Old Friend, New Business

Glade City

Even with nothing on her itinerary but lunch with an old friend, the Huntington heiress refused the concept of casual dress. Resting under the gilded sunlight of Glade City, like a muse unknowingly waiting for an artist to turn her into art, Valerie donned a caliber of couture comprehension that could have mistaken her for a runaway model still wearing the latest look from Paris. A white Emilio Pucci stretch-crepe dress hung adoringly over her provocative figure, while the pastel pink Stella McCartney blazer resting on her shoulders added to the elegance innately held by the White Queen. Disarming blue eyes gazed around the utopian city from behind a pair of Barton Perreira ‘Ronette’ sunglasses, her curiosity toward the buzz of activity around her merely a means to pass the time as her Christian Louboutan ‘Galata Cutout’ pumps continued to tap impatiently on the concrete beneath her.

The sun’s yellow light played in her golden hair with jaunty glory, highlighting its every silky lock that fell in artful tousles around the irreproachable beauty of her face: Lofty, noble cheekbones and the fine structure of her nose resembled the cold, unapproachable perfection of a marble statue, however, the full, rosy appearance of her lips and a pair of sultry almond-shaped eyes made her an inimitable sex symbol full of life and allure. The enchanting balance of these features created the ethereal, unreal beauty of Valerie’s face—but it was the childlike luster in her powder blue eyes, the charming livelihood in the rare moments she truly smiled, and the effortless and uninhibited grace in which she moved that truly made her the portrait of a siren.

Lifting her arm to check the time on an Everose gold and diamond Rolex, Valerie scanned the area around her in search of the face she had been expecting to meet over ten minutes ago. Instead, she found nothing but the exuberantly content faces of those who lived in Glade City. They moved without purpose or concern—from the city’s waterfalls, to the famous Glade City Super-Mall, and all about the innumerous amenities the resort-like city offered—it was as though Glade City’s citizens had adapted a state of permanent vacation. While Valerie watched them with a mildly haughty indifference hidden behind an expressionless visage, she remained focused solely on the business she had come to carry out.

“Valerie Huntington. How long has it been?” a man’s voice materialized behind her, the greeting exuberantly friendly.

Turning over her shoulder to discover the voice’s origin, a genuine smile washed over the socialite’s face as she stood to greet her lunch date with an intimate hug. As she settled back into her seat and he took the one across from her, Valerie was able to study his various differences since the last time she saw him.

Valerie had first met Andrew Coates when they were both kids attending summer camp at Lake Geneva. His family owned a piece of the oil sands up in Alberta, a piece the size of Florida, and were among the wealthy elite living in Greenwich, Connecticut. Valerie had been attracted to Andrew’s unknowing charm and lack of a superiority complex, a welcomed change from the boys her mother usually made her play with back home on the Upper East Side. They became fast friend, spending the summer swimming under the sun and exchanging licorice wedding rings. As summer came to an end, Valerie returned to New York and Andrew to Connecticut, where they stayed in touch for several years before they both grew into teenagers and other priorities eventually dissolved their communications.

However, to both their surprise, they were reunited Valerie’s senior year of high school. A chance encounter at a charity gala revealed Andrew had decided to move to New York after high school to chase a political career, which allowed them to reassume their friendship as well as ignite a short-lived romance. After not having spoken since, Valerie spontaneously reached out to her old summer camp companion for lunch in Glade City.

“Andrew, if I had known you were going to grow up to be so handsome, I would have saved that licorice ring from camp,” she teased charmingly. A waitress appeared to offer them drinks, Valerie ordering a mint mojito and Andrew a glass of red wine, before Andrew responded to her remark.

“Alright, alright, sure. I think we both know who turned into the swan here, miss ‘being a supermodel was too easy for me,’” he poked back at her with a flash of white teeth. He still had that same quality of goodness about him that she remembered, the same charming wholesomeness. Except now he had the jawline and biceps to really back it up. “If I found that old ring, would you still accept a proposal?” he chuckled, the playful light in his hazel eyes giving away a glimmer of actual hope. It seemed every man Valerie had dated, no matter how many years had gone bye, still held onto a piece of their love for her—her inimitable charm never truly wearing off.

She brushed several strands of light blonde hair from her face before responding with a coy smile. “Those licorice have to be expired by now, Andy. And besides, Mr. Coates, from what I’ve heard you have a beautiful wife and daughter now. As well as that successful political career you always wanted. Seems everything worked out for the golden boy,” she smiled, the glowing sunlight highlighting the enchanting visage of her face.

Shrugging off the loss with a grin, Andrew took a sip from the glass of wine their waitress had delivered a few moments earlier. “Eh, worth a shot. But, yeah, life’s not too bad. Work’s been kicking my ass with this whole Mutant Registration ordeal, but I don’t have too much to complain about,” taking another casual sip of his drink, he suddenly rushed to swallow so he could add, “Oh, and don’t worry about that, by the way. They’re cracking the whip pretty hard on this registering stuff, but they’d never come for a Huntington. Too many connections, too many resources. Is that what you called to see me for?” he asked her, suddenly disheartened at the thought of her wanting to see him solely for political matters. Staring at her while waiting for his answer, his eyes held the same expression as a child’s waiting for their parent to reassure them Santa Clause is real.

Across from him, Valerie’s previous demeanor of cordiality had faded considerably. She now sat more frigid, her lips no longer upturned in a smile, and her eyes filled with an aloof lack of expression. She allowed the silence between them to linger, taking a small sip from her drink and keeping her gaze steady on him. Finally, she spoke with a cold distance in her voice.

“I was never worried about the Registration, Andrew. That isn’t why I wanted to see you,” his face lightened again, but she hadn't finished. “However I do need your help in other ways. I need you to give me every superhuman profile the U.S. government has gathered since this project started,” she stated coolly, no room for discussion in her tone.

Andrew’s brows furrowed in confusion as he leaned back in his seat, his mind trying to accept her request while still struggling to adjust from the shift in the warm, charming woman he had been talking to a minute before, into the ice queen sitting in front of him now.

“Val, I don’t know where this is coming from, but you know I can’t do something like that. I know more about the details of your Hellfire Club than you might think, and I don’t care about that, but this…I just can’t do it,” his voice still dripping with disbelief. Andrew had never been able to see the ugly truth in people, always chose to see the good.

Tilting her head slightly to the side, Valerie said nothing. She merely gazed at him with an unsettling apathetic expression. Suddenly she turned her head to the side, looking out at the family’s blissfully enjoying the sunny day in Glade City. Birds chirped, children called behind them for their parents to hurry up, and men carried the bags of clothes they had purchased for their sweethearts. Without explanation she looked back at Andrew, into his eyes, without any insight to her thoughts crossing her unreadable visage.

“Did I ever explain my mutant gifts to you, Andrew?”

“No,” his voice was puzzled, not sure where she was taking the conversation.

“I’m a telepath. A good one, too. I can read minds, control them, project illusions, and more. Maybe it’s better if I show you.”

Without warning she had entered his mind, both of them sharing the same mental image as the scenery of Glade City melted around them.

They stood in the backyard of a stately home in Washington DC, the one Andrew lived in with his wife and daughter. Valerie and Andrew watched as his wife chatted on the phone from the patio, watching as their fifteen-year-old daughter ran across the soccer field they had built for her to help progress her promising career in the sport. It was the very picture of domestic bliss—both women excitedly waiting to see their loving husband and father return home after his extended business trip.

“Lily! Lily!” Andrew called, beginning to move toward his wife.

“She won’t hear you, and she won’t see you,” Valerie interrupted him, sharing none of her old friend’s warm sentiments. “Only our minds are here,” she explained, stepping forward to stand beside him and witness disappointment wash across his face.

“Your daughter is an impressive athlete,” the White Queen continued with a cold poise. “But you see, Andrew, with telepathy, a single thought can…”

Suddenly the peaceful vision was shattered by a shrill cry of pain, originating from Andrew’s daughter, who dropped to the ground in agonized sobs. Andrew lunged with his wife toward their daughter, before realizing, with a sharp horror, that only one of them could do anything to help her. Trying to comprehend what he had just seen, he merely watched, frozen in horror.

“Paralyzed from the waist down,” Valerie said. “And with another thought—”

“No! please, don’t do this,” he tried to beg. Suddenly, his daughter’s crying stopped, leaving the Coate’s backyard in complete silence until the cries were replaced by Andrew’s wife—hers not of physical pain, but of heartbreaking loss.

“—dead.”

Andrew merely stared at the ground beneath him, his shoulders rising and falling as silent tears rolled down his face. After several moments he turned, his eyes red and expression hopeless, to look at Valerie. “Why are you doing this?”

Stepping toward him, Valerie’s face assumed an expression of mock sympathy, the first sign of any emotion she had displayed since their meeting began. Lifting a hand she wrapped it around the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair as she tilted her head to the side in a patronizing version of concern. “Because I can, Andrew. Because I know who you love. And I know how to hurt them.”

In an instant the scene of the Coates’ backyard dissolved around them, and they were back under the bright, jaunty light of Glade City. Their drinks were as they left them, people continued walking and chatting around them, and all was as if they had never left the city at all; except for Andrew, who held his head in his hands while silent tears rolled down his cheeks. As his cries became more audible, Valerie rolled her eyes, as though annoyed by his lack of public composure.

