Title: Plots of Upheaval
Description: White King Forge
Jason Wyngarde - January 24, 2012 03:42 AM (GMT)
Date: December 19th, 2008
Time: Early Evening
Winter in New England was something Jason had not missed over the past ten years or so. Frigid winds tore through icy streets and knifed through fabric and flesh ruthlessly. With a shiver, Jason pulled his jacket up closer to his neck. Illusions did nothing to warm him. He could weave a fire into the mind of an onlooker, create enough perceived heat that the subject believed they were toasty warm-nestled before a crackling fire. But his illusions did not work on him. He manipulated them, and in a sense could ‘see’ them, but his mind simply could not believe them.
Climbing the stairs to the New England branch of the Hellfire Club, Jason was acutely aware of the ravishing effects of time on his body. The wintry weather brought a touch of rheumatism to his joints. Though anyone who could see him saw a vibrant young man, tall in stature and stately in dress climbing the stairs with effortless grace and strength, the reality was vastly different.
Jason was getting old.
At the door he was met by a pawn. He took his gloves off and looked down at the young man with the appropriate amount of stifled disdain. “Please tell your king that Rook Wyngarde is here to see him from the Parisian Club.” He folded the gloves up and enjoyed the warmth of the club while the pawn regarded him warily.
“I know,” he said, “protocol.” He put a hand on the young man’s shoulder, latching into his mind and in a very real sense peering into the depths of his soul. Taking note of the particularly zealous look in his eye, Jason pegged him for an ambitious man. He leaned in. “Trust me when I tell you this,” he confided sincerely. “What transpires here tonight will change everything. For you. For your King.”
There wasn’t time to conjure a proper illusion. No doubt the Parisian court was trying to track him down right now, and if they weren’t than they certainly would be soon enough. He had set in motion a number of deceptions, layered one on top of another in case they started to ask questions…in case they decided to look for him.
“Go,” he urged. “For your future and the future of your court…go.”
The pawn looked at him with wide eyes, considering. Jason did not budge, didn’t blink, didn’t breathe. This was a dangerous game he was playing, and he was anything but an idle pawn himself.
He was the Mastermind.
Licking his lips, the pawn nodded, and then backed up a few steps. Jason smiled with his eyes and nodded at him as he hustled down the hallway to the chambers of the Inner Circle.
Step one was working out quite nicely.
Forge - January 25, 2012 02:13 AM (GMT)
The White King Forge was at his desk reviewing the case files of the recent events. The Hellfire Club had detectives in their pocket so it was easy for them to gain access to police reports despite the incredible network that had been set in place to siphon information off of the police database. The Cheyenne had glossy photographs spread across his mahogany desk. They showed a gruesome scene of death in the streets. Two men had engaged in a shootout near an elegant Italian restaurant. They were riddled with bullets. Eye witnesses said they just appeared and suddenly opened fire on one another. The reports told Forge that both men had lengthy criminal records. They seemingly had no connection other than shooting the other to death three nights ago.
The White King of the Hellfire Club would normally have no interest in such boring details of the city. If the criminal element truly grew out of hand the police could handle it unless the disturbance grew to the point where it encroached on Club business. This event had quickly become Club business despite what the police report or the newspapers stated. The men had come to kill Forge the night they died.
The New England branch of the Hellfire Club had not had a White Queen for some time. The Court needed balancing and Forge knew this fact. They had been teetering back and forth with the abdication of Emma Frost. Forge had courted a handful of prominent women for the position and most of them were not a good fit at all. Some were too timid while others were too brash in their business dealings. In his opinion, the members of the inner circle should have the finesse of a surgeon, to put it into non-mechanical terms. Their use of the scalpel should be deft yet severe and exacting at the same time. One candidate had stood out however, Nicolette Moreau.
Forge had been escorting her to dinner that night. He normally preferred to leave the social excursions to others in his court but the selection of the White Queen had to be overseen with a keen eye. Forge had not yet extended the offer yet but he felt it was on the horizon, very close. They were leaving the restaurant when the two men approached, one from either side. The assailants had drawn their weapons and Forge was pulling out his latest version of the shock pistol when all the people on the street froze mid step. They two men marched to the edge of the street and began shooting at each other. Nicolette grabbed Forge by the hand and hurried him away.
