Allumwandlung in Azure and Gules
|Allumwandlung in Azure and Gules
|November 2- 11, 2012
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|Allumwandlung in Azure and Gules
Just when you think you're safe, and happy, and have everything that you could ever want, that's the day I'll come for you, and it will all turn into ashes, piece by piece. And when I've taken the last piece of happiness away from you, I will then choke the life out of it, and my gaze will be the last thing you see before you die.
Jason Wyngarde attempts to use Adrienne Frost to make a play for Black Kingship with the help of allies in the Red and Blue Courts of London, but Adrienne turns the tables on him with a lot of help from her friends.
Jason Wyngarde has finally decided to make his play. The enigmatic Mastermind has been slowly orchestrating an insurrection of the London Hellfire Club for the benefit of the current Blue King to depose the Blue Queen, Emma Steed. However, the duplicitous Wyngarde sees an opportunity to forward his own final plans to depose Shaw and seize power for himself. In developing his plan, Wyngarde makes one mistake; misreading Adrienne Frost.
Quentin Templeton, the current Blue King, has been trying to rid himself of Emma Steed, the Blue Queen, ever since she secured her position eight years ago, appointed by popular acclaim by the Blue Court. Steed, accomplished and intelligent, is also unwilling to let Templeton leverage the power of the Blue Court to expand his own personal empire at whim, styming a number of his plans. Eventually, Templeton privately expressed some of his frustrations to the Red Court's able Bishop, Conrad Strathdee. Strathdee made it known that there were possibly ways that Steed could be made vulnerable, but only if Templeton could make the risk worth it for him.
Strathdee reached out to a current ally, Wyngarde, explaining the situation in the London Hellfire Club and asking for his input. For Wyngarde, it was a moment of epiphany. If he could tie Steed in with the dealings that he was making for Shaw, he could potentially bring them both down together, and as collateral damage, remove the Red King to open up the position for Strathdee. Both men would be the only ones anticipating the fall, and would be in position to have their resources ready and organized to seize both Kingships. To do so, they already held two of the three pieces; Wyngarde has nearly complete access to Shaw's business records and holdings, and Strathdee has the same with Wilson and the Red Court. The only thing that they need is access to Steed's files. Unfortunately, after spending considerable money with various hackers, they determine that access into her main files in encrypted via a quantum encryption key, which is virtually impossible to crack.
Wyngarde realizes that the key could be circumvented by Adrienne's power. She'd only need to touch the key in order for them to get the necessary data to access her computer. Still holding control over Adrienne's fortune, Wyngarde makes her an offer; touch the key and provide the data, and he'll release her assets back to her for good. He even offers a guarantee - documents placed with a neutral lawyer that will free her company from the various legal entanglements he's created, to be released when they both send electronic verification.
This is where the plot diverges between what Wyngarde believes is happening and what is actually going on.
From Wyngarde's perspective, Adrienne jumps at the chance to get her wealth back. Enough that not only is she willing to debase herself somewhat for him, but when Wyngarde mentions that Steed's proclivities involve beautiful women, she's quick to agree that allowing herself to be seduced to the Blue Queen's bed would be the easiest way to get casual, unsuspicious access in order to touch the key.
Adrienne returns with the details of the key, and Wyngarde promises that if the material turns out to be true, he'll return control over her assets as soon as his plan is complete in a few days’ time. Wyngarde accesses the Blue Queen's files, and plants a string of connections between her resources and those of Shaw, intertwining much of the 'shadow' off the books business that Shaw runs or controls secretly, and Jason has been responsible for managing for years. In that data, he includes a host of evidence that points to an agreement between Shaw and Steed to assist each other in removing the Blue King. Steed would then appoint a proxy who would secretly represent Shaw, giving him power in both chapters. Wyngarde makes small changes in Shaw's own empire to support this ascension, making the evidence all but irrefutable. The plot also suggests that the Red King was offered a role in the plot, and even if he declined, knew much of the details.
Wyngarde leaks the clues about the plot carefully to the Red Rook, Jane Hampshire, and when she brings it up, Steed is forced to open her files for review, and the full scope of the plot is discovered. Under the charter rules, Shaw and Steed are immediately suspended in their positions, pending a meeting of the Lord Cardinals. Wilson, the Red King, faces a possible vote of no-confidence by the Red Court, to be decided immediately following the meeting. A message arrives from the Lord Imperial that he will hear all the evidence and make a ruling in a week's time, and they are to arrange a massive party as a cover for the Inner Court hearings.
