15499/Someplace where the sun don't shine

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Someplace where the sun don't shine
Date of Scene: 19 August 2023
Location: Ghost town - Pine Barrens - New Jersey
Synopsis: A murderer stealing mutant body parts for potential Sinister-esque reasons, a gift of a ghost and a gift of a prototype fighter jet, X-force now has airborn transport.
Cast of Characters: Sinister, Psylocke

Sinister has posed:
Someplace private?

There are many places that could be considered private in the world according to those that hide within it. Secret, also. Abandoned, even.

Having received an encrypted text to the number that he provided for Ms Braddock, Sinister told her to go to the Saint Mary's hospital in NYC and inform that she needed to go to the morgue on the King's orders.

It's an odd request, but it brought her to a small office, provided her with a keycard and a fob-entry door set in the coroner's office. Where it lead, was not to a closet. Stepping through the door frame gave a scent of ozone and the feeling of physical displacement that is usually more often associated with Kurt Wagner, or her own shadowstepping. This ain't Kansas, toto.

But it's also not that far, as the exit portal appears to be a derelict building in the middle of the monotinous pine trees of the New Jersey Barrens, but not that far from civilization. The sky is illuminated with the artificial orange of street lights after all. But honestly, here? You don't need to be far, to be a million miles away.

Mister Sinister, Aka: Nathaniel Essex, is apparently waiting, in the 'just outside' of this place. It looks like once it was a forge in an old settlement that has since fallen to disrepair. A mining town, most likely, one of the ones that sank when there was no more need for the Pig iron they produced and when local legendary got too strong to ignore. He's got his arms folded and is dressed very simply and again... looks -human-. He does that a lot more often than people realize.
Psylocke has posed:
Earlier in the day was a text exchange. Betsy would love to meet. Probably not for a meal though. Somewhere private near New York? Nathaniel's suggested location would probably be alarming enough to give most people pause. Betsy though? She just kind of laughs and gives a thumbs up emoji. It's perfect, actually.

Betsy Braddock pulls up in her dark blue BMW i4. She generally prefers flashier -- faster -- cars, but tonight, she's making an effort to stay under the radar. Not that a cop pulling her over would be a problem for a telepath. Still, it says something about her intentions.

The weather's starting to turn a shade cooler, but she's still wearing summer dresses -- she has English notions of 'cold', so the knee length olive green slip dress she's wearing is perfectly comfortable. The purple scarf she has on top is more just for show, and to match her two inch purple heels.

She stops to open the trunk of her car, though she doesn't reach in to get anything out before she closes it again.


Her heels click on the floor of the hospital as she's lead through to the morgue (again, a quiet laugh) -- but that laughter fades into surprise as she's directed through a door. The weaker of heart might think twice. Betsy merely reaches out, as if touching something invisible beside her... and walks through.

"Nathaniel," Betsy greets with her customary warmth, as she strides closer, offering out her hand. Only once she's completed such necessary rituals does she turn violet gaze towards their surroundings. "I love what you've done with the place."
Sinister has posed:
As usual, there's the dip above her knuckles, never quite placing that kiss, but the air sure does feel nice and violated. HE TOUCHED IT! The flourish of relinquishing the contact is done with a little wrist toss this time, which translates into a grandiose gesture toward the derelict and the disrepaired. "I couldn't help myself. Nothing quite screams leave me well alone, than a disused mine and factory --" he inhales and exhales a similarly grandiose sigh, slanting his regard to thin air for a moment, because... it is very hard to surprise him. But nothing overtly seems to manifest itself. "I trust you didn't have any trouble getting through? The code obviously changes very frequently." He gestures to the old warehouse that stands opposite the empty street that they occupy, clicking heels to head that way. "As always, you look -especially- fetching."
Psylocke has posed:
Sometimes, it's as much about hat-tips to the old forms as it is intentions. The gesture makes Betsy smile; little anachronisms warm to her not because of her age, but because of her old-world aristocratic upbringing. "It's some part go away," she agrees, "And some part wanting to be the on-site location of a horror movie."

Her smile widens. "If that is a warning that I should not try that entrance again, you need not worry. Shanty towns aren't really my default go-to."

In that pause, when Sinister regards thin air, Betsy reaches out -- and a body reveals itself. It looks to be a young woman, perhaps in her mid or late twenties, blonde hair, wearing jeans and a torn, bloodied t-shirt. It looks at a glance like she's been cut open, like possibly not all of her organs are in place.

"When I went through the morgue, I felt sure you read my mind. I found this unfortunate soul -- a mutant, not associated with any of the usual groups -- early this morning. And I thought to myself, I need to speak with Doctor Nathaniel Essex."

As the model walks, the body will float along side her.

"This is the third such I have found in recent days, and I have questions." In another tone, in another time -- it could be taken as an accusation. Instead, Betsy's easy tones are light, unbothered: "As much as I would love to begin with a tour and a glass of champagne..."
Sinister has posed:
"Well, that would certainly make one question whether the revelations are coming to pass, when the dead are popping up and being obliquely there. I'd have one or two questions myself. This way." In through the former petticoat doors of the warehouse, toward a foreman's office and then once through that door, there's less of a jolt of ozone and more of a sweet translation. No longer in Kansas and quite probably in Oz.

Industrial disrepair gives way to tastefully understated, chromed surfaces and a small underground complex. Well. We say small. We're lying. But the rooms are not numerous, it's just that some of them are vast. Like the one beyond the forcefield shield at the far end of this comfortable office/workroom space. Old world charm in dark tones, wood panelling, medical cleanliness panels and a refined desktop, looks like a volcanic bubble residue. An absolutely gargantuan bubble of 'library space' powered by a continual hum of geothermic energy, forms a spherical archive of... what exactly?

Oh, the questions. But they'll have to wait.

Sinister moves to the comfortable overstuffed furniture here, gives a rubber plant a brief stroke in passing, then pours a couple of glasses of fine Bulgarian bull's blood wine (for a change) and brings them over, extending one cradled like the holy grail.

