2020-06-14: Best Served Cold


TheoF_icon.jpg RashmiF_icon.jpg

Summary: Rashmi asks Theo for help dealing with the hounds.

Date: June 14, 2020.

Log Title: Best Served Cold

Rating: PG

The Underground - Mutant Base

Hidden in the maze of tunnels is the open area that the mutants have turned into their have, their home. Not wanting to risk electricity being detected down here, there are battery powered and gas powered lights leaving the place dark and damp. At least three mutants are always on guard down here at the entrance to the mutant camp and secret passwords and codes are needed to get into this room. Theres a large door with a large piece of wood barricading it as those down here dont take any chances.

Late night in the Underground, and Rashmi leans against a wall in the tunnels between major areas, arms crossed over her chest, gaze turned down toward the floor of the tunnel. A foot taps idly against the floor next to a covered bundle of dirty cloth, as though the redhead is for once lacking in any important duties, and simply waiting for some unknown eventuality.

Theo, however, isn't lacking things to do. Two of his assault robots arrived early in the morning, and they've been hauling heavy objects for him ever since. He comes walking through the tunnel, both of the robots behind him carrying miscellaneous wiring. He's building a generator, specially designed to power the fusion battery. Theo himself carries a toolbox, filled with the necessary tools to complete the job. His face, however, has his trademark scowl that he's known for. He doesn't like dirty places, and this place is filthy.

"Theo," Rashmi says as the younger mutant passes by. "Think you can take a small break for a little bit? We… need to talk." The foot ceases its tapping, nudging aside the cloth to reveal a pair of unopened, still relatively-cool bottles of soda. "I asked Betsy to loan me a small bribe, just in case."

Theo slows his pace and changes direction to meet Rashmi. The two lumbering robots follow, but he tosses a glance over his shoulder, and they resume their original course. "The 'We need to talk' phrase, huh?" he says, leaning over to put the toolcase gently on the ground. "Those are always the most fun conversations." There's a certain protest in his tone, as if he's ready to fight Rashmi's authority. He folds his arms across his chest, decidedly not leaning against the wall of the tunnel.

"Actually," Rashmi begins, stooping to pick a bottle up — a real glass bottle, no less, still cold and damp from the ice chest it had been stored in — and offers it over. "I thought you'd enjoy this one. If only because it gives you and your friends a chance to do something besides repair technology we walk a fine line in affording to use. Interested yet?"

Theo raises one brow, and then reaches to take the previously offered soda, though he doesn't open it yet. "Well, I'm less defensive," he offers. "So that's a start, but I'll wait until I hear what it is before I will decide to be interested or not. I already have plenty to do."

"Well. I have a definite offer for you, and a potential offer for you," Rashmi says, picking up the other bottle and twisting the cap off. "But speculation can wait for the moment. First… What do you know about Heather?"

Theo shrugs. "I remember her from Xavier's. She was pretty pissed with everyone else when I left. Haven't heard much about her since the Sentinel attack. I thought she might have died, but since you're asking, I'm gonna say that she's probably alive. Hunter or hound?" he asks, deducing that Rashmi is bringing her up because she's a problem. He doesn't have a lot of emotion wrapped up in the assessment.

"Hound," Rashmi replies evenly, taking a sip from her soda. "*Time-bending* Hound, no less. And before you ask… yes. Ahab's already made use of her once, the way you probably would if you had a pet time machine under your control."

Theo pulls a pocketknife from his belt, and uses it to pop the top off of the soda. He takes a swig, looks at it again, and answers. "I think I'm gonna wish this was stiffer stuff in a moment," he comments. "That is bad news. That is very bad news. It means that if Ahab smells any of us causing trouble, all he has to do is go back in time and either off us or capture us in order to prevent all the progress we've made. So that means that anything we do has to be kept completely out of his ears, or it never happened."
He breaks down the scenario without waiting for Rashmi to continue about it. "You want me to invent a time machine?" he asks with a wry grin as he brings the soda back to his lips.

Rashmi tips the mouth of the bottle Theo's way, in casual salute. "Close. Ideally, less close than not. I want you to figure out a way to contain Heather, Theo. Best case scenario, then we can figure out how the Hound programming works and reverse it; there's precedent, apparently, I'm told from a reliable source this isn't Ahab's first attempt to make trouble. However… if she *can't* be deprogrammed, I want her contained… And *then* I want you to invent a time machine. Even if you have to reverse-engineer it from Heather's X-gene."

