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Post by krzy on Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:53 pm

Tailcoat Val watches a replay of the women's match from the inaugural Crossfire with vested interest, eyes hungrily scanning and studying every movement. The way their hair unpredictably falls over their faces. The way their eyes squeeze shut as they endure what could have been a debilitating hit. The way their jaws clench as they battle with a second wind. Val watches and absorbs it all, pausing only when Slate's voice intrudes on her thoughts.

"Is there something I can help you with?" he snaps.

Val looks down, a look of annoyance passing through her face. The camera zooms out showing that she's been sitting on the edge of Slate's desk, helping herself to use of his television. Slate snaps to his feet meeting Val's curious stare with an unamused one of his own.

"Whatever it is you're planning, I want no part of it," he squeezes through clenched teeth.

Val tenderly cradles Slate's jaw with a gloved hand until he jerks his head away.

"What I have planned," she calmly begins, "is beyond the scope of your comprehension. However, I assure you that," she glances at the match and smiles, "Bob Luger does not factor into those plans."

Slate crosses his arms. He plops back down into his chair with a sigh.

"Bob Luger's destruction is a pet project of mine." Slate sneers. "Call me a perfectionist, but I'm very particular in the ways I wish to make his life miserable. You’ll make for an excellent contingency."

"Until then—"

"Until then, you stand down."

"Until then, you have some new toys to play with."

The match footage warps and distorts, the audio incomprehensible as though it were a cypher meant to be decrypted. Slate mutters that he just bought the damn thing. His grumbles are drowned out by a sudden wave of static that fills the television screen.

Five men step into the frame, bringing with them clouds of smoke. They're all dressed alike. Masked. Physical features of weight and height the only means of telling them apart.

Slate stands up and walks over to the screen. Formulas and shorthand notes surround each man as they're cycled through one by one.

"Who are they?"

"Who they were is no longer of any concern.

Her voice is cold, dropping the veneer of playfulness that colored them before.

"They are tools. Interchangeable. Expendable. Some better fit for certain applications than others."

She turns to Slate, lips curled into a wicked grin

"This is my Arsenal. An unprecedented means of extracting information from this roster. Do you send forth the brute to impose their will? Or would the man half his size but twice as scrappy fare better in his shoes?"

Val's eyes sparkle, her admiration for her creations bleeding into her expression.

"Even more fascinating: what if the victim were to choose their opponent? Their last breaths used to name which one they believe they'll have a fighting chance against?"

She places her hands behind her back, in silent awe as the slideshow continues. Something about one of the men seems peculiar, and it forms a troubling thought in the back of Slate’s mind that he can’t quite shake. Finally, he verbalizes his suspicions.

"What happened to Toxiera?"

If Val heard the question, nothing in her expression or body language shows it.

At least not immediately.

But the faintest twitch of a smile plays on her lips, and that’s enough for Slate to know it’s best not to inquire further.


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