Necessary Intelligence

August 26, 2018:

Tony convinces Rachel of the necessity of an all-nighter reviewing information and planning their next steps with the Purifiers. Rachel starts to wonder if the flirting is recreational or serious.

An apartment in New York



Mentions: Illyana Rasputin, Jean Grey, Killian Aldrich, Pepper Potts, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…


There is little in the world that is more important than good intelligence. Especially when it comes to your enemies and what they might want. Data. Numbers. The problem with all that data that can be pulled from a thousand different sources, a thousand different eyes, lines and reams of information drawn and put together…

…that now has to be sorted though. Looked at. Peered over. Argued about and in general poked at.

Now an AI is fine for the brute force work, and someone like JARVIS is excellent at it. But for that human touch it does take a…human…or not so human…to give it the final once over.

Which brings us to a flat in New York. One that isn't used that often by its owner. But he thought it would be better. Nice neutralish ground that offers a private place to go though the data needed…and a secure line to the Stark lab systems.

A secure line to just about any system he can get access too. Since Tony Stark cheats like that.

In the living room of the flat, on a modern looking sofa of black leather that looks like it was picked nearly at random from a catalogue sits Stark himself. Holoscreens float around him, feet propped up on the coffee table in the middle of the room. Shoes off and toes wiggling on occasion.

"…so…" This question angled as he pans though the some of the collected data on the 'Enhanced' people. "…were were seriously in hell? Or was it just a hell. I mean there are like fifty I'm gathering."

X-gene carriers count as human. Don't think about it too much. Don't post about it. Really, truly do not post about it.

Rachel had some canny looks to deliver to Stark when she first showed up at the apartment, especially if he specifically called it a flat. She was expecting another round in Tony's glittering tech-tower. Him deciding to switch the location to an apparently disused 'neutral ground' would be setting off so many red flags if Rachel wasn't a walking cosmic threat.

Besides, Rachel appreciates a little bit of cockiness because she doesn't always make good life choices. Sorry, mom.

Rachel has set herself up at the kitchen island, where she sits at a stool and idly scrolls through the fileshare from her laptop. The apartment is trendy, so it's an open concept where she's actually only a dozen feet away from Tony rather than in another room. Because she can abuse her telekinesis to swap outfits whenever she feels like it, she's made herself comfortable in a tank top and pajama shorts. A mug of tea steams next to her elbow.

"It was a hell," says Rachel, using a tone that is way too casual for the topic. "It's called Limbo. Illyana's mutant power related to it, so she got pulled in there and eventually killed the guy running it so now she runs it. You know how it goes."

Rachel sits up and attempts to reset her posture with a luxurious stretch.

"First time in a hell dimension?"

"I don't know, does high school count?"

Of course Tony Stark would be the one to equate high school and hell. And of course he called it a flat. Because…its Tony. However he did take it upon himself to order out for some truly excellent curry and he kept the tea and coffee makers humming.

…or maybe that was the hidden ARC reactor in the building. One of the two.

"If that counts than third, I took a little trip though limbo before, but the X-folks wern't very talkative then." The man replies with a shake of his head as he looks up towards her with a smirk. "…she's a little…" What is a diplomatic word for Illy though. "…intense."

That is a good one.

About that time though something chimes on his watch and the man sits up. "You done JARVIS?"

"Yes, sir." The AI's warm voice fills the room. "And if I may say so, it is good to see you again Miss Summers." He must always be polite. "I trust the tea was to your liking?"

Tony though just smirks slightly at his e-butler…doing what he does. "So. If you're wondering why I invited you over here…its because I got a name from a friend of mine. A name that might have a line into my Tower. So…" He gestures towards the room around them.

"Easier for JARVIS to secure. Just in case. Call me paranoid."

Tony tries to think of a diplomatic word for Illyana. Rachel, perhaps sensing the impending crisis of choice, stops her scrolling and looks up.


It is a good one.

Rachel looks back down to her laptop. "Good to hear your dulcet tones again, JARVIS," she says. Her hand goes to her mug since she's been reminded. She hefts it in acknowledgment. "It's hard to get a good matcha, so I'm happy."

