Architects and Army Brats

January 30, 2015: Roberto and Doug welcome newcomer Audrey and visitor Clarissa to the Red Team offices. Roberto proves inept at basic reception work, to no one's surprise.

Red Team Headquarters



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(Note: Player character Venus/Clarissa participated in this scene, but did not have a character wiki page when the log was posted.)

Mood Music:

The headquarters of X-Men: Red has seen busier days. Most employees and the larger part of the team is down the street in Central Park, helping the rebuilding effort progress in spite of the abominable weather. Roberto, however, is taking a break from manual labor to get a new face situated. Or he would be, if he could get the keycard encoder for the guest apartments working.

The Brazilian is sitting behind the front desk, glaring at a computer screen and tapping at the keyboard with increasing frustration. After a long, muttered stream of Portuguese profanity, he says in a normal voice, "I think I've got it working, now." He swipes a card through the encoder, which blats at him like R2-D2 getting kicked in the middle wheel. "I don't have it working now," he hisses through gritted teeth.

Clarissa swings into the headquarters, rather distinctive in her sleeveless sweatshirt, stamped with a big Columbia seal, jeans and a messenger bag. A faint bounce in her step, she heads towards the front desk. "Hi," she says, tilting her head a bit. "Are you the one I drop things off with?" she asks.

On the up side, there was exactly no heavy lifting required to get Audrey moved in. Moving in consisted of showing up with an army duffel over one shoulder. And honestly, it's not even mostly full. She's sitting awkwardly on the edge of the couch while Roberto fights with the computer, bag sitting on the floor next to her. "I could just keep following people in," she offers, a faint smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "We'll call it training." Considering what happened the last time she called 'training', that's probably not helping.

Shouldering a backpack full of prototypes as he comes in, intent on taking advantage of the resources in the building, Doug Ramsey slows to a stop, reading the frustration pouring off Berto's body. Pausing briefly as he passes Clarissa (hadn't he seen her somewhere before?) the young blond offers a quick smile before moving quickly to intercept Berto before he -does- something -far worse to the system.

"Hey, Berto… what are you trying to do there?" he asks, pausing to look at the new person. A smile. "You new here?" he asks, offering a hand, before glancing back towards Clarissa. "And I think you have someone here waiting to turn in something."

When he's in control of his situation — which is usually the case — Roberto is sunny, charming, and easy to talk to. Even now, he looks exactly the sort of attractive urbanite a company like this would put on the front desk; Clarissa's mistake is completely understandable. But badgering a computer for a quarter hour to do what he has seen receptionist after receptionist accomplish in seconds has left him a hollow shell of his usual personable self.

Audrey gets a pained look; Clarissa gets what can only be described as a glower. Doug, for his kindly-worded but desperate offer of assistance, gets a volcanic eruption. "Essa máquina de porra!" Roberto blurts out, standing abruptly and swatting the keyboard aside. "A key! Room eleven! That is all I asked, and it has fought me every inch of the way! Give me one reason not to toss it out the window, Doug. I bet you five thousand dollars you can't."

He turns to Clarissa, smacking his forehead and running his hand forcefully through his dark, curly hair. "Yes, I suppose that you can drop things off with me. Roberto da Costa. My name is on the building and I can make nothing in it do what I ask!"

The glower goes either missed or ignored by Clarissa. No worries. The blonde edges up to the front desk where Roberto's refining his 'do. "Yes, right," she says. "Clarissa Wilson? I'm from Columbia, on Professor Beckhover's team? For the design competition?" she prods. "I have our submission," she says, turning and presenting her messenger bag to Roberto.

"Audrey," the new girl introduces herself to Doug with a flash of a smile, starting to hold out a hand when Roberto goes…well, not quite nuclear. That has a different meaning with Roberto. "It might land on someone," she offers in regards to why not to throw it out the window. She stays out of the conversation between Roberto and Clarissa, though, not wanting to throw anyone off.

Doug's expression goes from querying to calculating to an almost insinuatingly tiny but -smug- smile, one that goes away very quickly for Berto's sake. "Because…" he replies, as he slides into the vacated seat, and begins tapping away. "It'll take me a few seconds…"

Ding. Pulling out the card and then swiping it through the encoder, Doug motions to Audrey towards the keypad. "Key in your pin…"

Swipe again. And then Doug hands it over, and looks at Roberto with the widest perfectly neutral face he can make. "Can I have cash?"