She revealed herself to be a telepath that night. She took control of the situation and altered the memories of all the onlookers. It was as if she and Forge had never been there that night. Forge was replaying the entire event. Nicolette had probably saved his life. He wasn’t sure why he had gone without armed escorts disguised in the crowd.
There was a knock and the Pawn informed Forge that there was a visitor waiting for him, urging that it was important. The White King shuffled his files together and locked them away. His drawer looked ordinary but there was a biometric lock that would only open for a combination of Forge’s biological signature and the unique frequency given off by his prosthetics. The Maker descended the stares to find a dapper young man waiting for him. “Jason Wyngarde,” Forge said, having searched for the Parisian Rook in his database before meeting the man. “You are a long way from home but let it not be said that New York does not extend hospitality.”
A pair of Pawns brought in a tray of tea and a tray of warm hors d’oeuvres. Meetings between the branches were delicate matters even when they were unannounced. Forge knew he was lacking in the realm of human interaction but he knew protocols. “Now that the decorum has been sorted, what brings you so urgently to bend my ear?”
Jason Wyngarde - January 25, 2012 01:39 PM (GMT)
Jason Wyngarde was a patient man. The fact that his life was more than likely in danger created a certain sense of worrisome urgency in him, but he denied the temptation to fidget while he waited. Instead he took a moment to investigate his surroundings. Hands clasped behind his back, he took a few steps into the room, studying the décor with curiosity. Two very well-dressed and sophisticated beauties passed him by, smiling daintily at him. He nodded slightly at the pair, his smiling eyes roving shamelessly over them as they made their way down a hall. Certain things made him feel quite young again.
He turned at the sound of his name being spoken, somewhat surprised at just how quickly the White King had responded. Without hesitation, Jason swept low into a courtly bow. Whether this was his club or not, the White King was given every courtesy due his title. “Thank you for seeing me unannounced, White King Forge.”
Forge was no fool. There was no doubt that he knew the state of things. A member visiting from the Parisian club would be enough to keep his guard up. The fact that this visiting member was an illusionist would only heighten his guardedness. Jason was counting on that fact.
Keeping his head tipped slightly in deference, Jason met the eyes of the King. “A very grave and serious matter brings me here I’m afraid, my King.” The words ‘my King’ were but the first subtle clue. He looked around, not particularly liking the fact that they could so easily be overheard. “A very delicate and sensitive matter.”
Illusionists were generally kept at a distance. Their very nature was deception. Jason had to play this one very carefully. He knew the Paris plot had already been set in motion. It only made his job that much more difficult.
Graciously, he refused the hors d’oeuvres.
Forge - January 29, 2012 09:10 PM (GMT)
The Parisian Rook thanked Forge for the unplanned meeting. Forge nodded his head and made a small motion with his hand. Forge was extending the courtesy for another Club member but he was not going in blindly. The two Pawns that he had brought in with him were mutants. Sloane could create force fields and Frieda had healing powers. Forge was armed as well. He had a static stun pistol concealed in his leg and had ensured that the security equipment had been activated before he entered the room. With the recent attempt on his life he was not foolhardy enough to expect that the meeting between the branches, especially unannounced, would be a friendly gathering.
Jason spoke of a grave matter that would affect him. The Rook said that it was very delicate and sensitive. Now, much of the dealings of the Club could be classified with those adjectives. The Maker sat back on the sofa. Sloane poured him a cup of tea but he did not drink it. The food and drink would mostly be wasted as it was simply part of the graceful set dressing Forge had extended to his guest. Also, if he had to react he didn’t need to be distracted with anything else in his hands. “As a member of the Club, I am sure you know that delicacy is our stock in trade,” Forge said. “On the surface at least. Behind closed doors, we often take a more hands-on and straight forward approach, do we not?”
