"Huh." Dog flexed his restored shoulder as the hypercharged healing finished its work. "That's handy. Gotta watch creepin' around in here, though," he tapped the side of his cranium with one clawed finger, "there's stuff of there that most folks wouldn't wanna see. As fer me," he continued, ignoring her new nickname for him, "I could give a damn about the 'welfare o' mutants,' if not fer the fact that I am one. Same way I have a 'personal interest' in a plane that I happen to be flyin' on."
He regarded her for several long, uncomfortable moments. "Ya know, I wasn't sure ya were hard enough to take over after the Shogun ghosted on us, but ya got some steel in ya. Ya ever need bloody work done, gimme a call. I ain't makin' any promises, but we'll talk."
"If the mental picture is as unappealing as the physical, I'll be sure to keep out," Valerie jabbed with a smirk. She would never admit it, but she admired the man's refusal to be goaded by her scathing words. She could use a touch of humor in her life. "And that's not steel, darling, that's diamonds."
She studied the man's formidable physical stature for several moment, the gears in her head turning. There was no doubt in the White Queen's mind that her husband, Rafael, stood peerless in his physical might. However the Neo Achilles held true to moral standards far more admirable than Valerie's own. She suspected the Dog would not have these limitation.
"I might have use for your, unique, talents," the Mutant Madonna said. Her brother remained silent beside her the entire conversation. "I've become aware of some activity from a certain group dedicated to the management of super human's. And to be honest, Dog, I don't appreciate being managed. Care to help me send that message?" Valerie gestured toward the elevator with her hand, inviting the Alpha Dog deeper into the fold of the Huntington Monarchy.
"As?" Dog countered with a twisted smirk of his own. "Darlin', I've been fightin' in wars since cavalry was still a thing; there's stuff in my head that would make most therapists run away screamin'."
He followed her towards the elevator, his smooth movements belying his massive size. "I think I get what yer sayin'. Ya want me to eliminate a few managerial positions, right? Sounds like my kinda work. Ya got specific suits ya want offed, or ya just lookin' fer some general murder and mayhem?"
Midnight, Training Chamber, Isla Olympus
In the dead of night while Valerie slept next to their infant son, Rafael was elsewhere. Behind the soundless walls of his training chamber where no windows hung and the air froze bone, the Phoenix Prince sat cross-legged on the cold floor. Fists pressed against each other, eyes shut and his breathing steady, Rafael meditated. Fatherhood had drawn something out of him, something beyond his ruthless ambition, beyond his uncompromising commitment and myopic - almost psychopathic - determination to be the strongest version of himself. As his chest heaved up and down and his brow scowled, Rafael had grown more alert, more protective, more aggressive. For his son, Vicente, he would become anything. Do anything. Kill anyone.
And as his mind pulled back to thoughts of how Alaric Huntington had raised his own children, how forceful his control over Valerie was, Rafael's scowl deepened. Vicente, the crown prince of Venezuela, was in danger. Alaric would dig his fingers into Rafael's son sooner rather than later. And the Phoenix Prince would not stand for it. But he'd need every ounce of the Omega level power pulsing in his mutant genes. He'd need the power he'd lost years ago in a battle against the Supreme Chancellor; aerokinesis. So he meditated, and in due time, something would yield. Something. If not his aerokinetic powers, then something else. Something that'd forever divide House Huntington.
Valerie’s somber visage hid beneath the intricate lace of a black veil. Her cool blue eyes focused straight forward, fixing on a towering portrait of her late brother Jordan. It seemed impossible to her that anyone had gotten him to sit still long enough to paint the piece. Now he forever immobilized by the rendition.
The grand entryway of the Huntington’s palace on Isla Olympus had been transformed into a makeshift nave. The room boasted intricate architectural feats as well as décor that rivaled if not outshone that of any practicing church. Several rows of pews had been ushered to fill the entryway, where family members and important associates of Jordan sat, while an overwhelming display of floral arrangements adorned the end of the hall where Jordan’s portrait sat.
Sitting beside Valerie, her sister Adriana’s emotions pooled outward like a wound unable to clot. Since the loss of their brother, the telepathic-empathic link the Huntington daughters shared had rendered itself essential to both women’s survival. Valerie’s instincts told her to sever all emotions during trauma, to become cold and decisive, while Adriana’s mutant abilities forced her to experience sentiments at their full scale. By fusing their psyches, the sisters saved themselves from falling off the edge of either emotional response.
