|What: A poker game aboard the Airship Excelsior proves interesting for all involved.|
It is a fine day for the middle of winter, the breeze is frosty but the sky is infinitely clear and the sun shines brightly down on the waves. Well beyond the recourse of land, the airship Excelsior glides at four thousand feet above the ocean. Half a kilometer in length, the cabin has rooms and facilities for over 200 people.
This is a nominally private voyage, taking off in Monaco with a second stop in the Canary Islands, it is exactly at the half way point to the Cayman's. The decor is exquisite, and the exact ticket price is unknown since the five voyages thus far have all been with a different VIP sponsor. In this case, the mystery patron is also hosting a poker game in the very large lounge. A jazz band of moderate skill is playing in the background, and there is despite all a highly relaxed atmosphere to the thing. The buy in is $3.14 million, in any currency of choice.
It's a moment in time when Loki really doesn't care if he's seen or not. He's been lying low, but now, slowly but surely he's stretching. Nothing too overt, certainly, but he's beginning to make his presence known once again.
This... this trip has caught his eye for oh-so-many reasons, and now impeccably dressed, the Prince of Asgard in exile wanders the lounge in a tux, his manner and mien wearing it comfortably. A cane in one hand, he's got a champagne flute in the other, and begins to wander, allowing his feet to carry him towards that poker game. After all, it -is- why he's here after all.
This trip was going to cost him...probably in more ways than one. But in Warren Worthington III's case, he really doesn't care. He's been throwing money around like it was water and playing poker on a luxury yacht seemed a pleasant change from the nightclubs he's been frequenting of late. He's really made no effort to hide his identity -- he is, after all, doing what any hugely wealthy socialite heir should be doing, according to Hollywood and all the gossip magazines.
As requested, he's wearing one of his Armani tuxedos, his pure white wings out on display for all to see.
Oh come now, an event this grand and in such a luxurious craft simply demands for proper finery. With the addition of the game's simply staggering buy-in, who would want a random slouch sitting at the table?
Mystique's gone through her usual level of delicate planning, allowing for one of her personas to make it onto the guest list. With a plus one. Tall boots, complete with heel, do not always make for a tall woman. Blonde hair (that appears natural, at least) and with blue eyes, she's surrounded in a backless black leather piece with spacious legs which give the appearance of an ankle length skirt without going through the trouble of wearing one, and a total height of around five feet and seven inches. Between the attire, the cosmetics, and the jewelry, she's decorated herself with enough monetary value to rival that of most family sedans.
Of course she can cover the buy-in. Just don't question where the money happened to come from.
Her plus one for the trip happens to be Loki, himself. The two enter together, a stemmed glass likewise in her own hand.
"And here the fun shall begin."
Kilroy is a waiter. He's wearing a nice tux, perfectly pressed, and no one gives a crap that he is here. He's serving drinks and mixing in among the populace of betters, face utterly and completely neutral but seeing all and hearing much.
So let's see: VIP cruise on an airship. Ridiculously high stakes poker game. Formal wear required. So-So Jazz band in the background?
Count Tony in.
Tony is wearing a hand tailored tuxedo. All black, save for the lapels, tie, and the stripe down the leg - those are white. For a highlight, he has a red handkerchief folded ad tucked into the sportscoat's breast pocket. Smoked shades cover his eyes, but his trademark goatee is sharply groomed and his hair is perfectly coiffed.
He moves with an ease that speaks of him being used to such events. He heads to the bar, orders a twenty year old scotch, neat. Overtipping, he takes his drink and heads towards the poker table but doesn't sit down yet.
If he notices Loki when he enters or moves about, he doesn't let it registered. Tony is totally Fonzie in this situation - and what is Fonzie?
As time passes, the tone of the room goes from casual to a light buzz as the unmentioned hour of arrival begins. But before it does, large (very large) tuxedod security men move through the crowd in pairs and tap about six of the folks in the assembled crowd on the shoulder and whisper into their ear. They are quietly escorted out of the room, and it is done subtly enough that MOST do not express alarm or even seem to care.
Loki looks unconcerned, even with Tony Stark entering the 'fray', as it were. He doesn't know Worthington, but there's that brief glance and a whisper towards the lady that is obviously traveling with him. Straightening, there's a smile that begins to crease his face; that 'isn't this going to be interesting' expression. One that promises that if it wasn't before, it will be soon.
"I don't think I could have said it better myself," is murmured. Loki takes a swallow of his champagne and sets it on a tray that is moving past him before he sidelong glances at those around him. The casting out of those not worthy, perhaps?
"Mr. Stark," comes easily. "An interesting field picked for our next meeting, isn't it?"