“Enough with the waterworks, Andrew. That was just an illusion—your daughter and wife are both perfectly fine. Enjoying a sunny day at home oblivious to the fact you’re having lunch with your ex-girlfriend,” she consoled him without empathy. She had come for one thing, and her patience was running thin.

“Why, Val? Why would you do that to me?” his voice sounded broken, shattered by the rollercoasters of experiences and emotions she had inflicted on him in such a short period of time.

“I told you, darling. I want what I want, Andrew, and I don’t care who I have to hurt to get it. My list of victims is a long one, and I have no problem adding two more names to that list,” her voice was laced with ice. She was beautiful—but especially she was without mercy. “Now, the data on every superhuman you and the government have collected since Registration started. Getting that to me shouldn’t be a problem anymore, should it?” she instructed him, her emotionless exterior never faltering despite her increasing desire to wrap up their conversation.

“No, Val. I’ll find a way to get it to you. Just don't hurt them,” He had given up. His voice was barely a whisper now, any fight left in him having been forcibly extracted.

“Wonderful, darling,” finishing the last of her mojito before gathering her white leather Hermes Birkin bag and standing with a finely polished poise from her seat. “It really was lovely catching up with you, Andrew. We’ll have to do it again soon—if that list doesn’t get to me,” she said coldly. Turning away from him, her heels clacked against the pavement as she headed toward the limousine that would be waiting to take her to the airport.

“Valerie,” Andrew unexpectedly called out, causing her golden head to look back over her shoulder at him. “You wouldn’t have killed my daughter. I know you wouldn’t have.”

A faint expression crossed over the White Queen’s cold, beautiful face. Not quite nostalgia or regret, not quite compassion or sympathy, and not entirely haughty or aloof. Something resembling a combination of all of them flashed across her otherwise inexpressive visage in a brief second. And then, as though they had never existed in the first place, they were gone—cast away to be replaced by a delicate half-smile tainted with condescending pity.

“If you ever try to get in my way, Andy, we’ll test that theory.”

She turned away from him again, leaving him to gaze at nothing but the glamorous light of her golden hair until the White Queen dissolved into the crowd.

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Valerie's Diary

She was dressed in a white silk chemise and standing by her bed with her hand on the light to put the room in darkness, when she changed her mind and opening a table drawer brought out a little black book—a “Line-a-day” diary. This she had kept for nine years. Many of the pencil entries were almost illegible and there were notes and references to nights and afternoons long forgotten, for it was not an intimate diary, even though it began with the immemorial “I am going to keep a diary for my children.” Yet as she thumbed over the pages the eyes of many men seemed to look out at her from their half-obliterated names. With one she had gone to New Haven with for the first time—in 2005, when she was sixteen and peasant tops were fashionable at Yale—she had been flattered because “Touchdown” Michael had sought her all evening. She sighed, remembering the grown-up satin dress she had been so proud of and the orchestra playing enchanting jazz. So long ago—the names: Charles Hudson, Eric Matthews, Logan Marques, Carter Rhodes, “Hawk-face” Herrera (whom she had liked for being so ugly), Jason Camp—he had sent her presents, so had Brad Campbell;--Christian Mariano, the first man she had been in love with for more than a day, and Gabriel Smith, who had run away with her in his Porsche and tried to make her marry him by force. And Peter Fenwick, whom she had always admired because he had told her one night that if she wouldn’t kiss him she could get out of his car and walk home. What a list!

…And, after all, an obsolete list. She was in love now, set for the eternal romance that was to be the synthesis of all romance, yet sad for these men and these moonlights and for the “thrills” she had had—and the kisses. The past—her past, oh, what a joy! She had been exuberantly happy.

Turning over the pages her eyes rested idly on the scattered entries of the past few months. She read the last few carefully.

“I know William Baizen hates me because I was so disagreeable, but I hate to be sentimentalized over sometimes. We drove out to the Plaza and the most wonderful moon kept shining through the trees. My silver dress is getting tarnished. Funny how one forgets other nights at the Plaza—with Daniel Leclair when I loved him so!”

--

“After two hours of Greyson who, they informed me, has billions, I’ve decided this manner of sticking to things wears one out, particularly when the things concerned are men. There’s nothing so often overdone and from today I swear to be amused. We talked about ‘love’—how banal! With how many men have I talked about love?”

--

“Romeiro called me today. And after we had sworn we were moving too fast. I’m gradually losing faith in any man being susceptible to fatal injuries.”

--

“Spent the day with Rafael. Maybe I’ll marry him some time. I kind of like his ideas—he stimulates all the originality in me. And I never could have imagined two people could make love the way we do. Dalgaard came around about ten in his new car and took me out to Times Square. I liked him tonight: he’s so considerate. He knew I didn’t want to talk so he was quiet all during the ride.”

--

“Woke up thinking of Rafael and sure enough he called and sounded sweet on the phone—so I broke off a date for him. Today I feel I’d break anything for him, including the Ten Commandments and my neck. He’s coming at eight and I shall wear pink and look very fresh and starched—”

She paused here, remembering that after he had gone that night she had undressed with the shivering October air streaming in the window. Yet it seemed she had not felt the cold, warmed by the profound banalities burning in her heart.

The next entry occurred a few days later.

“I want to marry Rafael, because husbands are so often ‘husbands’ and I must marry a lover.

There are four general types of husbands.

(1) The husband who always wants to stay in in the evening, has no vices and works for a salary. Totally undesirable!

(2) The atavistic master whose mistress one is, to wait on his pleasure. This sort always considers every pretty woman ‘shallow,’ a sort of peacock with arrested development.

(3) Next comes the worshipper, the idolater of his wife and all that is his, to the utter oblivion of everything else. This sort demands an emotional actress for a wife. God! It must be an exertion to be thought righteous.

(4) And Rafael—a temporarily passionate lover with wisdom enough to realize when it has flown and when it must fly. And I want to get married to Rafael.

What miserable women are to crawl on their bellies through colorless marriages! Marriage was created not to be a background but to create one. Mine is going to be outstanding. It can’t, won’t be the setting—it’s going to be the performance, the live, lovely, glamorous performance, and the world shall be the scenery. I refuse to dedicate my life to posterity. What a fate—to grow fat and ugly, to lose my self-love, to think in terms of milk, oatmeal, nurse, diapers… Dear dream children, how much more beautiful you are, dazzling little creatures who flutter (all dream children must flutter) on golden, golden wings…

Such children, however, poor dear babies, have little in common with the wedded state.”

--

“Moral question: Was it wrong to make Dalgaard love me? Because I really did make him. He was almost sweetly sad tonight. How opportune it was that my throat is swollen plunk together and tears were easy to muster. But he’s just the past—buried already in my plentiful lavender.”

--

“And today I’ve promised not to bite my lips. Well, I won’t, I suppose—but if he’d only ask me not to eat!

Blowing bubbles—that’s what we’re doing, Rafael and me. And we blew such beautiful ones today, and they’ll explode and then we’ll blow more and more, I guess—bubbles just as big and just as beautiful, until all the soap and water is used up.”

On this note the diary ended. Her eyes wandered up the pages, over the entries of years past. The earliest entry was scrawled in the delicate, charming hand of a sixteen-year-old girl—it was the name, Jared Lambert, and a word she could not decipher. Then she knew what it was—and, knowing, she found her eyes misty with tears. There in a graying blur was the record of her first meaningful kiss, faded as its intimate afternoon, on a rainy veranda nine years before. She seemed to remember something one of them had said that day and yet she could not remember. Her tears came faster, until she could scarcely see the page. She was crying, she told herself, because she could remember only the rain and the wet flowers in the yard and the smell of the damp grass.

…After a moment she found a pencil and holding it unsteadily drew three parallel lines beneath the last entry. The she printed FINIS in large capitals, put the book back in the drawer, and crept into bed.

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A Diamond Forged Through Hellfire

“They’re beautiful.”

“Thank you. I possess many magnificent things, but they are, possibly, my favorite.”

In the distance, where the burning Malagan sun cast shimmering mirages over the stretch of white sand, two cheetahs sprinted up and down the beach after several jackrabbits that had been released as enrichment for the carnivorous felines. The cats, one fully grown, the other only slightly smaller and youthful, sprayed showers of sand into the air as their powerful legs propelled them after their prey.

“My grandmother owned cheetahs at her chateau in Paris. I always admired them as a young girl. It saddened me to hear of their death not too long ago, but inspired me to acquire a pair of my own.”

The tone of her faint English accent, acquired from an aristocratic upbringing on the Upper East Side, was cool and poised, never revealing the enigmatic two-sided meanings of her words. Her pale blue irises were shielded from the blinding sun by a black pair of Barton Perreira ‘Shirelle’ sunglasses as they gazed out at her prized felines from behind a pair of binoculars.

“Do you miss them?” he asked, intrigued by the enigmatic upbringing of the Huntington Heiress.

She waited, considering his words as she continued to enjoy the cheetahs’ performance as they hunted their prey at high-speed.