Valerie’s gaze danced to the corner of her eyes for a brief moment. Her father remained tactfully composed, not rendering any expressive response to the present conditions of his family. She had never fully understood her father’s sentiments for Jordan. On some level, she knew, she had assumed the traditional role of first born son and legacy. This left Jordan to carve his own identity as Alaric’s first son, one he would now never have the opportunity to do.
Their mother remained equally composed, however, the weariness in her usually elegant features gave away her countless hours of mourning. Despite her loyalty to family duty and reputation over motherly tenderness, Emma Huntington loved her children above all else. Now, one had been irrevocably taken from her.
Outside the estate, thousands of mutant citizens from Venezuela had gathered to mourn the Huntington Prince. His outspoken persona and charisma had cemented him as a beloved figure among mutant and humans alike. The Venezuelan police force had been required to alleviate the storm of people hoping to share their grieving.
After what had felt like an eternity, a priest hand selected by Valerie’s mother delivered his final prayers over Jordan’s opulent casket. Valerie barely heard a word. When he finished, she rose to her feet to take her leave of the crowd, not the least interested in hearing the condolences she would be offered.
Several hours later
The White Queen’s carefully manicured hand gripped a frosted glass filled with a clear liquor. She stood on the balcony of her bedroom within the royal estate, where she possessed a stately view of the palace’s gardens that stretched out before falling over the island’s ocean cliffside. Night had fallen over the jungle island, bringing with it a warm tropical breeze that flirted its way through Valerie’s light blonde hair and kissed the tender skin of the back of her neck. The moon shone bright on the dark surface of the ocean while stars speckled the black sky.
She took a sip of the clear liquid, inhaling deeply as the vodka burned her throat and dulled the memory of the day’s events. She didn’t want to think of funerals or mourning. In her mind, the only way to honor her brother’s legacy was to finish what she had started by ending the life of Lucian LeBeau. She knew the world was filled with snakes who believed in his ideals lurking in the grass, and she intended to trim her garden, her new world, until the head of every last snake that opposed her, human or other, had been severed.
Catherine Durant arrives in this beautiful city where the Huntington monarchy exists. Cat gets off the plane and books a hotel. She reads her encrypted message from her boss before she burns it, shredding the ashes and washing her hands. She has a mission to do. Gather intel, get in as close as possible but without being discovered, learn strengths and weaknesses and then report back.
Cat is a rather lovely young woman with black hair and blue eyes. If things go according to plan, she will learn all that she needs to know.
Catherine goes to a few parties, but nothing worth collected as valuable information comes her way. Not yet, but Cat knows her mission will be a long one. She has to be patient. When one goes among lions, you don't go straight for them. Make them come to you and if they don't know that, all the better. That is precisely how Cat likes it. Plus, with her mind being very difficult to read through telepathy, she has a natural shield that some don't possess.
Slowly, valuable intelligence comes her way and Cat begins to collect. It's too risky to send it now, she doesn't want to tip off the Huntingtons. Clever people, they are. Especially Valerie Huntington.
He had met him in Mexico back in the day while studying under the once radical hand of the genetic purist, Charlemagne LeBeau. At the time, meeting the son had been just a coincidental byproduct, a means to an end really. But there had been little doubt about his capabilities as a solider and his fortitude as a man. Conflicted, even then. Ultimately his unexpected departure from his father's hardened philosophies had opened the door for the Secret Strix to walk in and lead the families latest banned of struggling guerrillas.
However the men had never lost their admiration for the Hyper-Sapian, and his unceremonious death touched them on an emotional level which demanded more then his death had incited. His body left behind by everyone. Everyone but the Knightshells and the Shaolin Street Shinobi, Ishmael Strix.
Like many, they had come to the seat of mutant superiority in the wake of the Princes death. But Ishmael and his squad were here for but one reason. To bring the fallen hero's body home. Casually dressed and hoping to mask their thoughts with radio based confusion and rudimentary tech mixed with defiant and controlled emotional aptitude, they had been in the country for awhile. Making the rounds. Attending the functions and blending in with the visiting tourists by day. Living it up by night. Typical young Americans camouflaged by being in plain sight.
Light fragrance rolled off Ishmael's disciplined and fashionable evening attire. His eyes scanning the bar and its contingent of glamorous metas, mutants, and those pretending to be related to the Monarchy. Smiling as a young couple of females argued over who was a closer cousin to the alluring Aphrodite, Valarie Huntington.
Yet his eavesdropping had yet to produce any leads pertaining to what had been done with Lucian LeBeau's body. The night was young, and liquored lips were loose ones.
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