Warren Worthington heads over to the bar and gets a drink of his own -- he came prepared to spend money. He'll deal with his parents' chastizing later. Following the others who move towards the poker table, he offers a nod, "Stark. Good to see you again." Glancing over at those who speak with the other, he tilts his head at Loki, "You look really familiar. Have we met?" He makes sure to turn on the charm though, when he smiles at the blonde woman. "It's a nice shindig...I have to say, even the Hellfire Club could learn a thing or two from this place."
"Mmh, feel that energy in the air?" Mystique quietly asks of her companion, glancing toward Loki with a glint in her eyes. With the comment made only for her ears her smile grows further, she could probably brighten up the entire room if someone turned the lights off. "Oh, indeed," she replies with a trace of a British accent. Then, there's a whispered comment given to Loki in return before she suggests "Shall we find our seats?"
The others in the room are noted. She knows Stark and Worthington, alright. A few other faces also light up on her radar. This would appear to be high stakes in more than a silly old card game, but she's only playing one hand in order to get a read on another.
In response to Warren, she offers that warm, friendly smile once more. "It is proving to be quite lovely. I cannot imagine why no one has thought to return such a classic event any sooner." Heck, they're on a luxurious airship. Wasn't the last one of its sort called the Hindenburg? Such a connection has not been lost to her, either.
Kilroy continues to Waiterize. Unseen. Unnoticed. He moves back and forth. Why he's even earned quite a few tips. Wahoo. From time to time, the only emotion he really shows is looking at the mysterious door. But then again, most everyone in the room looks in that direction from time to time so even that hardly stands out.
Tony Stark offers Loki a tight smile and nods, "It would appear so - just remember to behave yourself, hmm?" and before he can respond offers Loki's companion a warmer smile, "Looks like he's been holding out on me again - he always does keep the best for himself. Pleasure to meet you. Tony Stark." and offers a hand. After they exchange pleasantries, he's offering a nod to Worthington. "Warren, good to see you again." he says, "Don't let Shaw and Emma hear you say that, they might order a remodel of the whole club - or worse yet, try and burn it to the ground and start over."
For anyone near a window, there is an amusing/terrifying sight of four men and two women in formal wear being summarily thrown out of the deck with parachutes and a large raft with a parachute right behind them. Most of the people in the room who see it chuckle with amusement, and the vast majority don't even care at that level. However, the buzz in the room has increased a bit and the jazz band has stopped playing.
"I do," Loki responds softly, but with obvious relish. He gives something of a theatric shudder when he adds, "It's electric. Isn't that what you all say?"
Now that he's got his intel, the Asgardian turns to face the newly identified Warren Worthington. He straightens a little more, and brows rise before he responds to the question, "Loki. Prince Loki. Of Asgard. Of Jotunheim. God of Chaos." And deception. Oh, and lies. Can't forget that part!
Of course he looks familiar!
Stark's quip regarding 'behaving himself' gains a laugh from the exile, and he turns with a quirk of his head. "And are you going to actually tell me 'how' to behave, Stark? After all, I am who I am." Loki's smile remains, and inclines his head, ready to swing Mystique around to have her avoid his proffered hand, "Of course I do. Why would you deserve such a lovely creature?"
Now, however, Loki catches the motion, and turns to watch.. before that smile fades to that -grin- once again. Blue-green eyes check the room once more, his gaze landing upon another small group that seem to also 'notice' him. There is an incline of his head; acknowledgment, before he seizes another flute of champagne as it comes by via a waiter.
Sometimes it's a curse to have superior eyesight. Warren notes those being tossed off the airship and he nearly chokes on his drink, "I..." he glances to the others to see if they saw what he did. "I get that this is an exclusive sort of party, but...is it really necessary to toss people overboard?" At least they were given parachutes.
Loki gets a glance before he arches an eyebrow, "Oh. Right. I remember you now. It was because of you that I was in a coma for six weeks. Thank you so much for that," the last is said with obvious sarcasm. Looking at the Poker table he mutters something about wanting to begin this thing. His drink is quickly downed and swiftly refilled.
Tony Stark looks between Loki and Warren and smirks. "Oh, so know each other already. Excellent." - not many people realize that there are many different sides to Tony. Tonight's Tony is "Icy" Tony which can also be confused with "Tony The Bastard" - as evidenced by his not so much even reacting to people getting tossed over with parachutes and a life raft, "So yeah, I'm sure the French judge is gonna short their scores because of the extra splash when they hit the water." - although no one knows /who/ tipped off the Coast Guard to scramble to quickly rescue those people...
The ejection of a small number of passengers seems like an oddly fitting background as the metamorph's attention focuses on Tony Stark next. "From what I've heard, you're guilty of doing the same," she teases in such a light manner that the jab may well up and float away. "Emily Smythe. Truly a pleasure." At least for her, anyway. Loki's being possessive, though she's a good sport about it.