“I don’t think I miss things. I think to miss something is to hope that it will come back. But it’s not coming back.”

Her voice was leveled as she spoke, a veil of apathy never revealing insight as to whether she felt anger, sadness, or any emotion at all. She seemed to speak knowing only she could understand herself, but without doubting that on her lips all things were good.

“Don’t you think that’s a bit cold?” the Frenchman asked, his romantic nature, despite his history of immoral behavior, unable to resist questioning her frigid outlook.

“I think the truth has no temperature.”

With nothing more to say on the matter, Valerie Huntington-Whiteley rose from the white-cushioned outdoor chaise that her supple figure had rested on to stand at her full statuesque height. One of the Malagan Hellfire Club’s many unique amenities was its beachfront pool and spa area, which outrivaled that of any 5-star resort. The luxurious palapa the White Queen and her associated relaxed under provided her a picturesque visage of the expanse of white sand and crystalline ocean waters the estate was built beside.

The daze of Spanish heat caused a thin layer of sweat to glisten on the tantalizing mounds of cleavage displayed by the draped neckline of her white Versace top, its open-back exposing the gently-tanned skin of her unblemished back. A matching draped mini skirt revealed a stunning portion of her long, lithe legs, which were further elongated by the pair of python-print Louboutin ‘So Kate’ pumps. She was the visage of beauty and glamor incarnate, with an undeniable ambiance of lethal sex-appeal surrounding her.

“La voiture devrait être ici pour lui déposer une minute . Il est lié et bâillonné dans le dos , comme vous avez demandé (The car should be here to drop him off any minute. He’s tied and gagged in the back, as you requested),” he often subconsciously reverted to his native French tongue, the finesse of Valerie’s own mastered French convincing him that she shared in his nationality.

She did not respond to this information immediately, rather, watched with unsettling glee as the smaller of the cheetahs, a female named Selene, brought one of the jackrabbits to its death with a swift tackle followed by a bite to the neck that instantly shattered the quarry’s spinal cord.

Upon viewing this, the White Queen’s luscious lips spread apart in a faint smile. Catching the brilliant light of the Spanish sun were a pair of prosthetic fangs encased over her canines—made entirely out of flawlessly-cut and dazzling diamonds. The diamond fangs only furthered the unsettling nature of her beauty, painting her as the perfect predator—the fabled portrait of a vampire.

The hum of an approaching car engine broke her concentration, however she was equally pleased to see the black Cadillac Escalade driving across the sand toward Valerie and her Parisian associate. The cheetahs running up and down the beach paused to cast curious glances at the automobile, before returning, with disinterest in the humans’ affairs, to the hunting of their prey.

The black car rolled to a slow halt several yards from where the Malagan beach met the paved patio of the Hellfire Club’s luxurious pool area, before three muscularly-built men and one intimidating femme fatale emerged from the SUV. Finally, guided by the woman, who held an assault rifle to his back, a fifth figure presented himself.

Trudging through the sand, the man’s face, aged but without losing its attractive youth, appeared calm, tranquil, amid his clearly bleak situation and the trails of blood drying hideously around his eyes, nose, and mouth. His deep grey Hugo Boss two-piece suit appeared disheveled, clearly indicating a struggle leading up to his eventual binding. However, even with his appearance in disarray and his body restrained as that of a dead piece of game would be, his visage refused to abandon a semblance of unyielding pride.

Valerie’s heels clacked against the patio’s pavement as she approached her mercenaries and their capture, an unreadable coolness freezing over the irreproachable beauty of his face.

His body was thrown down, on his knees, in the sand in front of her—the pacifying sound of rolling ocean waves audible in the distance. He looked up at her with resolute serenity; while she looked down at him with a canvas of anger, indifference, and disgust swirling across her face. Reaching forward, she pulled the gag from his mouth, allowing him to cough up several spurts of blood.

“Valerie; always a pleasure,” he greeted her, never abandoning his good social graces.

“Bartholomew. I must accredit you. Of all my Inner Circle members, I had never foreseen disloyalty from you,” she responded coolly, her blue gaze icy.

“I was offered a higher position within the cartel than I have here—granted I provided enough information on you and the Hellfire Club. You know the power of greed better than anyone, Valerie,” he answered her with an almost entertained causality, as though he had lost simply a round of cards. “Give me another chance, please. I made a mistake I won’t make again.”

She had nothing more to say to him as she looked down on his pathetic position with haughty disgust, her pillowy lips turning downward in an expression amalgamated from both repulsion and steely detachment.

Letting silence fill the space between them, she turned her back on his bound figure, taking several languid steps back the chaise lounge that she had previously rested on where an opulent Hermes Himalayan crocodile Birkin bag waited for her. Reaching inside the bag, adorned with white gold, diamonds, and priced at nearly $500,000, not a single man or woman watching the scene broke the suspended silence hanging delicately in the air. Pulling her hand out, a silver pistol caught the sun’s light against its metallic surface.

Pacing back in front of her prey, his gaze shifted, slightly more nervous for his fate than before, back and forth between her artic blue eyes and the handgun she held at her side; equally unsettled by both.

“I would urge you to see the truth of the situation you're in, Bartholomew. The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes that you made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You are now at the crossing. And you want to choose, but there is no choosing there. There's only accepting. The choosing was done a long time ago.”

Unhurriedly she brought the handgun level to his face, which finally broke out in a desperate last attempt at saving his life.

“Valerie please!—“

His voice was suddenly cut off as she entered his mind, forcefully and brutally. Charging her mental presence with as much electrifying pain as possible, she tore through every memory he had from the start of his life to now. A scene of his father, cold and distant, never accepting his work as anything but a failure. Of his graduation from Harvard and his first successful business endeavor, which cemented him as one of the most prominent businessmen of his time. Of the moment he laid eyes on his wife and never loved another woman after, until, the birth of his firstborn daughter. Of all the times he shared beside his family, which, despite his heinous existence, proved to be the one thing he truly loved. She forced him to experience all the brightest, happiness moments of his personal timeline—she watched with him all the memories of what made his life worth living.

Then, in a single instant, a gunshot exploded in the air around them.

Her cheetahs, previously enraptured by their game of cat and mouse, turned their heads furiously to identify the piercing sound.

In front of her cold, unmoved eyes, his body slumped lifeless in the sand—a single bullet hole centered between his eyes where blood trickled morbidly from. The men and women around her were as equally undisturbed by the gory scene as the stoic White Queen.

As she looked down apathetically at his body, the color slowly draining from his skin, she ran her tongue slowly across the surface of her pearly teeth and the glistening diamond exterior of her prosthetic fangs. Revenge tasted sweet.

Casting her unwavering gaze at the quad of mercenaries who had delivered the traitor, she commanded them with an indomitable presence of authority.

“Separate the body parts that Perseus and Selene will enjoy feasting on. Spread the rest into as many pieces as possible across the Atlantic. I trust in your work—no one will find him. The Hellfire Club will handle the press to ensure no one will miss him.”

With silent nods of understanding, the three men and single woman carried his pale, cold figure back into the Escalade before driving away from the Hellfire Club estate to follow out their orders.

With her business attended to, the White Queen returned to sitting causally on the lavish chaise lounge under the shade provided by the palapa. As she raised the pair of binoculars back to her eyes, she reassumed the activity of watching her felines hunt as if the previous scene had never taken place. This indifference toward her business of cruelty and murder both impressed and terrified her French associate—who had taken part in his own fair share of merciless acts, but was still infinitely awed by the White Queen’s talent for assassination and apathy. He held an appreciation for the knowledge that killing people was easy. Making them suffer was an art.

“You truly enjoy watching them, don’t you?” he commented, filling the pockets of his traditional black and white tuxedo with his hands while following her gaze out to the stretch of white sand where the cheetahs had hunted down all but one jackrabbit. Together the felines managed to rundown the frantic creature, bringing its life to a quick end as they previously had its counterparts.

“To see quarry, killed with elegance, it’s just moving to me.”

“Is it sexual?”

“Yes, of course. A thing like that is always sexual. The hunter has grace, beauty, and purity of heart to be found nowhere else. You can make no distinction between what they are and what they do. And what they do is kill. We, of course, are another matter. It is our faintness of heart that has driven us to the edge of ruin. Perhaps you won't agree, but nothing is crueler than a coward. And the slaughter to come is probably beyond our imagining.”

He considered her response, turning his gaze from the felines to look at her with slight confusion and moderate distaste.

“I think you’ve told me more than I wish to know.”

“Then I’ll say no more. Shall we discuss business?” she said coolly, pulling a cigarette from her sumptuous purse, lighting it, and placing the stick with a glamorous casualness between her luscious, rosy lips. Her cheetahs suddenly appeared next to her, nudging their heads affectionately against her and purring as she expelled a plume of smoke from between her pillowy lips; the sun’s light reflecting brilliantly against the surface of her diamond fangs. “I’m ready to sell some diamonds.”

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Valerie Huntington-Whiteley - A Lena Dante Exclusive Interview

LENA: You grew up with the textbook definition of decadence, wealth, and privilege. Your family is world-renowned, and claims ties to dynasties of both business and royal nature, as well as multiple celebrities. How have these experiences, and this deep heritage shaped your world views? What was it like growing up the treasured daughter of the Huntington-Whiteley clan?