The party is a huge bacchanal affair, and as the guests arrive, Wyngarde sees exactly what he'd been expected. Adrienne's sister, Emma, has come in her capacity as a Lord Cardinal, the White Queen of the New York chapter, with her Court and several of the figures tied to Xavier's with her, obviously there to ensure that Shaw, a regular villain of theirs is brought down. He expects that Adrienne told Emma about her little job, but remains confident that she didn't tell all of the details to them. Emma has also brought an old ally of Emma Steed's; Christian Kane, obviously thinking that she can earn Steed's gratitude by trying to put the most blame on Shaw at the hearing. Using the right to name attendants, she had listed Garrison Kane, but Wyngarde wasn't about to leave him floating around. A few words into the ear of Jane Hampshire, the Red Rook who had all but panted out a description of Kane in their last few run-ins, about Adrienne's affair with Emma Steed, including some pictures, where all he needs to neutralize his support. Sure enough, soon into the party, Garrison leaves arm and arm with Jane, to a quiet wing of the estate.
The arrival of Betsy Braddock is also a surprise, but not necessarily an unanticipated one. Jason's own pet telepath, Astrid Bloom, is tasked to monitor her quietly, keeping a telepathic eye on the woman and her rather gawky looking date. With the complex magical wards on the estate that sealed it from anyone not invited or not a member, Wyngarde is confident that his next step will be the final seal of his ascension. Just before the pre-trial, where the Lords Cardinals will meet with the Lord Imperial, assassins hired from Belladonna's own guild make a successful attempt on Quentin Templeton’s life, killing him and hiding his association with the plot for good. The presences of the assassins are blamed on Shaw and his puppet queen. Other assassins, these specially chosen and hired by Strathbee and himself will breach the estate from the basement levels, kill the guards, and kill Steed and Shaw between the pre-trial meeting and the trial itself. The compromised estate will be the final nail in the coffin for Alan Wilson's hold as Red King.
As the pre-trial is set to begin, Wyngarde retires upstairs, sending for Adrienne while he waits. Confident his plans are set, he speaks to her about his plans for the Black Court, and as she asks him to live up to his promise, he decides to take a moment to enjoy her body as a treat for his victory.
Except when Adrienne cracks open the side of his head with a paperweight, beats him bloody, and forces him to initiate the release under the threat of death. Bleeding and in great pain, Wyngarde promises her that in a week's time, once he's Black King, he'll use the resources of the entire court to destroy her completely. At which point Adrienne starts to tell him a story, explaining that his version of the events aren't entirely accurate.
When Wyngarde summoned her, Adrienne wasn't willing to go in unprepared. With a small dose of Kick, she went into his office, and by encouraging contact, was able to snatch pieces of Wyngarde's possible future. Enough that when he mentioned Steed, she understood just what his plan was. Playing cowed and desperate for her money back, Adrienne agreed to what he asked. But this time, she was formulating a plan of her own. Unlike before, where his threats were enough to make her keep the truth from the people she cared about, this time, she went to speak to them; to explain the steps that she had to take and the help she needed to bring down Wyngarde and his hold on her for good.
Sitting down with Garrison first, Adrienne explained that she would go to London and would seduce Emma Steed, but once together, she needed to explain the danger of the plot and she needed Steed to trust her. That could only come from Christian Kane vouching for her. She also explains that she needed the political support of the Red Court at the right time, and if the price for that support came through Jane Hampshire and whatever demands she made in return, she needed Kane to be willing to accept it.
Working with her sister, Adrienne put together her people. The key to Emma Steed's files was first turned over to Doug, and with a little help from Sarah Vale, was able to construct a 'ghost system'; a simulacrum of Steed's database that sat over the actual one, indistinguishable from the real thing. Except this database also came with the best locating and tracking programs the pair could hid in it, so that every change, upload and keystroke was logged, tracked to the location of origin and isolated. The 'evidence' being uploaded would look and real exactly like the real thing, until Doug pulled the plug, at which point, the origins of each file would become obvious. More so, those files would reveal the vast range of Shaw's shadow businesses to them, each of which was being tied back to Wyngarde and more importantly, the method by which Wyngarde tied up her own assets as connected to illegal Asian money laundering.
When the evidence comes out, Steed and the others say nothing, in order to make sure Shaw is now firmly enmeshed into the issue. Furious and set up by Wyngarde to believe that this truly has been the work of Steed, operating on the White Court's behalf, Shaw brings his pet Scarlett, who's telepathy on any of the assassins will reveal telepathically inserted memories regarding orders to them from Steed to Templeton and blame it on Shaw.