Her disguise probably won't last forever. She's realistic about these things, she's practically hanging off of the man that openly identifies himself as the -God of Chaos- and who made it quite clear who he's here with today. It stands to reason that -someone- onboard is going to be running in-depth background checks for anything connected to 'Emily's' identity. She's established the essentials, there's relevant data on electronic record tied to the name, but she's not gone to obsessive lengths. All this name has to do for now is see her through the journey.
So far, so good.
To Warren's question regarding those passengers, 'Emily' turns back to him with her friendly smile yet intact. "They do offer quite the myriad of activities here, don't they? It seems that basejumping and deep-sea diving are on the list." Oh, and Warren already knows Loki! How positively splendid.
Tony Stark smiles at Emily and her response, "Emily. Pleasure's all mine - and guilty as charged. Except my escapades don't usually end up with millions in damage." and a beat pause, "Well, there was that spring break in Cabo my sophomore year of college..."
There is a silence that moves across the room. People stop buzzing and E.F. Hutton...no...it's a guy in a well pressed tuxedo with very very fine threaded dollar bill signs as well as other symbols for currency woven into it. He carries a cane with the head of a golden calf and looks to be in his late fourties early fifties. He raises his voice, and speaks, quite clearly someone used to speaking to large crowds, "Ladies and Gentlemen. I am your host. Welcome this evening. The rules are rotational at each table. Dealer's choice. Please present your sacrificial stake in the tournament to one of the workers as they go about and you will be given your chips."
The doors to the far wall open and three large palates of...poker chips are taken out and pulled behind several guards. As the guards approach players, their cash is present and then vanishes, with a small digital display being instantly shown on the chip. "These chips are state of the art. And a bit more, but we'll go into that later this evening. Suffice to say your funds are more secure than you can imagine." One gentleman seems highly reluctant to contribute and as he hesitates the host smiles, "Ah. You are welcome to leave at any time sir."
The would be reluctant player shakes his head and presents his stake. As players around the tables are divided up, cards are presented from sealed decks. One of the workers approaches the four gathered together near the window, and extends a hand.
Cash? Who buys in with cash? Particularly when the $500 bill is no more? Gold. All weighed and notarized with a valuation. And it's not 'on him'. It appears seemingly out of nowhere to land upon a table. "For the lady and myself." Keen blue-green eyes search the room, that smile remaining as a ghost upon his lips.
As for Warren, Loki looks unrepentant, and goes so far as to fashion a curious expression. "When was that again?"
Stark. Now, this is a side of him that Loki hasn't seen, and it amuses him. Intrigues him. Now, this... this is a man that he -might- be able to respect. "We'll have to fix that. Up the stakes, as it were, Stark. Go for some real damage one day. You'll enjoy it. Just let loose. You know you want to."
Kilroy very briefly looks horrified. He knows what's going on here. This isn't just a poker game...and if his father succeeds...they'll be no stopping it. But...HOW? He looks around and notices Mr. Stark and Warren Worthington. Alone, in a room next to the God of Chaos and several other less than savory types. This will take some thinking.
Warren Worthington has also come prepared -- that much cash is not the easiest to carry, but there are methods of transfer that, surely, this place will accept. He looks at the man who is their host and notes his outfit. There's a brief frown as he considers it before he offers his buy-in to the worker. There's a humorless chuckle as he offers to Loki, "I'm sure it's not something you remember. A little tiff with Thor in a museum a while back. I'm sure it didn't even cross your radar."
He's trying to be a blase, uncaring multi-millionaire. It's what's expected of him and it's what people seem to want to see out of him. This is very different from boozing it up at nightclubs but he's not about to back out now.
Even if he could just fly off of the airship.
One way to alleviate the financial burdeon of such a steep buy-in is to be accompanied by a God. This trip's finances are thoroughly covered for Emily, which she's plenty content to allow.
For her, this game has started long before the chips have been passed out. Mystique has no particular gifts which will allow her to have the upper hand in this game. Where she does excel is in reading people, and acting in ways which allow her to play a crowd as she desires. Fake tells, careful planning, feeling everything out, and above all, observing those around her on the sly. Such as their host. -Particularly- with their host.
There stands a man whom is holding out on them all.
And Loki is taunting Stark. She can't help but grin slightly, that twinkle within her eyes once more. Loki's suggestion to the billionaire -does- sound like a grand recipe for entertainment across the board. But, first and foremost, they still have this particular lavishly decorated nut to crack open.
