Birds of a Feather

Oracle

The Eye in the Sky
The Six
Real Name
Elizabeth York
Missions
368
Ability
Genius, Hacker
NYU — Washington Square East

The image of the conversation between Ashley this stuffy English professor on what really happened in the Middle Ages was enough to make her laugh unexpectedly. She quickly tried to explain her outburst, telling him there was someone he really should meet. She didn't exactly expect him to take her at her word, however.

Henry: “Oh? Well that would be delightful, I’m afraid I haven’t met many people since I moved over here. Other than students, of course, but one shouldn’t socialize with one’s pupils, I’m sure you agree.”

That made her feel extra guilty for thinking he was stuffy.

"Well, um, yes, ick!"

Recollecting where she had seen him from, she commented on seeing his bio in the faculty newsletter.

Henry: “Oh no, I hope you didn’t read it, it’s dreadfully pretentious, but me mum wrote it and she was so proud, I didn’t have the heart to deny her.”

Zizi tried very hard not to roll her eyes. She didn't believe that horse doodie for one minute. She'd seen his type a thousand times before - nothing to do with their upper crust lives but embroil themselves in academia, traveling the world via their tenured positions they absolutely don't need. Gabe does an amazingly good impression of...she got that sinking feeling in her stomach, that ache in her chest. But she put on her bravest face, her brightest smile, welcomed the new guy, and offered her help, ready to make a clean getaway before she ended up in a puddle in the hallway.

Henry: “Oh, please call me Henry. And, actually, there is something....”

He was coming after her, decidedly NOT allowing her to leave gracefully.

Henry: “I’m afraid I haven’t found a good place to get a cup of tea around here. I’ve been trying coffee places but they’re all a bit bland. Perhaps you could show me? I’ll buy.”

"Oh, I...I wish I could, but I'm actually meeting someone now. Some other time maybe."

It was then that she shamed herself, for not helping someone who was lonely and new. She was being completely selfish. She stopped trying to flee, and took a deep breath to center herself before looking up at his face.

"But Alice's Tea Room on Central Park West, near the historical society, is the best place in the city to go for afternoon tea. The cucumber sandwiches are the best I've ever tasted. If you're just looking for a regular cup around here, try Fair Folks at Houston & Thompson. Ask for Anthony."

She gave him a warm smile and a nod before moving along on her way.
 

Orion

Ambassador
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Zachary Armani
Missions
643
Ability
Empath
The Upper East Side — Zash’s Townhouse

Zach asked Ash for help with moving the cable machine, and silently hoped she wouldn’t pity him and his mortal strength. It was not exactly a topic he wanted to directly grapple with at the moment (or ever). Thankfully, she was instead quite happy to help. He smiled because she did. The machine was easy to move, especially with the motivation he gleaned after she expressed a desire to hang out in here while he worked out. He told her that anything she wanted, she would have, and immediately felt a little guilty when she said she never wanted to leave the house.

“Okay, I should have qualified that promise with the phrase ‘within reason’.”

He added, while she allowed that they could leave for food or beer. He found it amusing, given that in this day and age anything could be delivered. She was considering the merits of beer counting as food.

“Well it certainly counts as calories, unfortunately.”

He did not have the metabolism of a college boy anymore. It was yet another reason to workout. He knelt by the pile of bars a box steel tubing that would make up the power rack, and solicited her help in finding the right tool for the hardware. After waiting for several weeks, he decided to finally breach the subject of Alek’s death. She brushed the question off, reasoning that Alek got what he deserved and should’ve made sure Helena was dead if he’d intended to betray her. Zach watched her reaction with sincere concern. Ashley had once had such strong feelings when it came to Alek, back when she and Zach had first started up.

“I won’t be upset, I’d understand...”

He said gently, sensing her panic. She asked if she was ‘supposed’ to be sad, and he prepared to express support for however she felt about it, but he did not expect her to bluntly state that she wasn’t upset. His brow lifted in surprise, as he sensed no emotional undercurrent to belie her statement. Then he listened to her explain that Alek was just wearing the face of someone she used to care about. The concept was striking, and sent Zach’s thoughts towards his own past relationships. She seemed to pick up on it immediately, and didn’t ignore it.

Ash: “Unlike Haleigh.”

He was quiet for a moment, as he considered it thoroughly.

“Actually... that sounds exactly like the way I feel about Haleigh now. I just feel so detached when I see her. I rarely even think of her anymore. The idea that we were together at all... seems surreal in hindsight.”

He thought out loud. He couldn’t be sure whether or not he’d feel sad if Haleigh died. He didn’t really want to dwell on it. He looked at Ash and shrugged.

“Well anyways, I just want you to know you can be honest with me about anything, even a subject like Alek.”

He said, as he started to put bolts and nuts through holes in joints. He twisted the hardware together loosely and then changed the subject to the other thing weighing on his mind.