Huntington Heiress
Huntington Heiress

VALERIE: Growing up, I was never allowed to take the privileges I was blessed with for granted. My mother made sure my brother and I were constantly aware of how fortunate we were, as well as enforcing household rules just like any other mother would—even if I didn’t always follow them (laughter). At the end of the day, at home, I was just Valerie; which never came with any special privileges or treatment, and I think that kept me grounded.

I can’t even begin to express how much the relationships I inherited from both my parents mean to me. I’ve met so many people from across the globe whose visions and determination have helped shape the world we live in today. Being raised around that kind of inspiration and passion, amid the glitz and glamour, is extremely humbling. It’s important to surround yourself with people who remind you what’s really important, and many of my parents’ close friends, famous or not, helped me do that my entire life. I also became acquainted with different lifestyles from a young age, which opened my mind to people and cultures different than my own, which I think is crucial regardless of who you are or what background you’re from.

LENA: New York City is aptly called the 'City that Never Sleeps'; you and Mercy Sheridan turned that city into your undisputed kingdom, ruling the Upper East Side with the grace and aplomb of actual royals. What keeps drawing you back to the city?

VALERIE: How could anyone not love New York? (smiling). Honestly, I know people are generally drawn to where they were raised, but I think there’s something about New York that means even more to me than just being where I went through potty training and braces. I’ve visited a lot of different cities in my life, and there’s an energy found uniquely in New York that continuously arrests me. You can find the allure of nearly any other city in the world amalgamated into New York. Combine that with the invaluable memories and experiences I have, primarily with my partner in crime, Mercy, as you said (grinning mischievously), and I could never find a sense of home like I have in New York—(adding) but Paris is close (laughter).

LENA: As mentioned previously, you have quite an illustrious family both currently, and in past generations. Aside from that, you also created a celebrity and fame of your own, even from such an early age. You were spread across Page Six and multiple online blogs for the entirety of your teenage years, and that lead to a majority of your exploits being documented for public consumption. Some of these exploits were actually serious issues, including some substance abuse problems. What would you say to people struggling with those problems now, and what have they taught you?

VALERIE: (Pausing to consider her response). I was young, and wild, and wanted to be free to do whatever I wanted; which I took to drastic matter in order to express. Having to go through that with my name and face constantly thrown back at me in magazines or on television was terrifying, but I also wasn’t in a state to fully recognize and take accountability for my behavior. I try to focus on the person I became having gone through that—it made me much more adamant about respecting myself and not concerning myself with the opinions of people whose sole interest is to drag to down to their level of unhappiness.

For anyone struggling with substance abuse now, I can say, from personal experience, there’s nothing more important than being selective about the people you let into your life and keep around you. Anyone without the sole intent of caring for your well-being isn’t going to bring a positive influence into your life, and you shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed to let those people go. If it weren’t for my family and friends, my darker years could have ended much more grimly than they did, and I try to show my appreciation for those people every chance I can.

LENA: The Hellfire Club has reached a new level of notoriety and fame under your leadership, ushering in a new era and several new locations. But recently news and activity seems to have gone quiet. The Club has long been shrouded in esoteric mystery, leaving a large amount of room for speculation and hastily whispered rumors. What's the current status of the club, and would you be so kind as to provide an old friend with some exclusive information about its history and origins?

VALERIE: Part of being born into the legacy I was, as you mentioned earlier, was constantly feeling the immense pressure to live up to the success of my parents. Growing up, I never had any idea how I was going to do this. My only interests seemed to be in clothes, boys, and what Mercy and I were going to do for fun that day. But I had always loved the glamour and allure of flappers, speakeasies, the Jazz Age—the whole nine yards.

So once I had left high school, and really wanted to establish myself outside of my parents’ success, I remembered my grandmother having told me about a past chapter of the Hellfire Club she had always loved going to when she was a younger. After working through some legal issues regarding the rights to the company, I opened up the first chapter, on the Upper East Side, of course, under my name—and the rest is history. Sometimes I still can’t believe what has come out of opening the New York location, and how I now have this international establishment to be proud of.

As for the quietness of the club, it was never meant to be a flashy spot. The Hellfire Club’s illustriousness is based on its premier clients, many of whom often don’t want any attention on their activities. Larger events, and the club’s new popularity with mainstream athletes, socialites, pop stars, etc., have given it some modern appeal and new media coverage, but we still try to maintain a level of traditional mystique. Of course the less you reveal, the more people are going to speculate—but having people talking is never bad for business (giving a disarming wink).

LENA: Mutants and mutation has been a hot topic consistently for the last several years. You've never made any attempt to hide your status as a mutant, instead savoring it and setting yourself forth as a public example of mutant greatness, and in some ways, as a figure to look up to and aspire to. The world knows you as its premier telepath, but you've never talked publicly at length about your own personal experience as a mutant living in a world that is so divided with their views towards them, and you've never talked about the extent of your powers. Would you care to do so now?

VALERIE: Just as any member of an oppressed or unfavored group will tell you, everyone’s experience with it is different. I was raised with a number of other titles, besides ‘mutant’, attached to my name, and I never had that define me. I still don’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize being a mutant as an inherent part of my identity, one I accept and appreciate just as much as ‘heiress’, ‘fashion icon’, ‘model’, or all the other things people have tried to label me as. I love being a mutant, and I take the affairs regarding our rights and treatment in society extremely personal. I think my public actions in regard to these issues speak clearly on my opinions, and I wouldn’t want to waste all of our time together going on for hours and hours about my thoughts (laughter). There are better times and places for those conversations.

'Premier Telepath'
'Premier Telepath'

As for my personal mutant powers, I am, primarily, a telepath. It’s a rather esoteric mutation; most people having a general understanding of it but very few gaining a complete knowledge of its complex capabilities. In short, once again for sake of time, I am able to actively control the mental functions of others as well as communicate and transfer information mentally. This can manifest itself in an innumerous amount of potential abilities.

I realize, even more than most mutations, the idea of someone being able to take away the free will of another is, quite frankly, terrifying. It’s why I take being a representative of the telepathic, and overall psychic, mutant community, as the world’s ‘premier telepath’ as you said, very seriously. I try as actively as possible to clear the misguided fear people have of telepaths and mutants as a species.

LENA: Aside from the political views and experiences of mutants, superhuman politics have very recently taken the spotlight. In the wake of organizations such as the MVP's and the Justice League, new debates have emerged regarding the definition of a hero, the compensation of them, and a myriad of other topics. What are your thoughts on the rivalry and altercations between these two groups, and what do you think it means for the hero community going forward?

VALERIE: I think the classic hero is desperately searching for a place in the modern world, and that search is manifesting itself in vastly different ways. The Justice League bases itself on the ideals and morals that the concepts of heroism thrive on, but some of their more traditional ways of operating, such as acting like gods with irreproachable opinions on morality and virtue, instead of protectors that people can relate to, simply cannot survive in a society that already distrusts superhumans.

The MVPs, on the other hand, are an unavoidable future of heroism. They received more fandom and celebrity than the modern-day athlete, which, in today’s world of accessibility and instantaneous information, was bound to happen. However it begs the question of whether their heroics were for the benefit of those they saved, of for the sake of a performance similar to the theatrics put on by reality television. I can’t confirm which group is better for the world, if either, but I believe superhuman-heroism is at a crossroads where it will either successfully adapt to modern society, or die altogether.

LENA: You've been heralded as one of the most iconic figures in the fashion world, a legacy that you began cementing for yourself as a mere teenager. What was it that drew you to the fashion industry, and how do you keep that aspect of your life fresh as you continue to innovate?

First Lady of Fashion
First Lady of Fashion

VALERIE: Growing up in a relentless spotlight, with tabloids and bloggers and critics constantly putting words into your mouth, or society determining your identity for you, fashion became, very early in my life, a way for me to take back my voice. My mother’s vast knowledge and passion for couture wasn’t a deterrent either. I attended every show I could with her—presenting my prizes from Paris Fashion Week during show and tell when my classmates wanted to talk about their pets. I couldn’t help it. Figures like Gianni and Donatella Versace, Karl Laegerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and many, many other people who I’m going to get angry phone calls from for not mentioning (laughter)—they weren’t haughty designers to me growing up. They were friends, family, and even sometimes babysitters (laughter). Their brilliant minds influenced me in subconscious ways that continuously manifested in my sense of fashion as a teenager and stil today. Being immersed in the world of fashion before I was even actively aware of what it was made it like a second language to me; something that was a part of me rather than a passion or hobby.

Today I still spend my Septembers in a flurry between New York, London, Milan, and Paris, trying to catch every show my schedule allows me. A lot of collections are becoming redundant—like packaged microwave-meal versions of past shows that are always ready to be heated up and served. But I still find inspiration where I can, and look out for the next great designer to redefine the industry. I hope genius didn’t die with Alexander McQueen (her eyes growing faintly moist).