Tony Stark is also prepared, and Loki's chiding is merely met with a cocky smirk. "Obviously, you haven't done your homework or you'd realize how much wanton destruction I've unleashed on the world without ever having left my office." - and then turns away from the trickster abruptly, like a mic drop. When approached for his stake, Tony reaches into his inner sportcoat pocket and withdraws a small folder, the kind used to pay checks in restaurants. He offers to the person who is asking for it, and nods indicating for them to open it to verify the contents.
Only Tony Stark would carry 31 $100,000 dollar and 4 $10,000 bills on him and treat the transaction as if he were picking up the dinner check.
The money has changed hands and the poker chips are distributed. The games in the room are all quite successful in the enjoyment department, and the liquor and the cards flow well. Luck seems to shine on all here, and while there is always someone on a losing streak, they seem to lose well. One might say that the 'prosperity' of the games is at apex.
A table is provided for the four present.
A few moments, people seem to examine their chips...and furrow their brows and begin looking around their tables. The host looks...disturbed for a moment and then with great subtly the chips are replaced immediately with a bit of slight of hand. This is noticed by almost no one primarily because they're ADDING chips rather than taking.
For the first time that evening the Host looks...concerned, very quietly, almost imperceptibly concerned nonetheless...and is looking around the room.
Loki has chips in hand now, and is ready to throw down, as it were. A seat is taken at the proffered seat, but not before taking a look around. Keen eyes land upon the host once again, and the gaze lingers for a long moment before he's in.. chips tossed into the pot for the evening's gamble.
"My brother and I are always fighting. In a museum, well... that happens to be one of my preferred venues." Loki looks up at Tony, a guile-less grin on his face. "Isn't it, Stark?" Isn't that where he'd taken an eye?
Regardless! "Watch me take your chips, one and all." As opposed to someone else he'd caught almost red handed.
Warren Worthington takes a seat at the table and shifts to make sure he's comfortable. His wings drape behind him, but he's careful not to have them be hazards to those walking about and refilling drinks. He looks at his chips and then his cards...and at his chips again. Interesting. He looks to Loki, "No cheating. I know that bothering with us non-Asgardians is beneath you, but it wouldn't be polite to our host if you took our chips in an unsportsmanlike manner."
Kilroy is immensely frustrated. His father might not be able to see the coins but he can replace them just as fast as Kilroy can hide them. He increases the pace and Cold Hard Cash matches him dollar for dollar. The more they play the worse this gets. Think! This isn't working. Then an idea hits him...like a ton of bricks.
A short while later, Kilroy walks up to the table and presents a small plastic folder, the kind you might have a receipt or a bill in and places it discreetly at the table of Mr. Stark, Mr. Odinson and Mr. Worthington, tastefully skipping 'emily' since she is the guest of Mr. Odinson.
Intriguing. Emily's endlessly taking careful notes. Once again, it's the behavior from their host that strikes her as the most curious of all. She's got good eyes. Heck, when she wants to she's got downright superhuman senses to play with. There's the sleight of hand, but what exactly is it accomplishing? The chips in play never seem to change at all.
One thought which comes to mind is that he's attempting to switch some of them out as a means of DNA-checking everyone. Then again, she's the only one at the table who is not being presented true to form. It's a lot of trouble for one unknown and there are much easier ways of getting such information. Right from the glass she drinks from, that's how she'd do it.
So, the question remains. She has no reasonable answer for it, either. This is a matter for concern.
"I think you will find that some of us are more worthy adversaries than we appear," Emily jokes with Loki. He already knows, of course. She's also not threatening him. It's all but another game they play. Then it's Warren again that she looks to, stating "Surely you wouldn't accuse a man of cheating without just cause..."
Then everyone's handed a plastic folder. Everyone -else.- Looks like she's free to continue studying the other three, searching for a whole new level of tells.
No, wait. The 'waiter' that dropped those folders. Something's changing upon the playing field. Something which she's now preparing herself for.
Tony Stark accepts the folder with a nod, and opens his to glance at the contest. He's sat at enough tables to know to never change his expression once, no matter what's inside it. He does so, and looks up at the others at his table, noting their reactions as well.
The flavor of the room increases in intensity. As people play, the host looks like he wants to make an announcement but doesn't want to stop people from playing either. He is also looking about the room, spotting nothing. The guards also seem to be looking for...they're not even sure what they're looking for.
There is a buzzing in the room, like when you walk into a haunted mansion or buy a new car, or the first day of the first pitch of the world series, a sense of beginnings, a sense of dread, the smell of cash and sweat and high stakes and liquor are in the air, life itself and death, and a turning and no turning at all. But the games play well, and perfect or near perfect hands are held by all those present, even when beaten by a greater one at large.
It's clear the host is going to say something soon but not quite yet.
Bait and switch. Loki's got his eye on his chips, imbued as they are with his gold. He knows it... he can feel the magicks that placed it there.