“So I’ve got this meeting coming up with the new Director of Clandestine in a couple of hours. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a briefing on all these Hellfire rumors that are swirling around. You’re welcome to come along. I can get you into the secure area and everything.”
 

Valkyrie

War
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Ashley Oldenburg
Missions
593
Ability
Ability to instill self-doubt, turmoil and intimidation
The Upper East Side — Zash’s Townhouse

Ashley's mind got lost in a quandary about whether beer counted as food. She stared off into the mid distance, weighing the possibilities, until Zach responded and immediately re-established connection with her attention span.

Zach: “Well it certainly counts as calories, unfortunately.”

She waved a hand dismissively towards him.

"Pfft - calories. What are they, anyway, really. I think someone made them up."

She nodded once, satisfied that that must be the case.

Then Zach asked her about...Alek. He had died because he was stupid. He had probably a million chances to take Helena out when she would never have suspected a thing, but he waited until the BOP (and the Six, she guessed) were storming the castle to basically give her a middle finger and a half hearted attempt at playing both sides. Alek would have been the first person to point out the moronic ineptitude of that plan.

But as she said as much to Zach...she began to panic that she was supposed to be sad about it.

Zach: “I won’t be upset, I’d understand...”

Ohhhh...he was worried about her. She smiled at him encouragingly. He really was the most wonderful person she'd ever met.

But that didn't mean she was going to let him off the hook about this Haleigh business. She made sure to mention that although Alek wasn't the person she had loved, the same couldn't be said for Zach & the traveling bad hair dye unfeeling robotic narcissistic deranged selfish holier-than-thou disease-ridden bitch.

Zach: “Actually... that sounds exactly like the way I feel about Haleigh now. I just feel so detached when I see her. I rarely even think of her anymore. The idea that we were together at all... seems surreal in hindsight.”

She looked at him with a slight eyebrow raise of skepticism.

"Really?" she asked quietly.

It was difficult for Ashley to believe that Zach wouldn't always love Haleigh. She always felt that they were only moments away from Zach leaving her and going back to his ex.

Zach shrugged. He certainly didn't seem bothered.

Zach: “Well anyways, I just want you to know you can be honest with me about anything, even a subject like Alek.”

He was putting bits of metal together again. She just stared at him for a moment, then walked briskly over to him and put her arms around him, hugging him tight, lowering her head so her cheek fit against his chest.

"I have no reason to lie to you."

Still in a whisper.

She pulled back and turned her face away, sighing.

"When I first saw Alek, I thought he was Kalf, that he wasn't dead, that he had been chosen by the gods, like me, and we had finally found each other again. But he wasn't. And Alek manipulated those feelings. I clutched at anything I could, made myself believe it, anything to be that human girl I had been again. Who just wanted a little plot of land to farm, a husband, family. Maybe her father's approval. If I lost that, if it wasn't real, then I had nothing. I was back to having nothing."

She turned her head to meet his eyes once more.

"But it wasn't Alek who brought back my humanity."

Ashley put a hand on Zach's chest, over his heart.

"It was you."

She gave him a little smile.

"You were the one I was waiting to find. Not Alek."

She made a small shake of her head.

"So no, I'm not upset that he's dead. He means nothing to me. He never did, not really."

There was silence for a bit while Zach worked, and she could tell he wanted to say something else. Finally, he did.

Zach: “So I’ve got this meeting coming up with the new Director of Clandestine in a couple of hours. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a briefing on all these Hellfire rumors that are swirling around. You’re welcome to come along. I can get you into the secure area and everything.”

The corners of her mouth turned up and she eyed him salaciously.

"I always love a trip to your secure area."

She reached out and let her fingers trail down the inside of his forearm.

"Plus, Zizi would kill me if I didn't go and then tell her everything."

She grinned at him, pretty sure it was supposed to be secret, but, you know, eff that.

"I'm sure these are some low level assholes trying to put on their big boy pants and failing. It will all blow over, you'll see."
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,099
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Haleigh: “I always have time for my sister.”

Ava gave Haleigh a faint smile, relieved that her sister wasn't too pissed at her for constantly blowing her off. Between doing her job as the new Red Queen, her own personal vendetta against anyone who worked with Helena, and the overall grief she had been enduring, Ava hadn't really spoken to Haleigh much since after the incident.

Haleigh: “Arthur, would you mind telling the flight crew that we’ll be leaving for lunch soon and to get the helicopter spooled up?”

Glancing in Arthur's direction, the hulking man almost grunted a gruff yes before proceeding to brush past Ava and exit the office. She perked up a brow as she watched him disappear around the corridor.

"Quite the conversationalist."

Ava quipped evenly, thought her tone was lighthearted in nature. She very well knew that Arthur wasn't brought onto the White Court for his conversation skills.