Another look at Clarissa, then, and a "Do you need one too?"

Roberto's hand sinks back down his skull to rest over the top half of his face. "Oh, the new monument, for the park reconstruction," he says, immediately recognizing what Clarissa is talking about. It seemed like a great idea: get students to design a monument commemorating the attack, then build it into Central Park free of charge. A flurry of interest from the press, lots of opportunities to dovetail youth outreach and mutant visibility, and then a lasting symbol of human/mutant cooperation that would stick in the minds of the current generation.

And then he had to go and yell at the student representative like a bratty princeling. Brilliant.

He takes a deep breath, removes his hand from his face, and summons up a smile from some miraculous stash he must keep hidden on his person at all times. "Sinto muito, Clarissa — I'm sorry. That was uncalled for and ridiculous of me," he says. "Of course I'll be happy to accept your submission."

After a moment of focus to maintain his outward poise in the face of Doug's snark, Roberto turns his smile to Audrey. "You're right. Such a large machine could hurt someone. I should throw something softer." He glances at Doug and adds in an entirely different tone of voice: "Like a linguist."

"Exactly!" Clarissa says with excitement. "I haven't focused on memorial design much, it was particularly educational. We even got some of the senior undergrads in on it. We worked hard to provide artistic vision and still respect the subject and…." Clarissa pauses, a breath, and stops. "It's all in the submission."

There's clearly a dynamic going around that she doesn't quite get. Clarissa's just here to drop stuff off, after all. "Soooo…." she prods, shifting the bag towards Roberto again, clearly expecting him to get stuff out. Certainly not the first time it's happened to her, won't be the last. "Why…would I need one?" she asks Doug, confused.

Audrey leaves her bag by the couch and moves over to the computer to key in a pin, taking the card from Doug with a wry smile. "I speak six languages," she notes academically at Roberto's threat. "I'd rather not go through the window, though." Once there's an explanation, she quirks a brow, reaching out to take the bag and pass it Roberto. Hint. Hint.

"Don't mind Berto. I'm the software guy around here," Doug smiles, as he holds his hand out for Berto, more to get a slap than to get cash. Although it -would- be nice if he coughed up a James Madison.

Quirking an eyebrow at Audrey, Doug smiles. "Which languages…?" he asks. Not going to even discuss how many -he- could cover.

Another assessing glance at Clarissa, before Doug wrinkles his nose. "I've seen you somewhere before. Hm…" Where, he couldn't be sure. "Columbia…? Maybe when I was checking that place out a few months ago."

"Yes, of course," Roberto tells Clarissa, accepting the design brief gratefully from the impromptu go-between. Audrey's reminder that accepting submissions means physically taking them from people is welcomed; da Costa seems willing enough to do clerical tasks, just woefully inept at completing them.

"I'm glad to see such enthusiasm for the project," he tells Clarissa. "Will your whole team be coming in next week to present the pitch, or just a few representatives? We just need to know for the catering." He's repeating this question verbatim from something he heard one of the real receptionists say earlier that day.

Audrey gets a brief flicker of a smile. "Well, I speak a couple myself. I didn't say every linguist. Once will suffice" — another acidic glance at Doug's open palm — "and the rest of us can find a way to pick up the slack." He wrinkles his nose as he makes eye contact with Doug. "Do you actually think that I carry thousands of dollars around with me at all times? Or are you expecting me to give you my watch?"

"Thanks," Clarissa tells Audrey. "Some people just don't…expect me," she admits, but then she pushes past it. "I'm going to need that back," she points out. She eyes Doug, "I don't remember you," she says. "But it's possible. A lot more blonde dudes than armless architects running around." A faint laugh and a bit of gallows humor in her voice. "We might," she tells Roberto, smiling as she focuses back on him. "Of course everybody /wants/ to come, but academics, catering, you know how it goes. Somebody has to teach classes, though. Just don't say 'open bar', or it'll come to blows."

"Russian, Turkish, Arabic, French, Japanese, and English," Audrey recites at Doug's question, eyeing him and Roberto as DaCosta gets snippy. Clearing her throat, she tips her head toward Clarissa. "Guest," she reminds them. Granted, in layers of oversized clothes - and some of them not in great shape - she hardly looks like the person to be reminding people of manners. Apparently looks can be deceiving.