Needless to say, Forge was intrigued. He wondered what this man had in mind of reporting to the White King. Part of the Maker really wanted it to be groundbreaking news. That could be exciting. Things like that always meant he got to flex his technological prowess. “What have you traveled this far to tell me? I hope you enjoyed your journey because I do not have an extensive amount of time to waste. There was an attempt on my life and you see, I have given that top priority at the moment,” Forge explained.
Forge did not think it was a mistake in sharing that a hit had been made on him. It was not revealing too much, in his opinion. In the opposite manner it was a form of boasting, in a way. Forge would not have imagined such a life where he had risen to a position where he would be an assassination target. All the same, Forge wanted to end the existence of those behind the plot and everyone they held dear.
Jason Wyngarde - January 30, 2012 04:03 AM (GMT)
Taking a seat across from the White King, Jason set the white gloves he was holding at the edge of his knee. The Pawns were not excused. He had somewhat anticipated this, and might actually have been surprised and disappointed in the club’s security had it played out any differently. Still, it was clear enough that he had to get down to the point of his visit either way. Though he currently had piqued Forge’s interest…it could easily turn to annoyance if he didn’t tread carefully.
“Very well,” he said looking at the two Pawns and then back to the White King. “It has to do with the plot on your life.” Straight to the point. How much was public knowledge? Likely not much, if anything. The fact that he knew something would automatically lend value and suspicion to his being there. “There is much to tell,” he said earnestly. “And a picture is worth a thousand words…”
He sat back and considered.
With Jason Wyngarde you never saw anything that he didn’t want you to see. More often than not he was in full control of what you saw, what you heard…every experience with an illusionist such as he would be automatically suspect. He could have already seized Forge’s mind. With his powers he knew that he could unveil any version of reality that he saw fit. He could mold what they all experienced and through that he could manipulate reality to his own end. He’d done it a thousand times over, and here he could just as easily employ his powers to get precisely what he wanted out of this situation.
But he would not. For one thing there was no telling what sort of security devices the legendary genius of King Forge had at his disposal. It was true that he had his powers operating almost always, disguising his true visage to anyone who he might encounter. But if he truly exercised his talents it might very well trip some sort of alarm. There was no way to tell, though that was not the true reason that Mastermind did not take the easy route with this. It lacked challenge for him. He needed the mental stimulation that came only with genuine risk. And with that risk came the promise of such a sweeter reward-that he knew for absolute certainty.
“If I may,” Jason said haltingly. “I would much rather show you.” He let go of his power just then, the illusion of the broad-shouldered and handsome young man melting away to reveal a somewhat balding hawk-nosed man with an unpronounced chin. Jason sat there before him, naked as it were despite the fact that he was still impeccably dressed. He did not even try to disguise his discomfort. “I realize how hard it is to trust at a time like this,” he said sincerely. “Let alone an illusionist from a competing court.”
He held King Forge’s gaze raptly.
“Lend me your mind and I will make my message quite clear.” He looked at the two Pawns. “Only you, my King will go with me. Your security can stay here to keep an eye on me.”
Forge - February 7, 2012 01:22 AM (GMT)
Forge did not mince words with the Rook that sat before him so it did not come as a surprise when the Parisian member returned the favor. Forge had mentioned the attempt on his life earlier in the week and the White King was quite surprised to hear that Wyngarde claimed his unannounced meeting had to deal with that very incident. The Cheyenne’s slight shift in his seat belied his cool demeanor and posture. Out of the corner of his eye he saw one of the Pawns, Sloane, tense as if awaiting an order to attack or defend against one.
The Rook commented on a picture being worth a thousand words. To begin with Forge thought Jason had some form of photographic evidence to display. The White King was about to suggest that Wyngarde offer up what he had brought but he continued to explain. It turned out that he was an illusionist. Forge’s sense of suspicion and wariness rose slightly. He had brought the two Pawns along for the meeting to offer some sense of protection but Wyngarde could fool them into thinking that they were all safe as houses while he was sliding the knife into their throats.
Forge gave a small smirk. “I am sure you can paint a pretty picture, Wyngarde,” Forge replied, “but you must realize that the odds are against you.”
The illusionist then dropped his guise of the handsome man to reveal a more humble and homely visage beneath. But really, Forge wondered if it was a ruse as well. Could Jason be casting the image of the homely to sway the White King’s into feeling sorry for him?