"Are you accusing me of cheating before I lay a card upon this table? Really." Loki's got cards in hand, and laying two down, pushes them forward and flicks fingers.
Looking up as the small plastic folder is laid before him, Loki reaches for it at first, but then pauses in the gesture. Kilroy is studied for a long moment before he flickers his gaze beyond, and around the room. It's only a brief run before he returns his attention to the table, and his attention lands on Stark. Brows rise and his head cants before he shakes his head ever so slightly. Zeroed out. Nothing. Nada.
"Stark," and Loki's voice is low. "Call the waiter over, if you would."
Warren Worthington also takes a look at the folder, doing his best to maintain a neutral expression, but despite his experience with events like these, he does have less practice than those at the table. There is a brief grimace as he looks at his cards, "You did say that you were God of Chaos." He glances at the others about the table as well, "I'm Agnostic."
It makes sense, really...what a fantastic way to fund a project of such a high expense. It's like Kickstarter for Villains.
The cards. The hands which everyone plays. Statistically speaking, there should be more -bad- hands. More folds. Here Emily is suspecting that the game has been rigged simply to keep all of the players within a continual state of feeling as though they have better odds of winning every hand they play. More confidence, more chips, more money trading hands.
It also makes it somewhat more difficult to get a positive read on the other players.
Emily's looking at a very good hand. -Again.- And again, statistically, this hand has a very good chance of winning.
She decides to fold.
Tony Stark nods to Loki, "In fact," he says evenly, "I think I will. I seem to find the wine a bit sour."
Funny, that. Considering he's drinking scotch.
He leans back, and with the ease of having done so many times before, gracefully motions for the waiter to return to the table. He looks between Loki, Emily, and Warren. He hasn't even looked at his cards yet, if there are any there.
Kilroy nods politely, face perfectly calm despite the emotions roiling in his head. He's grown up among this kind of environment and fits right in, in either side of the role. He nods to Tony, "Yes?"
At the same time, Cold Hard Cash says, "By all means keep playing folks, but might I take a moment to talk to you about the wonders of the chip you're holding? You'll find it automatically converts any money you put into it into any other national currency on earth. It's also connected to the Dark Net, and the ultimate crypto currency. Lose it? It can be replaced. Stolen by a government? Not to worry. We can replace that too. It also has a rather neat feature..." he taps the side of the poker chip and the poker chip becomes lamp, then a rock, then a poker chip again, "Interested clients will be given contact information after the game but in the mean time, please, enjoy."
Tony Stark examines the chip, and floats it along his knuckles. "Interesting enough toy. The question is - is this an infomercial, a shakedown, or a smash-and-grab?" he looks to the others at his table. "Opinion?" - yes, he's even including Loki in on this one.
Blue eyes look up at their host as he gives his spiel but then Warren looks at the others at the table. At Tony's question, he glances to the folder set beside them, "If you ask me, it's a rather brilliant way to gain funds for nefarious business." He keeps his voice low, so as to not garner attention from the others. "With the money in a chip like this, who is to say that they can't just suck it out? It's like...a fancier bitcoin."
Loki nods once to Stark, and he sits still, his attention upon his cards. The moment the waiter arrives, the God of Chaos murmurs, loudly enough for Kilroy and the table to hear, but he cants it such that the rest of the room is in the dark. For all intents and purposes, it's simply some fresh, warm hors d'oevres that is desired.
"If you have a hand in this, you will die. I will allow you to live if you tell me now what is is that is happening here." And Loki sounds oh-so-reasonably. Not to mention perfectly willing to back up his threat.
After all, Loki doesn't threaten.
At the speech, however, Loki slowly turns his head, his regard falling upon Cold Hard Cash. Eyes narrow, and for a moment, seems to consider. Holding his hand out, he murmurs to Mystique, "Give me your dagger."
The -moment- it's passed to him, the Asgardian is on his feet, and in his hand... it's an innocuous looking.. lamp. It's thrown with no little force and no little expertise, however, and the lampshade doesn't seem to offer much in the way of drag before it makes its grand attempt to lodge into the sternum of the man that speaks. Cold Hard Cash? By this time, of course, it is no longer a lamp, but... a knife.
Ever looking as if nothing has happened, Loki retakes his seat with a smirk. "I think it's fascinating."
A convertible Poker chip..? It seems like an odd time to make such an announcement, in the middle of a very costly game for so many people. There's a lot of money riding on these small tokens, and now it's been proven to everyone that they might not be what they appear to be. Is their money actually secure for the current game, let alone anywhere across the globe?
Here's one more reason why Emily had been happy to let someone cover her buy-in. It's not her money on the line!
"And the cards," she suddenly asks while turning toward Mister Cash with an inquiring hook of an eyebrow. "Do they change appearances, as well?"