"Have all of them been the victims of trauma?" he asks, of the ghostly shape that followed her.
Psylocke has posed:
The faint tap of heels echoes on the ground as Betsy follows, trailed by the body. The woman doesn't hide her amusement -- and honestly, pleasure -- at the sight of the more modern nuances, not to mention the nod to old world decor. It does bring up much more questions, but none of them particularly pressing.

"I really do love what you've done with the place," Betsy says, and the compliment is genuine.

She finds a suitable chair, and elegantly eases herself onto it, crossing her legs. The glass is taken with a murmured thanks. "The first I only found out about after the fact. I didn't get eyes on at the time, but the coroner's report suggested no external trauma. The second had a marked head wound, and this," she gestures, as he can see for himself. "As far as I can tell, the only current correlation is that they are all mutants... but underground ones. Someone's preying on the vulnerable."

A beat, as Betsy sips at the wine; she approves, to judge by her smile, though that fades. "I've kept the results in the team, to begin with. I imagine many might initially suspect you. I suspect otherwise." Her manicured fingernails tap briefly against the glass. "If I bring you all the bodies, would you see what you can find? I think you'll know better what to look for than a non-mutant doctor."
Sinister has posed:
"Of course," Sinister narrows his eyes at the girl that was brought, sniffing the once. "Ectoplasm isn't the best guideline, but I'd say she's had organs removed. By the incisions, highly likely the liver, maybe the kidneys. If the heart had been taken, there would be more trauma around the ribs. The location, one thinks is easy to reach, but it is not and the diaphragm is tough." Tilting his head, he looks to her, holding his palm out. "Show me the second," is the request.

A pause before she takes the offer. "I could likely look at the scenes with a little preparations, without having to rummage through bureaucracy. I have a feeling you are amenable to expediency."
Psylocke has posed:
"I am very much amenable," Betsy says, without a trace of innuendo.

When he holds his palm out, there's no hesitation. Betsy balances the glass of wine on the chair's arm with one hand and stretches with the other to make contact. It's unnecessary, but it's one of her affectations for making explicit permission.

The location appears to be a dusty, disused warehouse, and the body is that of a man in his forties, arms and legs pulled close to his chest in the fetal position. The head trauma looks more like someone smashed the man's skull, though a keen eye -- and one might be used to cutting open a skull or two in their time, might well site some sharper, cleaner cuts... suggesting perhaps the damage was done merely to cover up what looks like some kind of surgery.

A professional, no doubt.
Sinister has posed:
The details of this all are observed, the translucent self-reflection of Essex appearing beside her in the recollection. "Hmm," he muses. "Do you know what that mutant's gift happened to have been? By the trauma, I would say there's a variety of psychical potentials. Temporal awareness, linguistic recognition, metabolic control... but honestly, so much as its mutation housed in the skull, that's not exclusive." He holds up a finger to her and vanishes from the mindscape.

Reappearing with a fluid motion into the real world, he walks quietly to the forcefield over the bubble of volcanic burp beyond, looking over it with his head faintly cocked. Maybe thirty seconds passes.

Then he reaches a hand out toward thin air and a cluster of helpful little drones start out from nooks in the wall, zipping hither and yon, into the stacks of whatever is there, returning with several hemetically sealed items, none of them bigger than a gobstopper. These are dropped into his waiting palm and he moves to the desktop, tapping the wood twice in a certain spot and leaning toward it, so that a laser from the wall fittings scans his retina.

A hatch opens seamlessly in the wood, hidden to the naked eye and raises up a docking port that can house five 'docks'. Each of the capsules is pushed gently into their housings and he taps a few digits into the console.

And then wierdness happens.

They are no longer in the lab. It's not even transparent, but it's also ... lacking. There is visual and there is auditory, but no tactile or olifactory sense. The entire office seems like... a hologram almost. "Please touch the closest sphere to you, Betsy. It will expediate things somewhat."
Psylocke has posed:
"He was a poor telepath," Betsy says, not as a criticism, but merely relating his abilities in a forthright fashion, "But a skilled empath. He could not only nudge emotions to be stronger or weaker, but he had the capability to insert new emotions entirely and seamlessly. I hadn't seen him for years. Frankly I thought him long dead."

The slight crease of brow from Betsy suggests she sort of follows Sinister's thinking, but not completely. Her gaze tracks him until he disappears, and she returns to the real world, watching those drones zip around as she sips the wine. The way she drinks, small and savoring, she's clearly intending to keep her wits about her, but also appreciate the vintage offered.

The moment they are no longer where they were, Betsy's posture changes. A more alert expression; a cooler regard of Sinister. Still, there's only a heartbeat of hesitation when he asks her to touch one of the spheres, reaching towards it.

Suddenly, they're somewhere else. It has the sense of a 'lab', but only in that there's a kind of operating table, and the familiar figure of the man whose body they just saw is strapped down on it -- seemingly still alive, part of his skull having been cut open. It's not clean as a true lab would be -- there's carpet underfoot, and windows that appear to look out onto a dark night. A poor man's laboratory.

"The samples are proving difficult to extract," a man in a white coat is telling someone on the phone. "No, I'm closer now than I ever was. I didn't manage to get the entirety of his gift, but next time... next time will prove successful, I promise." The man hangs up, and lifts a hammer: he brings it down, again and again, onto the skull of the man on the table, and the manifestation fades out like static.
Sinister has posed:
"He will not have his amigdala intact. But the trauma will have masked that and the amigdala is small. A run of the mill mortician will have missed it. Do you recognize the man in the white coat?" Sinister's voice is there, like he's right next to her as he is in reality, but in the projection of technology and genetic gift, they are only witnessing it in a cinematic, like they were in the audience and the horror was on the big screen.

"If I were not who I am, I would suspect a lunatic. But I suspect what is more likely, is that someone is attempting to recreate what I managed to perfect. These are likely to be unfortunate victims of happenstance, giving a useful addition toward someone acquiring what they were not gifted with by birth."

Well, ain't that sweet. "I could be wrong. I don't think am though. I recognize the flavour of this particular megalomania."
Psylocke has posed:
Notable, perhaps, that throughout the entirety of this memory-from-a-memory, Betsy is utterly still. It doesn't even seem like her chest is rising. It's only the question Nathaniel turns on her that stirs her to movement. "No, he's unknown to me." The telepath's voice is cool and diffident. Still the same woman, but... not. The line between her and Kwannon is usually readily apparent.

