Where you stick your demons is your business

Summary:
August 13, 2014: Roberto, Doug, and Illyana discuss the Red Team's living arrangements and Jericho drops in for some troubleshooting.

Headquarters: X-Men Red Team

Accessible primarily by a dedicated express elevator, the two-floor headquarters of the X-Men Red Team combines the amenities of an ultramodern office with the homey, communal quality of a college dormitory. A small, well-appointed waiting room gives way to a grand, two-story central hub. There, the team can meet for briefings at a ring-shaped conference table with built-in computer consoles and a central holographic display. There are also smaller tables, couches, and armchairs scattered through the room, easy to re-position for meals, close conversations, or movie nights. One entire wall of the hub is lined with windows, offering a view toward Central Park.

The other walls of the hub are split into two levels, with the upper accessible by a U- shaped walkway and two grand staircases. Above the waiting room, one can find a bullpen with dedicated work stations, offering the latest software for a whole host of productive tasks. A patio balcony off to one side offers a taste of the outdoors, as well as a small landing pad for fliers or one-person vehicles. Living quarters line both floors: full- fledged apartments offering balcony views and a decent level of privacy. The X-Men also have a private underground motor pool, kept separate from the garage for the rest of the building's occupants.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert the demon cat

Mood Music:


Painters! The space that will become the nerve center for the Red Team is so far along that it has been handed over to the painters. After this, it's just a matter of getting all the right furniture in place and then moving everybody in.

"It's amazing how fast these things go when you literally own a company that does this sort of thing all the time," Roberto da Costa comments, smiling as he shows Illyana and Doug around the upper walkway. "The office area will be over there — I think all the software you asked for will be available, Doug, along with a few surprises you should like. The apartments all have the same basic floor plan, but I know people are going to want particular neighbors or views or that sort of thing, so we're letting people reserve them early."

He comes to a stop, resting his hands on the railing and looking down into the hub. "So, what do you think? Can we make this work?"

-

Illyana looks over to Roberto, leaning back against the walkway's railing and crossing her arms with a smirk. "Bit late to ask that, don't you think, Bobby?" She looks about the place, her usual cool demeanor in place but that's a sign in and of itself for those that know her. It's a bit… intimidating. To see it all come together so quickly. With the apartments being put in as well she hmms. "No getting away from 'work', huh? We should still try to mix with the other folks in the building. Otherwise it's just another Ivory Tower affair." She can't help but grimace a bit at that. Illyana doesn't mingle well.

-

"That you put this all together in what… a week? That's the impressive part," Doug says as he holds on to the railing, looking down. "It -is- a little high. Hold me, Illyana?" he comments, with a grin before looking back at Bobby. "She's got a point there. If we're working with everyone, our offices probably should be around the workers. Like, if I'm going to have an office, I'd like to be around the people I'm working with and…"

Doug's words falters as he points to something below them. "Berto, tell me that's not a -swimming pool-."

-

"'Bit late' is an understatement," Roberto answers with a smirk. "I guess I'm used to just rushing headlong into things on my own, while this time I'll be dragging a whole bunch of my friends with me."

He takes a deep breath and stands up a little straighter. "But you're right, second thoughts are not my style. Apartments! The ones here are available free, or you can live somewhere else and get an equivalent housing stipend. Some of us enjoy dorm life, some of us don't." He smiles, remembering the various deadly threats against trespassers Illyana used to post on her door. "The office space is actually kind of small: mainly for isolated tasks or teleconferencing. As we'll be contracting out to other companies, I suspect most jobs will take us outside the building anyway."

Doug's last question leaves the Brazilian flat-footed for a moment, and he stares over the railing at where his friend is pointing. "Pool? There's shouldn't be a — oh!" He laughs and shakes his head. "That's the briefing area. The pit is for a big holographic display with a conference table around it. They just haven't put it in yet. If you want to go swimming you'll have to come visit me upstairs."

-

Illyana smirks over as Doug asks her to hold him. "You really want me to Dougie-baby? I bite." She winks at the other blonde before turning around so she's leaning forward on the railing as well. Her fingers interlink loosely as they hang down from the wrists. "I… don't think I need an office. I meant more the 'living with'." She says over to Doug. "And it'll give me somewhere on this side to stick my things. I probably won't sleep here very often." The pair of them likely recall that Illyana doesn't sleep well. And unless her room has some pretty impressive soundproofing people would hear just how badly she sleeps. And she doesn't like to put that part of her life on display. Signs of weakness. Not so good.

-

"You're right, I'd hate to get rabies," Doug retorts, as he squints at the 'pool' again. "Wow, that's a really big briefing room. I could do a lot of things with a holographic display that big." There's a quizzical look at the notion of a pool upstairs. "I feel sorry for whoever's right below that… one boom, and we're all in for a deluge."

Scratching his brow briefly as he watches Illyana struggle with the rooming situation, Doug nods. "I don't mind a little bit of a commute, myself. You don't really want people at work to see what you get up to at home."

-

"There will be no porn on the holographic display, Doug," Roberto says dryly. "I don't care if it was filmed in 3D. And I don't have a pool — it's more of a big jacuzzi. She knows." He points at Illyana, and continues, "And the stipend if you choose to live elsewhere is pretty generous, but I've made sure that the soundproofing in these rooms is very good." It's as if he's reading her mind! "The last thing we need is to get any more up in each other's love lives." Or maybe he's not reading her mind. He's probably reading Doug's.