LENA: Continuing with the current focus on the more mundane - if anybody can call anything you do mundane - aspects of your life, what are your favorite parts of the fashion world? Who do you keep your eyes peeled for, both as far as designers and models go? Who do you think has the potential to come closest to matching your stamp one day? And lastly, what is your favorite trend that you see on the horizon?

VALERIE: I love the culture found in fashion—it brings the vastly different lives of countless unique individuals together and expresses them in pieces of visual art. As for models, I see a funny flip in how that industry works. In the days of Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen, and Kate Moss, all of whom would also scold me if I didn’t mention how much I loved them (smiling), modeling was what turned them famous. Today, the modeling industry seems to accept fame as the only prerequisite for becoming a model. That being said, it’s so refreshing and exciting to see young models with real talent and zest for their careers emerging. I’m particularly obsessed with Maya Liafador’s print and runway work—as well as how pleasant and charming she was when I got to meet her at one of her shows. Her look, talent, and work as well as personal ethics are exactly what the industry needs right now.

LENA: You've never made any attempt to hide your relationships from the media, but there have only been a few in your life that have really lasted, and have made a lasting impression on the public. Perhaps none of them hold a candle to the candids that we've seen of you with Rafael Romeiro. You've been uncharacteristically close-lipped about this relationship so far, neither of you even officially confirming it yet. What is it about this relationship that makes you hold it so dear, and where do you see it going down the road?

VALERIE: (With a coy smile). We’re very happy together. In this industry, people having things to say about your life and your relationships is unavoidable; but I don’t care about people’s opinions and neither does Rafael. I’m in a loving relationship with someone who makes me smile, and I don’t mind confirming that. People who love him know how generous and funny he is—and we fit very well together. I’d love to be married and have children someday.

LENA: We know that Rafael has your attention - and dare I say it, even your heart? - at the moment, but if you were looking for a partner down the road, what characteristics and traits would be the ones that would appeal to you most? And what's an absolute deal breaker?

VALERIE: I’m not looking for anyone but my boyfriend (smiling). He makes me laugh and makes me feel young and always loved. I also trust him, which is important for how often we’re traveling. Those are things I look for in a partner—and he has them all. As for deal-breakers, in the past, I don’t like men who are controlling and possessive. I’m always going to do what I want, and I could never be happy with someone who tried to tell me otherwise.

LENA: We've talked a lot about how you've cemented yourself as a celebrity, and an inspiration to the masses. It's easy to put famed figures on pedestals and view them as just that - figures - and not as people. When you were younger and coming up in the midst of this whirlwind of a world, who were your celebrity crushes, and what did you find in the extraordinary world you were raised in to inspire you and help push you to become what you have?

VALERIE: I think when you grow up surrounded by celebrities and in the media’s attention, looking up to public figures loses its appeal. So my heroes were always people close to me that helped me escape the real world and just feel like a normal person for a second. A lot of that was my younger brother, who, regardless of our arguing, was always someone I could turn to in any situation. There’s a special bond you have with someone you grew up and who experienced the same childhood as you, and I wouldn’t trade my relationship with my brother for the world.

Then there’s Mercy. I’ve been asked so many times to comment on our friendship, which has been documented frequently for as long as either of us can remember, and it’s not really something I can explain. When you’ve known someone your entire life, grown up with them and shared every experience and insecurity and every part of you, how do you explain that to someone? Everything I know about my life has been with her in it. It’s unexplainable. Her, and my brother, are who kept me sane and grounded my entire life and to this day. They’re my heroes.

As for celebrity crushes, growing up of course, because my boyfriend is my only one now (smiling); I always had a thing for Brody Jenner…I was raised by The Hills.

LENA: If a camera crew were to follow you around to document a regular day in the life of Valerie Huntington-Whiteley, what would they find, from the most mundane to the most wild?

VALERIE: Probably nothing as interesting as they would hope to find (laughter). This question is hard to answer, because I don’t have any real routine to my life—every day is different. I’m far from a morning person, so, unless I have something to do for business, you’ll rarely find me up before brunch—and I’m usually waking up in a hotel room or wherever I’m currently traveling. I like to get my hair and nails done, do some shopping on Fifth Avenue, walk my cheetah through Central Park. That’s probably the wildest thing; I have a pet cheetah.

LENA: Throughout your life you've traveled across the world and back more times than anybody could count. You've had the experience of shooting in lush hidden locales, and vacationing in places that are on no map. What are the top five locations that you've visited, and what makes them so special to you?

VALERIE: Top five… (Thinking). Paris has to be number one, of course, because it’s become a second home to me, and it holds all of the history on my mother’s side of the family. Then probably Capri, where I had always wanted to visit and just recently had an incredible time in with Rafael. Madeira as well, because I love experiencing where Rafael grew up. Hmm—I always have a really fun time in Ibiza when I want to let loose and feel really free. And I’ll say St. Barts for my fifth, because I have a lot of memories vacationing there as a child. But there are so many other places I’ve traveled that have all impacted me and given me amazing memories in different ways.

LENA: While you live a life filled of luxury and the finer things, you are also known as one of the hardest and most dedicated workers, both in the fashion industry, and in the public view of mutants and other 'supers'. You lead the Hellfire Club, and you've run an illustrious and lauded academy. When you have much-treasured downtime, what hobbies do you partake in?

VALERIE: To me, time is the greatest luxury of all, because I rarely get any of it to myself. But when I do I’m pretty simple to please. Going out to dinner with my boyfriend, enjoying brunch and Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Mercy, or just reading my favorite book in my own house are all things I like to do to unwind. I’m a big movie watcher—mostly romance as Rafael will tell you (laughter).

LENA: Your life has been an open book almost from birth, as you and Mercy Sheridan have lit the world on fire with exploits and rumors since you were mere teenagers. Rumors, outright lies, and cold stark truths have been revealed about you for as long as most of us can remember. And still, there's an air of mystery about you, one that's been carefully cultivated. What is one fact, or secret, that has not been publicly revealed...yet?

VALERIE: I love to dance. Whether it’s a talent or not is still up for debate, but that doesn’t stop me from grooving every time there’s music playing (laughter). I’m also obsessed with mythology and Game of Thrones.

LENA: As mentioned before, you've been in the public light for as long as anybody can remember. The level of fame that you have achieved requires an unbelievable amount of energy, and dedication, and a certain amount of sacrifice. How do you handle the stress of it all?

VALERIE: Never forgetting what’s important to me. I stay focused on the people and things in my life that would still be there if tomorrow I lost all the material things I had. Being surrounded by people who love you and care about you is the real definition of a rich lifestyle.

-

(Big thank you to Mercy for writing all these amazing questions.)

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Manifesting Destiny

Café de Flore, Paris, France

Spring night several months ago

The air in the city held a rare warmness for a spring night, the sultriness of summer making its first appearance in Paris. The warm breezes added an extra ambience of passion and romance to the already enthralling city, creating an enchanting tone to the Parisian evening.

The streets of Paris had grown relatively dark, save for the gentle glow of the street lights posted along the sidewalk and the lights shining from the apartments of those still awake. Most of the shops and other attractions scattered throughout the city had long since closed, dimming the rush and excitement of Paris to little more than couples and drunks taking late night strolls through the city’s romantic streets. Paris was beautiful during the day, but at night, the city of love enveloped you in a quiet warmth like the soft glow of a candle in a dark room.

Among the closed boutiques and stores, located charmingly on the corner of Boulevard St. Germain and Rue St. Bernoit, was Café de Flore. Its simplistic elegance and timeless appeal had made the café an iconic image beside Paris’ many other landmarks and architecture that had immortalized themselves in countless photographs and the Hollywood silver screen.

Inside the ritzy café, which had closed its doors to the public long before, sat a woman as renowned as the Café de Flore to not only the city of Paris, but the rest of the world. From her lips rested a cigarette, its orange tip glowing warmly in the dimly lit room, its light barely illuminating the angelic features of her face. As she exhaled smoke poured from between her pillowly lips, swirling through the room’s dark air before settling to create a sensual layer of hazy clouds.

The red soles of her silver ‘So Kate’ Louboutins tapped against one of the café’s tables as she shifted her long, lithe legs, which were primarily exposed by her scanty attire. A set of black Agent Provocateur bra, panties and garter belt all hugged her sensual curves with arresting allure, and put the silky surface of her skin on display. It was a minimal ensemble, made only slightly modest by a fur vest from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2010 collection.

Her body lay back in one of the café’s many booths, wither her legs rested above her on the table where an assortment of drugs littered the surface. The remains of several lines of cocaine were scattered beside a razor blade, while empty bottles of Dom stood beside the champagne flutes that had been used to empty them. The drugs, the alcohol, the smoke; it all contributed to the trashy ambiance filling the café, however it was an ambiance with an undeniable and indomitable opulence.

As she let the cigarette drop listlessly from her lips once again in an endless cycle, her pale blue eyes looked out beyond the walls of the café with a glassy gaze that entailed she was looking out past anything she saw before her. She was not looking forward, but backwards, sideways and right in front of her, and all the other places her mind wandered - future, present and past - as she rested languidly in the closed café.

The solitude she found within her own mind was interrupted by a curt voice standing behind her – impatient but not entirely rude.

“You two have had your fun. Why are we here Valerie?”