Theo struggles not to spit out the soda that he's drinking as Rashmi speaks. Once he's swallowed it, he laughs aloud. "Sure, no problem, I'll just hop over to the library and brush up on my temporal physics, then head over to Radio Shack and get the stuff I need."
The technopath shakes his head. "I can deal with anything in physics that follows actual defined rules," he tells her. "Containing Heather is easy enough. I already have the means to do that." He looks upward at an undefined location for a moment in thought. "Well, I have the means to do it for about thirty seconds," he clarifies. "To do it longer…" he takes another sip of his drink. "It'd take some real electricity. We'd have to do it back at the bunker."
"As for the time machine," he says, and then gives a half-hearted laugh. "You'll need someone who can deal in temporal physics a lot better than I can. I understand the basic concepts, but not nearly enough to invent a time machine, or I would've already done it. And for reverse engineering Heather's X-gene, I don't know anymore than you do about biology, I'm sure. You'll have to talk to that gorilla Jericho about that."

Rashmi's shoulder lifts, the redhead accepting the half-mocking analysis with remarkable aplomb; certainly, she doesn't seem to be terribly offended. "Well, containment would be enough to help immensely. That way Ahab won't be able to muddle up time any further, right?" Tipping up the bottle again, she looks up toward the ceiling. "Just to make sure; you'd be willing to hold her at the lab, if we manage to capture her?"

"Not a chance in hell," Theo answers quickly, without even offering to consider it. "I take her there, you better believe we'll have every sentinel, hunter, and hound in the country knocking on the door within the hour," he points out. "If that happens, and you can kiss Heather good-bye, because then our only option will be to kill her. Not to mention it'll destroy all of my work to stop the sentinels. Ahab won't just simply cut his losses if he loses her. He's used Heather. He knows the implications of Heather in our custody for an extended period of time."

Rashmi nods slowly. "I assume what you need is a continuous power line, right? Something that can't be drained as quickly as, I assume, that fusion battery you're working on?"

Theo takes the bottle in both hands, drumming his left hand on the knuckles of his right briefly. "Getting enough power isn't the problem," he says. "The fusion battery could probably power a dampening field. But the output would have to be cranked up. It'll be easier to detect. I can do a little to mask the power output with my powers, but I'm not Addison. I have to sleep sometime." He takes a moment, and then looks at his bottle. He taps the top, as if it made him think of something.
"They don't detect my powergrid because it's buried under several thousand tons of rock, there's no signal that can penetrate that deep. Cam's powers, however, can penetrate everything except for Addison's crazies. Whatever that nut is doing, it works. It gives us two options: 1. Addison can extend himself to cover the bunker, or at least extend to cover Heather specifically. Or 2. We create a dampening field here to hide the electrical signal. And that, would take some serious manpower."
Hardline takes a final swig, tipping back the bottle to empty it. "Man, it's been a while since I had one of those. Not quite the same after all this time. You already said you don't think he can cover the bunker, but it might be time to ask him."

Rashmi nods, tongue touching on a tooth as she mulls over this information. "Well… I can't give you any hard guarantees, but I'll find out. Quickly. And whatever the answer is, you'll get everything I learn. Sound fair?"

Theo smirks, "Sounds remarkably realistic," he says. "If he can't. And I mean if he really can't do it, we'll have some major remodeling to start working on. I can get ahold of the materials if you can find a way to actually get them here." He looks like he's going to say something else, but doesn't.

Rashmi chuckles. "Getting them here, actually, would be the *easy* part. As for remodeling… well, I'd say we have two options there; either we break new ground straight down, or we try and make use of the garden tunnels near where the Sentinels did their, um… landscaping."

Theo smiles. "Well, we could go straight down, if we have a terrapath in this motley crew, it'd help. We'd want to go pretty deep. I figure five hundred feet should do the trick."

"All right," Rashmi says with a nod, holding the bottle out, presumably waiting for Theo to clink his against it. "So. This was the simple offer, with the loose deadline. THe other one… well, it's a lot more… um… *interesting.*"

Theo clinks his empty bottle to Rashmi's before the other shoe drops. "Interesting?" he asks. He takes his pocketknife, and clips it back onto his belt. "That's a nice and ambiguous," he comments. "Does it involve a date with Chloe?" he asks, teasingly.