It seems she's come to much the same conclusion as him, though, because there's little surprise in the woman's expression. "I don't think you're wrong, either. He's experimenting. Seeking to figure out how to extract the mutant gene, or DNA, or whatever. But to what purpose? For his own gain or..." a look at the cell phone. "...for someone else's?"

Violet eyes take in the scene. "Is there anything we could trace him? Specific materials -- chemicals or equipment -- that he might use to try and replicate your work? Preserve the gene? Transport it?" It's awful to even talk about, to contemplate. But she says it in a cool, distant way. "I no longer wish to merely find his discards. I wish to hunt."
Sinister has posed:
"Yes. Of course there is." Sinister replies, matter of factly, giving her a deft look that's level and persists for several long moments. Ultimately, he slides his hands into his pockets in the mindscape within the mindscape, head cocked a little, birdlike. "Did you want to attempt this solo? I suspect it is not something that ought to be done alone, as it's quite obvious that the quarry isn't solitary."

Gazing at his cellphone, he extracts a hand, taps it lightly and the three capsule combo 'event' fades away as swiftly as if he turned of the TV channel in the mind. The office/warehouse bubble returns full force.

"Who else knows about this?"
Psylocke has posed:
/Of course there is,/ but he doesn't speak it aloud: violet gaze rests on his, unwavering, as he looks at her, and Kwannon looks at him in turn.

There's no relief in the telepath's posture as the mindscape fades, yet it takes her a moment to move. She lifts the glass, sipping briefly from it as she takes the time to consider.

"No, not alone." Her smile is faint, when she finally seems to focus back on the conversation, violet gaze ticking towards Sinister. "I'd thought to get the rest of X-Force involved. Firestar is aware; I brought her to where the second body was found. The others will know soon enough."
Sinister has posed:
Sinister nods to that. "Very well, so..." a pause, a chuckle "...covert assistance then. I cannot imagine any of them yet, being particularly happy with the fact you've come to me with gifts and questions."

He moves behind the desk, settles at the computer screen there and eases back into the chair, sniffing softly. The look of intensity on his face grows deeper as he looks over the files on the screen.

"Do you want the ability to deflect your assistance onto good luck, or...? How subtle do you need to be, Betsy?"
Psylocke has posed:
"There has been a... mix of reception," and that is /wholly/ Betsy, the honest but pointed choice of words, not to mention the smile that follows it and fades just as quickly.

While Sinister is focused intensity, Betsy is quiet. She's known enough sharply intelligent people not to disturb them when they seem to be working through something. Besides, she has the wine glass as company until he speaks again. It /is/ a great choice of liquid.

The question is met with a tilt of head. It's not that she's thinking about the answer; she already knows it. More like she wants to impress the words that follow, "I don't intend to lie to the team." Which is different than not sharing, a point she also doesn't voice aloud but might be apparent. "It may make all our lives in future easier, if everyone knows and understands the benefit of this association."

Betsy's gaze ticks towards the screens, the room. "Speaking of assistance, I'd meant to ask you other things. Logistics. Secure communications for the team; a Blackbird would be nice." While she's asking for things anyway.
Sinister has posed:
"Mmmm," - quite familiar with the selection of truth that fudges facts just a little but defers the lies and deceptions to those less respected, Sinister rolls his jaw to the side, watching the smile and how swiftly it fades. His wine floats over, sipped at with a deeper drink than her overt delicacy. He plays briefly with the stem as he stares at her, then with a flick of the eye, is back to staring at the screen of information. "So, you honestly need to have a play around in my R&D department. That I think can be arranged. Secure communications are trivial..." eyes are narrowed at the screen and the gaze flicks back once again.

"I have a delicate question now, but I need an honest response and a -full- response from you. Just what do you know of the breadth and depth of my abilities? I know that you're all aware that I took powers from a good many individuals over the years, but...." he shrugs "...if you want unnerring certainty in finding your quarry, I will need a level of trust." -- and yes, this from the man that was implicit in establishing from the get go 'don't trust me'. It's apparently that important.
Psylocke has posed:
"I'm not sure me and 'playing around in your R&D department' is a healthy mix," Betsy admits with pointed honesty. "I am not the gadget person, and I rather suspect it might end up poorly." She doesn't clarify whether she thinks the 'poorly' is for her or the items in his department. Maybe both.

Seems that while Betsy is at times reckless, she's not suicidal.

Sinister raising that he has a delicate matter gets a lift of brows. "We have established our relationship based on honesty, Nathaniel," Betsy points out. "I don't plan to alter that. And I hope that you don't either." His question receives a slight tilt of head, and there's a considering look. "The files I saw reflect the abilities others have seen you demonstrate. I have personally seen -- felt -- your skills at telepathy and telekinesis, as well as the ability to alter your own cellular form. I understand you seem to have an expanded life time-" a beat on that, she doesn't say immortality, "-that you have superhuman physical abilities. A frighteningly sharp mind. A demonstrated gift for, mm, dealing with people. And for all of that, I get the sense it only scratches the surface, given-" and here's where she shows a distaste, "-the demonstrated ability to make use of other's gifts."
Sinister has posed:
Sinister glances over his shoulder at the vault at that, then back to her with a raised eyebrow and a voiceless chuckle. "A lot of these people are immortally preserved. Or at least that which made their genes unique anyway..." he looks back at the vault. "By the by, this isn't the only vault I have. And I don't just collect human DNA samples either. I think I have quite the ark in my collection. Something to do with a unique hatred of what humankind can manage to destroy without even thinking about it."

He exhales though, turning back to her. "Very well then. Telepathy was the second gift I received. And I did not steal it. When what was done to me, was done... my genes were altered enough to catalyze becoming a mutate. I rather obviously didn't have a teacher, so I practiced in a way that would be useful to me. It's by far my most varigated and complex ability, for the sheer scope of what I'm capable of doing with it. I essentially pushed myself to find out how useful my mind -could- be. Telekinesis came as a secondary side effect to the mind." He stands again, approaches her and leans on the other side of the desk, arms loosely folded as he watches her.