Haleigh: “Have you changed your mind about lunch? I won’t make you talk about your feelings if you promise not to ask about mine.”

"I have....[sighing] and I appreciate that."

Taking a seat across from Haleigh's desk as she brought out the whisky bottle and two glasses.

"More than you know."

She almost mumbled as Haleigh poured them both a hefty helping of liquor. Taking the glass, she clinked the rim against her sisters before downing it in one gulp. Ava shut her eyes, letting the burn of the whisky distract her from the growing pain that was filling her chest. She put the glass down and slid it toward her sister for more.

"I'm sorry for....being so absent lately."

Ava couldn't quite find the words, hesitating a bit a she spoke. Looking up at Haleigh, it was as if a PTSD flash overtook her.

FLASH

Haleigh:
"AVA! AVA STOP! AVA!"

The entire coast shook, the world a blaring noise of thunder and earth shattering around them. The sea shook violently, causing the yacht to quake back and forth against the waves. It nearly capsized by the time Haleigh ran up behind a screaming Ava, grabbing her from behind in a bear hug, holding her tightly. Ava could hear that Haleigh was saying something in her ear, but her mind was completely overtaken by grief that nothing around her existed anymore.


FLASH

Ava looked away from her sister, silent for a moment as she struggled to push the thoughts away of that night. Craning her neck to the side, Ava cleared her throat before finally looking back and seeing her glass was refilled. Ava immediately drank it, licking her lips of the flavor.

"I hope your court isn't questioning my abilities to rule. Or you, for that matter....I will be making more of an effort to show solidarity between us from here on out. The last thing I want is to jeopardize our titles or our reputations."
 
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Arclight

Sweet Revenge
Real Name
Alexis Quartermaine
Missions
88
Ability
Invisibility/Energy Manipulation.
The last few months were not what Alexis had expected. After the meeting with Delilah, Ororo reached out expressing the need for Alexis to help Delilah with staying in contact with her daughter. Why she decided to put Alexis as the middle man was obvious, and pissed her off to no end, but there was no fighting with Ororo once her mind was made up. So Alexis played the scrying glass to Delilah's facetime calls once a week. She stilled hated the bitch, but it was nice to see Alexia so excited to be able to speak to her mother, so it didn't completely suck.

As for the Birds of Prey, in a weird way Alexis felt like she owed Zizi more than just a back handed compliment, some intel, and a hand in killing Helena after how she was partially responsible for Gabe's death. Not only that, but the fact that Zizi helped save Alexis' life despite being Helena's niece. For months Alexis helped Zizi track down Helena up until Ava finally got a hit on her and Kelly in the Indian Ocean. As much as she appreciated Zizi's help, she knew once Zizi knew Helena's location she would tell Ashley and Zach and they would go after her. This was Alexis' kill. She needed to take her aunt out -- she needed to destroy her to finally close that chapter of her past that still haunted her. So she went with Ava and Haleigh, battling Helena and Kelly on their own in a fierce bloodbath that ultimately ended Alek's life. Alexis could still hear Ava's screams as he was being torn apart by Helena. It fueled her even more to continue to hunt the bitch down and make her pay for every hurtful thing she had ever done to ALL of them. But it had been months since the night of the battle and Alek's murder and the trail had gone cold. While Alexis was still actively looking, even she was beginning to lose hope at ever tracking her aunt down.

Sitting at Fair Folks, Alexis was already on her second cup of coffee as she waited for Zizi to arrive for their coffee date. Despite Zizi being upset at Alexis taking off to fight Helena without the Birds of Prey, she still insisted on being friends with her. Alexis couldn't figure out why, but then again Zizi York was a conundrum of a person with how forgiving and sweet she was. Looking down at her phone, Zizi was already a half hour late. Alexis scoffed to herself.

"Maybe she finally realized my friendship's a loss cause."

She joked darkly to herself, though the thought of Zizi finally opening her eyes to who Alexis really was bound to happen sooner rather than later. And as much as she kept Zizi at arms length, she was really starting to appreciate their friendship.
 

Oracle

The Eye in the Sky
The Six
Real Name
Elizabeth York
Missions
368
Ability
Genius, Hacker
Fair Folks

Thankfully Anthony saw her coming and had the door open and waiting for her as she rushed into the coffee shop.

Anthony: "The usual?"

Zizi nodded vigorously as she whizzed by him. She was late. Really late. And Zizi HATED being late. She had been raised to be early and it had stuck. So the idea of being 5 let alone 30 minutes late was enough to make her break out in hives.

"I'm so sorry!"

The chair across from Alexis had already been removed, so Zizi was able to wheel right in to her place.

"There was this obnoxious guy after class and he slammed into me and all my stuff went everywhere and then he wouldn't stop asking me questions and-"

She took a deep breath and let it out.