Forge loathed to just open himself up to the mind of another. He knew that it would be flirting with catastrophe. He had secrets that he needed to keep; secrets of the Hellfire Club and secrets vital to his company’s success. Jason offered to show only the White King and allow the Pawns to stand guard over their liege. “I enjoy your reverence for the title, Rook Wyngarde. I am not technically your king but you have that large degree of respect,” Forge prefaced. “I will allow you to show me what you know, but, to be blunt, I am not entirely trusting.”
Forge reached into his jacket and retrieved a small tablet. He handed the device to Sloane next to him. “If you see my vitals slip in any way, you have my permission to end the Rook in a fashion that you see fit,” Forge explained coolly. “Shall we begin Wyngarde?”
Jason Wyngarde - February 8, 2012 05:09 AM (GMT)
Carefully, Jason gauged every nuance of Forge’s carefully guarded demeanor. There was a slight widening of his eyes when Jason had mentioned he was an illusionist. It was there and gone again so quickly that an untrained eye might not have picked up on it at all. But Jason saw it, and he knew at the very least that Forge’s predicament here was a lot more perilous than he first imagined.
What Forge lacked here more than anything was valuable information. He knew who Jason was, that was true, but just as he knew next to nothing about the plot against him, he knew virtually nothing about who Jason really was…and what he was capable of. Still, suspicions mounted, as he knew that they must.
“I am sure you can paint a pretty picture, Wyngarde, but you must realize that the odds are against you.”
Jason returned the smile, though with a hint of sadness. He did like it when the odds were stacked against him. There was a certain thrill to deadly sort of politics he was playing. “I am fully aware of my precarious situation,” he said quietly. Not having the illusions to hide behind made him more than a little uncomfortable. Removing them had been a calculated risk, but one that he had certainly had to take. There were cameras everywhere in this building, and they were recording things as they really were. He would not risk anything by even the simplest illusions right now. When Forge reviewed the footage later on he would have to see that this played out precisely as he remembered.
“And you’re right. You are not yet my king.” He did not clarify, but rather haltingly seized upon the opportunity that Forge was offering him. He looked him directly in the eyes. “You have nothing to fear from me.”
The sentence was scarcely out of his mouth when reality shifted for King Forge. They were no longer sitting in the New England branch of the Hellfire club. The Pawns had faded into the walls and they were standing in a hallway that belonged to the Inner Circle of the Paris club. Before King Forge stood Jason Wyngarde, shoulders stooped just a little as he patiently let the king orient himself.
“I assure you that every event you are about to witness is absolutely true,” he said. “I first must show you a fairly recent past.” He led the way, motioning the king into a large room filled with familiar faces from the Parisian Inner Circle. The younger version of Jason Wyngarde was there, sitting in a tall and overstuffed chair with one leg crossed over the other, watching with a slight look of disdain on his face.
“He is vulnerable,” the Black Bishop spoke. “In many ways, he is our easiest target if we are going to make a play for the-“
“You underestimate him,” said a young and radiantly beautiful woman.
“White Bishop,” Jason said to King Forge. He stopped before uttering the name, noting what he thought looked like a look of worry in Forge’s eyes. “They can’t see us.”
The woman walked slowly around the room, commanding the attention of everyone in the process. “King Forge is known for his legendary genius.”
Forge - March 8, 2012 12:45 AM (GMT)
Jason replied that he knew full well the situation in which he sat. It was not a common thing for members of the Hellfire Club to go into anything half-cocked or ill prepared. It also seemed to fuel many of them. If you wilted in the face of a challenge you were not made of the stern stuff of Hellfire. Many of the members had proven to be cutthroat captains of industry or well connected individuals who used the backs of the unfortunate for their ladder upward. For his own purposes, Forge valued hard work and merit but was not averse to building upon what had already been established. Forge could not hold it against someone for trying to further themselves as long as it did not interfere with his own plans.