"One technique I believe I am unique in possessing, is the ability to create persistence of psychic connection. And more importantly..." he leans forward toward her a little here "...I can bestow it on other people, if I choose."
Psylocke has posed:
When he looks over his shoulder at the vault, Betsy is looking at him. "I assume I am in there. Now, if not before?" She has, after all, been careless with her DNA. Drunk from glasses. Shared a meal. There are a dozen easy ways to collect DNA in when in casual proximity.

Hard to say what she thinks about that.

The woman is listening intently, her gaze on Nathaniel as he speaks. "What was done to you?" she asks, as he walks towards her. No change in her body posture; no alertness or wariness at his approach. Either she's incautious or she's accepted the risks already.

When he leans forward, her head lifts to look at him. Of all the things she expected him to propose, this was not on the list. "I see." A beat, as she sets aside her glass. "And how does this manifest? How much do you see... feel? How much will I...?"
Sinister has posed:
"If I was linking myself to you? All of what you see and feel, if I concentrated. But I have no intention of doing that. Frankly, that would be more of a headache than I'm planning on allowing in my existence. But I can link -you- to your quarry, too -- essentially create a psychic tracking device. You'd know roughly where they are, at all times. And of course with that and intelligent use of that knowledge, you can find them with the myriad means at your disposal."

His phone floats up, he glances at it and pokes it with his pinky finger, looking back to her.

But she didn't just ask that. He exhales his breath all the way out, looking from her to beyond, off and to the left a bit. Into the distance. There's a very, very slight tension around the corners of his eyes as he replies. "I was essentially bombarded with extremely potent energy that was mutagenic and fuelled by En-sabah Nur's bio-energy. He used himself to mutate me, through a device of his creation. It was extraordinarily painful."
Psylocke has posed:
Perhaps a flicker of relief briefly visible in Betsy's eyes, as she considers his proposal. The idea of being linked to that man is less than pleasant. Still, it's evident Betsy is a woman of stubborn, ruthless determination. This is the most expedient, if not the most simple, way forward. "Very well." The verbal acceptance might not be needed; he can feel when her shields -- habitually in place -- drop aware, the mental 'awareness' of her light a bright bonfire against the silence of her normally concealed presence. "Do what you need to do, Nathaniel."

Her posture is relaxed, watching. As keenly interested in what he does as /how/.

Then he shares that knowledge. "I see." There's a wealth of understanding in the timbre of Betsy's voice. She might not know precisely how he was treated, but she, too, has been an unwitting victim of experimentation, has known the kind of helpless pain inferred in his scenario. She /knows/, and that familiarity is evident in the way she looks at him. Not with pity. Just awareness.

The understanding of a survivor.

"Thank you for sharing with me."
Sinister has posed:
"You are welcome," focus returns with a blink that's a little longer than simply a closing of the eyelids. That memory is being subjected to a momentary scrutiny, viewed from multiple angles in the mind's eye and catalogued back where it belongs, in the depths of his psyche. When the eyes open again, they're a little redder, illumination painting his cheekbones and eyebrows in a patina of crimson.

"Proprioception is housed in the most primordial center of the brain --" he notes to her, extending his hands to either side of her head. Fingers curve and gently touch down at the base of her skull, where the foramen magnum feeds the spinal cord into the skull, along with all those lovely blood vessels. "Just above here, in the cerebellum. I want you to imagine that portion of your mind, the one that knows left from right, up from down, forward from backward. The little connections that tell you the difference between a pin and a nail. The shape of a face. The dimension of a room, told to you by your ears in the dark. Can you do that for me?"
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy, in her default nature, is a person of warmth. She's surprisingly not closed off for a telepath, even if she does guard herself with care. That warmth, that nature, is even more evident with the shield gone, the shift of her thoughts; the way her hand comes out and fingertips touch his forearm, gently and briefly.

Not a warning. Just a moment of acknowledgement. A moment of humanity.

Despite her apparent ease, some instinctive, primordial part of Betsy is alarmed. It warns her, prepares her through a sudden surge of adrenaline as Sinister touches her skull. She's had plenty of training at mastering her own instincts, however, and she closes her eyes, breathing out. A humming agreement answers his question, as she does as bid, focused internally, on that part of the mind.
Sinister has posed:
Now imagine the way from the bottom of your garden back in England, to your bedroom. Run the path, move past the portraits, up the stairs, through the doors. You know each is what it is. You spent a lifetime learning what a door should be. What he colour of grass is. What the sound of your footfalls on the stairs are. The texture of wood. The shine of polished steel. You know the world by the way your mind remembers it, processes its shape and form. It's existence. Your existence /within/ it.

So just as you know where you are in the world, you know where your car was left. You know you're standing in front of Nathaniel Essex. You know the ground is under your feet.

You know yourself in relation to others. Now... /see/... where you are, in relation to everything you are looking for. Use the eyes in your memory. NOT the eyes in your head.

Reach. Find.

All of that was incredibly silent. The words don't come from a mouth. Silence reigns supreme as Sinister simply gazes at her, establishing through physical contact and taking her own neural pathways through the ropes, how to reach beyond her own brain and see. At some point, his hands dropped away and he's just gazing at her quietly.
Psylocke has posed:
Most of it is formed from memory. The garden that surrounds Castle Braddock back in England is acres and acres of land. When she was little, there was a place where the hedges and flower beds grew a little more wildly than others -- a place where others didn't go. A place where a young Elizabeth Braddock found sanctuary and silence away from the whispering that she didn't quite yet comprehend and wouldn't be aware of for years to come.

The smell if it fills her nostrils, now, the memory association bringing it to the fore. The feel of the grass under her feet as she ran. The polished floorboards, the third one from the stairs always creaking. Upwards, into familiar old spaces, a room too large for a girl, kept neatly thanks to the maid more than Betsy's own neatness. The softness of the rug underfoot, the scent of heliotropes in the air, the sight of the familiar purple flower...

The now-ness. The curve of the arches in her feet in her heels. The barely felt press of his hands against her skull. It all comes so easily and readily, the connections made and memories associated with those things present as he guides her through.

