The Queenside Rook

November 02, 2017:

Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw find their new white rook: One Obadiah Stane.

Hellfire Club - New York City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The middle of the week is typically not when one is called out to late night parties. Unless, of course, you happen to be the Hellfire Club of New York.

That's not to say that there's a party underway, however. Because there's not, by most appearances. The rooms of the repurposed church are filled with nearly lethargic energy, most of the visitors this evening seeming to content themselves to gambling, drinking, and harassing the scantily clad women who serve fancy drinks on gleaming silver-plated trays.

But that's by most appearances.

For deeper into the building, past white-masked guards and heavy doors, there's an altogether different sort of gathering in a luxuriously appointed study. A fire burns brightly against the autumnal chill as in other rooms, but this is a very private party of two. For now.

Obadiah would have received word from Emma by way of a quiet white card left in the care of his assistant: what looks to be the Greek letter phi, a time, a date, and her elegantly scripted 'egf'. But the time is not one of her choosing. Rather, she's summoned all the same to a time of someone else's convenience, one Mister Sebastian Shaw.

Emma arrives well before the appointed time, looking for all the world as though she could never care less than she does at this particular juncture. She's ensures that the bar is properly stocked, and then goes to take her place by the fire with her form nearly entirely lost within the white cloak she wears - only the tiny gap at its front hints at the scandalous garb beneath.

And she waits.

—-

As per ritual and custom, Sebastian Shaw the Black King is present in his 17th century vest of maroon and an outer jacket with a tail of embroidered blacks. Equally dark boots that reach to his knees hiding the grey linen of his pants.

A tall man, imposing and broad of shoulders the pony tail he wears almost looks out of place, forehead high, widows peaks likewise reaching up there but his age is hard to discern past his early to mid 40s. He doesn't have the carriage of someone who has suffered a lot with aging. The fold of his hands behind his back actually accentuates muscle underneath that coat. It is the way of Sebastian Shaw, power in all things, even the physical. No one could ever call him weak or mundane.

Patiently and quietly he awaits Emma Frost's guest. The expression he wears unreadable the scowl perhaps making one think he is feeling indisposed or put off, at the worst agitated, but no. That is simply his face.

—-

It isn't usual for Obadiah to draw attention to himself in the way he dresses. Certainly his suits might be described as 'nice', but never opulent or excessive. In fact, some find his fashion a little out of date, lingering in the eighties or nineties and certainly he has a few jackets from each decade floating around somewhere.

But as much as the club has inspired him in many ways, it has helped him aspire to sometimes come not only as a person meant to relax and enjoy, but someone who might elevate and represent. Tonight he does just that, his white jacket and slacks certainly new and tailored, and the black shirt and tie beneath of a fine and expensive silk.

Like many of the fineries in this place, Obadiah indulges, too, but it is not a drink in his hand tonight. Tonight it is a cigar, a sweet aroma of warm ceder and something earthy following him into the room, as does a look of perfect wonder as his brows lift and his eyes travel to the ceiling. He looks almost too perfect the part of a befuddled old man, a tourist with one hand in his pocket, admiring the architecture when he should be minding the crosswalk.

It is brief, and soon he's depositing his cigar in a nearby ashtray, freeing up both hands so that in approaching Emma he might offer her a squeeze to both her shoulders. "Well, look at that. I don't think I've seen you in a cloak before. Absolutely stunning."

Then the slight pivot, his hand offered to Shaw in customary greeting. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure. Obadiah Stane. That's a smart vest and a sharp coat." A certain mirth enters his eyes, and he glances between them both. "You'll have to excuse my preoccupation. I'm a secret clothes horse, and sometimes I wish I could wear cloaks and vests and all those other things that the young at heart have the vibrancy for. I'm afraid for me I just can't get away from wearing a suit of some kind or another."

—-

Emma is a far quieter creature this evening than is her typical demeanor, and the touch to her fur-wrapped shoulders earns for the man a very small smile. "Mister Stane. A pleasure. Thank you for coming."