"If only," Rashmi sighs. "No, I'm about to ask you to do something very probably dangerous, definitely not for any ears but yours and mine and whoever I hand-pick. So, I guess I'll go right ahead and ask, now; are you in, or out?"

Theo doesn't answer, he just locks his gaze with Rashmi. His robots start to wander back to the hall, but stop in the doorway, and turn around, returning where they came from by his mental command. His eyes still remain fixed, though. He's not thinking it over. He's waiting to hear more before he gives a response.

Rashmi nods, tipping back the bottle again. "All right… Can I at least ask that you remain silent about what I'm about to tell you, no matter who asks?"

Theo glances to the side for a moment, "Sure," he says, bringing his eyes back to Rashmi's and folding his arms once again. The soda bottle dangles from between two fingers in his left hand, but his stance still remains straight. He can't think of anything that would cause him to reneg on that request. Then again, he is a traitor.

Rashmi bobs her head. "All right. Sometime in the very near future, Volk and I will be taking a team out. This mission will be entirely off the books, and nobodyespecially not Jerichois to learn about it. Largely because the risks are as enormous as the rewards—if we screw this up, the people who survive will probably be considered traitors."

"Well," Theo answers, "I don't think that'll be much of a concern for me. Most of the people who know me here already think of me as a traitor. And those who don't just haven't known me long enough." Theo has no expectation of any other opinion from people. He knows full well what he did to Xavier's, and what he did to the Brotherhood.

Rashmi nods slowly. "Well… I guess then this'll be your chance to get a little of that back. See… we intend to draw James out. Turn his lock on us against him, pull him and whatever team he brings with him into a trap, and neutralize them. All *you'll* be asked to give is mobile snoop support; we don't know what electronics or singals they'll be bringing with them, and we'll want to ensure they're isolated. So I guess, risky or not, you'll have the simplest job out of all of us; you won't even need to fight if you choose not to."

Theo looks like he just got hit by a train. "Wait a second. You. Rashmi, believer in the inherent goodness of all people, want to kill James, your husband's best friend?" Apparently he isn't up on current events in that area.
"Not that I have a problem with it," he adds. "I just never thought I'd hear something like that out of your mouth." He seems more concerned with the motive than with the mission itself.

"You missed a lot when you burned everyone and everything and locked yourself in a bunker, didn't you," Rashmi says speculatively, eyes dropping to the floor. "Like the part where he got captured as a Hunter a few years back, and brought down here… And when he broke back out, he took our daughter with him." Her eyes rise, stabbing directly into Theo's, filled with hurt and murder. "He left my five year old *baby* to die in literally Nowhere. Yes, Theo. I *want* him dead, and everyone who ever worked with him. What's *hard* is not doing what Lucas did and just completely losing it, not caring who gets in the way."

Theo's face shows that this is clearly the first he's heard of their disaster. He lets silence fill the air for only a few seconds, but they might seem like forever. "I guess you and I aren't so different, after all." Theo's own past surely became known before he left the school. His family was killed, and he made it his goal to make every one of the people involved suffer horribly before he repaid them in kind. There are still some that he hasn't gotten to even now.
"I'll help you," he answers after another moment of consideration. "I know how you feel. I never liked James much anyway. "I have more support that can be offered than just these two robots. I've been busy these last five years. You know how studious I was in class. I haven't lost it."

"Thank you, Theo," Rashmi murmurs. "Just stay flexible. We haven't locked down all the parameters, so, what we actually *do* will probably change between now and then. ….Also, be careful. There's pretty good reason to believe that someone down here's a mole. Probably conditioned, so they can get past the screening. So… keep an eye out for signals we don't recognize."

"Don't worry," Theo responds. "I don't trust anyone down here anymore than they trust me. I don't have any illusions that this coalition will last after the war is over." He takes a deep breath, and lets out a sigh.
"Rashmi," he says, bringing the subject back. "I must warn you. Revenge is a cruel mistress." He bends down to pick up his toolbox. "She demands everything from you, and even after she's satisfied, she gives nothing back, and leaves you alone." It's words from experience he offers.

Rashmi nods softly. "I know, Theo… that's why I don't give in. More than revenge? I want my husband back. Maybe when James is cold, he'll be okay enough that he can heal, a little. But… thanks for caring enough to warn me."

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