-

Illyana smirks over at Roberto, since the last thing she's worried about is her 'love life'. Flirting with Doug and Roberto or whoever her dance partner happens to be at a club is about as close to one as she's ever gotten. "I just want to make sure if we do this… Scratch that. Since we're doing this, that it's not just the school relocated into the city. The point is to live with people, not hide in a tower." She looks over to Roberto. "Though it's a very nice tower." She assures him.

-

"I wasn't even thinking about it," Doug is the picture of innocence. "Besides, that wasn't even meant for you. I just wanted to see Sam's face when the Shania Twain video was… something else. How was I supposed to know you had a thing for Shania Twain?"

Nodding in agreement with Illyana, Doug adds, "Besides, do you -really- want to bring your dates home in front of the people you have to work with, Berto? I mean… Candi, Bambi, or even Mandi… it's probably not going to go over well with whoever you hire for a secretary."

-

"That's a good point," Roberto muses, considering Illyana's comparison to the school. "I was thinking of this as a space to relax and spend time together, and to impress potential clients. Then we would go to the offices of whoever hired us to do most of our work." He runs one thumbnail along his jawline and grimaces. "But with people designing their own jobs, more or less, I can see how it could become insular. Maybe we should have a policy about minimum face time, or something? Hmm."

He files that away for further thought as he turns to Doug with a smirk. "You clearly underestimated Sam's enthusiasm as a Shania Twain evangelist when you came up with that prank, Doug. Fortunately I had no innocence to preserve." He cocks his head to one side and adds, "And yes, of course I want my friends to see my dates. That's what happens when you have hot dates, Doug. One day, you'll know." He reaches out to pat his friend on the back, giving him a teasing grin.

-

"So maybe keep stuff here as crash-space for emergencies and pare it down. Have everyone live a bit more… embedded I suppose." Illyana notes. The mention of friends meeting dates sends her thoughts a bit further to friends outside the old classmates and she ohs! suddenly. "Doug. I wanted to get your help with something." She turns to the side and gives a flick of her wrist, a stepping disk opening and dropping poor Jericho from whatever he was doing and into the walkway overlooking the ongoing construction with the trio of former New Mutants. "You're all computer-genius-like. I wanted you to see what's up with Jericho." Well. That's vague, isn't it? Also, she acts like everyone knows who he is already. And that he's alright to be here. That's Illyana for you.

-

What Jericho been doing isn't quite clear, but it had involved a tumbler full of vodka and a rather casual jeans and tee-shirt setup. The sudden change in locale gets the hacker to blink and look around. Stepping disks he's used to, but ordinarily there's a K'nert or an Illyana present when he falls into one. So where is… Ah, there she is.

"Hey there Illyana." Jericho chuckles looking about. Nice place. He takes a moment to orient himself and then offers a hand out to Doug, since he's the closest. "Jericho Trent, nice to meet you both. Friends of Illyana's are you?"

-

"Hot dates, eh?" Not quite smiling the same way Berto does, Doug instead tilts his head towards Illyana. "Help with…?" he begins, before Jericho is dropped in front of him.

"Um, hi," Doug falters, before getting ahold of himself and taking the hand for a shake. "Yes. Doug Ramsey. Apparently I'm supposed to get a look and find out what's up with you?" Another glance back towards Illyana. Explain. Now.

-

"Not a bad thought," Roberto says, glancing at the nearest apartment door. "They'll still be useful for people recuperating from injuries, or people we take in for protection… but maybe not as permanent places to stay."

His thoughtful reverie is interrupted by Jericho's sudden arrival, and he gives the newcomer a cautious once-over. "Roberto da Costa," he answers the introduction. "Sunspot. This is supposed to be the headquarters of… wait, are we branding as New Mutants or…" He gives Doug and Illyana the X sign with his hands.

-

Illyana tries very hard not to smirk at Doug as he gives her that Look. Which is probably have the reason she was so vague about it in the first place. "He's got a computer stuck in him. And it's acting weird. And you're good with computers." So of course he can fix it, right? Or figure out better what's wrong. Computers to Illyana is like magic to most other people. Weird and makes no sense.

Roberto's question has her looking between the two and shrugging, even as she reaches over to relieve Jericho of the vodka. "At this point we're kinda 'Old Mutants'." She points out dryly.

-

Jericho hands the tumbler over without a fuss, smirking a bit over at Illyana. Ah yes. She would want that, wouldn't she. "Cybernetic implants." He supplies to Doug. Illyana'd mentioned a couple days back that she'd wanted to introduce him to friends, so he's not entirely unprepared here. Just shifting gears out of 'light work' to 'meet people.'

He's grown used to things happening abruptly around Illyana.

Roberto gets a nod and a smile and the conversation between he and Illyana a curious head tilt. He's about to ask where they are when his implants catch up, jarred from the sudden Limbo shift. Ah. Uptown Manhattan.

"DeCosta Building? Nice digs."

-

Running a hand through his hair, Doug shakes his head at Illyana. "I can do stuff with the software, but not so much the hardware. If it's a matter of communicating with the hardware, maybe, but if it's hardcoded, I might not be able to do much with it other than to do a firmware update or something, and that's going to be gone if they ever hard-reset the hardware."

Running a hand through his hair, Doug glances back at Jericho. "So… what do you need, exactly…?"

