15473/A Force To Be Reckoned With

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A Force To Be Reckoned With
Date of Scene: 13 August 2023
Location: Danger Room - X-Men Base
Synopsis: Betsy and Scott green light a new method to defend the Dream. Together, they christen this new squadron X-Force. And Lo let slip the dogs of war.
Cast of Characters: Psylocke, Cyclops
Tinyplot: Shadow Prophecy

Psylocke has posed:
There are various settings for the Danger Room, everything from scouting, non-dangerous scenarios, all the way up to Apocalypse ending disasters, each with varying levels of difficulty associated with it.

It's rare that Betsy Braddock doesn't have everything turned up to the highest, most dangerous settings.

Of course, those are meant to be supervised, in case things go badly. It's a simulation, sure, but people can still get hurt. The control room tonight, however, is empty, and Psylocke is in the thick of things.

The scenario appears to be set in some post-apocalyptic version of New York; the wreckage of buildings and cars dotting the landscape. There are waves of creatures -- non human, not quite demonic, but certainly unrecognizable -- and the purple-haired ninja dances her way through them, wielding not her psychic knife, but a real katana, sharp-bladed and deadly.

It's both fascinating, and a little terrifying to watch.
Cyclops has posed:
The Danger Room was Cyclops's domain.

He programs the settings, he runs the drills, he sets the standard...or so he thought.

While Betsy may yet believe that she remains unmonitered, Cyclops watched through red-visored eyes against hte protective glass of the observation room. He takes notice of each and every /detail/ of the scenario she's put herself in. Post-apocalyptif. Wrecked buildings, damaged cars, some kind of humanoid monsters giving Betsy no good times...

But she makes it look so /easy/.

Her blade a deadly dance of ice and fire, in addition to her natural abilities she was always quite capable.

He stands ready, dressed in his uniform of an X-Man...but he watches all the same.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy may make it look easy, but the scenario is set to impossibly high levels. No one can withstand that onslaught forever. Eventually, she must tire, make a mistake...

And it happens swiftly.

One moment, she leaps into the midst of those terrifying monsters, the cries of the creatures resounding as her blood-soaked, impossibly sharp blade cuts through them like butter. The next moment, three sharp claws pierce Betsy's midsection, lifting her up -- and throwing her across the street, where she crashes into the edge of a crumbled building, brick and debris falling down around, and on top of her.

The injuries may not be real, but the way the scenario is set up, she feels every inch of that pain, the exhale of agonized breath is real. As is her inability to immediately rise as the swarm of creatures climb over and up the rubble to reach her.

There's blood running down Psylocke's fingers as she reaches to clasp the hilt of the katana, as she forces herself to rise. She shuts out the pain, drawing herself upright. Only the slight waver of the way she holds the blade, ready, betrays the impacts on the violet-haired ninja. She stands ready, once more.

There are words -- an exit phrase -- she could use to end this. That she chooses not to is deliberate. She is pushing herself. Maybe even punishing herself. That, too, is not unusual.
Cyclops has posed:
Impossibly high.

Quite literally nearly impossible to 'win' the scenario. Cyclops observes with a slow, careful eye. Each enemy, each motion of claws. He's imagining himself in the same situation. How he would dodge. How he would fight back. How he would strike without the use of a sword. Surfaces to bank his optic blasts off of to strike maximum effect with minimal power. He lifts a hand to his chin as numerous screens appear as hard light holograms in front of his very eyes.

Provides multiple angles. Better angles.

The injuries may not be real, bu thte pain is. She's getting tired. She's getting beat up good, but she's hanging in there. She's getting knocked down. Thrown across the street where she hits a crumbled building and hits the ground.

"What's the plan, Betsy?"

Cyclops asks to an empty audience, the microphone not turned on so it's near impossible to hear him unless she's listening psionically.

She's pushing herself...

But Scott has things he wants to talk to her about.

"End Program - Authorization Cyclops: Lambda-Alpha XI-7."

