Title: Beyond the Illusion
Description: Tag: Betsy
Jason Wyngarde - March 10, 2012 03:25 PM (GMT)
Date: March 8
Power changed hands. It was the nature of things, and was most especially obvious in an organization such as the Hellfire Club. Jason Wyngarde, an ambitious and powerful illusionist for the White Court did not completely hide the fact that he was thirsty for power. To hide the fact altogether would have been a mistake, and would have been seen as a blatant lie from the beginning. The truth of the matter was, as ironic as it seemed…showing at least some of his true colors had made him easier to trust. In fact, Jason showed his colleagues much more than that. He had found, in particular with the White Queen Betsy Braddock, truthfulness to a point, and disclosure to a degree was not nearly enough. Difficult as it had been in the beginning, he had been somewhat encouraged to confide in her to a degree that he had not originally planned.
The benefits of this were even more surprising. Betsy was his Queen, and though he had been instrumental in her coming to that title, he had not planned on the friendship that had emerged out of it. Many times he had stopped to check his own heart in this process…unsure of what the specific ramifications of his heart’s allegiance were to his ultimate goals.
But there was no denying his outrage at what had happened to her. Seeing her broken the way he had after those monsters had beaten her body and snatched away her eyes had rendered him completely undone. It sparked a raging vengeance within him and was not the first time that he realized he had become very much attached to Queen Betsy over the years.
It was as he feared. In some ways, he was growing soft with age.
“My Queen,” he said to her with fondness that he did not have to conjure. His head bent slightly toward her as he strode into the room. Her eyes had been replaced. Jason wasn’t entirely sure how she saw the world now. But he was completely positive of one thing. Betsy Braddock was one of the strongest women he had ever known, and nobody was more suitable to be Queen. “You look lovely as ever,” he said with typical Wyngarde charm. Of course it was always so much easier when it was true.
To Betsy he appeared some twenty odd years younger than he actually was. His jaw was prominent, his hair thick and full. Though everyone in the Hellfire Club had seen his true form at one time or another, this particular illusion he kept in place at all times. Looking over at her with a keen, raptor gaze he smiled and then turned his back just a little while he focused his attentions on a crystal bottle of brandy. “It’s been quiet around here for weeks,” he said with just a hint of sarcasm as he pulled off the crystal top of the bottle and filled not one but two tumblers.
Turning with a glass in each hand he raised his eyebrows as he held one out to her. “I’m not sure if we should be glad, or start looking over our shoulders again.”
Betsy Braddock - March 13, 2012 11:58 PM (GMT)
Being the CEO of your family company meant that you wound up with certain perks, especially if your board members used to give you birthday cards as a child. Betsy did not milk the fact that she had a reliable board, but she did like to occasionally ‘work from home’ or take the odd day off for modelling shoots. With Brian helping her to juggle things from the UK offices, it was entirely manageable and allowed her to see to Hellfire matters when she had done glancing over facts and figures, stocks and shares. Really, she had not been built for business, science and engineering…Probably why she was toying with the idea of some kind of side project. Cosmetics possibly; ethical, naturally… Perfume was so cliché. But maybe a line within a line, such as something for MAC or another reputable brand would be a project that she could really sink into.
She knew Jason was there before he entered the room. Psylocke did not actively monitor and read the minds of those who traversed the halls of the Club, especially not the members of the Inner Circle, but her abilities tuned her into a certain awareness of comings and goings. Flipping the cover of her diary closed, she moved the book to the edge of the table and gave the White Bishop a smile.
“Jason,” she inclined her purple head gracefully at his greeting and compliment “thank you.” He was not the man that he showed the world, but as long as he did his duty admirably, it did not serve to bother her. At first it had unsettled her a little, but her telepathy was capable of cutting through his illusions with the right amount of force, should the need arise.
“Quiet is one way of putting it,” she smirked over the glass of brandy at him. Normally, Betsy left drinking to later on, but the alcohol hit the spot and the White Queen did not feel like waiting for tea.
Settling back in her seat, Psylocke gestured for Jason to make himself comfortable and mused over his statement. “We should always be glancing over our shoulders. I’ve been told often enough that I should be more careful to the point that I am finally heeding that very wise advice. What happened at Christmas may still come back to bite us, I fear.”
Jason Wyngarde - March 18, 2012 10:03 PM (GMT)
His eyes only briefly glanced over at the book on the edge of her table. Was it filled with secrets so insidious and valuable that they could topple multi-million dollar businesses and bring ruin and/or prosperity to whoever wielded them? Or was it just a journal, a book written from the heart of a very beautiful and influential woman about matters of a much more sacred and intimate nature? Either way, they were no doubt invaluable, and he thrust any notion of them out of his mind.