As Tony finally settles into answering the big mystery — it wasn't the big mystery until just now — Rachel again sits up and busies herself with drinking some of her tea. It's a slow, delicate affair since it's too hot and requires a bit of negotiating to drink slowly. It allows her some time to watch Tony with amused eyes over the rim of her cup.

"Oh, is that it," she says once she's through and it's her turn to sass. She gestures toward Tony with her mug.

"And here I thought I was getting to see legendary playboy Tony Stark's game on display. My mistake. Who's spying on you?"

"My game is always on display, take it or leave it, Firebird." The inventor replies with a wicked grin on his face. "As for who is spying on me, basically everyone. Most of the time I can deal with it, but some of them get crafty…"

A holoscreen comes up and he casually flings it across the room towards her. On it is a picture of a smiling, handsome, blonde man in a white suit.

"Killian Aldrich." He supplies. "I don't know how he's involved, looks like in a sales capacity from what I can tell. But he's the first name I can link with anything. Seems he's the face, trying to sell investors on a new 'enhanced' project. Super soldiers that can be created. You know the sort of thing that crops up every so often…though this one sounds like he actually did it. So I did a little digging…and he works for a company called FuturePharm." A pause. "Don't even get me started on the bad names."

"So I'm digging into that, while we go over the mess that happened in Limbo. Which is a hell and not the hell." See he remembered. "So what did you and Jeaneybird get from them…if you don't mind me asking?"

Rachel half-lids her eyes in a challenging look at Stark when he invokes the dread nickname. There's not much time for banter, because a holoscreen comes sliding over toward her immediately thereafter.

Rachel takes another drink from her mug, watching the holoscreen during her bought time. Eventually, she puts the mug down and has a go at interacting with it. Her first instinct is to swipe up to scroll down.

"That's certainly a name," she murmurs at 'Killian Aldrich.' A few seconds later into Stark's explainer and she's forced to raise her eyebrowsat 'FuturePharm.' "That's a name, too, wow."

Rachel pulls the holoscreen aside, flattening her expression in faux exasperation.

"Jeanniebird? You haven't called her that to her face, have you?"

Stark doesn't even look away at that look, in fact the smile on his face just gets more amused. The light in his eyes bright, dancing, inviting. He likes the challenge…

"Yeah, don't even ask. FuturePharm is a little thinktank. Nothing but theories. But what got me is that I'm pretty sure Pepper and I invested some in them at some point. Which means they could have had access to my systems. So that…" A smirk. "…and the fact that I like being out just the two of us…got me to remember this place."

A beatpause. "…of course I haven't. She's make me think I was a dog for a week or something and I have enough bad press as it is."

So Stark doesn't always have some kind of deathwish.

"I'm trying to collate all this information…but…I have a list of FuturePharm offices…."

"A dog for a week?" Rachel clucks her tongue and shakes her head. "I'm starting to think you've got some kind of thing for this."

Rachel slips off the stool, fortunately remembering to give herself a pair of socks before her feet touch cold tile. She finishes off the rest of her mug on her way to where the electric kettle is going.

"Anyway, we didn't get much, honestly. They were disoriented and kept repeating the same thoughts. The stasis must not have been thorough enough. They were all fixated on their reasons for getting augmented: religious, violent. The kind of people you'd expect to be called Purifiers."

Rachel turns around, tugging gently on the string of her latest tea bag. From AI-perfected matcha to store-bought Earl Grey is a dive, but sometimes Rachel is a divey kind of lady.

"How sure are you about Killian being involved here? If we've got good reason to believe he's hurting people, I could…"

Rachel taps the side of her head.

"Mmmm, I can think of worse but…that was just the first one that came to mind." Stark says with a shrug and a smile as he watches her get to her feet. And he does watch. He doesn't even try to pretend he doesn't.

After all. She's psychic.

He doesn't make it crass or rude, but he does appreciate the way she moves. He can't really help himself. "Cold feet?" He asks in an amused drawl.

But she is asking a question, breaking his concentration on things important.

"…I'm not sure to be honest. The man keeps himself pretty well hidden. But he's involved. Trying to sell these 'weapons' to people. Talked about how they had a few customers already. So I'm pretty sure we're on the right track with him. He looks like middle management…but…" A pause as he glances back to the hologram. "…he's got a meeting with Pepper, or had one at some point. I might get you involved then and see what you can pick up if we can't get any hard info."