-

"Obrigado," Roberto answers Jericho with a gracious (if self-satisfied) smile. "But I'm not just the backer — I'm also a member. Of…whatever we're putting on the business cards." He turns to shrug at Illyana and Doug. "I've got the marketing guys working on brand strategies for both names. The one is 'new' as in offering the world a fresh perspective on mutants. The other ties into a strong existing brand. At least, that's the gist of the reports they sent me. Not to turn this into a board meeting or anything." He offers an apologetic smile that only promises more impromptu board meetings to come. He leaves the matter of Jericho's cybernetics to the experts, having no particular technical expertise of his own.

-

"Whatever code-stuff it's running." Illyana explains to Doug. Oh heavens help us all. Illyana's going to try to talk about tech? "It's uhm… kinda… using a different language to work with or something…" Illyana's gaze rolls upwards, looking at the ceiling and it's like all she needs to do is start whistling to complete the picture of someone trying very hard to look innocent. And failing. Considering it's Illyana? Failing badly. She can't even do the whistling part.

-

Jericho smiles, knowing the language. "It's got some malware in it I can't get rid of. Might be challenging but any help would be appreciated. And yeah, my implants recently switched coding languages so I'm having to relearn a lot." He doesn't mention what language or why.

"So you're, um, launching a brand here, Mister DeCosta?" He's been told a little bit about the new team forming, courtesy of Illyana, but he doesn't want to give everything away. After all, Illy could have done that herself. "I assume it has something to do with the construction I hear above us?"

-

"Well I guess we could see about trying to reset the hardware before doing the machinery," Doug replies, running a hand through his hair while looking at Illyana with a strange look. That body language? Fail. "You've got something to do with it, did you, Illy? I suppose we can get around to it if you, uh, have a way to access the hardware."

-

Roberto stares at the demon queen for a long moment before his hand goes to his forehead and his gaze goes skyward. "Puta merda, Illyana, did you put demons in his computer implants? Why — HOW would that even happen? I swear, you need to put them all on leashes."

He shakes his head and turns to Jericho. "Yes, the three of us and some friends are putting together a corporate mutant team. The headquarters will be here in my building. I'm sure you'll see our publicity blitz when it happens."

-

"I didn't do it!" Illyana says. "Seriously! I didn't stick anything in him." She looks between the pair of them with an imploring look.

When Doug asks about interfacing she ohs! and hands Roberto the tumbler of vodka so she can dig out her phone. A few pokes at it and a scowl and she ah hahs! before handing it over to Doug. "Interface!" She looks at Jericho and then back at Doug. "Right? Isn't that an interface?"

-

Jericho quirks an eyebrow and sticks his hands in his pockets. "It wasn't her fault. I'm told there are rare metals in the traces…" He rolls his sleeve up so that both Berto and Doug can see the circuit like markings. "That absorb magic very well, and that they were 'waking up' anyway. So no, no demons in my traces. Just malware." They did decide to use demonic as a coding language which is… also not Illyana's fault, really.

"Ah yeah, that'll work fine as an interface." Jericho links up to the phone… frowning because one already seems to be open, and gives it full access to the internal software. "Please don't try to reset my hardware. Stuff's integrated into my nervous system. I have no idea what it might do."

-

"That'd make things a bit trickier, then," Doug responds as he takes the phone. Poking around, Doug mutters something in demonese, which Illyana would recognize easily enough as 'nuckfuts', as he begins poking about the system. Going to take him a bit to sort out just what the coding was saying and how.

-

"This is a no-judgment zone, Illyana. Where you stick your demons is your business." Roberto takes the vodka and sniffs it curiously. Judging by his expression, it's not up to his standards, and he sets it down on the railing gingerly. The sight of Jericho's traces does make him smile slightly in recognition. "Hey, that looks kinda like you-know-who," he says to Doug and Illyana. "That code's not written in technarch-ese, is it?" Suddenly his amusement vanishes into a look of horror. "Wait. That's not funny. That would be really, really bad."

-

Illyana shakes her head at Roberto. "I don't think so." Comes the assurance. Amusement curves her lips upwards as Roberto gets that look of disdain and she moves over to hipcheck him lightly before leaning against the dark-skinned mutant. She picks up the vodka that's not good enough for Sunspot and sips on it herself as she watches Doug and Jericho with a hint of concern in those cold blue eyes.

-

There are, indeed, two programs active in Jeri's implants. One is a very, very advanced, adaptive, self coding AI that is twisting a lot of the system code into knots. Or, was, anyway, before most of the system code was rewritten in demonic. It's called ManaCode 1.14, apparently and it's got a pretty well developed syntax as well as function calls for things like 'mana storage' and a few other esoteric things that really cybernetic implants have no business having code for. There's also signs of recent access from another advanced AI which did a lot of damage, damage which Jericho seems to have mostly repaired.

"Something wrong?" Both Roberto's sudden concern and Illyana's more subtle, more mild worry haven't escaped his attention.

-

"Don't worry about it," Doug muses idly as he studies the code and the program. "It's not what they think it is, so they can relax."

Frowning, Doug pokes around at the code. "Why would you have something that store mana rooted into your programming? Right now, this program is overwriting everything else you've got. Hold on a minute, it seems to be working on the worm principle. At least you're able to self-repair." Now he's tapping at the smartphone, enabling the vocal option so that he can start speaking in machine code, trying to find out what the program was -before- reverse-engineering it.

-

Roberto smiles sheepishly when Illyana catches him being a snob, then reaches over to gently scratch her back as she leans against him. "Just talking about an old friend of ours with some very unpleasant relatives," he answers Jericho. "But Doug would recognize that language in a heartbeat. Whatever you've got, rest assured it's better than that."