And in all likelihood it was neither. Betsy was one of the smartest people he knew. The book would not contain much that was incriminating or dangerous to her or the Club. She kept those sorts of secrets locked away under a lock and key that very few people in the world could penetrate.
After she had taken the drink, Jason sat in the seat opposite her, crossing one leg languidly over the other and taking a sip of the potent amber liquid in the glass. His eyes on hers were intent, and he got right to the point by design. There were times for simple, relaxed and idle conversation. This was not one of them.
“Yes,” he said swirling the liquid around in his glass and looking into it with deep contemplation. “Very well spoken.” He glanced up. “Considering what was done, and how Selene managed to slip in under the radar and rewrite what we thought we already knew…” When his thoughts trailed off, he didn’t bother trying to reign them in. This was difficult. Sensitive. Jason took another sip as he pondered his words.
“I’m afraid she is not finished with you, my Queen. She should not have been allowed to leave. And I do not mean to speak out of turn, but we should get her back immediately.” He glanced at the door, throwing up a minor illusion in case anyone was bold enough to try and eavesdrop on a telepathic Queen. If they did try to listen in, they would hear a very different conversation than what was actually taking place. “And I am not entirely sure I trust the new Black Queen either.” Thinking it over, he shrugged with the slightest of smirks. “Though she is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Betsy Braddock - March 26, 2012 03:11 PM (GMT)
“Yes, because preventing her departure was a simple task,” Betsy responded smoothly, sipping her drink. Since that night, she was very cautious about what she drank and where – everything in her rooms was placed by the same Pawn now. Just in case. The Club had been ravaged and several members had carried lasting scars. The White Queen had offered her help where appropriate, even though it was unlikely that she could ever restore their memories fully if they so accepted her help. After what had happened, she could not blame Max or the others for not wanting any more telepathic intrusion.
“Might I remind you that she was also in possession of the Soul Gem. Her powers were increased and it took the efforts of myself, still under the effects of drugs, on the astral plane and Tessa in the physical world with her own powers amplified to send her packing.”
Her words were light, but there was the edge of scolding to them. Betsy agreed they had to catch Selene and that the woman deserved everything that was coming to her, but was it truly that easy? Of course it was not, otherwise the woman would already be back under lock and key in the same dungeons that had held Risman and all other manner of dirty little fiends who dared to cross Hellfire.
Looking at him over the rim of her glass, the telepath raised a slender eyebrow. “What makes you say that about Tessa, Jason?” she queried, interested to know his response. Mastermind was a slippery character but he was also very observant and in most cases his judgement was sound. However, Psylocke did have an inkling as to what his reasons were and if that was the case, then she would be able to put the older man’s mind at rest. “There were very few worthy candidates for the role of Queen. Pretty ladies, or those who can make themselves pretty, are ten a penny in these halls, but very few have the minds to match their outward grace. Then there are those who are bright enough, but with power?” Betsy slowly shook her purple head. “Power in the wrong hands is a terrible thing. Power is like a sword; it must be wielded accurately else the results can be...unpleasant.”
Jason Wyngarde - March 26, 2012 08:48 PM (GMT)
Betsy made a magnificent Queen through and through. She was lovely and powerful, and had a backbone of the strongest steel ever forged. Picking up on the slightly chiding tone in her voice, Jason smiled just a little. “No, I suppose it won’t be easy,” he said. He never thought it would be, and he found her irritability over the whole matter more enlightening than it was amusing. It showed him exactly how concerned Betsy actually was over the whole ordeal, which he never honestly doubted. But her tone also revealed a certain exhaustion.
She was trying to resolve this. And if he read the expressions right from certain members of the Black Court, she had more serious pressure to deal with than that of her loyal Bishop. Still, she knew enough to not completely disregard his concerns.
He looked up at her, eyes alight with passion. “Nobody doubts your efforts, my Queen! I only wish that I had been there to assist you.” It always helped when the feelings were sincere. Jason might have been a marvelous actor when the need arose, but right now he was nothing short of genuine. Though what he could have done to prevent what had happened he wasn’t completely sure. His powers were great at misdirection and confusing a target into doing one thing while thinking they were doing another.
Could he have even made a connection with someone in possession of one of those gems? It infuriated him that he didn’t know the answer to that question.
“What makes you say that about Tessa, Jason?”