And the scenario pauses.
Psylocke has posed:
Is there a plan here? Other than punishment? It's hard to say. It's certain though that Betsy is wholly and completely invested in the moment. For her, there is no outside. There's no Danger Room. Just this moment, this battle, a losing prospect, and her stubborn defiance in the face of inevitable defeat.

It says a great deal about one Betsy Braddock. A little too much, perhaps.

Blood spills down over her black leotard as she sways, rivulets of red dripping down over her legs. But she is poised, ready. The katana is lifted over her head, and as the first of the creatures come boiling over the rubble, she spins in a graceful arc-

-and meets no resistance.

Suddenly, she's standing in the empty Danger Room, still in her costume, still carrying that impossibly sharp Katana -- but there are no wounds on her body, no blood. Just the memory of it, the sense-echo of where the wounds punctured her, where she could feel liquid entering her lungs, feel herself slow, sense the end coming.

Unerringly, she turns and /glares/ at the control room.

Betsy doesn't need to reach out mentally to know who would have the overrides to stop the scenario in progress.
Cyclops has posed:
Simulation terminated.

Yet, that /look/ from Psylocke could explain her argument before Scott even makes his way down there. With a hum, Cyclops makes his way out of the control room and starts making his way towards the Danger Room's entrance. When the doors part and reveals the classic 'slim' himself, he's wearing a black and red version of his costume with his red visor over his eyes, his dark hair left to fall over his face as his feet carry him closer to Betsy.

"I hope you'll forgive me. But I can't talk to you if you're exhausted from simulated wounds - and the shock of simulated death. You did excellently. You held out for as long as possible, allowing others to escape the chaos...or such would it be if it weren't specifically a 'last stand' scenario."

He lifts his shoulders for a moment before he speaks a bit more softly. "How're you holding up?"
Psylocke has posed:
Even in her anger, there's no threat to Scott from Betsy. They're old friends, and while they may get angry /at/ each other, it never lasts. She reaches up and sheathes the katana in elaborately wrought sheath strapped to her back, and it... disappears.

Well, it doesn't disappear. She just psychically conceals it, like it never was.

There are benefits and drawbacks to a revealing costume like Psylocke sports. It gives enemies no purchase, nothing to use against her, no ability to grab her with it. But so too, does it reveal weaknesses, if she's not careful; the slight favoring of her middle as she crosses the now empty space, the recent scar in her inner thigh, too close to the femoral artery and in too intimate a position to be anything but an attempt at a killing blow.

Betsy's violet eyes are fixed on Scott's, however. Her chin is lifted, haughty British tones defiant. "You need not stroke my ego, Scott. Death was inevitable." She stops, close enough that they can comfortably speak. "I have been busy. I imagine you've heard and that's why you're asking?" a tilt of head.

"When we talked about X-Force, two years ago, you thought it a good outlet for those who had difficulty towing the line. But in the two years I've been gone, I've seen... become aware that it's not just an outlet. It's a necessity. The stakes have changed. But at it's core, it will still be how we envisaged it together." There's more. Of course there is; but she's getting his measure.
Cyclops has posed:
No threat emerges from Betsy towards Scott and it's clear the strike-team leader sincerely appreciates it. Though Cyclops watches as she 'sheathes' her katana by masking it with psionic energy to make its presence practically invisible to those who cannot see with more than eyes. He meets her attention as his arms cross over his chest. "I very /rarely/ stroke anybody's ego. You did well with what you had." Which, according to the scenario itself by it's very source code, wasn't much.

Yet, she doesn't beat around the bush. It's something that Scott has always respected her for.

"Yes, X-Force." Scott admits, they needed to talk about it and hearing that Psylocke was putting the plan in motion. "It's an old plan." Cyclops admits to her. "But the mission stays the same. X-Force will be sanctioned as such. It's an outlet for people who toe the line between the ideals of the Dream and the methods of the Brotherhood...but for the Dream to live?" Scott's eyes grow dark then, somehow behind those red lenses.

"Some people have to die."

He meets her eyes for a moment. "It /needs/ to be how we envisaged it. It's membership requires secrecy."
Psylocke has posed:
That pause -- when Scott's eyes grow dark, when he utters those words? It's not what Betsy expects.