She's pretty certain that she already has her answer to this question.
To Tony, she offers "I believe anything here is fair game, though I did not intend to buy in for the advertising." Warren's comment, not at all missed, is a very good point as well. Everyone here's paying attention, wonderful.
Dagger. Emily's expression remains completely neutral as she offers in the same low tone of voice "So much for subtlety." There, from under the table, comes a stiletto dagger, neatly placed within Loki's awaiting palm. Yes, she's armed. Go ahead, try to guess where she's keeping her weapons hidden. Then, seeming disinterested, she looks back to her cards. Much like the six passengers getting thrown into the sea a while ago, the dagger's sudden change of direction isn't all that important to her at the moment.
Tony Stark clears his throat, still speaking quietly at his table amongst those sitting there. "Solid holography. That's how it can change shape. Human tech, but not of this time." he nods to Warren, "and you're right. Like a fancy bitcoin. Besides that, not much to to it. Well except.." he nods towards Loki, "There's a definite occult edge to it. Haven't got that figured out, but you might open your third eye and tell us what you see." - Tony looks to Emily and smiles when she produces the dagger. "There's a part of me that's dying to know where that came from."
Kilroy's expressions are like flipping the remote on a TV. Fear. Bravery. Defiance. Consideration. Then the dagger is thrown at his father, relief, guilt, sorrow, and determination all follow in seconds. He looks at Loki, "This is a ritual. I had nothing to do with it and have been trying to stop it. My father can gain magical power over any currency, so by trading it during the poker game...you were helping to make it a real currency that he could do the things he claimed with...ironically...he probably meant what he said." He smiles thinly. "There is a field he is producing which increases the wealth of the games in general, with magic. I...don't know about the cards. I don't think they're affected but that's not my field of expertise."
So....yeah. The guards pretty much reach for their guns until the hired mercenary says through their head gear, "If you WANT to shoot a guy who lays down with the avengers four thousand feet in the air, in a gondola filled with gazillionares be my guest. Oh...and an avenger an x man and ....god who knows she is."
Cold Hard Cash wants to explain that there are safety features built into the chip. No one can steal them, they're more secure than any currency on earth...except of course to him....or Kilroy...but he eloquently says none of this because there is a nice hole in his lung so instead he says, "GUAKAAUAUAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURK!" and bleeds a lot and immediately runs like hell. A series of silver appears on the ground and he ....sort of iceman slides at speeds of about a hundred miles an hour, blood trailing on the floor.
Kilroy looks at Tony, "I don't know anything about the tech either...wait....er...hmm....he bought it from someplace called, 'The Nine Prime Worlds' a year ago, but I don't know anything about them."
Warren Worthington glances to Loki as Emily hands him a dagger, "You lucky sonuva..." is started, but then the knife is let fly and...he just watches. There's a wince at the blood before he starts to slide like Scrooge McDuck on the silver. "Uh. I can heal him, but he'd need to reimburse all of us for this game." He glances at Kilroy and sets the poker chip down and turns over his cards...a winning hand, just like their's. There's a glance at Tony Stark, "Four thousand feet in the air? Really?"
"The Nine Prime Worlds?" Loki looks completely disinterested in the goings on of the man who may bleed to death (if Loki was lucky enough to find an artery). He made his point, as it were. He, too, can make anything into 'a lamp and back into..' something. Though, there flickers interest behind those eyes of his, and he glances at Mystique before he takes his cards and settles them onto the table before him, faced down.
"I actually didn't know how to play." Bluffing!
Over the table, Loki catches the recounting of Tony and his theories and inclines his head in the briefest of nods. "They're enchanted as well. Rather interesting, really. Nothing that couldn't be broken, but there are very few who could do such a thing and have it work."
Tony Stark looks at Loki and cocks an eyebrow, "Well, that gives you a short list of people to shake down to find out why they would want to do it in the first place." and he looks over at Warren, "Well usually it's more like thirty eight or forty thousand feet, but I'll make do with four."
His voice cants low once again, with that touch of steel that lies beneath the surface. Loki's words are for one person... Mystique. "Go ahead. Take the shot. Just be sure you don't pop this ship as I really cannot fly. Unlike the others at this table."
Tony likewise sidelong glances at Loki when he mentions he can't play and lightly chuckles, "Can't play my ass."
"Every lady has her secrets," Emily smoothly replies to Tony with a sly looking smirk.
"Is that so?" she now asks Kilroy with his description of the magic at play. Emily sets her cards upon the table, finishing her thought. "In that case, I wish to make a deposit of two hundred grains. If you appreciated that trick, Mister Stark, then you should love this one.""