There it was. Tessa. The familiar. He was reminded of the night of the ceremonies, and there now was precious little doubt of the sincerity in Betsy’s actions when she embraced the Black Queen as an equal. Still, it did no good to lie or mask his true feelings entirely. If she truly wanted she could pick through his thoughts effortlessly.
“I didn’t get where I am today in business by relying on luck or fortune,” he began, choosing his words carefully as the idea that Tessa was somewhat endeared by Betsy stuck in his head. “Nor am I much of a believer in coincidence or predetermination.” For emphasis he added, “Any more than I believe in leprechauns, Santa Clause or winged angels strumming on golden harps in the clouds.” The last one was a poor illustration considering Mr. Worthington, and he quickly moved on to cover it up. “The point is, when I see a situation I automatically find myself sizing it up. Who has the most to gain, how did they manage to put themselves into position to reap the most rewards.”
“I realize I’m telling you a lot about how my mind works, but something tells me you already know that much if not more.” Then he leaned back again, taking another sip of his own drink while pausing in consideration. “All that considered,” he said with deliberate slowness. “It seems wonderfully fortuitous, the way things played out. By my own humble estimation, that is.” It was something of a joke.
Jason was anything but humble.
Betsy Braddock - March 28, 2012 11:17 PM (GMT)
“I know,” she nodded, resting her chin upon her hand as she settled back in her seat, looking across her desk at the Bishop. He wore his younger, altogether very attractive face as he often did in his everyday life. Betsy knew what lay under that guise, but all the same he still wore it. Maybe it was vanity, or keeping up appearances for other members of the Club, or presenting his natural face was a null thing, as the Queen knew it anyway. Such illusions did not bother her as such, but his choice of face for that day was a passing curiosity all the same.
Listening to him speak, the telepath felt she had the gist of things and she smiled, moving her hand away from her chin as she sat up a little. “Do you feel she was simply using our Court to springboard into the Black Court? In essence, she did do that. But Max was considering her a long time ago and Sage told me when she could have kept the information from me. Her talents were wasted as a Pawn in any case…And if you think she had a hand in Selene getting into the Club?” shaking her purple head, the telepath’s face took on a dark smirk. “If she had dared to betray us as such, Longshot would have read the truth from a trinket of hers, or a simple stray thought…When I was blind, I often used her eyes to see. I know my way around that magnificent mind of hers.”
Finishing with a wink, she leant forward and took a drink. “I appreciate your honesty though, Jason. And I know Regan had her eyes on the seat of the Black Queen as well. I’m sure there isn’t a woman privy to the Inner Circle who didn’t at least consider it at some point.”
Setting down the glass once more, she licked her lips and looked at him carefully, regarding him with bionic eyes that to the world seemed quite natural. “Its funny how power works around here though – not everyone makes the step by step ascent to gain the power. Some of us are simply thrust into the spotlight and are given the very basic choice to either excel or crash and burn. That is the real test, holding a seat, not gaining it in the first place. If there is one thing we can be sure of around this place, it’s that the strong survive.”
“Fortuitous? Perhaps. Time will tell on that one, I think.”
Jason Wyngarde - March 29, 2012 04:56 PM (GMT)
For a moment it almost seemed like Betsy was specifically giving Jason a lesson. He smiled at the thought of it; if she was, it wouldn’t be the first time. She had a way of speaking that sometimes came off as instructional, and an air of wisdom that compelled people to listen. Jason did not take offense, though it was safe to say that he wouldn’t have tolerated it from most people. Needless to say Betsy Braddock was far from most people.
He smiled, folding his hands in front of him and bringing his elbows up to rest on the arms of the chair. “It would be hard for me to discredit or scorn ambition,” he admitted truthfully. “And I completely agree that she is far more valuable than a Pawn.” Silence stretched out after that comment, Jason returning Betsy’s inquisitive stare without blanching.
She had a very good point about power. Jason had seen the whole gambit: people that had power thrust on them out of nowhere, and others who had strove for it in a sort of life-long quest. There was no hard and fast rule about what worked and didn’t work, and it did by and large depend on the fortitude of the one wielding the power, but by and large what Jason had observed over the years was that the people who sought out the power for long periods of time were usually a lot more prepared to wield it, and a whole lot more willing to do anything to defend it.
Sage did not strike him in that manner, though he knew she had an incredible mind. At length, Jason just put his hand up and waved the subject off dismissively. “It’s probably nothing,” he commented. “Just a tired, suspicious old man seeing trouble everywhere.” It wasn’t that and he knew it. “Though I have been meaning to get acquainted with the new Bishop, Mr. Moses, for some time.” He couldn’t quite keep the disdain out of his voice, and honestly didn’t really bother trying. “Right now, the only thing I know about him was his devotion to Magneto.” Which should say enough about his reservations. He didn’t bother elaborating.