When Doug starts speaking machine code, he grits his teeth and puts up a hand to cover one ear. "God, I hate it when he does this. It's not cute like R2-D2 at all."

-

Illyana leans her head against Roberto's shoulder, and for Jericho it might be one of the few times he's seen her comfortable with other people in her personal space that aren't, well, him. She seems a bit more.. at ease? Now that Doug's involved. She knows that Jericho does computery-stuff but that's all very nebulous. She knows much more tangibly what Doug can do and also that he'll understand the demonic that's being written into Jericho's code.

Suddenly Illyana snickers a bit. "Who hacks the hacker?" That's only compounded by Roberto's comment and her shoulders shake with amusement. "We could change his codename. Though I suppose that's copyrighted."

-

Jericho snickers. He's monitoring Doug's progress internally and, frankly, really impressed. This guy's got quite the talent. The code, sadly, no longer completely remembers what it used to be. To much fighting with the virus. However, Doug can get some major pathways straightened out which will greatly improve the efficiency, if not the power, of the system. It is, however, quite clearly a weapon system intended to project power fields of 'bio etheric energy' (whatever that is) in various shapes for a variety of purposes. It's quite clever actually even if the science of what's being done is kind of unclear. Also, it's squirreling away mana somewhere. Where is not quite clear. And 70% stage one capacity. Whatever that means.

"Glad to know I don't have another horrible thing." Jericho grins, finding something to lean on while he admires Doug's work internally. "Hearing someone talk machine code is a bit jarring though. And…" Illyana gets a faint smirk. "Copyrighting a hacker alias would kind of be counter productive to maintaining anonymity. Anyway, you guys wanna tell me about what you're doing? I got an overview from Illyana but she just covered the basics. It sounds like an idea whose time has come though, or did a few nights ago." He'd offer to help, and probably will at some point, in a 'call me if you need something in my specialty' capacity, but right now he just kind of wants to get to know Illy's friends.

-

What Doug does isn't so much coding as understanding the language that the program speaks, and then using it to talk to the hardware in a way that complements the program, coaxing it towards his side before he can start to talk the hardware into rejecting the program, and to adapt the new program. Fortunately, at least, hardware had familiar pathways constantly used over and over with well-worn programs, and -those- pathways could be talked to, convinced to restore functions the way they were, and reverse-engineered from that. Whether or not he could keep it up…

Lost in conversation with the hardware, Doug was going to be distracted a little while.

In other words, don't wait up.

-

"Oh my god, you're right, 'Yana. He's not Artoo, though: he's clearly C-3PO." Roberto is starting to snicker, too. "Hey, Doug! Are you fluent in over six million forms of communication?" he asks, laughing a little harder. "Want to tell us about human-cyborg relations, or are you saving it for the holographic display?" To his chagrin, Doug is too lost in his work to sass back, so he allows the teasing to subside after that.

"Well, we were just discussing a few days ago how most of us hadn't really found a direction in life after graduating from mutant school," he explains to Jericho instead. "I had a whole company that was sort of thrown at me before I could even go to college, but it's not often that 'life chooses you' in that sense." He waves at Illyana and Doug. "I missed my friends, too. So I figured, why not set up an initiative based on creating jobs around our abilities? We can do very valuable work and represent a positive side of the mutant community to the public."

-

Illyana elbows Roberto a bit. "Remember you need to ix nay the mutant school bit when you're talking to folks. Finding out where we graduated isn't that hard a stretch." Illyana reminds him. And the school is still keeping a 'hush hush' profile.

Turning her attention over to Jericho she shakes her head. "Don't mind Doug. He can get kinda lost in what he's doing. Some kids used to tease him for having a 'useless' power but… Being able to speak any language can come in pretty handy."

-

Jeri's heard now a few times about a 'school.' He still hasn't followed up on it as a matter of courtesy but between Illyana's shirts and Nancy's missteps here and there, he knows there is one at least.

"Sounds like something that needs to be done. I don't have the luxury of caring whether or not people's genetic code is different from mine…" And wouldn't if he did. "but apparently some folks do. I wish you all good fortune in that. And if you ever need anything let me know. Any friends of Illyana's…" He leaves it there, figuring they can finish the sentence. Illy may or may not pick up on the fact that he pretty much never shortens her name. In fact hearing 'Illy' and 'Yana' seems to kind of amuse him.

-

"You're the one who zapped him into the secret clubhouse, 'Yana!" Roberto protests, making a high-pitched 'vvvp!' noise and pantomiming the stepping disc with a ring formed by his thumb and forefinger. "I figured that was you giving him security clearance. Maybe we should work out a codeword or a secret handshake or something."

He smirks and points at Doug, who is still gargling white noise at a cell phone. "Besides, if he's letting Cypher root around in his computer brain, obviously he trusts us. Which is much appreciated, by the way." He gives Jericho a grateful nod. "Be sure to give us a referral if you come across any other cyborgs who need supernatural debugging." It's not entirely clear whether that's a joke.

-

"I meant in general!" Illyana protests, also stepping on Roberto's likely designer shoe with those heavy boots of hers as he pantomimes her stepping disk. "Jericho will be fine but when you're spinning our origin story to the masses, try to avoid 'mutant school'. They'll freak out that we're building another Brotherhood or something."

She nods over at Jericho's musesings of the distracted Doug. "Yeah, I still need him to have the time to translate a spell scroll for me."