"I didn't mean to be late. I'm really sorry."

Anthony set her latte with a double espresso shot in front of her.

"How are you?"

Zizi felt like she was only holding onto Alexis by a thin string. Every time they met here for coffee, Zizi's pulse raced until she saw Alexis, scared that she would stop coming. That she had gone after Helena alone hadn't really surprised her as much as disappointed her. That Alexis didn't feel she could depend on anyone else made Zizi's heart ache. She had hoped they had made progress, that Alexis saw her as the friend to her she wanted to be and was. But now Zizi wasn't so sure. She was just relieved that Alexis hadn't been killed.

"How are things with The Six?"
 

Paladin

Unknown
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Henry Beaufort Percy
Residence
West Village, NYC
Missions
4
Ability
Duplication
NYU — Washington Square East

Henry thought Miss York seemed very nice indeed, and decided to chance asking her out for a cup of tea. He did not try to hide his disappointment when she shot him down. She claimed to be meeting someone, and perhaps that was true, she did seem to be in a rush. He stuck his hands in his pockets as she moved to roll away again, his shoulders slumping a bit.

“Some other time sounds nice.”

He said, because he didn’t want to push his luck. She stopped and offered a couple of suggestions. He perked up immediately, thinking she had changed her mind, but it seemed she was still going to leave him behind in her quest to go meet.... whoever. Probably some boyfriend. The idea of competition gave Henry an acute anxiety.

“You know, Alice’s Tea room sounds like a great place to grade some papers. I’ll check it out for brunch tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind some company...”

He suggested hopefully, and then immediately relaxed the pressure.

“Only if you’ve nothing better to do, of course. It was nice meeting you.”

He said, meeting her smile with one of his own, and then wishing he could be a little more charming as she rolled away. Oh well. Maybe she would be bored and curious tomorrow. If not, he’d see her around campus. He wondered what time frame was appropriate to wait before suggesting some other outing. Americans seemed very assertive and short of patience. Could he ask her the next time he saw her? Was he not being forward enough? Perhaps he should solicit some advice from his colleagues. They might be able to tell him what kind of competition he was up against.
 

Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,513
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
Blackwell’s Island — Lunatic Asylum

Ava quipped that Arthur was quite the conversationalist. Haleigh gave a soft smile that might’ve been mistaken for genuine.

“He has his moments.”

She replied, before asking if Ava had changed her mind about lunch. She promised they didn’t need to talk about their feelings. Ava expressed appreciation for that, as Haleigh served up whiskey without a care for the time of day. Ava apologized for her absence, which was entirely unnecessary.

“Ava, Ava, stop...”

Haleigh said, sinking into the chair next to her sister. She didn’t want to even look in the direction of her actual desk chair, but if she had she would have noticed her mother was gone. Haleigh sipped at her whiskey in the silence, wishing she could appreciate the flavor. Maybe if Cameron were here. After a moment, Ava spoke again, breaking Haleigh’s train of thought. Her sister hoped the White Court wasn’t questioning her ability to rule.

“I believe at this point the only thing that’s in question is your capacity for mercy.”

Haleigh deadpanned. Ava went on say that she’d make a better effort to show solidarity, and she mentioned not wanting to jeopardize their titles or reputations. Haleigh’s mouth tightened. She didn’t give a rat’s ass about their titles, and as far as her reputation, the only parts that mattered were shot to shit, and Haleigh alone held the smoking gun.

“A show of solidarity? I’d much rather have the real deal.”

She admitted in response. She could sense the jet engines of the helicopter out on the lawn spooling up.

“Come on, let’s get some lunch. I have a meeting this afternoon that I don’t want to be late for. You want some for the road?”

She asked, handing the bottle to Ava. She threw back the rest of what was in her own glass, set the empty lowball on the edge of her desk, and pushed herself out of her chair.

“How’s your new Bishop Selene doing?”

Haleigh asked as they walked out.
 

Arclight

Sweet Revenge
Real Name
Alexis Quartermaine
Missions
88
Ability
Invisibility/Energy Manipulation.
Zizi: "I'm so sorry!"

Alexis heard from behind, causing her to look over her shoulder to see Zizi rolling up in her peripheral.

"I guess not."

Alexis mumbled to herself in reference to her previous statement. Zizi positioned herself in the empty spot at the table, looking far more flustered than she should have.

Zizi: "There was this obnoxious guy after class--"

"Most men are obnoxious."

Alexis interjected casually while Zizi continued explaining why she was late.

Zizi: "--and he slammed into me and all my stuff went everywhere and then he wouldn't stop asking me questions and- I didn't mean to be late. I'm really sorry."

Alexis was sipping her latte, a crinkle at the corner of her eyes indicating that she was smirking while drinking.

Zizi: "How are you?"

Swallowing the hot liquid, Alexis shrugged with a bit of an exasperated expression.