Suddenly Jason leaned forward. “But to change the subject one more time,” he said. “I plan on using some considerable of my personal resources to track down Selene and bring her back to the club for sentencing.”
And the Soul Gem.
Of course there was that.
Betsy Braddock - April 3, 2012 02:47 PM (GMT)
“A little caution is no bad thing, as long as a person does not start to jump at every shadow in every corner,” Betsy mused as Jason backtracked over his suspicions. “But must I point out that Sage is now the Queen of the Black Court and any mistrust that runs too deeply could be a reflection on the Black King. Sage won her seat with what she accomplished, but Max still could have refused her. Her victory was not a sole effort either. If she had orchestrated events then she left too much to chance in trusting that myself and Longshot would have been able to assist her.”
Jason’s next comment did not surprise Betsy so much as it unsettled her a touch and she narrowed her bionic eyes a little as she took another sip of the brandy. Certainly he had the resources to make an attempt to find the woman, but there was something very personal about the words.
“Yes, the Soul Gem. When you find Selene and the gem, what do you hope to do?” she asked, coating her words with a tone of respectful curiosity and tact. “I’m sure the resources at your disposal will go a long way in narrowing down the search and finding the woman as quickly as possible,” the White Queen added sincerely, although the purpose of the words was in no small part to delicately smooth out her previous question. She trusted Jason well enough in most matters but when it came to this she just hoped his common sense prevailed over the man’s desire to be seen as powerful. If he put so much as a foot wrong, then he may end up losing a lot more than he bargained for.
But the matter was not to be pressed while she did not know the full details of his intentions so instead, she traced backwards in the conversation to something he had mentioned about one of the Club’s newer additions. “You’re not taken with the new Bishop then, I take it? His continued devotion to Magneto does leave something to be desired, but he’s a fool if he thinks we’ll suffer such a thing to pass if it puts us in peril. But again, he is of the other Court and they would not permit him within their ranks if they did not think they could…handle him,” Betsy gave a light shrug of the shoulders. “He’ll need to play by our rules here and as I said, the strong prevail. If he thinks he can be a fancy gentleman, strutting around our halls with Pawns for company and nothing else, then he has another thing coming. Or maybe he is more interested in wanton violence. Do I trust him? Of course not. But then he has given me no more reason to trust him than not to trust him. The man shall have to prove himself, but does he need to justify himself to me personally? Not so much.”
“We shall see,” the telepath nodded, sipping her drink. She could understand much of why Jason did not trust the man, or even why that he like him very much (if she had guessed correctly), but the simple fact of the matter was that he was a lesser concern right now and if he put a foot wrong, then the Brotherhood member would be at the mercy of the Black Court. But if it was a simple case of disliking the man, well she had a little less time for that, even if she too could talk about people she was not keen on herself.
Jason Wyngarde - April 3, 2012 05:44 PM (GMT)
The matter with Sage’s ascension was something Jason did not plan on pursuing any further in this conversation. Inwardly he bristled a little as Betsy gave him ‘sage advice’, thinking that she was younger in fact than his own daughter. But she was his Queen, and it was her right. Besides that fact, she was speaking the truth. It wasn’t going to do anyone good to dwell on things that have already transpired, or to suspect everyone and everything. And really, he had no intention of wasting his energies that way at any rate.
He nodded, smiling at her with sparkling eyes and raised his glass in a toast. “Very well spoken, my radiant Queen.” The over-the-top flattery had with time become something of an inside joke with them.
And with that the conversation drifted to him finding Selene, and the acquiring the gem. He would have been surprised if it didn’t raise suspicions, and Betsy’s carefully crafted response told him much of what he needed to know about exactly how far she trusted him. The answer was a little disappointing. “I plan to bring both back to Hellfire. Her for judgment, and the gem to present to my Queen.” It was true. It had to be true. She was able to pick out a lie without any effort whatsoever. “My Queen, whom I have never given any reason for mistrust…” He lifted his brows just a little; smiling as he casually mentioned what was clearly between the lines. “I want you to rest assured,” he said with a fist over his heart. “My allegiance is to the White Court, and to you.”
If she seriously doubted that fact, he knew this conversation would have an entirely different flavor.