-

Jericho trusts Illyana, specifically. He's extending that trust to her friends. And so far, not regretting doing so, even if watching incomprehensible machine code interact with his now demonically coded implants is both befuddling and amusing as hell. He wonders, idly, if Doug speaks the binary language of moisture vaporators.

"What's the prognosis doc?" He can't tell since he's still in the beginning stages of learning the language.

"Spell scroll?" He shouldn't be surprised that those are things, given that he's seen a grimoire, but still.

"Funny you should mention that, actually…" Jericho muses about demonic cyborgs. Maybe Cricket should talk to Doug. Later.

-

Taking a deep breath, Doug glances up, gives a thumb up, and tilts his head a bit as he regards the code being spit back at him. "There are a bunch of blocks and such, but I think they were there before, at least they've been around since the very beginning. Aside from that, the viral code's gone. The pathways keep saying there are better ways to code things, so I cleaned up what I could for now, but it's going to take a bit more time. But the main junk's gone. You want to test things out, Jericho?"

Fortunately for Roberto, Doug hadn't noticed the previous comments, or he'd have some nasty surprises waiting for him the next time his computer turned on… which he surely had to know.

-

"Owwwww," Roberto complains, crumpling to the side slightly. His pride is injured more than his foot, but his foot is still pretty injured. Illyana's boots stomp hard enough to make the average pair of Doc Martens quake in their … um … you get the idea. "I'll work on being more secretive in front of clients if you work on not stepping on me in front of clients. Deal?"

-

Illyana looks up at 'Berto and flutters her eyelashes. "But Bobby, I thought you liked it when I stepped all over you." She says in a syrupy over-the-top flirty manner before gving him a wicked grin. Hearing Doug come back out of his discussion with Jericho's computers though, she slips into a more serious manner and gives a relieved sort of sigh. Everything fixed? Not likely. But knowing Doug was able to straighten it out a bit is something of a relief. And maybe gives Jericho someone to talk to about their weird stuff that's attached itself to his body.

-

So many people who can talk to his own cybernetic implants better than he can. So very not fair. Ah well. Jericho isn't often given to complaining. Fuming and blowing things up, sometimes, but not complaining.

"Thank you Doug." Cypher gets a nod and a smile. Oh, this team's gonna be glad they have him, he gets the feeling.

Illyana's tone of voice gits a sly grin from Jeri. "Well if it's client's you're worried about, you could always-" Jericho's idea doesn't get finished because a small, scaly demon leaps out of… somewhere and perches on Doug's head, hissing at Jericho scoldingly. Apparently his sudden disappearance caused a bit of a panic.

-

Doug's blue eyes blink at Illyana's comment, but he just shakes it off as being another one of -those- moments and turns back to Jericho. "Anyway, I was just poking about and you -should- be able to talk a bit to your implants, since there's a sort of… how to put it… a virtual console you should be able to access. I'm not sure -how-, since it's set up for you mostly, but—-"

Abruptly, something perches on Doug's head, and the young mutant blinks, before sighing, barely turning his head. "Which one of these hellpuppies is it? Aggro? Bitey? Chompy?"

-

Roberto raises a finger at Illyana, opening his mouth to deliver a snarky rejoinder in the Harrison Ford style, but his wit fails him. He stands there in that pose for a few seconds, lips making tiny movements as he attempts to piece together a comeback, but he eventually just shuts his mouth, narrows his eyes, and waggles his finger at her.

K'nert isn't so lucky. "What was I just saying about leashes?" he fumes, pushing off from the railing and waving his arms at the demon in a shooing motion. "We are not putting out kibble and litter for these things."

-

"That's K'nert." Illyana says, stumbling a bit as 'Berto takes off and she lost her leaning post. He gets a brief, narrow-eyed glare for that before resettling against the railing. "He… keeps Jericho company." Again with the trying to look innocent thing. Really, she should know better by now. Her horns are going to start showing. In her case, that's a literal thing.

-

"Damn it, K'nert." Jericho sighs, making a swipe for the demonling on Doug's head. Normally K'nert's just a little too fast for him. This time, the little tail-sass as he turns to jump off Doug's head gets him caught.

"Hah!" The hacker grins as K'nert squirms in his grasp before being put down to go lurk under the desk near Illyana. "Serves you right…"

Turning to Doug and 'Berto he offers an apologetic smile. He feels perhaps a bit responsible. "Sorry. He was just worried 'cause he's supposed to keep an eye on me." That is a pure guess. Jericho doesn't know thing one about what K'nert hisses. It could be a recipe for brownies for all he knows.

"Okay, you mentioned testing it out, Doug?" Jericho's traces flicker as he goes through a power up, power down routine. For Berto and Doug, it might be a bit of a light show as his entire chest, neck and both arms (also his legs but the jeans are too thick to let the light through) ripple with colored light in circuit like patterns. His eyes briefly change color from blue to red to amber and then back to the… actually his regular eyes are kinda weird. Grey with wide amber bands running throughout.

"Wow. That's much more responsive. Fine control's up too. Thank you."

-

"Oh, it's -not- one of Illy's hellpuppies," Doug sighs, as he listens. "Apparently he's just mad that you disappeared, because if you get hurt or in trouble, he gets the blame," the young mutant adds, rubbing the bridge to his forehead, before reaching to brush off whatever that thing did to his hair. "You got to the console okay then?"

-

"You're giving them out as pets now?" Roberto asks Illyana incredulously. "I do not envy you, Jericho. I've seen what those things can do to the carpet." He glares at Doug's erstwhile hat where it sulks until Jericho's light show distracts him.