He was sober. The only one in the party of three. Valerie had met him in the earliest years of her adulthood, when the era of her more morally ambiguous activities had just begun. The son of an illustrious politician and the heiress of a multi-billion dollar company, he had shown Valerie the harsh reality of the discipline required to achieve that which she desired. He had been a crucial factor in refining the young and wild party girl fresh out of high school into the cold and cunning White Queen Valerie was today.

“The world is in chaos, Nathaniel. The global throne is open for the taking. And I’m going to take it,” her words escaped from her lips like the smoke. He was able to recognize it, but its entire reality was intangible to him.

Across from Valerie another man, slouched similarly in a booth after having have shared with her in the inebriating substances, let out an amused chuckle.

“Come now, Nathaniel, don’t be so serious all the time. Valerie wouldn’t have brought us here if there wasn’t some business mixed in with pleasure,” he mocked lightly.

Valerie had met him only several years ago within Paris itself. He was the infamously-uninhibited prince of the royal family of Monaco, and Valerie, enticed by his devastatingly good looks and noble stature, couldn’t resist falling into bed with him that very night. Since then they had maintained a flirtatious friendship, both of them attracted to the wild and unrestrained liveliness instilled in both of them. He had also been a major assistance in establishing numerous of Valerie’s international associates. Valerie rarely made a friend without purpose.

“It’d be all pleasure all the time, if we did things your way, Louis,” Nathaniel retorted gruffly, stuffing his hands in his pockets and leaning back against the wall.

“Now boys, there’s no need to fight. You’re both far too civilized…and handsome,” Valerie commented coolly, only smalls hints of playfulness detected in her otherwise leveled tone.

In a slow but graceful movement Valerie rose from her seat, her fur vest resting just below her waist when she stood at her full statuesque height. Pouring what little remained of the champagne into a glass she walked to stand in front of the café’s wall-length glass mirrors, the lights of the city basking her figure in soft light.

“Avalon, the Knightfalls, even the Hellfire Club. They're all distractions. Toys for the billionaires of the world to entertain themselves with so they can escape the burden of true greatness. Well, I’m tired of waiting for someone to take the world in their hands. So I’m going to take it in mine,” she aloofly, taking a sip of her drink and meeting the intrigued gazes of her colleagues.

“The world needs to be guided and controlled by a force it cannot quite understand, or even be fully aware of. For all of history, men, by nature, have desperately found solace in leaving their fate in the hands of those with a greater understanding than them. Whether it be a god, a politician, or even their own parents, man has never truly sought his own independence. And now, with faith in God growing weaker than ever, and the entire world jaded by distrust of politicians, all of humanity is in desperate need of the next powerful force to determine their fate.”

She gazed outside the window for a moment, once again looking past the buildings and structures of Paris to a place only her own eyes could see, before turning back to her associates with steely determination inside the subtly-malevolent glint in her eyes.

“Nathaniel, Louis. We, among others, are going to be that force. It is time the world is governed under one business, one family, one name - Consilium: The Council.”

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The Beautiful and Damned

Barcelona, Spain; Unimportant day and time

The past few months had seemed to string themselves together through hazy weeks and more or less identical days, as though the entire length of time had elapsed in one blurry, useless night. Her supple body, the atavistic embodiment of women dreamed of long before her, found itself dancing, without thought or care as to what the next minute would bring her, at an endless number of parties; one event blurring itself into the next as night after night she performed the same vital ritual. Her essence had assumed a state of listlessness, without concern for past nor future, existing each day for each day’s worth. Alcohol was consumed as greedily as water, spinning the world around her as her own hips swayed to whatever song consumed the entirety of her consciousness at the moment. Nothing had ever mattered, and nothing ever would matter. Why should it? She had fitfully decided the only lesson to be learned from life was that there was no lesson to be learned at all. She would do as she pleased, when she pleased. She regarded every aspect of the world around her as a gift wrapped and addressed to her, waiting without any purpose other than to bring her selfish joy when she chose to unwrap it. This was the only state of being she understood, living solely for the sake of the moment’s joy.

Days were filled with little interest to her. She shopped, of course, and read by the beach, and otherwise napped. She slept a lot, finding nothing better to do. And when the sun fell behind the stretching expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in a slow and marvelous performance of warm oranges and gentle pinks, she would draw herself from her state of lethargy, paint herself in endless and ever-changing designer garments and priceless jewels, and set out in the buzzing city for whatever party she had only moments before decided she would attend. There she would instantly start drinking (the name of the liquor never mattered, although she always preferred a martini) in order to slip her mind into a state stupid enough to genuinely enjoy the dull company around her. After making herself comfortable, her memory of the night tended to grow foggier, as it was never long before her judgment was clouded by more potent substances, however she never failed to recall how much she loved to dance. Not for the men around her, certainly not for the women, and, on some psychoanalytic level she couldn’t be bothered pondering, not even for herself. She danced because her body seemed to be as much a part of the night as the warm winds that brushed against her skin, the stars that winked and watched her move with ethereal grace, and the music that drifted through space as though the universe itself was producing the wild melodies, created solely to fall in love with her body, which rotated and swayed in sync with its harmonious soul mate as though time itself existed only in the moments of their performance. Her body, which moved with no notion of awkwardness and an enchanting sureness not learned but inborn, had asserted itself as an immutable and undeniable part of the world, as concrete in its livelihood as the ancient Atlantic, which had held the sun every night behind its glittering surface for lifetimes before her body had presented itself, yet, somehow, they seemed equally as eternal.

She knew, without consciously allowing herself to know (for she had forbidden herself from partaking in intelligent understandings), that she had at some time assumed there was no need for doing anything for any particular reason at all. She lived day by day doing absolutely nothing for absolutely no reason at all. There was no question as to whether this made her happy or not, because happiness was of equal unimportance and casual relativity as everything else was. She saw no reason to attempt any previously conjured idea of greatness or purpose, because, invariably, these things had been foolishly imagined and fed to grow to pretentious sizes. The impression of living for the goal of honor was useless, for all efforts and attainment were equally valueless to her.

Despite the drastic change in disposition, she still held a peculiar ability to be fully aware of the state of her existence. She knew, on a level of thought above the one she presently lived in, that this was a phase in her life she would inevitably grow tired of and move on from. But, for the moment, she attained an exhilarating mental and spiritual liberation from living with no particular significance placed on life itself.

In the months under the sun and at one with the energy around her, her figure had taken on a kind of beauty it had not before experienced. The constant poise at which her slim, lengthy limbs had been previously held at seemed to relax in the sultry atmosphere, giving her movements renewed vitality and charm. Her haughty cheekbones had become more subdued, slightly rounding her face into something more youthful and unconcerned. And her skin, still pampered with the upmost care, had allowed itself to glow with the gathered light of many days spent under the sun’s embrace. At a quick glance her appearance had hardly altered at all. Yet under close inspection, with the careful eye of someone who had known her before this transformation, it was as though her allure had temporarily retired its elegant position to assume a more natural, nymph-like appeal; existing as one with the sun and stars and ocean around her. It was easily presumable that, regardless of the background of her presence, she would maintain as the incomprehensible vision of beauty incarnate, for, in her, soul and spirit were one - the beauty of her body was the essence of her soul.

-----

“What will draw a smile from you, mon cheri?” came the French-accented voice of her latest beau, a man she had known in another life and, remembering his amusing stupidity and dull charm, called up several weeks ago to join her in Barcelona. The Grimaldi had escorted her to a number of parties, however was usually quick to lose her as Valerie was often a challenge to keep up with. They usually spent time together during the day, where she would put in a minimal amount of effort to show interest in his endless attempts to enrapture her. He was hardly inconspicuous about his beliefs that they would, eventually, be married, and had become increasingly persistent in his efforts to please her. This was the case for almost all of the many, many men Valerie had enchanted. They invariably made wild changes to their inborn natures, completely recreating themselves with in the hopes it would be enough to one day call the golden woman their own. A restless man would become faithful, a proud man submissive, and a selfish man generous. And just as predictable as it was that he, whoever he may be, should try valiantly to claim her for eternity, it was equally inevitable that she should eventually grow bored with him. She rarely gave any indication that she shared the same level of fascination with her partner that he found in her, in fact she rarely showed any interest for her suitors at all, but this disdain toward everything around her only further fueled men in their quests to move Valerie from her perpetual disinterest.

“Nothing you can offer me, darling,” she practically groaned, her gaze resting lazily on the martini in front of her, which she swirled wearily. It was a particularly gorgeous day, with the radiant afternoon sun’s rays hugging their skin and enriching the landscape around them. The restaurant she had decided on sat overlooking the magnificent Atlantic, whose surface glittered like a massive pane of empyrean glass under heaven’s burning eye. Around them men, woman and children all went about their business like an eccentric hive of insects, their thoughts and lives grossly inconsequential to Valerie. She knew they possessed an ignorance that allowed them to run around with no real understanding of what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, yet she knew, at their stupid little cores, they felt a sense of purpose, even one they themselves could not recognize, and that she had given up on. She pitied them and envied them simultaneously.