This is a new skill. Something she hasn't done before. Reaching out is easy; she does it without thinking, this time grounded in a sense of /her/ as she seeks her prey.

The way his shoulders hunch. The determination and obsession in his gaze. The coldness with which he dispatches the mutant on the table in front of him. The rise and fall of the hammer, the crack as he-

-she feels it. Feels him. It's him but also her, and she very nearly loses the line of that divide, but for the distinction from the her-of-now.
Sinister has posed:

It's Nathaniel's voice, echoing in her mind. Of course he saw all of that. He had to, to be able to enable the neurons to understand their instruction. But now it's also:

"Betsy," and it's soft on the ears, nearly solicitous. "You feel the world so powerfully, you need to remember where you end and he begins, or he'll take you where you don't want to go. Put yourself behind the hedgerow and -spy- on him."

He's taken a step back again, is once more leaning against the desk with his arms loosely folded, all pale as porcelain and inherantly... Sinister. The glow of the ruby diamond in his forehead fades to just the sheen of the computer monitor, but his gaze holds a little of that distant, dying star still.
Psylocke has posed:

She wavers on her feet; she hears Sinister's voice. His advice borne, undoubtedly, of experimentation and experience.

But there is a better way. She feels him, senses his mind. She's drawn to it, like a moth to flame. She feels the callousness, the ambitiousness, the determination. Feels and absorbs it and is drawn into it. How easy it would be merely to extinguish, to snuff it out-

-the cold lack of empathy apparent, Kwannon pushing her to end this charade-

-but she does not. The temptation is apparent; a near thing. Whether it's Sinister's words of temperance or her own control isn't certain, but she withdraws from that direct merge, a hovering figure, like the devil on his shoulder.

They move forward in time, through his memories. Packing the mutant into a large rolling suitcase. Taking him to a place no one goes and dumping the body. The care that goes into concealing himself, his DNA. He is precise, and obsessive in his own habits, too. He returns, to a building, a location she does not recognize, but could, now. He cleans his laboratory, waits for the next delivery.

The cycle continues.
Sinister has posed:
"Click," what an odd thing to say. But Sinister lifted his hands up at a pre-eminent moment and made a rectangle out of his hands' index finger and thumb at a right angle. Took a mental picture and reaches for his phone again as it hovers. "You can come back now..." he murmurs, clicking his fingers and glancing up at the bookshelves here and the cameras in his own office space. His phone rotates so the screen faces the ceiling and various little points of light do a very vigorous and fast pace triangulation process and voila: his phone is holographically projecting into the air above itself.

"Now then. Landmarks..."
Psylocke has posed:
/Come back,/ he says. Why would she? There is more to learn. The precise order in which he cleans his instruments. His closet, full of a dozen copies of the same outfit. His dinner, the same as always. A man who likes to control his environment and everything around him. Not just obsessive, obsessive and compulsive.

When he sleeps, his dreams are... are...

It's like static breaking. Betsy doesn't release that connection so much as it's severed and flickered back on, a half dozen times before she pulls free.

Betsy feels her feet. The weight of gravity. Her limbs feel heavy. But she lifts her hand, and she feels it, swaying towards the desk as she leans her weight against it. She looks pale, and it takes a moment for her to focus on what Sinister's doing.

Most places look same-y to the naked eye. But technology gives the advantage of processing differences and eliminating possibilities at a rate few human brains could manage. Memory isn't always precise; just in the same way awareness isn't. One doesn't always see the brass number on the letterbox; just assumes it's still there, because it /was/.

There are a dozen possible matches in New York. Using landmarks seen through the memory, it's narrowed down to five.
Sinister has posed:
Sinister glances over to the computer and it begins to print. All the modern and exclusively futuristic kinds of things and he still has a printer. Occasionally, old school has its purposes though. From the sounds of it, it doesn't get a lot of use. The poor thing sounds like it's wheezing through its paces.

"I'm going to quite happily state right now, that I am disturbed by similarities to my younger self, here. I only hope he's not as good as I was, then." Sinister muses, leaning over the desk to slide out the printed list of addresses and neighbourhoods. "Voila. That will help things along, I feel. Teamwork. Well... other kind of teamwork. Partnership? Maybe that's more appropriate."

The list is presented to her, watching carefully. "Are you alright?"
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy's fingers tighten on the edge of the desk she leans against. "Yes," she agrees, faintly. "That might cause.. concern." She breathes, exhaling slowly. "Is there any chance he took inspiration from you? Found old things of yours? Papers? Journals? Notes?"

When he slides those papers across the desk, she reaches out automatically and straightens the pile without looking at the contents. "Thank you," she murmurs, and her violet gaze flickers up when he settles on parntership. Her smile is a warm thing, genuine and effortless. "Yes. That's appropriate, and apt."

No change of that easy expression as she says, "A headache. It will pass."

She takes the list and carefully folds it up.
Sinister has posed:
"It's possible. It's also possible that the unfortunate individual imprinted on me somewhere and he's got his own impressionable gift going on," Sinister grimaces, studying her a little longer at the reassurance. Sometimes when people smile so brightly, it's to mask the truth. But he gives the benefit of the doubt in this instance. Eventually, there's a nod. "Well then."

Pause. LONG pause. "I'm usually very meticulous in keeping my notes safe. But that too, could be a possibility, though an outside one. He could also... I suppose... have come across a historical fan. Oh, but that's an even more disturbing thought. Potential /groupies/. Oh, no no." A little fingerwiggle follows this, as if scolding the very idea into submission.

Now it's taken root though and he's staring perplexed. "What kind of historian would do that anyway? And for what purpose? I suppose serial killers have biographers though. Motivation. The why and the... /stop it/ Nathaniel."
Psylocke has posed:
"Imprinted?" Betsy echoes that, distastefully. "Well, there's a frightening thought." And it is distinctly unsettling, for as much as she does respect Sinister, she also respects that he's a very dangerous individual. Betsy's aware of the study, of course. And while it could be said there's some level of artifice in the way she interacts -- mostly in the way she engineers and directs meetings -- there doesn't seem to be anything of that in this moment.