Over the years, Betsy has seen him at his best, and at his worst. But always, for her, he has been the voice of reason, the one who set the boundaries and lines for the X-Men, the one who kept her in check -- sometimes with orders, sometimes by necessity in other ways.

The necessity of X-Force is a thing she advocated for; a thing he did, too. But it makes her wonder, in this moment a thing she's never wondered before: would he cross the line, too?

She could simply read his thoughts. He would never know. But she affords him a brutal honesty, borne out of respect. And so she holds her hand out to him, palm up. A request to see his thoughts. Maybe to share in turn. But one that can be turned down easily, also.
Cyclops has posed:
Scott has been many things.

Mutant Messiah.

Mutant Revolutionary.

X-Men Leader.

...Occasional villain, even.

But despite all of his flaws, his ability to cross that line? It's never been more potent. But he's kept in check by his own team, by the rules he has to follow to ensure the dream doesn't die. Scott holds himself to that boundary because he has to. People like Betsy, like Logan? People who have taken lives before? They don't have that problem. It's made clear: Scott intends to utilize the dark talents just like they had discussed those years ago.

And yet...he looks at her palm and he frowns for a moment, before just silently nodding.

A hand extends to rest on hers so she may see his thoughts.

His thoughts are legitimate:

<<We have to utilize a team with FORCE sanction. Some people will never stay down. Some of them can't be reasoned with, negotiated with, bribed, or bullied. Diplomacy doesn't work with certain members of hte Friends of Humanity. Of certain alien species. Of certain politicians who are likely purifiers in disguise. We need a teram that can serve as a brutal reminder that the Dream must survive...and some people need to die for the Dream to live on. One life for a million more.>>
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy's hand is warm from her recent exersions. Her violet gaze steady on his as the contact is made and she extends her mind to his. Psychically Betsy isn't much changed: she's warm by default, determined and driven. It's merely her psychic appearance that still has the visage of her original body, rather than the Japanese one she now inhabits.

Her mental presence is warm, enveloping. She senses the truth of that potential for him to cross the line. To become a darker version of himself. And that he holds himself back from it. In this moment, Betsy's respect for him only increases, and her warm, sultry voice is certain: <<You will have that. I promise.>>

But that is not all. He gets flashes of moments. Information shared psychically can be done so in a much more expedient manner than mere talk.

Illyana, standing in the War Room, asking Betsy, "What did you see?" and suddenly they are in New York. But it is New York that feels... not unlike the disaster scenario Betsy was in. Dark clouds boil down from the skies, along with the feeling of some unknown entity, bringing with it despair, destruction, and death, as people on the street around them kill each other and themselves in a terrified frenzy. A future that has been seen and is inevitable... but might be avoided, if the right people make the right, and difficult choices. Sacrifices must be made.

Things shift. Betsy's seated at a table, looking at Warren, as she asks, "I- I wonder, would you forgive me anything, Warren? Is there a line I might cross that would change the way you look at me?" His answers to her questions come in swift succession, without hesitation. "Yes. And no." And she feels, a rush of it, overwhelming, that she doesn't deserve that kind of trust. But she'll take it anyway, and always.

Logan, looking at her from inside his cabin: "I know the stakes darlin'. You wouldn't be talkin' if there wasn't some kinda reason behind it." Then another moment, where they're standing in the woods, a different moment, Logan, again: "I may not join ya in this crusade. Like I said, ya bring those two, ya ain't preventin' the future. Yer probably causin' it. Consider yer allies wisely. Yer better than this." And the sense of him walking away.

The echo of the moment before now, Scott Summers saying, "Some people have to die," and it fading into another scene. Sunshine and brightness, the river Seine next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Betsy, looking at the view. Speaking: "At this point, I'm unwilling to turn my back on any opportunity, and you, Nathaniel Essex, and how our paths crossed -- I can't read that as anything but an opportunity at the right time and place." And then she looks at Sinister.