"Late for my afternoon appointment, but aside from that..."

She could see the absolute horror overcome Zizi's face making her quickly waved her hands with a light hearted laugh, dismissing her own comment.

"I'm kidding!! I'm kidding!"

[chuckling] "This new professor has you more wired than those espresso shots."

It was still strange for Alexis to actually laugh. To allow herself to have an emotional response outside of anger and resentment. To not have the veil of the Red Bishop in place at all times. Being able to connect with Zizi more and become her acquaintance over the last few months gave Alexis the freedom to open up more and enjoy her new found freedom despite the ever looming other shoe dropping. It was still hard to call Zizi a friend considering her role in Gabe's death; a roll Zizi had yet to find out about. She knew when that day came these coffee dates and moments of laughter would end, so for now, she let herself enjoy them.

Zizi: "How are things with The Six?"

Well that topic definitely snuffed the light out of Alexis' eyes, causing her to roll them.

[scoffing] "I'm still playing messenger pigeon every week for Delilah, so that's been great."

With Morgan, Blaze, and Nicolas in Limbo and Cameron still in a coma, The Six quite literally was down to The One: Delilah. Honestly, to see the group she once gave her life for completely dismembered and in shambles was like a warm patch of sun on a crisp fall day. Perfect in every way. However she unfortunately still had to deal with Delilah per Ororo's request. A task that was harder for Alexis than she let on. So she decided to change the subject to something she honestly didn't care about, but knew Zizi enjoyed: Ashley.

"So how's maid of honor duties?"
 
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Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,099
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
As Ava sat down, she apologized to Haleigh for being so distant lately.

Haleigh: “Ava, Ava, stop...”

FLASH

Haleigh:
"AVA! AVA STOP!"

FLASH

Ava blinked her line of sight away from her sister, Haleigh's words mirroring those of that night. The screams echoed in her head as she craned her neck to the side looking numb to the trigger from the outside. She gave Haleigh a small smile of appreciation despite herself. But once the alcohol was brought out, the appreciation was more sincere. Ava went on to express her hope that the White Court wasn't doubting her abilities to rule.

Haleigh: “I believe at this point the only thing that’s in question is your capacity for mercy.”

That was oddly comforting.

"I lost any ounce of mercy a long time ago. What was left of it died on that yacht."

Downing her whisky in one gulp, she slid the glass over to Haleigh for a refill. Her tone was even and devoid of any emotions despite her words being heavily coated in sentiment. If her vendetta was giving her a specific type of reputation as the new Red Queen, that was all the better in Ava's eyes. Feared women didn't get hurt; and she had enough hurt coursing through her to last another life time. But as the Red Queen she needed to show solidarity with her sister Queen, and that was what she was slacking on. Selene had been right, she was keeping Haleigh at a distance so she wouldn't have to deal with her feelings, but she was also potentially putting a strain on their roles as the new regents of the American Branch. She expressed that much to Haleigh, telling her she wanted to show their solidarity going forward.

Haleigh: “A show of solidarity? I’d much rather have the real deal.”

Ava sighed, not meaning for Haleigh to take it that way.

"Of course I mean the real deal...you're my sister above being my sister Queen."

Haleigh: “Come on, let’s get some lunch. I have a meeting this afternoon that I don’t want to be late for. You want some for the road?”

Ava took the bottle Haleigh held out.

"Is that even a question?"

She cracked a small smile as Haleigh threw back the last of her drink.

Haleigh: “How’s your new Bishop Selene doing?”

They headed down the corridor toward the stairs that lead to ground level.

"She's molded herself into the role very well. Her abilities are....intoxicating to say the least. She's an asset to our ranks, that's for certain."

The white guards opened the doors for them both as they exited the estate to the awaiting helicopter that was stationed on the lawn. The choppers blades cut through the air rapidly, blowing Ava's dark hair behind her as she ducked and made her way to the cabin along side Haleigh. Climbing inside, she took a seat and adjusted her red blazer as the guards closed the doors behind them.

"Where to?”
 
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Oracle

The Eye in the Sky
The Six
Real Name
Elizabeth York
Missions
368
Ability
Genius, Hacker
Fair Folks

Zizi rushed into the coffee shop, out of breath and late and spewing apologies. She hated being late. Then she realized she was doing all the talking and so asked Alexis how she was doing.

Alexis: "Late for my afternoon appointment, but aside from that..."

Zizi's mouth dropped open in shock, embarrassment, and guilt. She stuttered, trying to apologize even more profusely.

"Oh my goodNESS I'm SO sorry you should have just left-"

But then Alexis was laughing.

Alexis: "I'm kidding!! I'm kidding!"

Zizi breathed a long sigh of relief.

"Oh thank goodness."

Alexis: [chuckling] "This new professor has you more wired than those espresso shots."