As the conversation continues, she seems to be able to focus better, pushing away from her lean on the desk to retrieve the glass of wine as yet unfinished. "The Sinisterettes? Misterettes? No, that's awful. I agree, you should definitely cut that line of thinking." The idea of Sinister with groupies is, admittedly, more than a little terrifying. Not an idea she wants to ferment.

"They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Betsy continues, after she's tasted the wine, though her nose wrinkles soon after. "Though I assure you, he hasn't quite your level of sophistication, nor genius. He /is/ very intelligent, though." There are degrees of that, however. But it's enough that she seems worried.
Sinister has posed:
"High praise. I do attempt to be a cultivated, if heinous individual." He just winked. Oh lordie lords. Sinister clears his throat though, reaching a finger to the jewel in his forhead and tapping it a few times. "Clean slate. Stop thinking about it, old man."

He shakes his head also.

"Right then, so... gear. Do you have a wishlist, other than a Blackbird? Those are -so- last year, you know. Even if McCoy has kept his tip top and bristol fashion." This time, he just taps the air, a'la Minority report and pulls up data, flicking it off the screen-of-the-air until hither, left, right, down, sifting through it all until he considers the current. It's got a sleek design, this particular jet, borrowing from the Stealth bomber, but with an almost organic look to it. There's a certain streamlined 'fish' quality to it.
Psylocke has posed:
"And I appreciate a cultured individual, as we've previously established." Wait, did he just wink? It catches Betsy off guard for a moment, before she laughs. "And you are heinous. Too charming for your own good. You need to occasionally remind me not to trust you, Nathaniel."

She lifts the glass, taking a sip. "The proliferation of extremely good wine already makes me partial to you."

Then he focuses on business. The dismissal of the Blackbird as /last year/ makes her smile. "Then I'll take any upgrades you have. Perhaps a new name is in order, too." She moves to better see the hologram, eyes flickering across the lines of it. "I love it," she breathes, sincerely. "Hm. Anything to help with stealth. Remote wiping of cameras. Security overrides. Directed explosive charges."
Sinister has posed:
The image is tapped, then pulled apart, showing the cockpit, hold and seating, in blue print form. "Proprietary technology of course, I would appreciate -not- letting Hank have a poke." He reminds, with a glance to her. "I'll get cross," which is about as much of a threat as he's ever uttered. Back to the holo-image. "She's capable of atmospheric skimming, space travel and can withstand temperatures equal to the outer corona of the sun, but /do/ try to avoid that. Also capable of subaquatic..." he flips the screen, showing a video feed of what's probably testing. It's so dark and otherworldly in the capture, it has to be the Marianas trench. "You'll have to stagger resurfacing though, to allow the pressures to stabilize. She comes with concussive artillery, capable of approximately as much damage as a standard anti-aircraft battery, only without the risk of running out of ammunition, only energy."

The cockpit is pulled up. "Standard twin helm, although capable of being piloted by one. She can carry two armoured vehicles, or six motorcycles, or any combination of the two. Shielding can withstand a direct hit from a HIMARs and she's electromagnetically resistant. It's part of the cloaking field that foxes radar."

He looks at her, his head cocked. "I never did name her though. Fishy seemed somehow completely idiotic."
Psylocke has posed:
"Hank is nosy by nature," Betsy says, her admiring gaze still on the glowing image, but it's that not-quite-a-threat that brings her violet gaze to him, for a beat. "I won't let him near. It'll be parked out at our base, not near Xavier's. Unless someone slips, he shouldn't ever even be curious."

People do talk. But Betsy certainly means what she says.

Her gaze stays on him for a second longer, before she's drawn back to the image as he walks her through the various capabilities. She definitely looks impressed: and perhaps a little impatient. She's a pilot who loves speed and danger -- of /course/ she wants to get her hands on this beauty.

The avarice and want is apparent in her gaze when Nathaniel looks her way. She doesn't take her eyes off it. "Fishy doesn't do her justice," Betsy agrees. "Phantom? Spectre?"
Sinister has posed:
"Phantom could work," there's a wry smile again, one that says 'hooked' as he observes. "Capable of supersonic, of course. The cyber-array well... I would have to teach you how to make the most of it, I'm sure. I don't know how good any of your team is at computer operations -- onboard nav-sat can use stealth satellites, of which I have a metric ton of, to collate data acting as a giant wifi in and of itself. She can run on standard fuel, but she's better off running on deuterium. Fuel tank is gauche, but occasionally a necessity." He shrugs, then flicks the holo-image off. "Two small two-bunk cabins with facilities and a sonic shower."

He gazes at her again, then with a laugh to himself, rolls his eyes. It's mostly in the shape that they form that tells that story, given that they're solid pupiless red. "Come on then..." walking over to the door, he keys in a code and leans in to a sensor, breathing on it with an exaggerated 'haaaaah' -- "Nathaniel Essex..." said there also, he also plucks a hair, dropping it into a little suction tube. All of that makes the door go through a rather noisy 'power up' and the lights of the office and vault beyond... dim a little. When he opens the door, it's clearly NOT the corridor that was beyond. He does seem to have teleportation capability. And that? That looks like... a cliff-side hangar carved into a tropical island, judging by the distant view at the far end, of a blue sky.
Psylocke has posed:
"Phantom," Betsy echoes, and she makes it sound like the way one might address a lover, all warmth and want. "I'm okay with computers, but Warren's probably the better choice for it," but that thought brings her gaze, finally, away from the beauty of the jet. "...maybe I can show him what you show me."

Sure, Warren accepted the necessity of Sinister's help. It doesn't mean she's keen to put the two in a room together and see how well they get on, though.

There's no apology for her excitement when Nathaniel indicates they can go see it; the only thing that tempers her is the habitual reach for the crook of his arm, fingertips resting lightly there as her heels clack over the floor. It's probably useful, given while she doesn't stumble, she does catch herself as they step out into the hangar somewhere now two-steps removed from the hospital.