Lowering his hands, Doug cracks his knuckles. "Don't want a watch. I'm satisfied with the clock on my phone. I'll just take it out of your account later," he comments, before having enough grace to look sheepish. "Sorry, uh… ma'am. And Audrey. Don't mind him, he can't keep this place running without his assistants. That's what he pays us for. Especially with the occasional bonuses he tosses in whenever he can't get something to run."

Pausing, Doug grins, and then asks a question in Japanese: "Foreign language studies, diplomat's kid, or army brat?"

"Certo! Great," Roberto says, uncertain what to do with the information when Clarissa answers his question. He glances over the desktop, grabs a stack of pink post-its and a pen, and writes:

%t(from columbia)

…on the top sheet. He stares at it for a second, seeming unsatisfied, then adds a flourished '—RdC' beneath the rest of the text.

"You can't have my watch anyway, Doug," he says, his customary good humor returning as he puts minutes between the present and his harrowing encounter with the computer. "But I suppose the five grand was a deal. You monster." Audrey's call for manners is heeded but not entirely effective — the snarky banter between the Red Team members is a little too ingrained to be cut short that easily.

The messenger bag is a simple enough matter: he retrieves what he needs from it and then holds it out to Clarissa, strap held high in one hand and the bag held out to the side in his other. He's not absolutely positive of the protocol, but he suspects it would be rude to try to drape it over her shoulder himself rather than simply offering it as conveniently as he can.

"Ah, tu parle francais?" Clarissa asks of Audrey, smiling. "If he has assistants…." Clarissa starts to wonder to Doug, on the batter of Roberto. "You're in for trouble," she says to Roberto, warning faintly with a light laugh. Once presented, she ducks her head and slides it through the strap, letting the bag hang off one shoulder to the opposite hip. A couple slightly twists of her torso moves the bag more to her back, a comfortable place to carry it. Roberto gets a close-lipped smile for his trouble. "So you guys are all mutants?" she asks. "What's the…'Red Team'?"

"Army brat," Audrey answers Doug, taking a look at Roberto's post-it for a moment. She nods to Clarissa, smile flickering as she steps around the desk for the pen. "Hey, do you know how big your whole team is, Clarissa?" she asks. "And if anyone has any dietary restrictions?" Nope. Not even looking at Roberto when she asks those questions. "Or if you've got a fax number or a department email, we could send over a form so people can add in their own info." If there isn't one, there should be, right?

"You speak french too…?" Doug inquires to Clarissa, before tilting his head at Berto. "Oh he's pretty good at what he does. You have to admit, he does look good as the face of the company." A teasing tone, at least, before Doug's voice turns serious. "Though he's good at knowing who to hire and what to direct. But otherwise… oh, hold on, let me pull up the information."

A few keytaps later, the web page for the specific departments Clarissa and Audrey needss are pulled up, printed out, and the papers handed over.

When Audrey moves in to take over getting the details down, Roberto seems to resist for a moment. He can help! He is totally helpful and not at all incompetent! But as she quickly gets to the relevant details, it becomes clear that she has a vastly better sense for this than he does, and he's only going to bumble around more if he tries to assist.

Doug's dig about him being just a pretty face seems to hit home for a second, until the linguist moves on to identify some of his traits that are actually useful. He simply sighs quietly and endures the ribbing.

'Berto is a little surprised by Clarissa's question, but realizes that the competition was sponsored by the company, not the team, so she might not have known the connection. Which makes her a perfect candidate for one of his polished pitches! "X-Men: Red is a group of professional mutant contractors who use their abilities to provide top-notch service in corporate settings and public service," he starts, already sounding like a PR campaign.

Clarissa leans against the desk, proping herself, looking comfortably unconcerned about propriety. This doesn't seem like a formal bunch, after all. "Depends how you count," she says. "There's Da….Professor Beckhover," she says. "Two other doctoral candidates, a handful of of masters students…say seven?" she says, having counted it out in her head. "No real dietary restrictions," she says, shaking her head. "I don't think. Not that I've ever seen, anyway," she concludes to herself. "I mean, you know how starving students are," she says with a smile. She sits up fully on the desk now, turning and leaning slightly to look at the screen. "Just a bit. I did my masters at Cambridge and spent a couple summers in France," Clarissa explains. "Um, no," she adds, "Beckhover with an H. Beck H Over," she corrects Doug. Roberto's response gets a twitch of eyebrows from the blonde, as she turns again and gets back to her feet, looking at him across the front desk. "Right but…" she prods. "What do you /do/?"