"You can tell all that just by cycling through lights?" he asks the man as he returns to his spot next to Illyana, warily resigned to any elbows she may throw his way for abandoning her earlier. "I'm jealous. To test my powers, I usually have to see how far I can throw a car or something."

-

"His comes with diagnostics installed I think." Illyana points out. It's there, in her expression. Thinking about elbowing Roberto. But then he might move away again so instead she just shifts to appropriate him as her leaning post again. "And he's not a pet, he's so that if all the bad people chasing after Jericho are in danger of catching up then K'nert can help him get out." A pause. "Also he's my part-time gardener."

-

Jericho nods his confirmation to all the above. "And he's very helpful too if you know how to motivate him." Two words, ice cream. Won't get him to do everything but it does work wonders with the right applications. The hacker nods to Doug. "Yep, I see it now. Pretty slick piece of programming if I do say so myself."

Berto gets a small grin. "Well I'm sure that your way is more eye catching. Hope you have a lot of cars you don't like though. And yes, I can do a lot just by flipping the lights on and off. Seeing how long they take to charge, what kind of control I have over the level and so on. Ah the wonders of experimental technology." That last part is a bit… wry.

-

"You -could- set it to silent diagnostics," Doug notes. "It's not like you need to have it do the bells and whistles when running them. They're just there to catch your attention when they're done."

Tilting his head to regard Illyana, Doug asks, "Just how many demons have you given away?"

-

"Gardener?" Roberto snaps his fingers and points at Jericho. "Oh, you're that guy! Nancy brought me one of your trees," he says, sounding pleased. Especially so since no elbows have come flying his way. "I guess if you have a system of some kind worked out, the little demons aren't that much of a hassle. But don't be a buzzkill, Doug — what's the point of testing your powers if you don't get a bit of a show out of it? Even if you do have to get someone to catch the car."

-

Illyana arches a brow at Jericho, looking amused. "Roberto's handling your wood, huh?"

Doug gets a roll of Illyana's eyes. "Just the one! Don't worry, he has strict orders not to go attacking people that aren't attacking Jericho. Or him." Illyana will let her critters defend themselves. They are hers. She's not going to make them stand there and be slaughtered just because someone thinks they should be.

When the lightshow is mentioned Illyana ohs! and hands her vodka off to Roberto again. "Watch this!" She reaches out to grab Jericho's wrist.

-

Jeri winks at Illyana and grins impishly. "Nancy's wood technically." How's that for odd? "But I'm glad to hear that Roberto. I'll be by in a few months for 'em. Did Nancy give you wood Doug?" Why yes, Jericho can sass. The question is asked with a smirk even though it's a serious one.

The fact that Illyana seems to want to show this off actually makes the hacker grin. He leans back, letting her hold his wrist as dull red lines of power spread out from her grip, filling up his traces, first up his arm, and then spreading across his chest and neck, then down his other arm. The longer she holds on, the brighter the lightshow becomes.

-

"She gave me wood one morning, yes," Doug responds, eyerolling at the jibe and going along with it, shaking his head and glancing at Sunspot. "I don't think she's given Amara wood yet, though."

Shading his eyes, Doug whistles at Illyana. "What's going on there, Illy?"

-

Roberto takes the vodka, shaking his head. "Don't be ridiculous, Illyana. He's not my type. Aren't you the one who's always teasing me about blondes?"

Once the real light show begins, he settles back against the railing and does, in fact, take a sip of the drink. "Okay…that's a new one," he says. "Is that a magic thing or a mutant thing?"

-

"Magic. Near as we can tell something about the metals they stuck in him soaks up ambient magic. If I cast a spell on him he lights up like a christmas tree. Downside, he apparently smells like demonic magic to anyone that can sense the stuff." Illyana seems to think it's fairly neat, even if she is a bit worried for Jericho. "If I tap my white magic, the color changes. And look at my phone, Doug." Since he hasn't given it back yet, and it probably still has the Aspect App or whatever you wanna call it that shows his HUD.

-

Indeed, the phone has a video feed on it in app form which appears to see through Jericho's eyes. He'd just closed several diagnostic windows, he's monitoring traffic cams for a few blocks in any direction and, oh yes, all of the text on his hub is slowly changing to demonic as Illyana's power bleeds through into his vision. Since Doug can read demonic he can see the targeting reticule assessing corruption levels (Berto's is the highest at 8%, Illyana's gets an error message) and also see a counter slowly ticking up that appears to measure some form of energy storage… somewhere.

Jericho himself doesn't seem to mind at all. He's gotten quite used to it and the sensation of magic running through his trace is rather warm. And he seems to think it's pretty neat as well. Even if it does turn him into a 'light brite' as Nancy put it.

-

"Oh…?" Looking at the phone, Doug considers, tapping the phone backwards to look up the HUD, and whistling. "So… that explains the MANA program. What was -that- about…? Wait… Jericho, what the hell… why is this program switching to demonese…? Hey, You may want to stop doing that."

-

"Neat trick," Roberto says with a smile. "Can you do anything with the magic? Maybe it's like my solar abilities, and it'll make you super strong or shoot beams of magic or something. Ooh!" The Brazilian's eyes light up, and he says in envious tones: "Maybe you'll get a soulsword."

Then Doug offers his opinion, and Roberto's face falls a little. "Wait. Something bad? 'Yana, maybe you should do the white magic thing you were talking about instead."