At her callous response he tried to restrain a look of disappointment in himself, one built from the repetition of such replies from Valerie. The expression was fleeting, for he quickly replaced it with a look of over-zealous excitement in attempt to lift her spirits. “I know, we can go riding on the beach! You always loved horse riding, my love,” he offered without success. She merely adjusted her ‘Dior Eyes’ sunglasses, detailed luxuriously with gold and ivory, before taking another inhale from the cigarette resting lazily in her fingers. He was correct in knowing that horseback riding had once been an activity of mild interest to her, however now the thought of doing so appeared fruitless.

“I’d really rather not,” she said, executing his spirits with one swift and remorseless bullet. His constant attempts at persuasion were growing more irritating than usual, and she quickly debated between going back to her suite and sleeping with him, or leaving him and searching for more entertaining prospects. Having already graciously satisfied his physical cravings for her earlier that day, she decided on the latter. Just had the silence between them had lasted longer than he could possibly bear, she interrupted him. “I want to go on a drive,” she announced. The corners of his mouth began turning upward in crazed joy, his spirits electrified by her revelation. However just as he began offering to join her, his mind already painting a picture of the celebrated time they would share, she cut him off again, with a curt and cold, “Alone.” Rising from her seat she left him with the bill; gathering her cherry-colored Chloe ‘Aurore Chain Wallet Clutch’, which hung lightly from her shoulder by a delicate gold chain, and made for the establishment’s exit.

Back on the streets of Barcelona she was greeted passionately by the one aspect of her life that had not vanished since running away from home: The paparazzi. If anything they had grown more intense, every one of the pigs consumed by insanity in their mission to capture as many photos as possible of the enigmatic socialite. The rest of the world had taken her sudden change in lifestyle with varying opinions, all equally confused and intrigued. Some believed she had struck the same fate as many trust fund children before her – having been completely consumed with cocaine appetites and party fetishes. Others felt she simply wanted a prolonged vacation and was enjoying her time away. They were all wrong, of course, for she herself wasn’t entirely sure what she was doing, but her opinion nor theirs was important to her. She merely made mild attempts to hide from the attacking camera flashes while making her way from the restaurant to her next destination.

Once risen from her seat, the entirely of her ensemble was visible to the greedy cameramen. Her amorous curves were caressed with a graceful amount of sensuality by a white Adam Lippes dress, which fell just above her knees and hung from her shoulders with a boatneck cut. Nude ‘So Kate’ Louboutins clacked against the hot pavement as she strode, the heels only amplifying her already statuesque height. The outfit effortlessly embellished the innate glamour in her movements as she paced to where her parked vehicle awaited her.

The white Lamborghini Aventador Roadster had been purchased months ago, one of the few cars she owned and easily her favorite, and had only just recently finished its voyage over-seas. The car was the embodiment of opulence, and brought a genuine smile across her angelic face. Her gently tousled hair glowed golden under the sunlight for several moments before disappearing inside the vehicle, the rest of her body following eagerly behind.

The luxury car streaked across the paved landscape like an ivory bolt of lightning. She accepted no speed limits, wanting only to drive faster and faster until she was transported to another time and place. Or she crashed. Either would achieve the same purpose, she supposed. As she raced along the countryside, already miles from the city, she pondered what her next adventure would be. She was coming to the horrifying realization that even Barcelona itself, the exciting city that asked nothing of her and offered everything in return, was starting to bore her. And, with an even more frightening thought, she came to realize that no other city, no company, no event, could spark interest in her. Her life had assumed inertia. The world around her moved forward as it always had and always would, but she, Valerie Huntington-Whiteley; “it”-girl of the Upper East Side, First Lady of Fashion, Hellfire Queen, Headmistress of l'Académie, and envied icon across the globe, was at a complete and utter standstill. Barcelona had kept her satisfied with this position for a time, but now she was forced to contemplate what was next. And for the first time in her life, she had no idea what that would be.

Maneuvering herself through the winding roads with surprising skill for someone who found herself at the wheel of a car rather than in the seats behind it only on sparse occasions. The wild ride had offered her trembling mind no console, only a place to focus her attention rather than on the reality she refused to grant any importance.

It was not that Valerie was in a state of denial, for that would imply she would not accept her present conditions. She did realize these facts, and completely welcomed them, but it was her overall lack of seriousness toward life that allowed her not to care. She was sure Mercy would try to convince her otherwise, however she had not spoken to her sisterly-friend since entering this state of immobility. And when she reflected back on the recent months, she remembered nothing but times of fun and self-indulgence, and could not find any appeal in reassuming responsibilities now that she had grown bored.

But if she no longer wanted to do nothing, while simultaneously seeing no reason to do anything, where did that leave her? This was the last question she asked herself before, in a horrifying symphony of screeching tires and the deafening crash of breaking roadblocks, the handsome Lamborghini flew off the cliff side and arched dreamily through the clear blue skies, ending its short life, and the life of its passenger, with a shattering blow against the Atlantic’s unforgiving surface.

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First Lady of Fashion

"It" Girl

Immersed in the world of fashion since the day she was born, Valerie often suggests her first words as a child were among the likes of Saint Laurent, Versace, and Givenchy. Deriving from a long line of iconic females on her mother’s side, Valerie’s passion for designers and runways has stapled her as the newest, and possibly most influential, member of these feminine figures. From the time Valerie could walk her mother made sure to introduce her to the wild, artistic, and glamorous world of fashion, never failing to place her enchanting daughter in the front row of high fashion runway shows and reading her bedtime stories straight from the pages of Vogue.

Even as a child Valerie was captivated by the world of fashion and its far-reaching influence on every aspect of life. This captivation grew into obsession, and with a limitless bank account during her teenage years, Valerie quickly and successfully developed a personal style that caught the eyes of not only her classmates on the Upper East Side, but the international fashion community. She was instantly made a muse to designers such as Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, and Raf Simons among many others. This as well as her naturally alluring appearance led to a brief modeling career in young adulthood, however Valerie quickly decided she preferred watching the runway rather than walking on it.

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After immortalizing herself as the “It” girl of her generation, Valerie continued to pursue other ventures involving her love of fashion. She frequently dons the collections of amateur designers, always interested in discovering and spotlighting young talent. Her socialite status and worldwide appeal makes every ensemble she displays an instant favorite among fashion and celebrity magazines.

After a mere twenty-five years as a fashion and glamour icon, Valerie has already cemented herself in fashion history. Often referred to as a modern-day Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, she never ceases to venture into new and unprecedented fashion waters while making her every step a success. With a deep understanding for every aspect of the fashion industry, from designing to materials to marketing and business, Valerie’s international fame and iconic personal style has made her the undisputed First Lady of Fashion.

Valerie Huntington-Whiteley's Closet

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Relationships

A list of Valerie's personal and other relationships (subject to change)

Mercy Sheridan

Valerie met Mercy Sheridan in the earliest years of her adolescence, and her life in the city would never be the same. The daughter of a wealthy US government official father and lawyer mother, Mercy instantly became Valerie’s lifelong friend. The natural redhead’s administrative tendencies proved the perfect balance to Valerie’s wild side, the two Upper East Side princesses spending their youth together roaming Fifth Avenue and ruling their preparatory academy like true queen bees. Attending one of Manhattan’s most illustrious (and expensive) preparatory schools together the pair spent countless nights in one other’s bedrooms enjoying éclairs and Audrey Hepburn or out in the city at high-end bars and clubs that served the underage for a healthy bribe. Coming from a cold household that upheld strict rules and expectations for Valerie, Mercy and New York had become her home away from home where she could truly be happy and herself.

Every year the girl’s school held a Halloween Masquerade, and for senior year, Valerie and Mercy planned to make it one to remember. But they could have never planned for what happened. Their respected superhuman abilities had long-since began developing, and the two had just begun learning to better control their powers. It was the lack of control that caused the death of one of their fellow classmates, Valerie’s volatile telepathy lashing out while she was under the influence of too much champagne and a few lines of coke. They quickly removed themselves from the scene, swearing to one another to always keep it their darkest secret.

After their first brush with violence and murder Valerie and Mercy graduated together, their lives quickly turning in separate directions as Valerie transcended the ranks of the social and business scenes while Mercy continued training into the apex warrior. However no matter the time or distance between them, the White and Black Queens of the Upper East Side never let the bright light of their immutable friendship fade.

The Knightfalls

Being the daughter of one of the world’s wealthiest families granted Valerie a childhood surrounded by the offspring of other global elites. This included the Knightfall family. While their scholastic careers never crossed each another, Valerie had become familiar with all the Knightfall children from a young age through parties, galas, and various other aristocratic social events. Long before their children’s births, Nicolas and Claire Huntington-Whiteley and Jayden and Grace Knightfall had maintained a strong friendship, often aiding each other in their morally questionable business and personal practices. This relationship was passed onto their children, Valerie and the Knightfall children’s adolescent history providing them a fortified alliance in their business and personal affairs.

Quintus Knightfall

Friends since childhood, Valerie and Quintus' relationship has manifested several different ways since their youth. Harboring a secret admiration for her Upper East Side companion throughout high school, Valerie's juvenile ego and romantic instability hindered her from ever expressing her feelings to the charming Knightfall, keeping the aristocratic adolescents from exploring a relationship outside of their historic friendship. With adulthood came a seemingly permanent chasm between the international powerhouses, Valerie establishing herself as glamorous matriarch of the Hellfire Club and Quintus focusing his limitless resources on correcting the world's indiscretions.