Her pale eyes catch his for a moment, and somewhere in the back of his mind he might hear her murmur, though she never moves her painted lips: « Bon chance. »

A manicured hand sweeps out to indicate that man with her, her head bowing a slim degree over the scandalous cut of her revealed bustier. "Mister Stane, please allow me to introduce to you my colleague, Mister Sebastian Shaw." She doesn't move from her place, but her eyes light up with a keen interest as she watches the opening moves with her breath shallowing beneath their notice.

—-

As Obadiah strides in with a composure and presence that Shaw is weighing his own against, an unspoken and psychological test on that makes the steel eyes of Sebastian glint. The face once stoney now pulling back to show teeth, white perfect rows of teeth, a Colonial gentleman trying to impersonate a shark or vice versa?

The extended hand is taken in Shaw's own, a firm squeeze, then a release to have it tucked back behind his back. A simple gesture but one enough to convey strength. In some circles, men are weighed by their grip. Stane is no doubt unfamiliar.

"Sharp is not quite the aim, but I will take it as a compliment. It sounds as though you've come to the right place for… fashion at least." A slide of his eyes and his proud gaze falls upon Emma and the cloak, "She wears them well. You're not seeing enough of her if this is a first." Sebastian doesn't push the conversation beyond this point. Not yet. That is for Emma to present, for now Shaw is simply weighing the man she has spoken of so highly.

—-

The grip is well received, and Obi has the handhsake of a man that's made it his signature and life's work. Who knows how many business deals or fates he's sealed between the press of palms. "Oh. Well, busy schedules. I spend more time outside of the club working on projects for it than I do enjoying all it has to offer, including Ms. Frost's company and her excellent fashion sense. I can't fault her for not wearing a cloak to Stark Tower, Tony loves a mystery to much."

He returns for his cigar, and notices the doors closing to leave them in private, and it isn't until then that he regards them from a slightly greater distance, eyes taking in the measure of Shaw and Emma both.

Bon chance, indeed.

"I hope you two don't mind if I smoke a little. They keep taking my cigars away at home. Whole boxes pilfered in the name of my health. But what, if not indulgence, is worth living for? Well. Indulgence and security."

—-

Emma receives the praise with a mildly theatric lift of her hand. But then it is on to business. "We are hardly about to deny you your vices here of all places, Mister Stane. I don't think we know the language to."

As the doors close, leaving them to their own devices, the woman moves to the decanters of alcohol that she'd located easier and then proceeds to pour out a single measure of scotch. The click of her platform boots is sharp and even as she crosses the room to hold out the glass for Shaw to take. "Mister Stane," she says, offering explanation with the glass she's delivering into his care, "Has done a wonderful job putting together the details of the charity gala that so many of our members have used as a corporate philanthropic endeavor, Shaw. It is shaping up to be a beautifully orchestrated evening, very well attended, and it was very nice to be able to encourage a little bit of image polishing. His connections have been very helpful."

And then her eyebrows lift to not chastise, but encourage the further descent into the things that are terrible for Obadiah as she asks: "Might I get you something to drink?"

—-

"Indeed. Induglences are expected if not encouraged." The deep voiced Shaw says calmly. One bushy thick brow lifts upwards.

The scotch taken, fingers curl around the glass, "My dear." Offered forth a phrase from him that carried many undertones.

"I have no doubts with you at the helm. Your aid is appreciated, Stane. What exchange between the two of you has been made in this endeavour? Or this a show of your good intentions with us. Perhaps eagerness?" Seeking words. Shaw is ever curious and thirsty for knowledge in all things, especially people and their motives or lack of.

—-

"I know twenty or more years in a barrel when I see it. I'll take one of those, Emma, if you don't mind." Mostly because it will pair nicely with what he's smoking, enjoying a long draw as Emma details his assistance.

It is not until Shaw poses options for his motive that he parses a smile underneath the scruff of his graying beard, his head tilting to the light catches on the wrinkles of his bald head. Eagerly he'll accept any glass offered, his cigar-holding hand reaching up to scratch and itch there with his thumb alone. "It's like any relationship, right? You share a long glance across the room. Brief and meaningful. You might be looking to trade weapons grade plutonium, or maybe you just want a first date. It doesn't matter. You measure each other, with the only yardsticks you have. Flirt with words that might not mean to much at first, but later everything clicks into place."