Zizi smoothed her hair and took a big gulp of her latte.

"He was so exasperating...but I just keep reminding myself, he's new. I was new once too..."

Her hands made a gesture of letting it go as she chided herself. She took a deep breath to center herself and return her focus to her companion. Zizi knew the Six was an understandably prickly topic with Alexis - which was exactly why she needed to talk about it. It was the only way Alexis would ever move on. So of course, Zizi asked her about it.

Alexis: [scoffing] "I'm still playing messenger pigeon every week for Delilah, so that's been great."

Zizi nodded sympathetically.

"Just think of it as doing it for Alexia, not Delilah."

She paused, taking another sip.

"Nothing from the others?"

From what she had pulled out of Alexis, Delilah had been (rightly) apologetic for what had been done to Alexis. It seemed so strange to Zizi that the others hadn't similarly reached out. If she had done to one of her team what the Six had done to Alexis...she shook her head slightly. Zizi wouldn't be able to live with herself. But it was the Six, and they did have a poor record, including with Vivica. She was beginning to think keeping their distance from the Six was an excellent policy decision by the Birds.

Alexis: "So how's maid of honor duties?"

"My spreadsheet now has 36 tabs!"

Zizi beamed proudly. Ashley couldn't possibly be expected to do it alone. Zizi mentally scoffed - Ashley would think eloping was a good idea. It was her job as maid of honor to make sure Ashley had the wedding of her dreams, even if she didn't know what those dreams were yet.

"Though I'm not looking forward to telling Ashley that she's not allowed to attend the bachelor party."

Zizi gave Alexis a guilty look and stage whispered:

"I've kind of been putting it off."

Zizi sighed.

"But I've been doing some very interesting research into Norse wedding traditions. Did you know that they usually ended the ceremony with a footrace? Fascinating."
 

Orion

Ambassador
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Zachary Armani
Missions
643
Ability
Empath
The Upper East Side — Zash’s Townhouse

Zach had been putting off asking about Alek. At first it was to give Ash time to be able to process it without the pressure of worrying what Zach himself might think. But lately he’d been avoiding anything that might remotely glance by the topic of Alek, because she seemed to be doing ok and the last thing he wanted was to remind her of some underlying pain. And yet… he was worried she might not have let herself feel it, and especially he was concerned that he might be the reason.

So he decided to rip off the bandaid, and was relieved to find that he’d been vastly mistaken about her feelings on the matter. He listened to her explain it all and was actually kind of impressed. It even helped him gain some clarity on how he felt about HIS last serious relationship. He wasn’t going to bring it up, but she mentioned Haleigh’s name, so he responded in kind. He agreed honestly with the notion that Haleigh seemed now to only be wearing the face of someone he used to love. Ashley seemed surprised.

Ash: “Really?”

“Well….. yeah. Look I loved Haleigh for a long time, no sense denying that. And I believed she felt the same way, but towards the end, I realized I was the only one trying to keep us together.”

He scoffed gently at a memory.

“When I broke up with her, it didn’t even faze her. Barely sad about it, if there was any distinct feeling she had, it was relief. That hurt a bit, but honestly I wasn’t really surprised. The more I thought about it, the more I came to understand that what I thought I sensed from her was most likely just an echo of my own empathic projection.”

He said, reaching for her hand.

“I mean, it’s remarkable how much more I get from you.”

He said with a smile, and then after a pause he continued.

“I don’t want to sound like a bitter ex with an axe to grind. I have completely moved on. I don’t think she’s an evil unfeeling robot or anything either, I just understand now that however she feels about people, good or bad, however little or however much she cares, it will always be secondary to the success of the mission. She is willing to sacrifice anyone, even kids, even herself. And I think her stint at Hellfire was the ultimate example of that. But she’s free of that place now, and I don’t have to concern myself with her anymore.”

He said with a shrug, and then he reassured Ash that she could be honest with him too, even about a subject like Alek. It was not a particularly pleasant topic, their exes, but it was important to him to clear the air, and to establish good communication with his future wife. He released her hand then, to go back to putting together the equipment, and allow the subject to drop. She pulled him into a tight hug, the kind that made him want to hold her forever. He let the metal parts clang onto the wood flooring so that he could wrap his arms around her too.

She talked a little more about Alek, and why he had meant so much to her. Zach felt sad for her, that she’d ever had to feel that pain. If it was up to him, she would never feel sad again. She told him that it wasn’t Alek that brought back her humanity, it was Zach. He smiled, putting his hand over hers when she placed it on his heart. See, this was exactly what he was talking about. Being with Ash was so much more rewarding than being with Haleigh had been. She reiterated that she wasn’t sad about Alek, and that he’d never really meant anything to her. Zach took the opportunity to kiss her before it was too late.

“Well that’s fine too. I’m glad we talked about it.”

