X-Factor Investigation: Cathouse
|X-Factor Investigation: Cathouse|
|Dates run:||April 10 - 17th, 2011|
|Read the logs:||Cathouse|
"Now, the morally ambiguous end is that I don't want to shut down the brothel. The girls liked their former madame. They were looked out for, the clients were vetted and a lot of these girls are visible mutants so it makes their job prospects pretty slim. I want to reinstate Madame Libertine. I want to give her back her 'spa.'"
There is a brothel on the edges of District X that operates under the guise of a day spa and all the girls there are mutants, many of them visible. It used to be a pretty good place for a sex worker to operate, the girls were taken care of and the madam had strict rules about safe sex and not hurting the girls along with thoroughly vetting clients before letting them see any of the girls. Only the madam was forcibly ousted by a human trafficker who cares a lot less about the girls. Barry saw the brothel as easy money and a guaranteed pool of girls for his trafficking business.
Crystal, in her work as an EMT, responded to a call one night a few blocks away from the eastern edge of District X to a girl who worked in the brothel. The girl is mostly alright aside from bruising and welts, but Crystal finds out the girl is a sex worker and a recent change in "management" has put her in rougher situations than usual. Concerned about the situation but unsure what to do about it, Crystal contacts Vanessa at X-Factor. She fills Vanessa in on what she knows and Vanessa agrees to look into things if Crystal can get someone to talk to her.
With Crystal wearing a disguise via image inducer, she and Vanessa meet with Carly who tells them where to find her former madam, Madam Libertine. In the following meeting with Madam Libertine, Vanessa gets the whole story about Barry showing up and threatening her daughter in order to get her to leave. Vanessa proposes she can put Libertine back in charge after looking into the current state of things and finding out more about the guy who came in and took over. Libertine agrees as long as Vanessa can guarantee her daughter's safety. Vanessa promises she can and insists on her work being pro bono to avoid any legal complications - or it blowing back on Xavier.
When Vanessa brings this to the table at X-Factor she asks Bishop to not be involved, not wanting to risk his relationship with current members of the NYPD and to continue working on cases he’s looking into so the agency appears to be busy with legit work. The problem, however, is that they need a way to get information which means someone needs to go into the brothel. Unwilling to ask Laura to do it, Vanessa never gives her the option. Laura, however, comes to Vanessa afterward with the logical argument that Vanessa is of more use on the outside and she is of more use inside. Grudgingly, Vanessa agrees to send the girl in undercover. She is to check in with Vanessa regularly, however, and if she does not then Vanessa will go in herself to ensure Laura’s safety and extract her if necessary. That night Vanessa drops Libertine's daughter Annie off at the mansion where Wade has agreed to protection duty for Vanessa.
Jean-Paul serves as surveillance with occasional help from Crystal while Laura goes into the brothel undercover and reports back about the abuse. Girls are getting clients who are violent, partake in hardcore S&M, and like really rough sex. On top of that if they talk back to the man in charge, stand up for anyone or try to refuse a client/service they get smacked around by his goons, at best. Laura finds out who the guy in charge is and gets his name to Vanessa. Vanessa then goes to Jubilee and Sarah at X-Force with Barry's name and asks if they can dig anything up on him. They let their coworkers at Snow Valley know they are helping out Vanessa on a case and begin to look into things.
Turns out he's on XF radar for trafficking, at which point Jubilee decides she is going in undercover as well (much to the relief of Vanessa who knows Jubilee will watch Laura’s back). Further information doesn't come quickly. Jubilee and Laura have to spend time figuring out how to get around Barry and his "security" guys while Vanessa and Sarah aren't having much luck digging up anything that connects Barry to current trafficking. Eventually Vanessa and Sarah go out asking around, trying to find out who is the guy to go to for purchasing a mutant girl. Sarah gets in contact with a guy named "Olive" who says he knows the guy and will get back to her while Vanessa finds out about someone named Simon who she needs to try to slide into a meeting with since he likely won't meet with her otherwise. While tracking Simon, Vanessa(as her James alt) and Crystal (as her Riley persona) find Simon meeting up with Olive. They overhear just enough via Crystal's wind manipulation to suggest Simon is the guy Olive is going to and Simon may be the guy going to the source. Meanwhile, Jubilee and Laura have finally gotten into Barry's office and found files.
Everyone gets together and puts their various pieces of information together that night and form their plan. Barry's men, and many of the johns they come across, are knocked out and Barry is taken out of the brothel by the Snow Valley ladies with the understanding that he won't ever be seen again. His men are taken as well. Libertine is re-instated as the brothel madam.
Vanessa handed the flash drive with all the info her crew had gathered on Barry over to Angelo the day after Barry was removed from the brothel. Jubilee had previously scrubbed anything off that would tie her, Laura, X-Factor or X-Force to the brothel and the information on the flash drive. Angelo agreed to do whatever he could to bring justice (of an ambiguous sort) to the people associated with the trafficking of the mutants. Funnily enough, he asked several people for help with this. Among them was Amanda who in turn directed him to Jubilee so all the information landed right back in her lap.
Trivia and Meta
This case made it clear to Vanessa that her personal/professional line has gotten blurry and she isn't as good as she used to be at doing the best thing for the job, period, as she let personal feelings about Laura dictate her initial plan for how to handle the case.
Laura was left reexamining her view of sex and what she wants sexually/romantically. She has a lot of stuff to work through from her experiences here, brief as they may have been.
Crystal's persona as Riley is generated by an image inducer at her own personal cost.