At the day of the party, Christian Kane attends as Emma Frost's date, allowing them to get Garrison in, along with Doug and Julian from the White Court. Betsy Braddock attends, with David Haller as her date. Haller, who isn't known to anyone in the HFC, is artificially creating a telepathic presence for 'Betsy', as Braddock is actually Vanessa in disguise. In the sublevels, Jean Grey and Amanda Sefton are infiltrating into the estate, since all of them have held HFC membership at some point, the wards don't detect them.
When Jane Hampshire 'lures' away Kane, it's actually him pulling her aside to explain the plan and how the Red Bishop is playing the Court. More importantly, it's also to talk to her father, the former red King, who still has substantial influence in the club. Kane brings them onboard with his plan. Meanwhile, just prior to the pre-trial, Emma, Christian, Doug and Julian take the Blue King, holding him captive while Vanessa takes his place (while Haller is in a locked room, replaying a night of sex as a telepathic broadcast that Astrid is confidently assuring Wyngarde that she'd got her watched). The assassins move in and 'kill' Vanessa as the Blue King, before being captured.
However, Adrienne had already spoken to Marie-Ange and Remy about the Assassins' Guild, and the two of them struck a deal with Daniel Boudreaux to send a team that only pretended to kill the Blue King. Vanessa shifts down to join Adrienne, Jean, Garrison and Amanda as Wyngarde's other teams come through, defeating them before they can reach their targets.
Finally, once Wyngarde has control released on her assets, he's unaware that Adrienne cut a deal with the FBI's money laundering division, explaining that the control that Wyngarde put on her funds had been unintentionally granted, and that he owns a huge group of hidden companies that he performed similar services with. In exchange for releasing her assets, less those specifically compromised in his scheme, she'd provide them with proof of his full business holdings; in this case, the entire section of Shaw's shadow enterprise that Wyngarde managed, and then uploaded as evidence against Steed. As soon as the release order is given, the hiring of the independent lawyer confirms a paper trail back to Wyngarde, and two-thirds of Shaw's off the book wealth and financial influence is seized by FBI agents as part of a massive sting. While it costs Adrienne the majority of her own fortune, it badly cripples the underground activities and influence of the Black Court for years to come.
She neatly explains that right now, a blustering Blue King was attempting to extricate himself by turning in Strathdee and Wyngarde's involvement, and Emma Frost was currently handing over the true database with evidence of Wyngarde's tampering. Also, that the news of the loss of billions directly due to Wyngarde's plot to remove him would be hitting Shaw's ears right about now. No doubt, Belladonna would be along shortly to 'talk' to him. Adrienne leaves the shattered Wyngarde with a final threat; if he ran, if he managed to escape and if he lived, he had better not even think about revenge. Because the next time Adrienne caught so much as a sniff of him, she'd kill him.
In the after effects of the meeting, the Blue King is arrested by British intelligence agents for his part in the conspiracy; once again, Christian Kane's influence the only way to counteract Templeton's personal power and influence. Alan Wilson is allowed to keep his position as Red King, but Jane Hampshire is appointed the new Red Queen, and obviously holds the power in the Red Court. Steed is returned as Blue Queen, and the search for a new Blue King begins. She offers it to Christian who turns her down, instead escourting the group for a private dinner. With the losses in London, the Black Court is badly bloodied, and Shaw is forced to focus on rebuilding, limiting his moves against the White Court and the X-Men for the time being. Meanwhile, Belladonna has used the chaos to solidify her own power, and now Shaw is forced to work with her to regain his status, instead of her as his controlled puppet. Strathdee is quietly murdered in the HFC holding cells and surprisingly, the Lord Imperial sends a judgement endorsing the response taken by the Lords Cardinal in the matter, without seeming to attend the party at all. The helpful Rutledge continues serving the gentlemen and the London HFC cheerfully, giving Adrienne a sly wink as she walks out.
And for Adrienne, her stunning reversal on the Black Court has made them agree to stay away from her life from now on, and she formally gives up her membership in the Hellfire Club for good. While her fortune is a fraction of what it once was, it is back to entirely being under her control, and all of the ties that had pulled her down paths she didn't want to go are now gone.
Trivia and Meta
As a result of the trust she showed in him, Garrison and Adrienne started dating again.
The title of this plot is a heraldry term, pitting blue against red.
Allumwandlung is the official Germen term for the promotion of a pawn to a higher piece, usually a queen.
This plot still occurred in Phase 2, but specifics, such as which characters were involved, remain fuzzy for the purposes of not breaking the world. ;)