A glance to the door with a lift of brow. "If we can get one of those installed, that would be far better than parking it near the base. I haven't got anything set up big enough." But then she's looking forward, for the Phantom.
Sinister has posed:
Of course, the proffered elbow is simply how it's done. One must! Unless there's an emergency and alacrity is in order, then it's best not to have a woman in the crook of your elbow, it would make for a stumbling mess. "I have a place that can house it that /isn't/ my R&D spot," Sinister observes. "I bought a castle, in Ireland. It comes with thirty acres and enough bedrooms for well... I don't know, considering I don't exactly entertain guests much. I have precisely one friend, which means I'd just need a two bedroom accomodation to entertain." He pauses at that, frowns a little as he considers, then simply... they are flying. He does it himself with ease and honestly, carrying a passenger at his side is easy. The jet sits with her nose facing the large apperture, where beyond a promontary provides a fantastic dropzone. It looks as if it's somewhere in the south pacific, from the foliage, colour of sky and such.

Landing with a gentle one-two step, he flourishes into a pirrhouette and bows in release of her elbow.

"I am probably going to have to show Warren, also. Honestly, you all should practice with her, given she's brand spanking new to you." He looks over the black and shiny machine with a fond smile and a sigh. "I built her because i could, then realized I didn't have a whole lot of use for her. So, she's just been waiting to go for a run for a long while. I mean, I can go to the places that I would use her in, without needing her. It seemed like an extraneous thing."
Psylocke has posed:
Of all the things Betsy might be surprised about, Sinister buying a castle in Ireland is hardly up there. "I haven't been in some time. Close to home. I wouldn't mind it." But she's not about to speak for the others. Things are still unsettled there just yet.

When they fly, well... he doesn't have to do much additional carrying; Betsy can carry her own weight, her level of control sufficient enough to keep her even with her companion. The pirouette and flourish is met with a smile, but really, Betsy only has eyes for one thing.

"She's breathtaking." That's the voice of a woman in love all right. Betsy moves slowly, gazing up at the jet, as she walks her way around it.

"Probably for the best. It might be good if I'm there to... watch." Betsy isn't being overcautious. She just knows those on her team well. The fond smile and sigh finally draws her gaze from the jet to him. "Hm. Maybe it was meant to be. I don't much believe in coincidences. You making this jet, us meeting, this... partnership. Once I get to fly her, I'll go happily into that dark night." It could feel a little like an exaggeration, but it doesn't, really. Betsy's known enough darkness to know, and embrace, those moments of joy as they come, fleetingly or not.
Sinister has posed:
"The more the better in the watching department. But unless you can multiply yourself, you might well be doing the piloting, when someone needs to be doing the programming." THere's another voiceless chuckle at the confession and observation. He doesn't bother saying anything else, just walks up the ramp.

The inside is about as sleek looking as the outside. Hangars are hangars, but the fittings look /strong/ and this one is kitted out to be able to place a good many securing belts if necessary. There's also some modular attachments on the floor and walls that suggest it can be partitioned if necessary. "If you're parking a metal vehicle in here, before takeoff..." he points at a grip lever by the entrance to the crew cabin and cockpit. "...engage the electro magnetic anchorage. Adds an extra level of security. Some things though, are obviously not subject to EM."

He lets her explore. The cockpit controls are not that much different from the Blackbird. You can reinvent the car, but the wheel is fairly universal as it were. And if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Psylocke has posed:
"Not yet," on multiplying herself, "Though if you run into Jamie Madrox, /do/ send him my way... I would definitely have work for him."

Betsy is slower to follow up the ramp. Inside, she touches surfaces. Touch means a great deal, to her. She uses it for a means of permissiveness, but it's more than that. Here, in this moment, she uses it to get to know the jet, touching surfaces as she follows in Sinister's wake.

She explores everywhere. Seeing the schematics is no substitution for seeing it in person. The warning about how to safely stow a vehicle is well heeded with a little smile. That she chooses to attend the cockpit last is no coincidence, settling herself in the pilot's seat. The controls are familiar, and she reaches out to close the ramp, running through the start up sequence.

Uninterrupted, it looks like she means to take this bird up into the air right now. "You may want to sit," she says, with a glance: her eyes are bright, face full of anticipation. "Strap in." She takes her own advice, pulling the belt across her.
Sinister has posed:
"Ahh, yes, because showing off would be crass about now," Sinister slides into the co-pilot's seat, fastening the straps criss-crossed over himself. He also touches a few things on the computer keyboard set nearby, bringing up some overheads that blink to life. Grid-work, for targetting. Another touch of the touchscreen and it brings up communications array, with separate cameras. Scanners. Night vision. Thermal and several spectrum sensors and then to a small secondary screen that senses other things in the air with them. That, after a bit of programming, becomes a permanent fixture in one corner.

"It's funny to observe -- although one can fly, flying in a machine is a very different thing and one can be nostaligic for it at times. And the thrills, they can be unique in various forms -- rigid wings or feathered ones. I ahhh... warn you... I might give you a surprise if you fly too excitingly. Old man and all that." Deadpan.
Psylocke has posed:
"Showing off is an obligation in a beauty like this, and a pilot's tradition," Betsy counters, all haughty English injected into the retort. While she lights various screens, she declines the offer for the ship to pilot itself. No, this moment is all for her, switching it to manual.

"I do miss my prop-wing plane," Betsy says, with a very nostalgic smile. "But these... these make it worth it." She presses a button, though the hum of the engine is mostly muffled by the internal walls and dampeners. His warning gets a surprised look and a laugh. Not for a second does it seem to make her hesitate, though. "You might have stepped onto the wrong flight, then. I don't do anything by half-measures... especially flying."

Her gaze turns back, and she takes the wheel. Seconds later, she lifts them up into the air and punches it.

By some standards it's a relatively gentle acceleration... at first. Enough to clear the hangar and the cliff. The moment they're in clear air space and the landing gear has slid safely away though? She pushes the throttle, maximum burn, directing them up into that deep blue sky. Her face is alight and focused, full of joy but wholly attentive to the jet and its instrumentation.
Sinister has posed:
Sinister opens his mouth to retort something, then fails entirely to let it out. There's even a click of the jaw shutting and him pantomiming locking his lips and disposing of the key with a 'cigarette flick' settling back as she goes through the pre-flight checks.