He finds the ashtray again, and leaves a bit of his cigar behind to smolder with a flick of his fingers. "I've been a member here for a long time. Years might go by before I'd really thought to come here and relax. You start to realize what you're giving up. Not just in the work, but in what passes in the world around you. Then, you start to wonder. What if there are others out there, just like you. Great in resources, but that's not enough. The whole world can't be bought in paid for. Not with money, not with one person's influence alone. You watch private wars tear apart countries, see chaos looming beneath the thin layer of propriety that holds a petulant society together. Eventually, Mr. Shaw, you decide enough is enough. You push a little on the world and in doing so find the fingerprints of those who are pushing, too. Some in the wrong direction. Others in the right direction. Imagine my surprise when I found out how many others might be members here. To answer your question in simple terms, I wanted to show Emma what I could do with a few phone calls, so she knows what I might do if the club ever needed real power arrayed at it's side. For the betterment of the world. For stability, and a future that won't seek to devour us all."

There's a sip of his drink, and an approving nod, his smile returning. "Or maybe my paranoia's getting at me in my old age and I just like to pretend I'm saving the world when I'm finding a nice place for Ms. Frost to show off what I am sure will be an amazing evening gown."

—-

Obadiah makes his request, and Emma murmurs her mild agreement before moving off to go and pour another few fingers of that single malt into a crystal tumbler. And she lets the men talk. It's not until there's now words of war and influence in the air that Shaw might notice that she's looking very keenly over her shoulder in his direction.

That there, says the look. Precisely the right thing to say, yes? And, if she was telling him the truth, Stane's come to such thoughts all without her actually talking about the greater depths of the club.

Recrossing the room, she lifts up her offering for the older man in the company upon the glove-covered palm of a hand to take. All those words of power and influence, and the only thing she speaks to is the gown she plans to wear. "A very safe bet, Mister Stane."

—-

"Weapons grade plutonium is very ten years ago, Mister Stane." Shaw sounds almost playful. Almost. The liqour is tipped back just slightly, enough to drain some of it in to his lips and be swished over his tongue, savoring it.

Those clouded metal eyes drift to stare openly upon Emma in a moment of silence, a heartbeat or two only before Shaw looks once more upon Obadiah.

"She is correct. The safest. You are truthful in your words of security and you've gone about the right path of ensuring that. We're aware of your membership here." The door is motioned to. Beyond it on emphasis.

"And I have been made away of your desire for more, your own words now attesting to as much. So… you feel your hand is capable and deserving to be on the wheel as well? That you are like us? We are the same sorts of creatures? Us three beasts… well, us two aged and ugly beasts and the beautiful creature in this room are cut of the same cloth and you can offer us more of your power? Real power?" Another smile from Shaw. This one larger than before.

—-

There's a pause as Shaw poses his questions, or is it a challenge? Presume to be like them. Presume to join them. He couldn't argue some of the finer points. Weapons grade plutonium was very ten years ago. Hell, even twenty. He shows his age all the time. But it comes with experience. Rapid fire, they come. Is he like them? Is his hand deserving of the wheel? Can he offer them real power?

He looks between them both, a glass of fine scotch in one hand, his favorite cigar in the other. Unfortunately he'll have to set the cigar down. "Well. Yeah, man."

His hand enters his pocket and he tosses what looks like a coin to the ground.

The world changes, becoming a show of light, technological and holographic, a globe springing up in their midst with satellites positioned in strategic places, and an interface made for either of them to turn or manipulate, to zoom in or out.

"A long time ago I realized knowledge was power. It's why I started taking Tony's meaningless inventions and turning them into something meaningful. Something he didn't need to know about. I've pushed him along too. Made his new mission my mission, but all the while I've made sure I had something that would let me push things along when he wasn't willing. You're looking at eyes and ears around the world. Not just the satellites, piggybacked on comercial launches, but the ability to deadzone other pinhole assets and put out the eye of whichever government we wish to blind. In addition, those I have the men at my disposal to take immediate action. They can topple nations. They can shore up alliances. Cross boarders and lay in wait for weeks. All aided by technology that we've sworn to the world is no longer in the hands of those who would do it ill. That part is true. Now, it is in my hands. And yours."