"Thanks," Audrey nods to Doug, adding the papers and the updated sticky note to the secretary's inbox. So at least the people who really know what's going on should be able to handle things. "I've been meaning to ask about that, actually," she adds to Clarissa's question, looking to Roberto. "Personally, at least. Or is there going to be a barrage of aptitude and placement tests once I'm moved in?"

"Got it," Doug replies, making the correction.

Holding up his hand, Doug holds a hand up as he types with the other hand. "Douglas Ramsey. Omnilinguist. Which also extend to computer languages." With a new printout made for Clarissa after he's done, Doug spins back around in his chair, tilting his head towards Audrey. "Probably a lot of meetings. He does like having people pitch to him so that he knows what's going on." Or at least, have it on record so that he could follow up with others. "Just be prepared with videos. Videos're easier than graphs to follow."

"I can read graphs, Doug," Roberto says in the voice of a longtime sufferer of the slings and arrows of cruel ridicule. "But eugh, deus, no. I hate tests," Roberto says, holding his arms up toward Audrey in a defensive gesture. The teasing and questions seem to have served to derail his sales pitch, at least.

"We publicly identify ourselves and our abilities, and sort of design our own job profile. And then clients can hire us, or pitch particular uses for our abilities, and we contract out at our own discretion. Right now our big project is rebuilding Central Park after the terrorist attacks, and we're focusing on that, using our abilities and our regular skills however we can."

He pauses, winces, and admits, "For me, that mostly means moving heavy objects around. Superstrength is superstrength, you know? But your job totally depends on your skills and what interests you."

Clarissa's head bobs slightly, and she finally straightens her back some, her legs shift slightly, into a more firm stance. "Doesn't that just define you by your powers?" she asks. "I'd think that's the exact opposite of what you'd want."

There's a glimmer of uncertainty in Audrey's features at that explanation, but she keeps her thoughts to herself for the moment. No need to have that discussion in front of someone else. "I find diagrams and graphs helpful," she chimes in on that front.

"Oh I know, Berto." Doug rejoins, before considering the explanation. "Just easier to communicate when it's presented in more visual terms than numbers and charts."

Doug tilts his head towards Clarissa, as he considers that, before shrugging. "Better our skills, than our genetics."

Roberto breaks into a cocky grin — Clarissa's question is one he's fielded before. "Of course not! No more than anyone else is defined by their job. If you're a janitor, or a librarian, or an engineer, that's just a description of your duties and your skills. It doesn't define you as a person. The same goes for us — we use our abilities for the betterment of society and to make a living. That's what any job should be, if you think about it."

He gestures to his own chest. "In fact, I hardly use my powers at work at all. Most days, I'm a completely typical executive, just one with an unusual diet." A diet of lying naked in the sun, he pointedly does not specify. "Our powers just give us abilities that most people don't have, and they can often make us very valuable people to hire."

Clarissa huhs at those various explanations. She's focused on Doug at first, then Roberto,w ho goes on far longer. "Interesting…" she says, in that carefully practiced, vaguely professorial tone intended to encourage students without outright calling htem correct. "I'd love to dig into this with you all but…those undergrads won't fail their exam on their own," she says. Clarissa shifts to adjust her bag one last time and then adds. "See you all at the presentation."

Audrey watches Clarissa go, pensive, before moving back toward the couch and her bag. "I've…sort of only ever done what I was told to do," she admits, settling on the edge of the couch again. "Which was train to be a soldier. I can't imagine you guys get that many contracts for that sort of thing. Especially run by kids. Security contracts are usually aimed more toward people with a whole lot of experience."

Waving a hand at Clarissa as she leaves, Doug turns his attention back towards Audrey, and then grins. "Oh they thought much the same thing, until I showed them exactly what sort of holes are in their computer systems."

Then again, being able to deal with software in their assembly language and being able to overwrite/'patch' said software was a big help.

"Basically, as long as you can do what you agree to in your statements of work, they're not going to stress on how young you are," Doug replies, tilting his head towards Roberto. "-He- worries about how much they pay us."

Roberto waves goodbye with a smile on his face. It's amazing how an opportunity to blather on about the idealistic vision behind the Red Team can refresh his mood. Something about the sound of his own voice, probably.