“As for the Black Bishop…this isn’t a petty thing regarding my simply not liking him. “ With that comment he genuinely laughed. “At 54 years of age, I would like to think that I have put some of that childish schoolboy nonsense behind me.” Smiling at Betsy, he took a moment before answering. “But if Magneto has a double-agent in our midst, I plan on rooting that truth out. Black Court or not, that could affect us all, and that I simply will not allow.” He smiled again. “And I like to think that I have a special knack for seeing through false realities.”
Betsy Braddock - April 15, 2012 12:18 AM (GMT)
Betsy had to snort as the illusionist shamelessly flattered her. In many ways, such gestures had become a bit of a joke between them, but even so sincerity was always preferred. But it was harmless and was not the matter at hand.
“I don’t doubt your loyalty Jason, nor your resources but Selene…” trailing off, a cold feeling overtook the White Queen and she chased it away with a sip of the alcohol in her glass. “But how do you hope to succeed in bringing her in, when it took three of us to wear her down? I don’t doubt your prowess but she has the gem.”
As the conversation moved on to the subject of the new Black Bishop, Betsy rose smoothly from her seat and paced slowly towards the window and looked out, before slowly turning to resume their discussion. “If he is a double agent then he will face a hideous end. But you’re hardly the first person to entertain such thoughts and suspicions. But he is of the Black Court. To doubt him is to put doubt in what the Black King and Queen have done in granting him his seat.”
Smiling at him, the telepath raised an eyebrow. “And besides, our contact with the Brotherhood and Sanctuary has improved greatly, particularly since the time we worked with them when Magneto vanished amidst the chaos of the other world. Anyway, doesn’t your daughter reside within Sanctuary for a great deal of her time? Are we to distrust her when she returns from her work?”
Returning to her desk, she sat down, watching him the whole time. “Look, Jason, I’m not trying to belittle your concerns about the man. I don’t particularly trust him in all honesty but he has given us no reason to circle him like sharks, not yet. If he does that is a different matter, but until he does something it is not our concern to watch him like hawks. I am quite sure that his own King and Queen will be attending to such matters and do I even have to hint what Longshot would do to the man if he turned traitor?”
“Watch him, by all means, but don’t allow it blinker you to anything else that might happen that might become an even worse threat to us. Distraction can be a dangerous thing.”
Jason Wyngarde - April 15, 2012 04:43 PM (GMT)
As Betsy spoke Jason thought he detected a note of concern in her voice. There were a dozen different ways she could have voiced her reluctance of him pursuing the matter with Selene, and at least a few of them involved pulling rank. But the tone she used was far more sincere, and the care and respect he thought he heard honestly threw Jason off his guard a little. Dropping the playful charade, he looked at her earnestly in silent appreciation for a moment.
“When I make my move,” he said after letting his expression convey his silent gratitude, “it will not be something she sees coming. I’m not foolish enough to try a frontal assault, or to try and match my strength against hers. ” He shook his head. “That is not a fight I can win…and I know that.” Folding his hands he leaned back in the chair. “I also have a few…secret weapons,” he commented. Then he smiled. “I can be quite resourceful when I put my mind to it. Selene has one very distinct weakness that I plan to take full advantage of: pride.”
Impassively he watched her get up and pace over to the window as the discussion turned to the Black Bishop. “Forgive me,” he said in a lapse of the conversation. “I did not mean to imply that this matter wasn’t already under consideration and scrutiny.” His eyes studied her carefully. “I trust that the Bishop is being closely watched. I only meant to say that I will also be keeping an eye on him. And I do agree that it’s not worthy of too much attention.”
What he didn’t acknowledge or make mention of was the fact that Regan was not above the same suspicions. He thought he understood Regan fairly well, and if he wasn’t mistaken about his dear beloved daughter…they should be keeping a very close eye on her as well-at all times. After a moment of silence he smiled at her again. “I have met many leaders of business and politics, and in these halls I’ve met and witnessed those who wield power in so many different ways. More often than not I see power wielded as a bludgeoning weapon, but you my Queen are not like those.”
Dropping any false pretense, and disregarding any playful banter he leaned forward and looked into her eyes intently. “I have watched you carefully over these years. You wield it like a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon.” As he suspected she would so many years ago.
It was his turn to get up, heading over to the same window and looking out in deep consideration. As he turned back around his features seemed to change-aging before her eyes. The youthful clarity and distinct sharpness faded from him like the remnants of a dream in a waking mind. Jason stood before his Queen as he really was-and it was not an appearance that he willingly showed her too frequently.
“All pretense aside,” he said with a slight bow, “it is an honor to be your Bishop, my Queen.”