The moment shifts, and it's /now/, this moment. Betsy's thoughts to Scott's as they stand there, touching, quiet in reality but Betsy's telepathy sharing with him as softly as if she'd spoken it: <<I know what he did to you. And I hope you'll forgive me for seeking his help. I hope you'll understand that I'll do anything to prevent what I saw, anything to keep us alive -- all of us. Even if it loses me your trust.>> Something she definitely fears, but is prepared to endure. She shares that honesty through the psychic touch.

Some people need to die for the Dream to live on. And some ideals might have to, also.
Cyclops has posed:
Betsy's hand was warm and soft. Sweet, even. Very rarely have Scott and Betsy physically /touched/ unless it had to do with a sparring match or a well-timed catch to prevent falling to one's ultimate demise. Yet in that contact, Scott Summers sees a myriad of memories that fall from Betsy's psyche like a waterfall.

He sees Illyana and the dark future that they had seen with despair, destruction, death, and devastation. It was the Dark Future that Scott had heard of from time travelers and occasionally seen from those who claimed to come from such a future.

He sees Warren as he and Betsy seem to discuss how one feels about the other...and how certain sacrifices may change that perception.

He sees Logan acknowledging the stakes of what must be done and yet, continues to try and dissuade Betsy from her path into what may yet be a better one...or at least, one might hope. H feels what she felt in all of those moments....even when she speaks with SInister.

Yet, they stand there together in this moment with Betsy trying to defend Sinister from Scott's wrath. A dark look in his eyes. He looks around for a soft second, as if struggling with himself, beforeh e speaks again.

<<Nothing could cause that, Betsy. I trust you with every fiber of my being.>>

He /means it/. He frowns. <<I don't trust Sinister. At all. But I undesrtand that some sacrifices are inevitable. I trust you, Betsy.>>
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy Braddock gives herself freely in this moment. Too rare a thing it is; too used to closely guarding herself, her mind, and her heart. She is not just one thing; there's Betsy's warmth and Kwannon's cold reserve, and balanced out they give a steady measure of resolve that turns stubbornness into unyielding resolve.

There is strength in that. But a weakness, also.

While he struggles with himself in the aftermath of that sharing, Betsy is compassionate, but Kwannon holds her back. At least until Scott finds his thoughts, speaks his mind. That sensation that rushes through her -- it's familiar. The same feeling she had with Warren. That his trust is offered, despite her choices. That she doesn't deserve it. That she'll take it gladly and thankfully, regardless.

<<And I you. I could never do what you do.>> Hold himself back. Hold the line. She admires him in that, maybe envies him a little bit. But sacrifices are needed, and she has already signed up in more ways than one.

His views on Sinister are hardly a surprise. <<You are far from the only one to feel that way. I fear I may have lost Logan, and there's little I can do even if I need him. But Sinister -- he let me see into his mind. He did not lie to me. He saw -- has seen -- signs of the visions I've had relentlessly for two years. And he understands better than anyone the stakes at play. If the world ends, it ends for him, too. Trust in me. And trust in Nathaniel Essex's drive to survive.>>

The touch lingers a moment more, and in the real world, smiling, Betsy releases Scott's hand. The echo of the warmth and gratitude he saw in her mind echoes in her face as violet eyes study his features. "Thank you, Scott."
Cyclops has posed:
A rare thing indeed for Betsy to reveal anything to anyone...especially the deep corners of her soul. Her experiences, her memories, her compassion. Yet Scott seems visibly and psychically surprised when Betsy admits that she couldn't do what he does.

<<You can.>> His voice admits in the psychic connection they establish. <<The only thing that differs is the method. Sword or shield, head or feet. You're extremely important to so many people...and your honesty will never go unnoticed.>> Scott reveals that information to her with sincerity in mind.

A pause Then.

<<Don't give up on Logan. Despite our...numerous arguments, he has a good heart behind most of his actions. Keep faith. He might surprise you.>> He remarks, and he hears her argument regarding Sinister - a plea that does not fall on deaf ears. <<Trysting you is easy. Ill try to trust Sinister much the same...I trust he'll sacrifice everything to survive...including us.>>

The touch, the warmth, lingers until the connection is broken.

"Anytime, Betsy."