Sinister and Dark Beast used.

After that incredibly uncomfortable tour, Emma takes a moment for herself with eyes closed. When she then reopens them, she takes a long and deep breath to collect herself and her thoughts. There is no gentling of the matter.

Frost could run, chance her odds on the lam. Not promising. She could run, try to get the mutation herself. Slightly more promising. And then there is here, an expedient way from nature to nature that could drive her mad. And in all the coulds and mights, nestled in the dark and thick forest of perhapses, there is but a constant: time. It is against a young man. Against a young woman. And it is against them all. Expediency must take priority.

Emma brazenly stares Stryker right in the eyes, and smiles. "Alright," she finally concedes, voice softer now. Compliant, nearly. "We can quibble about the blame later, I suppose."

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