There's a few ways to describe how Rachel moves, depending on how morbid you are. The first, at zero morbid, is that she moves very prettily. Better than a normal person. There's more thought in it, or maybe no thought at all, and it's all drilled. That goes a bit further down the morbid chain: she moves like someone who's on the screen. As in, movie, TV, something. The blocking is great. Good rhythm and poise. But where would she have been on film? Showing up in the news and paparazzi with Excalibur don't count. Not like that.

Then there's those dark thoughts: she moves like someone who is intensely, graphically, vibrantly aware of how everyone sees her move, and has known for a long, long time.

After all. She's psychic.

"Warm feet, thanks," she shoots back.

Rachel drums her fingers alongside her mug. The heat of fresh tea doesn't seem to bother her on contact despite the mug clearly steaming. Maybe it's a Phoenix thing.

"The faster we move, the better. He might be thinking up anti-psychic measures since we've been seen together. I could break through them, but it increases the chance of him noticing my trying, if he's clever."

Rachel briefly purses her lips, pausing for a thought. "The other option is that we go somewhere he's been and I try some psychometry. You know, reading the past."

Stark would add to that something, she /does/ move like someone who is aware on an almost ingrained level of how she looks. That isn't all though. She moves like someone ready to leap into action at a seconds notice. Predatory almost. There is a story there, a long story, of something she was before she became the punk fashionista in the UK. Something that has to do with those 'whiskers' of hers.

…he was almost tempted to call her that.

He takes a long pull of his own drink while thoughts lazily, for him at least, crash round inside his skull. His head cants slightly at an angle before he draws a deep breath.

"I can get you a list of his offices, there might be something there if he's the company face. That hopefully would be enough for you to waggle your magic fingers at."

He knows it isn't magic, but this is Stark. He is flippant with almost everything.

"But you're right in that. We'll have to move fast before he realizes how much we know. I'm going to be seeing the Titans laster too. They have more information, between all of us we should be able to nail this bastard to the ground." A beatpause. "I'm pretty sure some people want to do that literally."

Predatory, maybe. Rachel is a mysterious woman.

Said mysterious woman returns to her stool and her charmingly antiquated laptop. The only thing that's changed is the kind of tea steaming near her elbow.

"Yeah, I can sneak in," she says. "Take a look around and see what the temperamental winds of magic deposit within my sorcerous grasp."

Rachel looks sidelong at the holoscreen that's still floating near her workspace. She stares it down for a few seconds before reaching out and using both hands to hurl it back toward Tony.

"No nailing. I'm serious. We have to show people that we can make justice work for us." There is something subtle in her tone that is more serious than she intends to let on. "People are seriously starting to think that killing is the only option."

"You do that, Ruby Wizard." Stark says with a smirk towards her. Though his thoughts stray into that tone of hers. There is a very intricate story there. He can /hear/ it in the threads of meaning that underpin her light tone.

"Well, just have to show em different I suppose." He says after a moment. "Fine though. No killing. Personally I'd rather do that, lets me try out all my new non-lethal toys I've been working up…speaking of…I think I have an idea on the possessed ones, if that happens again at least. Light. That's what we used on the original strain, bright light. UV. Holy light if you can get it but…"

A shrug at that.

"…I can't do holy so I make do with that I have. I'm working on an…antiviral agent of sorts and I'll get you all the specs for it if you want. Might jump start anything you're doing with that big alien tech lab I'm not supposed to know about."

Again that grin of his before he sits forwards. "Give it time, you might be able to change everyone's mind on that subject."

A beatpause.

"And in the mean time. Please. Please. Let me get you a new laptop. That one burns to look at."

Rachel mentally adds Ruby Wizard to the list of nicknames she's developing. He's got a knack, doesn't he?

"Holy light," Rachel interjects, in deadpan. It's not that she doubts it. It's just a new wrinkle in the puzzle. Her thoughts briefly stray toward the ramifications of the UV/holy connection. Tony's rambling gets to the alien tech lab just in time to snap her out from getting to absurd depths. Rachel can only answer that with a good-natured shrug. That thing's as much a mystery to her as it is to Tony.