Trying to track her every motion isn't an easy task. She's out of the chair, spinning about to a crouch upon the table with one hand bracing herself and the other holding a suppressed .40 caliber pistol, aimed squarely at the retreating Mister Cash as she pulls the trigger twice.
Somewhere throughout all of that she also stopped being 'Emily' and started being Mystique. Very, very -blue- Mystique.
Once she's taken her two shots she looks down to Warren and Tony, a wicked grin now in full swing. "Gentlemen."
And now they know who she is.
Kilroy looks at Mystique, "Er...is what so? Are they enchanted? Yes. Powerful and arcane. But I think..." he squints a moment and then all of a sudden the coins POP and all the money reappears as donated, along with about 21 million created by Cold Hard Cash. Needless to say folks begin grabbing bag fulls of the stuff. Chaos is tarting to increase and with the gun shot, there is a splatter of blood.
"You. Will. All. Be. Cursed!" As he falls out of the window cold air comes into the room and the glass catches in one of the engines. A small fire starts but the 'dead' man falls out the window, hurtling down to the sea below.
Kilroy mutters under his breath sadly, "He was....not always like this."
"Don't worry, Tony. I can always fly you back...as long as we're not at 40,000 feet. Breathing gets a little hard for me at that altitude as I don't have a fancy suit like you do," Warren grins and looks back at the others. An eyebrow lifts as Loki mentions he doesn't know the game, "I'm sure you'd have picked it up quickly enough..." is offered...although it's not as good a comment as Stark's. He looks about to say something when Emily suddenly becomes Mystique and shoots Cash from guns that came from...nowhere.
There's a sigh then, "Of course. Every beautiful woman I meet ends up to be you."
When his mnoney reappears, he takes it...and no more. "Uhm. Maybe this extra stuff could be donated? Put into Scholarships?" There's a frown as he asks, "What's that about a curse?" There isn't much of an opportunity to discuss it as the fire starts. "Did you need me to fly you out now, Stark?"
Tony Stark watches the woman and then sees her turn into Mystique and smirks, "Mystique. I'll be damned." he chuckles softly, and sighs as he stands up. "JARVIS, send me Shotgun. Best possible speed." - he looks to Warren, "I'm good. My ride's on the way." he looks over to Loki, "How about you, Blitzen. Need a lift?" - then pauses, "Oh and JARVIS, mark my bills."
Among the vast piles of cash people are grabbing for, there are 35 bills glowing faintly blue among them. Tony collects these and folds them, slipping the inside his coat. "Might need some walkin' around money. JARVIS - Got an ETA for me?"
A voice from the same place he slipped his cash announces, "fifteen point four seconds, sir. The mark forty's current speed is mach four-point-seven."
I don't recognize "pepper".
Now, however, would be a good time to consider departing. His own gold shimmers before it disappears, as well as a few other piles of metallic or precious gem currency. Loki rises from the table, looking at the window, the -hole- (essentially) in the big balloon.
"Oh, that's not good." Fires. So very high up in the air.
A long, drawn out sigh exits the God of Chaos, and with slightly slumped shoulders nods at Stark, a hint of a (sheepish) smile creeping across his face. "If you wouldn't mind."
"Mystique?" As in, 'Do you have a way down as well?'
The guy with wings, well.. that's probably a given right there! Loki shrugs lightly at Warren's comment and offers in an offhand comment, "Didn't I mention it? I'm also the God of Deception." He makes a small *tchk* sound with another shrug. "It's what I do."
The blue woman is all grins as she looks to Warren, teasing "The attention amuses me" in a voice which blends a high note with a low note into an eerie symphony. Hmm, and it would appear that the winged one is not taking the extra money from the deal. "I can find it a good home for you."
Wait. Curse..? Here Mystique turns to look back at Loki with solid yellow eyes. "You know how to undo those, don't you?" Normally she would have laughed at the very concept. -Cursed!- Her children despise her and she has no true friends, what could he -possibly- do to her! However, these days she's been hanging out with Loki. The concept carries a little more weight than it used to with her.
Another grin, this one to Tony. She passes him a mock-salute with the suppressed pistol, completely shameless about ..well, being herself. It feels good to ditch the act and be true to her nature.
Besides, Tony's -also- setting to leave some extra money behind. This means that she could walk out of here with having shot another person -and- raking in a pile of extra cash. Which Loki already has covered. No wonder she likes the God.
This is turning out to be an awesome aerial cruise, after all.
"This isn't my stop," she replies to Loki while nimbly hopping off of the table. She'll follow, sure.
The poker players are panicking of course. Some are still grabbing their own money, a wise few are GONE, grabbing parachutes, whilst the guards hired by a rather competent agency brought theirs along with standard gear and are all out with the second, third and fourth raft already.