Wyngarde’s intentions were hinted when he said that Forge was not yet his king. The Cheyenne tilted his head to the side slightly in consideration. Forge was eager yet simultaneously cautious about adding new members to his circle. For the White King they needed to prove their reliability as well as their worth. Forge did not want to induct anyone that was slipshod in their courtly duties or what they could offer just the same as he did not want to include anyone that was eager to stab the Club in the back. An illusionist could prove to be useful but a mutant with that talent would have to be carefully monitored as well.
The sitting room around Forge and Wyngarde faded away. Even the Pawns disappeared beneath the trappings of an ornate hallway that was just as likely to exist in the New York mansion but belonged to the Parisian branch of the Club. Forge looked around. The illusion was very intricate and lifelike in every detail. The Maker would easily believe he had been transported to another location had he not known any better. Forge wanted to reach out and feel the carved panels of the wall but restrained himself. Wyngarde explained that the images about to play out were entirely true. For the skeptical White King the words were taken lightly. Forge found the reproduction remarkable but simply given the nature of Jason’s powers he was not inclined to be fully trusted no matter how much he attested to their truth. “Yes, please proceed,” the White King replied as he fell into step behind the illusionist.
They entered a room where others, including the younger form of Wyngarde, were gathered. They were discussing the White King of the Manhattan branch. Satisfied hubris glimmered across his face as they complimented his technological skill. Forge preferred to play his cards close to his chest so to speak and reveal little about how he truly felt. Wyngarde acknowledged some of the players in the scene before them with the rank among the Parisian branch. Forge made mental notes of the information. “This is a fine rendition, with excellent detail,” the White King said in way of compliment to the Rook. “I will have to replicate a fully immersive holographic suite myself. It is a wonderful system.”
Jason Wyngarde - March 9, 2012 07:22 PM (GMT)
“System?” Jason turned to face the White King while the people continued to mill about them. “This is no computer program,” he said, picking up a small ornate sculpture from a nearby table and tossing it to him. “It looks real, and it feels real…down to every tiny nuance. Every sense in your body tells you that this is real-despite your mind telling you it’s not.” He looked up at Forge with intensity. “What happens here is as real as anything. People have died in my illusions, and they never knew the difference between a real blade he drew a sword from his hip…and an illusory one.” He let the White King consider his words for a moment, and then sheathed the sword.
“What you are seeing is exactly how the Parisian Court is laid out. The people are all real…the details down to the tiniest little one are all impeccable.” He held the moment with charming dramatic flourish. “Consider it more of a….memory.”
And then the scene resumed. As if on cue, a door opened up and in walked a beautiful woman with hair that curled into spring-tight coils. “Nicolette,” the Parisian King intoned. Jason dared a glance over at King Forge’s reaction. This was more or less the moment of truth, and he could see the spark of understanding dawning in his eyes. “I trust you are prepared for what you might encounter when we send you over to meet with King Forge.”
She looked at him with a smile fixed in place and then lowered her eyes. “I do, my King.” Though it was unnecessary, Jason held a hand up and the illusion stopped where it was. He knew that King Forge would be putting the pieces together now in his extraordinary brain, but he walked out among the frozen Parisian court members, circling around Nicolette with his rapt gaze keenly fixed on Forge.
“Nicolette Moreau. Such a lovely young lady.” His eyes flicked to her disdainfully and then back toward King Forge. “You see, the Parisian Court is particularly hungry. If they could get a foothold into your court they would in a heartbeat. But how?” He didn’t let the answer hang in the air for more than a second before slamming his hand down on the flat surface of a table. “Telepathy!” His voice echoed in the halls. “Your one weakness King Forge, you have no defense against telepaths!”
The scene around them faded away, the walls melting into shadows and leaving only Nicolette, standing as if under a great spotlight on stage. “But if they could get one person in…just one who due to specially crafted circumstances you were inclined to trust…”
Once again the illusion shifted, reforming around them to the very day that Nicolette had saved his life. He showed him what the White King had not seen. When the two men approached and while King Forge fumbled for his weapon, a look was exchanged between Nicolette and the men. Jason paused it there, stepping up and looking at her carefully before turning to look over his shoulder.
“Pardon my frankness my King, but you have been played.”