He said, going back to the task at hand. After a bit of silence, he decided it would be good to talk about the other thing on his mind as well, his meeting with the Director. It was a concern he was trying to manage, something that would be a lot easier if she were there for moral support. She touched his arm, saying salaciously that she always loved a trip to his secure area. He looked up with a debauched smirk.

“Ditto.”

He said, and then she mentioned relaying everything to Zizi. His smiled was amused as he shook his head.

“Just don’t try to take any videos or pictures. They get really defensive about the leakage of sensitive material evidence.”

He advised. She reassured him that the rumors regarding Hellfire’s resurgence weren’t worth getting worried about.

“I hope you’re right. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling of dread.”
 

Savage

Frenzied Beast
Real Name
Arthur John Savage
Missions
123
Blackwell’s Island — Lunatic’s Asylum

Arthur lounged patiently against the windowsill, watching out the window while Haleigh talked to whomever she was talking to. He was content to be silent, and observe. He shifted his attention inside when Adriana arrived. He was wary of the woman, though he did well to give the impression that he simply didn’t care. Truly, he got the sense she was untrustworthy. She reminded him of a cougar. Sly, sneaky, always creeping into position for the pounce. He kept a careful watch on the woman as she discussed the planning of the upcoming Gala, the theme of which mildly amused Arthur.

Haleigh demonstrated her remarkable ability to adjust herself to suit the person she was interacting with. Arthur admired her skill. In nature, one was most likely to survive if they were extremely adaptable. If Arthur hadn’t known better, he’d have thought Haleigh was friends with this woman, this predator. The truth of the matter was more complex. Haleigh had explained to him their purpose for being here, for working with these animals pretending to be people. He found it agreeable to a certain degree. She maintained it was for the greater good, but he found some of their company loathsome.

They were interrupted by a courier with news of the other Queen, who was canceling a lunch date with Haleigh. Arthur had lost count of what number rain check they were on at this point. His gaze shifted to Haleigh. He knew she would be bothered, even if she did not seem so. Her sister had indirectly been one of the reasons Haleigh and Arthur had reconnected. He vividly remembered finding her again by the little pond that had formed in the crater she’d left on his mountain. He had believed he was tracking the sounds of a dying animal, such was the severity of her distress. Her grieving sister, her estranged friend, her comatose lover…. these were issues she only spoke of out at the cabin. Here in the city she could not allow them to be perceived as weaknesses. She looked to him, and he perked up a bit, but then she dismissed Adriana, and before she could tell him anything, her sister unexpectedly walked in.

That was almost a moment…

He let himself think. She asked him to get the helicopter ready, and he grunted in agreement, leaving her to have some time alone with her sister. He walked downstairs to find the pilots relaxing responsibly in the lounge.

“She wants to go to lunch.”

He rumbled, and when they asked where, he shrugged. They grabbed their gear and shuffled out to the courtyard, as he turned to look for the ranking member of the on-shift security detail.

“David, I hope you are well. You’ll have an extended lunch break today, as we shall be attending a meeting downtown. She arranged catering for you and your men, it should arrive soon. I expect you will still maintain an appropriate level of vigilance.”

David: I can ensure that, what do you think about rotating duty in the sniper nests and at least two boats patrolling the shoreline?

“Good. My pack will remain as scouts on the grounds. If they howl, it is not just for the moon.
 
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Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,513
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
Blackwell’s Island — Lunatic Asylum

Ava tried to apologize but Haleigh wouldn’t have it. After everything Ava had sacrificed in order to stand by Haleigh’s side, there would never need to be another apology again. Ava expressed concern that people were questioning her ability to rule, but Haleigh reassured her that the only thing in question was her capacity for mercy. Ava replied that any ounce of mercy was lost a long time ago. Specifically, that night on the yacht.

“I completely understand.”

She said, refilling her sister’s glass. Ava wanted to make sure they put up a good front, a show of solidarity, but Haleigh much preferred the real thing and said so. She was worried her sister might be harboring hard feelings about Haleigh’s level of responsibility in what happened to Alek. Ava replied that they were sisters above being Queens, and Haleigh gave a small smile of relief.

She drained her glass and held the bottle out for Ava to take for the road as they marshaled for lunch. Ava was even a little humorous, which was a good sign. Haleigh asked about Selene, and Ava told her that the new Red Bishop was fitting in quite well, and that her abilities were intoxicating to say the least. Haleigh smirked a bit, remembering her own time with Zach.

“Of that, I have NO DOUBT. I’m glad to hear she’s serving you well. You should invite her to lunch with us. We should facilitate a certain amount of camaraderie amongst the new Inner Circle. Cross court relations should be cultivated, as well as good rapport up and down the chain of command. The Queens before us fell easily due to their well known disdain for those they perceived to be beneath them. That’s a minefield WE want to avoid.”