-

Illyana reaches out to smack Roberto at the Soulsword bit. "You don't just get something like that." It was her Masterwork. Like the Oak was Ororo's. It was the greatest, most powerful Working she will ever do, which is one of the reasons it's so damned scary. If you're a magical creature anymore.

Doug's warning and Roberto's suggestion gets a slight dip in her shoulders. She knows she really shouldn't touch Jericho. Because this has to be bad for him. But she could pretend, when Jericho said it was alright. But with Dougie and Bobby telling her to stop? Her hold falls away from Jericho's wrist and reaches across her body to grip the upper portion of her other arm. "I can't manage White Magic for long, 'Berto. That I have to use my own batteries for." And she's a AA while Limbo's an arc reactor.

-

Jericho frowns mildly at the change in her posture and shakes his head at the other two. "Guys, really, it's fine. It happens every time something magical touches me. My HUD changes to the language of whatever it is. Got hit with a divine healing spell shortly after this started and my HUD went all Enochian on me. Took me about a minute to reset it."

He reaches out and pats Illyana on the shoulder twice, keeping his hand there. "And it hasn't hurt me yet. As for your question, Berto, I'm not even sure where it all goes. I certainly don't know how to access it, but…"

He gestures to his back as he half twists. His traces flick amber for a moment and bright feathered wings made of golden light spring from his shoulderblades - there and gone. "I have a few tricks."

-

Frowning, Doug pokes at the phone again, before his face clears, and he nods. "I'm not sure how this plays out or if it's going to be good. I'd talk to someone a lot more used to magic…" He eyes Illyana. "… well, magic in all its forms."

Passing the phone back to Illyana, Doug nudges Roberto. "Hey 'berto, mind pointing me towards the restroom?"

-

"Fine, fine!" Roberto says, backing away from Illyana's smacking hand. "If it makes you feel any better, I thought of the coolest magical thing he could possibly get, and my mind went to the Soulsword. So it was a compliment, okay?"

He glances at Doug and jerks his head to the side. "Certo. It's this way." He leads the omnilinguist down a stairwell onto the main floor of the Red Team hub and shows him the way to the bathrooms.

-

Illyana leans back against the railings again, watching the pair head off. Both arms come up now, crossing in front of her in a manner that, were Doug still here could recognize as defensive. Though not like one needs to be a linguist to get that. Her head dips down, not looking over at Jericho.

-

Jericho steps over next to her, leans on the railing and puts that arm that was on her shoulder around her shoulders. "It's fine, Illyana." He says quietly. "Don't worry about it." He doesn't want to say 'maybe they just don't understand that part of you like I do; though he's certainly thinking it.

"Honestly, if I thought it were a problem, I would have said something by now."

-

Roberto returns from his short trip but slows as he crests the stairs. He doesn't want to interrupt if Illyana and Jericho are having a moment. Then again, he grimaces as he overhears the last of what the man says, and can't help but point out: "You said yourself you don't know where the power is going or what it's doing. It might be harmless, or it might not. Anyone's guess."

-

Illyana doesn't let a lot of people into her personal space. The former New Mutants being the exception and, by the way she lets Jericho move into her space the former soldier as well. She gives him a 'get real' sort of look. "I think we've already established that you'd throw yourself in the fire if you thought it might 'help' me somehow." Her tone is perhaps a bit chastising. She looks over to 'Berto and gives him a weak smile. "I keep telling him. He doesn't listen." And honestly, she wants to be ignored.

-

Berto gets a chuckle and a smile. He doesn't argue with Illyana's assertion… though, he doesn't seem like he's going to start listening any time soon either.

"Point, and I do appreciate the concern, but that's my risk to take. Well, mine and hers." Illyana gets a gentle squeeze about the shoulders. "So far all I can be certain it's done is make suspicious people more suspicious of me because they can smell it… and that seems to have worked out. The doctor who I occasionally work with knows of such things and didn't attempt to forcibly purge me." Though that's mostly because Angelo knows Jericho wouldn't sit well with that. And also because it's not the sort of thing he do. Still, he hadn't been ranting and screaming at him about it.

Given the two of them more than one interesting conversation though.

-

"Well, it's your asses on the line," Roberto says with a good-natured shrug, going to face the pair from the middle of the walkway, arms crossed over his chest. "I certainly don't know the first thing about any of it. Illyana can certainly tell you that." He offers her a wry smile — it hasn't been all that long since he even became comfortable with her demonic aspect. "How about this, though: why not try to figure out where it's going and what it's doing? There have to be paranormal investigators that you can hire." He pauses and adds, "Not the type that run around scaring themselves in dark houses on cheesy reality shows, I mean."

-

Illyana snorts at Roberto. She doesn't bring up that she used to terrify the boy when they first met. Him and all that strong Catholic upbringing. "I know a few folks with some magical understanding." She's a bit reluctant to do that, as much because of the 'admitting she doesn't understand something' to people that aren't close confidants rankles her nature as much as anything else. Pride is a very strong demonic trait.

-

Jericho shrugs at that himself. "Perhaps not a bad thought but, I only know of one other person who might know and I don't know that he was particularly trustworthy." He leaves off the whole, investigating the potential of donating soul to Illyana that he and Nancy did.

Jericho is apparently quite comfortable with the demonic aspect of Illyana, though that could have something to do with the fact that he's never known her any other way while the others have some memory of the time in which she was free of the demon nature.