He turns to Audrey and waggles one hand. "Military-style contracts, no. We wouldn't accept them, anyway — the X-men use non-lethal force only. But we do get lower-impact security jobs sometimes — large city events, for instance. And of course electronic security, secure transport, and so on." He nods to Doug in agreement. "As for your own job profile, it can be a pretty creative project. I mean, I'd help you, but all I really know you can do is turn invisible and create fake-out snowballs," he says, giving her a teasing, lopsided grin. "What else can you do with your powers?"

"It's photon manipulation," Audrey replies, with the sort of comfortable familiarity that comes from being the object of study for a good part of her life. "Light, basically. I can manipulate light. Increase it. Decrease it. Move it from one place to another. The invisibility comes from forcing it to pass through me. On the fine manipulation scale, that's where I can create illusions. I can attach lights to people. I can see into the infrared and other spectrums. And if I try hard enough, I can convert light to heat. That's…still a work in progress, though. Enough to start a fire, at least."

"Oooo, sounds like fun," Doug responds, leaning forwards, interlacing his fingers together. "If you can focus light enough, could you pass it through an artifical ruby and make lasers? Or can you do ultraviolet and make things glow? What about the wavelengths outside the visual spectrum?"

"On the fun side of things, there are laser light shows at concerts. Movie and TV studios could ask for your help with in-camera effects, or magicians might hire you confidentially to assist with their illusions." Leave it to Roberto to seize upon the showbiz applications. Of anything, really. "There are lots of applications for that, if you think about it."

He reaches out to tap her keycard. "But there's time to worry about that. For the moment, we should probably get you situated in your room. Ooh, and then there's the codename!" He grins. "Have you thought about what you might want to call yourself?"

"I could focus light through a lens," Audrey nods to Doug, "But I haven't been able to manipulate light outside of the visible spectrum. Maybe it's something that will come with time? But I can't say for certain." At Roberto's question, she smiles crookedly. "I've used Lux before," she nods, standing up and putting the bag over her shoulder.

"Lux… it works," Doug muses, looking back to Roberto. "Although… are there any limits that we need to know about? Like, if there's total darkness, then you can't do anything without some sort of light to work with?"

"Lux. I like it," Roberto says with a grin, leading the others deeper into the headquarters so that Audrey can take possession of her new digs. "Short and distinct, with a classy feel. Add one more to the long list of teammates with something much better than 'Sunspot.'" He smirks, showing this to be a self-deprecating joke rather than an actual complaint. "I sound like something you get rid of with high-end dish detergent. Shame on my fourteen-year-old self." He shows Lux to her door, which is standing open already, showing an already-furnished room that opens onto a brightly sunlit balcony.

"I can create light." Audrey pauses, smile flickering. "That sounds a bit pompous, doesn't it? I can, though. But light takes energy, and energy has to come from somewhere. I can only do a certain amount, and doing too much for too long is like…overexercising. Blood sugar crash. Exhaustion." Roberto's talk of names gets another smile as she shakes her head. "It's not the worst I've heard. It could be worse. You could have to use a callsign someone else assigned to you. And it's usually embarrassing."

"Huh. Sounds like the perfect excuse to eat all kinds of candy, if you ask me… just fire it all off before it even settles in," Doug comments. "Food labs would probably love knowing how to convert excess body energy into light instead…"

Sunspot laughs. "Small world. I also crash completely if I expend too much solar energy — although I can store up a whole lot of it." He gives Doug a jaundiced glance and snorts. "And you know damn well that those crashes are more like diabetes than dieting." He shakes his head and turns back to Audrey. "Anyway, we should let you get settled in. Be sure to text me if you need anything at all, or just stand in the middle of the room and yell for Simon." He smirks. "That's what I do most of the time, anyway."

"You'd be surprised how few places there are that are truly dark," Audrey laughs to Doug. "And as long as there's something to work with, it's a lot easier." Once inside the room, she sets her bag down next to the door, looking around as if to reacquaint herself with the whole idea of rooms. "Thank you," she says, turning in a slow circle. "I'll…have to get used to this."

"And then after Berto's done crying for help, we do a rousing game of 'Simon Says'," Doug says, grinning as he nods at Audrey. "Good luck getting settled in. If you need help with something computer-related, call me instead. It'll save you time."

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