—-

As Sebastian puts those many questions to Obadiah, Emma wordlessly moves to pour a glass of her own. However, unlike the men presently engaged in their very weighty discussion, the White Queen keeps her back to the pair and drinks and listens with some measure of privacy.

And then… they keep talking. Which is preferable by far to the many other ways this could be going, and it affords her the opportunity to continue quietly moving through the room at her whim. She eventually comes to a stop at a familiar place behind her Black King's shoulder, and her blonde head tilts sideways a few degrees.

When she speaks, her words are again few and soft. Undemanding, but of a gently offered opinion: "Those could be very good things for us, Shaw."

—-

A tight, very small smile tips Sebastian's lips to one corner. The one line getting an actual amused touch in the Black King. Short lived as such things are.

"The greatest of powers. And ours, now you have my full attention. You have already impressed me, Obadiah Stane. I want you to know I am not opposed to this inclusion of you or your resources, especially the technology of Tony Stark you have at your disposal. Emma, the darling, hasn't even had to try and manipulate me this time around." His attention levels on her briefly before averting back to Stane, "I only want you to understand one thing, Mister Stane. Though you're cut of the same ambitions, hungers, a cunning I find admirable, and a survival instinct all men and women should wish to have, you are not like us. Not fully. You are still simply a human. You'll learn we here are much much more than that and it would do you wise to know your place, but your place… from here on and forward—with Emma's sponsoring and my blessing—is as a member of the Inner Circle."

His tone drops low again, "After, of course, the ceremony. We have tradition to adhere to." A motion with a knuckle thats hooked around his scotch glass, "Your attire is likewise needing some adjustments. We lead by example here, after all."

—-

Only Human.

Obadiah couldn't be happier with the title. He laughs a little at Shaw's comment on his attire, a hand running down his front to smooth out his jacket. "I gratefully accept your offer, Mr. Shaw. But let's not ice skate up hill when it comes to my attire. There's only so many ways to dress up a horse and I'm not worth all that time. But for the ceremony I'll make sure Ms. Frost has her hand in what I wear. I'm sure she'll know what's appropriate."

He moves forward, reaching down to retrieve his little hologram device, and the room settles back to natural light. "And I'm certain you'll know what's best in the use of my resources. Speaking of which, the world forever turns, and tonight I'm scheduled to make sure a warlord who's being supplied by Genosha never again knows power."

Once again he offers his hand to Shaw, intent on closing this deal the way he opened it. For Emma he has a glance, a smile, something there that tells far more than what rests on the surface.

—-

Under Shaw's accusation of manipulation, Emma's eyes lift upwards with a feigned guilt as the shoulders under mantle shrug helplessly. She offers no defense. She does, however, drink and set her head lightly upon Sebastian's shoulder. "I'll see that he's properly dressed for the occasion," she promises, looking up at her makeshift pillow before turning her attention back to Obadiah. "Tradition has its place," she continues, offering her part of a united front on that point. "And once you get rid of the dress code, a beggar might someday get the impression that it belongs."

Moreover, Shaw receives the outward signs of Frost's pleasure, an arm curling around his far larger one. "I'll make the necessary arrangements." And then she smiles in her fellow gala planner's direction, wicked delight in its upturned corners. "We'll see to it after the gala, I think?" Her eyes turn back to meet Shaw's to confirm it.

—-

"Every member of the Inner Circle is worth the time." Shaw insists, "It is now your right. A word of advice: never second guess yourself, or we might as well. There is only one path for the worthy." A grin manifests once more as Shaw takes the invitation to seal with a shake then promptly releases, "Even for man who seems to enjoy relating himself to a four legged steed."

As Emma encircles his arm with her own, Shaw turns his head enough to give her forehead a touch of lips, a brush and nothing more. "You are in good hands with Miss Frost. She knows us men and our wants better than we know ourselves. This includes your resources."

Releasing himself from Emma's touch, Sebastian makes for the rear exit, to return deeper in to the Hellfire Clubs recesses, "Genosha has a power void we intend to fill. You can be instrumental in that if you so wish, Mr. Stane. With it's current state I feel there is no rush. Anyhow, I am to retire. Join me later, my Queen, and tomorrow we welcome our White Rook properly."

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