Kilroy is in a bit of a state of shock, but first tries to do the right thing and puts a bunch of salt in the engine, dousing some of the flame, not realizing that this won't do much good in the immediate future. Then there's the matter of all the arcane energy suddenly let loose and wild at the disruption of the ritual which Kilroy is trying to mend with limited success but as a final after thought before BOOM, he takes the remaining funds not yet pocketed ($10,502,214.24) and puts it into a credit card and hands it to Warren. The spare (non brought) cash vanishes into a shimmer, which causes the remaining idiots trying to grab it to run for the exits.
Fourteen point four seconds later...
"Sir, Shotgun has landed on the Promenade deck." JARVIS helpfully informs Tony.
"Excellent. Okay, I'm outta here. Anyone coming with me, let's adjourn to the Promenade deck." a beat pause, and a look to Warren - "Wanna take the kid?" - he motions to Kilroy, trying to deal with the flaming engine.
Warren Worthington takes the credit card handed to him with a blink...but then he nods to Kilroy. He'll make sure that this money does some good. "Hey...you need help out of here?" he asks of their 'waiter'..."I'm not as shiny and fancy as Mr. Stark over there, but I can promise to land safely." It's the least he can do as the others are grabbing parachutes and life-rafts to get out of there...
Loki technically doesn't need a ride. It's just that landing is painful- not to mention it leaves a rather large hole in the ground. But given a choice between the two? He'll accept a ride from the Man of Iron. He waves a hand and is ready to follow Stark out. "Don't you dare mention this. I do have a reputation to uphold." Uh huh.
He looks back over his shoulder when the question of curse comes up. Waving a hand dismissively in the air between them, Loki scoffs. "I wouldn't worry about any curses. Not if he's smart." After all, don't want to piss off a god. The security contingent had it right!
"Stark. Before we hit the ground if you please?"
Ah, and there's their ride. Granted, Mystique could just make some wings and glide her way on down, but it's ocean down there and she can't just make herself a teleporter. A fish, yes, but that's still a heck of a lot of swimming. A free ride's a free ride.
Though you know what else is free?
She's not oblivious. Money disappears, then Kilroy hands Warren what looks an awful lot like a credit card. In the confusion and evacuation plans that follow, along with the announcement of their ride being ready, she makes her move and attempts to neatly slip that card out of Warren's hand and into her own, where much like the chip and stiletto trick from before, she plans on making it disappear for a time. There and gone in a sleight of hand of her own.
"JARVIS, did you remember to--"
"Yes, sir. They should be there shortly."
No sooner than the artificial intelligence said that, then a group of Coast Guard choppers are within easy visual distance of the Excelsior, ready to take on those who aren't being personally rescued by Tony or Warren.
A few seconds later, Tony is in Shotgun and is carrying Loki and Mystique. If she allows, Tony offers his sportscoat to keep her warm on the way down.
"Alright, everybody CLENCH!" Tony calls out before taking off in the hypervelocity armor. The three land seconds later, well away from prying public eyes.
Kilroy makes a few parachutes out of confederate bills and Quipu for the poor souls left on the airship. When Warren offers him a ride off, he blinks, "But...it isn't sinking..." He must be NEW here. Old hands know this thing is going kaboom. He vaguely nods, still in shock at the loss of his father.
As soon as all of the party is off the airship, sure enough, more holes appear in its infrastructure, the fire increases and a great conflagration begins to occur. "How did Glass do that?"
Loki holds on, particularly when that whole 'being on the outside of hypervelocity armour' thing goes near sonic. It certainly is a bit faster than his brother, and it's more than a little breathtaking.
Upon landing, Loki actually falls to a knee and draws breath, his head bowed briefly. Looking up at the Avenger, there's a ghost of a smile on his face. "Would you look at that. We didn't kill each other."
In the next moment, the God of Chaos disappears in thin air. Teleporting works, now that he's on the ground!
Warren Worthington reaches out to grab Kilroy as he just sort of stands there, "We're leaving. Now. Whether it's sinking or exploding, you don't need to be on it when it goes." He'll make sure he has a good hold on the other before diving off of the ship, his wings spreading to easily catch air currents and fly them back to land.
A coat? Eh, sure, Mystique will take it. She'll also just morph herself a pair of goggles while they go -flying across the sky!-
Touchdown. ..Then Loki disappears. Without her. Sigh. "Don't worry, I'll take care of that matter, myself," she says to Tony.
Maybe -those- two didn't kill one another...
Tony Stark cants his head to once side, "What matter is that?" he asks.
Kilroy floats away from the ship, the grave of his Father, or the marker in the infinite ocean as it floats in ash to the ground, a coast guard cutter picking up the highly annoyed VIP's. "Thanks..." he manages to whisper, "Name's Kilroy, pleased to meet you."