-

"Well, I don't know a damn thing about how it works, but I'll go out on a limb and assume that there is some way to get it figured out without putting both of you at risk," Roberto says evenly. "If you don't like the people you know, maybe just straight-up hire someone you've never met. Someone impartial, you know? Kind of the magical equivalent of what we're doing here."

-

"There's very little 'impartial' about magic, Bobby. It's all tied up in emotions and soul and life-force. It's a very personal kind of thing." Well, to a lot of sorcerers. Some hermetics manage to make it very sanitized. "Not to mention that explaining it means trusting people with a lot of things I don't usually make common knowledge." Oh no. Roberto's going to hire her out as a magical consultant!

-

Jericho's actual theory of magic is, unsurprisingly, concerned mostly with gardening. Also it's highly theoretical. However he's observed that largely with magic, you get out of it what you put into it, so he's not entirely certain that impartiality is a desired quality… even if it does make it near impossible to get an impassive prognosis on what's going on. Eh. Magic. How does it work?

"You're doing… consulting expert work here?" It'd make sense. Mutant powers seem to skew heavily into specialist fields.

-

"Well, I don't know. What's the wizard's version of an NDA?" Roberto asks Illyana with a helpless shrug. "I'm trying to help, but you know I'm out of my depth here. I can only think of it in terms I understand."

Jericho's question, on the other hand, he can answer easily. "Yes, that's exactly the plan. The team itself would be available for security or disaster relief or that sort of thing, but the individual members would hire out into fields where their powers or skills gave them a distinct advantage over a normal consultant or contractor or whatever. Have a message that absolutely must get across the planet securely and instantaneously? You're hugging our extremely well-paid private courier." He gestures at Illyana with a smirk.

-

Illyana has sort of wedged herself under Jericho's arm. She wrinkles her nose at Roberto. "Now I sound like a pigeon." She turns her head a bit, so her chin rests on Jericho's arm that's around her. "So. This is where I'm gonna work. Or… hang out between working or something. And then, I'll actually be able to afford somewhere to live again."

-

"It'll be nice to have a place of your own again, I imagine." Jericho notes. "Though you're always welcome to treat my places as yours." He's mentioned that before and while he doesn't think Illyana needs a reminder, it seemed proper to add that in there. The Russian Demon Queen gets another squeeze about the shoudlers as she shifts and Berto a wide, approving grin. Clever businessman is clever. He'd talked to Illyana before about potential jobs for her but courier is not one that'd come up in their discussion.

Thinking about it now, he wonders why not.

-

"Yes, she'll be able to afford a very nice place. And I'm having to move the entire team into the building to patch over the hole she'll punch in my heart by leaving my guest room," Roberto says with a grin. There's nothing but bravado to the way he phrases it, but it's true that having a temporary roommate has reminded him how lonely the penthouse can feel when it's just him. "And you shouldn't sell yourself short, 'Yana. You're not a pigeon. You're ''THE'' pigeon. Like, the best pigeon that has ever pigeoned. Pigeon eggs look to you and think, 'I want to be like her when I hatch.'"

-

Illyana gives Roberto one of her patented glares. "You're never going to have sex again." She warns him. This might seem like she's his girlfriend and isn't going to sleep with him anymore. The truth is far more terrible…

-

Clearly, Illyana isn't the only one of her friends who has sass. Jericho idly wonders who learned from whom. The threat gets a quirked eyebrow to Berto. Mostly because he's never heard her threaten anything remotely like that before. And she sounds… well half serious. From somewhere behind Roberto comes a hissing-snickering laugh. Someone has a much better idea what that means and finds it hilarious.

-

"Shut up, you perverted little beast," Roberto turns to snap at K'nert. "She's joking." His eyes flicker over toward Illyana, adding: …probably. "And you're already on assignment. You wouldn't get sent anyway."

Turning back to Illyana, he says in a more even tone, "I thought we agreed that my bedroom was a no-demons zone after the last time."

-

"Yeah, but you don't usually count me." Admittedly, it would mean that Illyana would have to take the time and make the effort to interrupt all of Roberto's trysts herself. With a chuckle she pulls herself free from where she's wedged herself under Jericho's arm and goes over to buss Roberto's cheek. "Fine, fine. You can keep playtime with Candy. Or Mindy. Or Bambi. Or whoever your flavor of the hour is." She reaches back to catch Jericho's fingers in hers and drag him along as she links one of her arms through Roberto's and starts them towards the elevators. "But. You'll have to bribe me."

-

Jericho isn't hard to coax along. "And where are we going now?" He asks with a grin. The list of generically (and, no insult intended, but traditionally vapid names) gets Roberto another look, this one amused. Oh dear. What did you do, sir, to earn her 'ire' thus. If it helps, Grey Goose seems to be a thing she likes.

-

"You're not a demon," Roberto says, a note of insistence entering his voice for a second. They have had this conversation, and although Illyana's tone seems light this time, he doesn't like to let her get away with saying such things about herself. Still, he doesn't want to kill the mood, so he continues: "And if there's any ban on you in my bedroom, senhorita, it is definitely self-imposed." Frankly, it's probably a comment like that that got him in trouble in the first place. He grins as he lets himself be pulled along. "What kind of bribe did you have in mind, exactly…?"

-

When they get to the elevator, Illyana hits the button for Roberto's penthouse. "Hey, didn't I ask you to commit? I was gonna get you a ring and everything. S'ym could officiate. Or I could always put a call in to Mephisto…" Yeah, she's definitely jerking on his Catholic chain there. "I'm thinking dinner and daddy's liquor cabinet might do it."


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