Haleigh said, making no effort to drop her volume as they walked the corridor. She made sure that she made eye contact with each of the guards as they passed, giving a little nod of appreciation. She wanted them to ‘overhear’ this, and to be keen to some of the intentions of the new regime.

“A secondary issue is overt friction between our subordinates. A little competition is healthy, but outright opposition will be detrimental. Which reminds me, I suspect a little tension between our two Bishops. I think it’s just Adriana’s post traumatic stress from being locked up here for a while. I’m not sure if Selene had anything to DO with that, but if she did, it’s a problem we’re going to have to address eventually.”

She explained calmly as they traversed the staircase and reached the courtyard. Her Knight was waiting out there, half hidden behind a tree, watching the helicopter as if it were a death trap.

“Still don’t trust it, Savage?”

Arthur: “No. But I do trust that it will not disintegrate whilst you are aboard.”

“Reasonable.”

She replied as they all boarded the aircraft under a spinning rotor disc. Ava ducked, and so did Arthur. It was a natural human instinct to do so. Haleigh didn’t duck, though. The disc was at least five feet above her head, and if it got close she could stop it mid-rotation. Ava asked where they were going for lunch.

“Somewhere Arthur won’t be uncomfortable…. And preferably near Liquid Crystal.”

She turned to the pilots up front and transmitted her voice to their headsets so she didn’t need to shout.

“Hell’s Kitchen, Ninth Avenue. Wait. Let me see your planned route.”

She said, feeling the cold creeping up her neck. The path would take them down the West channel to at least 60th before cutting across the city. They wouldn’t get any closer to the Parthenon than they were right now. She approved the route, and turned back towards her sister.

“Have you heard from Delilah lately?”
 
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Valkyrie

War
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Ashley Oldenburg
Missions
593
Ability
Ability to instill self-doubt, turmoil and intimidation
The Upper East Side — Zash’s Townhouse

Zach had brought up Alek, but somehow the conversation had turned to Haleigh. He was sitting there telling her that Haleigh wasn't the person he had cared about anymore, and Ashley found it a little bit hard to believe that that was how Zach really felt.

Zach: “Well….. yeah. Look I loved Haleigh for a long time, no sense denying that. And I believed she felt the same way, but towards the end, I realized I was the only one trying to keep us together. When I broke up with her, it didn’t even faze her."

Ashley made a sympathetic noise.

"So she IS as dumb as she looks."

Zach: "Barely sad about it, if there was any distinct feeling she had, it was relief. That hurt a bit, but honestly I wasn’t really surprised. The more I thought about it, the more I came to understand that what I thought I sensed from her was most likely just an echo of my own empathic projection.”

Even thought it definitely had benefitted her, she hated that he was hurt in the process. He reached for her hand, and she let him take it, giving his a gentle squeeze as she looked into his face and smiled.

Zach: “I mean, it’s remarkable how much more I get from you.”

Ashley didn't have to be an empath to feel her own heart bursting from her chest at that, her love for him radiating from her like heat from a torch. Her smile widened to a grin.

Zach: "I don’t want to sound like a bitter ex with an axe to grind. I have completely moved on. I don’t think she’s an evil unfeeling robot or anything either,"

Ashley coughed, then interjected

"I don't you mind if you grind that axe..."

as he continued.

Zach: "I just understand now that however she feels about people, good or bad, however little or however much she cares, it will always be secondary to the success of the mission. She is willing to sacrifice anyone, even kids, even herself. And I think her stint at Hellfire was the ultimate example of that. But she’s free of that place now, and I don’t have to concern myself with her anymore.”

Ashley moved to put her arms around Zach, hugging him tightly. She told him she didn't have any reason to lie to him, and it was the truth. She tried to explain how she had gotten involved with Alek - she didn't feel the need to hide any of it from him. Zach made her feel like she could say anything, and unlike other people he wouldn't laugh. She told him it had been him she had been waiting for, all along, and he kissed her. She felt her body melt against him, like everything was as it should be.

Zach went back to building the weight rack, but then brought up his meeting at Clandestine. It made her proud that he would want her to go with him - plus Zizi would be so excited to hear about it (not to mention jealous).

Zach: “Just don’t try to take any videos or pictures. They get really defensive about the leakage of sensitive material evidence.”

She scoffed and waved a hand in the air.

"What are they gonna do, beat me up?"

But she reassured him that the rumors about Hellfire were nothing.

Zach: “I hope you’re right. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling of dread.”

"What, you're a seer now?"

That made her stop.

"Wait, you aren't actually a seer, are you? I knew this seer once, and his eyes had been sewn shut and his face looked like a hunk of leather left out in the sun too long..."

And THEN the even WORSE implications hit her.

"Wait, you aren't feeling dread because of the wedding, are you? Because if you are you can tell me I won't get mad I promise..."
 
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