Rachel sits up straighter and puts her hands on her hips, putting on enough of a prim and proper offended act to communicate the idea without the full fantasy. "What, would you be embarrassed being seeing with my humble laptop? I'll have you know I purchased this myself in 2016 when I went to college. It was on sale."

"Oh my god stop, stop, I'm in real physical pain here." Stark raises one hand as if to shield himself from the pain that the out-of-date hardware brings him. "Just leave it at home the next time we go out for dinner. I can't be seen in public with that."

His eyes are warm though, dancing with amusement as he watches her posture there in the kitchen.

"Because I sure hope we are going to have more dinners. Possibly lunches and breakfasts too." He adds with that flash of a smirk of his. He really is entirely incorrigible, and he makes no bones about it in the least. He was right in that, for the most part, what you see really is what you get with Stark.

"Now I think we have a working plan…"

And at this point JARVIS beeps quietly. Urgently. Stark pauses a moment. "…sir. Miss Summers. I am sorry to interrupt, but Miss Jones has been shot. She is at the Tower now, being taken to the medical center."

And for the first time tonight Tony Stark is struck speechless.

"Rachel," He finds his voice after a moment. "Looks like I might have to cut this short, Jess is a friend of mine." A smirk. Though not quite as big. "And yes, an actual friend. I have a few, god only knows why. But I need to get going…not that I can help much but I can make sure no one else bothers them."

Stark makes his bid to further this particular will-they-won't-they subplot.

"We'll see," says Rachel, eyes glittering for a moment as they catch the light just right. That she seems amused is probably a good sign.

Rachel tilts her head to listen when JARVIS comes back with a different tone. She drops her arms to her sides when it turns out to be serious.

"Yeah, hurry on," she says, gesturing toward the door. She's taking this remarkably in stride, though this is perhaps to be expected of a veteran superhero team member. Someone's always getting shot or mind controlled or imprisoned in the nth dimension.

Rachel taps the top of her woeful college laptop. "I'll stay here and lose my mind trying to read all these."

He'll take is as a good sign, at least he will when he's not in a minor form of shock. Or a major form of shock. Someone to shoot Jessica Jones to a point where JARVIS sounded worried…that was not a good thing at all.

He stands though, slipping into his shoes. Still moving at a practiced pace even while his mind races well ahead of him. "Don't loose too much of your mind, I kinda like it about how it is." He says as he starts to walk past. Pausing a moment. "JARVIS can clean up after you're done. And…" A glance up. "JARVIS, give Rachel here Alpha level clearance to this place."

"Yes, sir!" JARVIS responds, though he sounds distracted. Handling the problems at the Tower no doubt.

He pauses though, just on his way out before he raises one hand to rest against hers. Just a moment. A wry smile crosses his face. "Thanks, beautiful." Words he has said to…most likely a very many people over his life. Mostly as he was rushing out the door. Just like this. But then again, not like this at all. Because there is a gratitude there. A honesty that someone like Stark hides under an incessant prattle of words. "Thanks for understanding."

And then its gone again as the whirlwind of an engineer steps away, towards the door. "And make your self at home. The access means you can come here whenever you like. JARVIS can let you in, if you get bored staying at school."

A grin again as he raises one hand to wave easily as he heads for the door.

Rachel is making it easy to leave. She's already looking down at her laptop again as if Tony were on his way out to pick up some milk, not tend to gunshot friend.

"But I'm Omega," she protests in deadpan about her security clearance.

She almost doesn't look up when he gives her the line. Almost. Even if she didn't get a hint of the change on the astral winds — and she does pick those up, unlike whatever the magical equivalent is — even if she didn't, there was something behind his words. In his voice.

Thanks for understanding. Rachel glances up. The two share a look.

"Go on, get out of here," she says, feigning annoyance that he's not out the door already. She makes a shooing gesture. "And come up with better lines, I'm unique!"

The door shuts. Rachel waits until she hears it lock before she slips off her stool again and walks over toward one of the windows. She rubs her face.

"Ughhh what am I doing."

A pause. Rachel spreads two of her fingers so that her left eye is exposed. She looks up toward the ceiling.

"JARVIS, if you're still here, don't tell him I said that."

Good save, Rachel.

"My circuits are sealed, miss."

JARVIS will take her secret to his electric grave.

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