Several moments are spent simply breathing in the preparation for the G-forces that are about to be experienced in a very, very quick sequence. The clear blue sky is the very limit only to some -- this is a ship capable of going into space. The G-force generated from the Deuterium fusion engine is in fact, phenomenal. This one machine could provide enough energy to power Manhattan island, easily. And now all of it is being used to power the jet propulsion. Mach 1. Mach 2. Mach 3...

Sonic booms are a thing and the design, with fishlike qualities, actually makes steering her /actually/ fluid. Not like the looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a /cow/ phenomenon.

And he even managed to not make good on his warning, until the second sound barrier was broken and acceleration, the thrill of it all and more prompted the reaction...

His red eyes flare white, a little flash of brilliant light before they fade back to red and there is a sound that can only really be described as a muted 'fwomp', which has him gripping the console infront of him with both hands, bent over as wings appear to have unfurled from his shoulders. They're black as coal, with red fringed edges, as if lit from an infernal flame, large and are fighting with the chair he's sat in... but not that much. It seems that the design accomodates people that have issues with extra appendages. Odd that.
Psylocke has posed:
There is just something that gets the blood pumping at this speed. The danger and thrill of it are part of it -- in theory one wrong move can have them plunging earthwards with little time to correct -- but it's not really about that. It's about power, and control. Lots of it, and absolute, respectively.

And Betsy is someone who does like to be in control.

Steering a jet like this can be dangerous at high speeds, where even a tiny nudge has a large and sometimes unintended consequence. That the Phantom seems to account for that gets a delighted laugh from Betsy, the woman apparently keen to put the jet through its paces, get a feel for how well it handles those shifts.

She hears the noise from the co-pilot's seat, and reflexively says, "Please don't puke on my brand new jet." Yes, sorry. It's /hers/ now. It's only the movement she catches out of the corner of her eye that pulls her gaze from the view, in time to see the flare of his wings...

Well, that's new and a little bit terrifying, not going to lie.

Betsy, however, is a well-trained pilot, and well aware she's currently in control of a jet at Mach 3 and rising. She eases back the acceleration, the G-forces easing as she brings the jet back to a cruising speed that's actually pleasant to bear, engaging the autopilot, casting her eyes over the instrumentation to make sure it's well in hand before she turns her gaze to Sinister.

"I thought you were joking," Betsy says, softly. "Sorry. Can I get you anything?" Her gaze still holds that bright delight from the flight, and the concern is genuine... but so is the interest. This is the first weakness she's ever seen Nathaniel Essex display, and it's not a little bit fascinating.
Sinister has posed:
"I have no sense of humour that I'm aware of," Sinister LIES like a dead rug. But it's said in the kind of tone that explicitly states the opposite. "They don't always listen to me, I'm afraid. A side effect of having a microscopic amount of genetic material that is not /remotely/ of human origin." His partner, no doubt, which makes that all the more astounding. "They were a gift with purchase, so to speak..." He shrugs left shoulder, then right, but they're not going anywhere. It's the speed. The flight that they're NOT a party to or a part of, which is probably making the pinions recalcitrant sods when it comes to going away again.

"Bloody hellfire, go away you sods..." he even says something in a middle eastern language at this juncture, which also does nothing. "Bugger," emphatically said, there's probably a modicum of humour in this. "I am going to ascribe this to the G-forces. Part of their existentia in the fundament, tells -them- they're able to propel so fast, that they can pierce dimensional veils, except that these two are born of a far more mundane and disGraceful origin."
Psylocke has posed:
There's a pause. A long pause.

This is not at all what Betsy expected. An off balance inner-ear, maybe, or some trauma about flying as a child. This is way outside that league.

"Wait. Are you saying having sex with Lucifer has given you hell wings that appear instinctively when your body senses sufficient G-forces that would necessitate their use?"
Sinister has posed:
"Well, that's rather a base statement, now isn't it?" Sinister responds mildly. Clenching his fists against the console and staring at the middle distance finally has the pinions vanishing with a 'fwush' of contraction. He does wince fleetingly though, which is telling. They did NOT want to go away. "Not sex. I have not been the best slave to Apocalypse' will, of recent years -- I do not presume to know for certain, as precognition is not something I was able to master, but... my cellular structure was not as unchanging as it had once been. I can also infer that that's also to do with the modern age, where mutagenic factors are quite a lot more prevalent than they once were, even a hundred years ago. I appropriated his human shell's genetic sequence and was able, after a considerable amount of effort, to split the telomeres at the end of his chromosomes, free of their nucleic bonds." And aware that he's speaking to a smart woman, but not one that necessarily knows the intrinsic details of genetic science, explains.

"I took the replication anchors from an archangel and spliced them onto my own genome. My cells replicate without degredation, but there's a price."
Psylocke has posed:
"Sorry. You really caught me off guard, with the... wings." Not only the wings, but definitely mostly the wings. Her eyes trace them, and then she averts her gaze, like she has to resist the urge to reach out and touch them. Definitely not like Warren's wings, not with the fire beneath them.

As he explains, she grimaces a little. "Why... would you do that?" A beat. "You know what, don't answer that."

Whether she comes to that conclusion for her sake, or for his isn't clear. But it seems Betsy's decided it's an unsafe topic for the moment. "Walk me through the weapons panel, and then we can bring her back in." Not that she's thrilled about setting down again, but she's definitely guided by practicality. And maybe just a touch of sympathy for his discomfort.
Sinister has posed:
"Why? Because I don't want to die yet. The more your telomeres degrade and they do so with the aging process, the more your cells degrade. They are part of what makes your cell renewal process work." Sinister explains, but then just quiets down. "The older you get, the more aware you become, of just how fragile you -could- be. Now, at least all I have to worry over, is someone ganking me, which is possible. I'm not going to gank because I reached my sell-by date."

Also, not something that is particularly reassuring to hear.

"Right, weapons..." -- they are excellent, they are not powered by the power of gunpowder and there IS an EMP ability. And likely, he'll be able to customize a lot of these things to the need, as and when necessary. Because now, this situation became a little more personal with certain similarities noted. Next time, he might even meet others in the team. Warren will definitely be interesting.