Heartbroken by the new's of his death, Valerie was careful to show little remorse in the public eye, determined to keep her aloof reputation. However internally the White Queen mourned his passing endlessly, filled with regret for never expressing the feelings she had for him.

The unforeseen resurrection of Quintus Knightfall brought forth a new chapter for their relationship. Determined to show her appreciation for her longtime friend, a succession of intimate dates led to both Valerie and Quintus unveiling their passion for one another. The unrivaled power couple of their generation, their relationship is simultaneously the first Valerie has ever had to experience real love. Completely enamored by the entirety of his persona, Quintus is the first man to capture the heart of the White Queen.

Valerie and Quintus' relationship has since dissolved.

Engaged 11/27/13

Rafael Romeiro

Under construction
Under construction

Adriana Huntington

Ziccarra Liafador

Maya Liafador

Selene Liafador

Ivana

Amaranth

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White Queen's Telepathy

An in-depth look at some of the things Valerie can do with her omega-level telepathic abilities.

"Telepathy is the ability to transfer information from one mind to another and to read the mind and thoughts to humans and animals without the aid of physical communication (noise or movement)."

Telepathy can be utilized in a number of way, including, but certainly not limited to, the following:

Cloak Mind - The ability to rearrange the mental engrams of someones so their thought patterns cannot be detected by psychic-type devises or by other telepaths.

Psionic Shield - The ability to erect a psychic shield for protection of oneself and other minds.

Psychic Shadow - The ability to mask oneself, and other peoples' presence, from those within a certain area. A telepath can also disguise themselves, making their appearance similar to that of a shadow.

Telepathic Cloak - The ability to telepathically mask one's presence and the use of his/her abilities from being detected by other psychic entities. These defenses can be extended to others around them as well. Cloaking via telepathy is not perfect and powerful telepathic mutants may notice and 'see' through this ability.

Telepathic Illusions - The ability to create realistic telepathic illusions and cause people to experience events which are not actually occurring.

Telepathic Camouflage - The ability to alter the apparent physical appearance of oneself and others by altering the perceptions of those around them. This can go so far as to make other people believe that the camouflaged people are not there (invisible). The only limit to this ability, if one exists, is only imposed by the number of people a telepath is trying to fool, not the number of people a telepath is actually camouflaging.

Telepathic Manipulation - The ability to manipulate other people's minds easily, achieving a variety of effects.

Absorb Information - The ability to quickly process and store information, by mental transference.

Astral Projection - The ability to project one's astral form from their body onto astral planes or the physical planes. In the physical plane one can travel in astral form over vast distances.

Dark Psyche - The ability to release the dark side of a person's personality, either making them seem tougher or evil in any way.

Dilate Power - The ability to place “psychic inhibitors” in the minds of adversaries to prevent them from using their powers.

Download Information - The ability to place large amounts of information in another's mind.

Heal Trauma - The ability to erase a person’s memories and to heal mental trauma through “psychic surgery”, the power to stimulate or deaden the pain and pleasure centers in a person's brain.

Induce Pain - The ability to induce mental pain.

Intuitive Multilingual - The ability to intuitively translating new languages.

Mass Manipulation - The ability to subtly use deep influence upon multiple people, allowing a telepath to manipulate their perceptions, better judgment, wills and common sense.

Mental Amnesia - The ability to erase any awareness of particular memories or cause total amnesia.

Mental Detection - The ability to sense the presence of another superhuman within a small but as yet undefined radius of oneself by perceiving the distinctive mental radiations emitted by such a being.

Mental Paralysis - The ability to induce temporary mental or physical paralysis.

Mental Sedating - The ability to telepathically "sedate" one's victims so that, if already rendered unconscious, they remain so for as long as a telepath continues to "sedate" them.

Mind Alteration - The ability to alter the minds of others by sheer force of will, permanently changing their personality either partially or entirely.

Mind Control - The ability to control the thoughts and actions of others.

Mind Link - The ability to develop a mental link with any person.

Mind Transferal - The ability to transfer both the mind and powers of the user into other host bodies should their own physical body somehow be killed.

Neural Jump-Start - The ability to increase the speed of neural signals in the brain, allowing him to increase another's powers to incredible levels, but the effect is only temporary.

Possession - The ability to possess the mind of another, and use that being's body, and any powers it may possess, as one's own.

Psionic Blasts - The ability to project psionic force bolts which have no physical effects but which can affect a victim's mind so as to cause the victim pain or unconsciousness and can even kill an adversary.

Psionic Siphoning - The ability to siphon the psychic energies from other psionic mutants. The stolen psychic energy can be used to either boost one's own powers or channel the energy into someone else to temporarily increase their psionic abilities.

Telepathic Tracking - Enhanced psionic senses enable a telepath to detect and track other sentient beings by their unique psionic emanations (thought patterns contained in the psionic portion of the spectrum), especially if they pose a threat to one's well-being in their immediate vicinity.

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Homo Superior

Pale blue eyes stared back at her from the vanity’s mirror, their cold and expressionless exterior giving no insight to the thoughts within. She was faced by mirrors every moment of every day. Whether it be in the morning while her hair and makeup team prepared her for the day, during the day while she glanced over image after image of herself inside fashion and celebrity magazines, or at night, when her own reflection within the pleading eyes of her victims was just visible before she swiftly took the light out of them. And every so often while her captivating appearance stared back at her she couldn’t help but wonder: If the eyes are the window to the soul, why did she see nothing in hers?

“Ms. Huntington-Whiteley, the last of your guests have arrived. Shall I let them know you’re coming?” a cautious voice asked from her doorway, knowing better than to step within her quarters uninvited. Tearing her gaze away from the mirror she met the servant’s eyes with an apathetic expression.

“Yes,” she said curtly, her response dismissing the man to carry out her instructions. She looked over herself once more to ensure not a single strand of light blonde hair was out of place and not a single string loose on the White Queen’s corset. While many taboos had come and gone throughout the Hellfire Club’s extended existence, the traditional monarch attire had remained a staple among the organization. And now the revealing corset and flowing cape, worn by numerous White Queens before her, was displayed proudly on the unparalleled physique of Valerie Huntington-Whiteley.

With her guests awaiting her, the French fatale added one final touch to her ensemble. Reaching forward she grabbed a bottle of Chanel No. 5 resting on the vanity before spraying the elegantly sensual fragrance over her silky-smooth skin. Replacing the glass bottle to its previous position she stood to her full statuesque height and exited her personal quarters within the mansion.

After pacing through the many hallways of the Hellfire Club Mansion, the white-clad beauty opened a pair of double doors and entered a dimly lit room where a number of men and women turned their heads at her arrival. The room was lit with nothing but candlelight, however the nighttime lights from the city pouring in from the mansion’s only floor-to-ceiling windows supplemented the room with just enough light to distinguishing the stone-cold faces of its inhabitants. The formally-dressed men and woman sat around a large desk that took up the majority of the room, at the head of which sat an empty throne-like chair.

Valerie walked across the room slowly, her associates waiting patiently for her to take her seat as the clear leader of the group. She lifted the back of her cape to avoid sitting on it as she rested her predominately-exposed bottom within her throne before looking out among those who had answered her call with a steely gaze. The French beauty’s natural allure was overshadowed this evening by the cold determination radiating off of her, her appearance projecting more malevolence than its usual sensuality. After taking a moment to settle in her seat, her mesmerizing French accent broke the room’s silent tension.

“I appreciate the audience you all have granted me, especially due to the distance some of you had to travel to be here tonight. However, as I’m sure you are all aware, the results of this meeting will more than rectify a ride on the private jet.” She paused before shifting to the reason why the group had gathered within the Hellfire Club’s walls.

“Besides you sit some of the world’s foremost business leaders, politicians, and criminal figures, to name some of the illustrious titles of the men and women gathered here. While global influence and vast amounts of wealth may appear to be the only string connected us all, we know there is another: the mutant gene.

Within our own lives, our metahuman abilities has brought nothing but wealth and prosperity to ourselves and our legacies. However the world has reached an age where the benefits of carrying the mutant gene no longer outweighs its disadvantaged amid a world of fear and hatred. Our potent positions within the world have granted us with an immunity from the uglier sides of mutant predigest, however that does not extinguish it within the rest of humanity.

I see no need for any mutant, wealthy and powerful or poor and helpless, to suffer by the hand of homo sapiens when the fact remains: we are the superior species. The human species has taken its next step in evolution. The homo sapiens are an outdated model of a machine living to its full potential within the mutant gene. And why should the strong suffer, while the weak survive?

I have gathered you all here today because I am well aware of your similar views on the issue of homo sapiens. The ideology behind believing that humans are superior to mutants must be eradicated from this world. Or else the human race itself will be. By our hands. The homo sapiens must be taught a lesson in survival of the fittest, reminded of the guiding principles of Darwinism.

We begin to establish the natural hierarchy at the Hellfire Club’s Halloween Gala."

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