12412/Duet To Me Harder

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Duet To Me Harder
Date of Scene: 12 August 2022
Location: Danger Room
Synopsis: Jimmy needs to practice his stealth. He decides to two-fer and snoop on a friend at the same time!
Cast of Characters: Jimmy Hudson, Betsy Braddock

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    The night was silent save for the soft trickle of water along the small brook that wove its way through the old garden. Bamboo trees swayed softly with the hint of a breeze that set the crimson flags on the tall walls of the castle fluttering with a delicate twist of fabric displaying that grim logo of a black hand upon its length. There were clouds, barely enough to serve to obscure some of the light from the moon, lending a muted silver sheen to the world as one looked on the beautiful tableau of quiet night and long shadows.
    Only if one watched for long enough with a wary eye... they would see some of those shadows move.
    Tight against one of the tall white walls, Jame Hudson had slipped into the compound without triggering any of the alarms or drawing attention from any of the sentries. Though when he had looked at the scenario's guidelines it was clear that the difficulty in the danger room program was meant to gear up as one made it closer to the depths of the of the castle's interior. Yet even out here... it was clear when this scenario was made she hadn't been messing around.
    Stepping away from the wall, James Hudson moved silently away. Each step was measured, slow, precise. Trusting in part to his instincts, partly to his senses, he made the approach on the ninja warrior whose back was to him. The figure with the straight-edged sword on his back seemed to be watching the flow of the water through that brook.
    A few more steps.
    A few more.
    Then abruptly the ninja spun and turned, blade half-sliding out of its sheath as he extended a hand and dropped into a crouch.
    Which had James sighing and standing up, "Computer reset program."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
The program in question was one of Betsy's most difficult, partially because of the way the danger ramped up and partially because the safeties were relaxed enough to allow actual wounds even if she didn't turn off protection from fatal damage. Even the beauty of the surroundings is a trap, the beautiful scenery distracting from the danger.

As Jimmy resets the program, the hard light emitters flicker and then he's standing just outside the gate of the Japanese estate. It's not the same location as he started previously, and each time he resets the program it starts him at a different location outside the estate so he can't memorize patrol patterns or hiding spots. It truly is a test of one's stealth and ability to adapt.

As Jimmy prepares to start the exercise again, there's a momentary flicker in the hard light, and he can see a new enemy... A tall, beautiful woman of Japanese heritage, wearing an skintight leotard with a katana strapped across her back and her black hair caught in a pony tail as she stalks along the walls of the manor before disappearing around the corner.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    That was new...
    Though the rest was normal. The night felt the same, the wind came from the right again as it brushed through his hair. His nostrils flared as he tasted the night and felt the world around him. No hint of sentries from the East this time, no wandering patrol. Though it was often not there when the scenario started...
    But that woman? Striking. Though the image was so quick. Did he even see what he thought he saw?
    A small shake of his head is given as he eases down into a crouch, then starts to advance along the edge of the wall, moving silently. His clothes had been chosen for their quiet stealth factor. Black, of course, a tight fitting combat suit the likes of which perhaps saw its origin in the military or SHIELD. There was a harness over his chest that would have been where gear was stowed but none currently. This test was for him and his wits alone.
    He had the approach down. The gauging of the perimeter, the circle. Then finding the handholds needed. He listened there for the sound of one of the sentries walking past. No hint of noise. Then he turned...
    His hands dug into those small gaps as he pulled himself up along the wall, then for the last he makes a handhold with the near silent /shunk/ of a claw stabbing into the wall.
    Suddenly he's on that rampart, crouching low, half-kneeling as he takes a survey of his surroundings before breaking cover to move onto the grounds.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Jimmy is dressed right for the mission; He's doing everything right, using his enhanced senses to hopefully get the drop on anyone that sneaks up on him. He successfully manages to scale the wall, but just as soon as he lands on the rampart, he can hear the sound of voices raised in Japanese.

What's said is unknown. For all his many eclectic skills as a substitute teacher he unfortunately hasn't picked up Japanese. The reaction, however, is pretty clear even without speaking the language. The pitter patter of feet on stone as a patrol is sent towards him!

And in the midst of that patrol is the clear crystalline sound of a woman's voice. The striking ninja from earlier? A distinct possibility.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    There's an abrupt subdued /shingk/ of sound as the blades housed within James' forearms slice forward snapping into place between his knuckles. His jaw tightens, clenching with a scowl as he drops low to slip into the shadow the wall provides against the glow of the moonlight. That sound of an approaching squad lets him know he doesn't have much time.
    Which is why there's a brief slash and a scrape of sound as metal slices through stone. A portion of the rampart carved suddenly from the aged castle. He palms it quickly, blades of one hand retracting with a short /shnak!/
    The weight's good, it'll do.
    With that he flicks it over the edge of the wall toward the garden below, one of the water features causing a low, /ploomp!/ of water that might well sound like an errant foot step crossing that garden area. Then he breaks from the shadows, moving quickly across the other side of the ramparts in the opposite direction, then drops down into the garden, slipping from cover to cover as he tries to evade the squad that's after him.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
From his new position, Jimmy can see the patrol split in two: Half of them went to where he originally was, while the other half went to investigate the sound below. Either way, he seems to have managed to escape the patrol.

... at least until a tall woman slips out of the shadows, her extremely toned and muscular body shown off to good effect by the leotard she's wearing. Deep black eyes stare at Jimmy, and she pulls a sword from her back quicker than his eye can follow. "Well, well, well." She says in thickly accented English, "An intruder in the Hand's most sacred sanctuary." The blade is brandished, and the assassin smiles a pitiless smile that doesn't touch her dark, dead eyes. "I shall enjoy breaking you like a wishbone."

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    The Texacanadan spun to face her, to his credit his movement silent as he saw her. As silent as the blade sliding free of her scabbard as he met her gaze. Those deep blues narrow, tightening with a grim understanding. This...
    This was the woman that had menaced Elizabeth's mind. Her dreams. The past she turned away from.
    Suddenly he felt as if he were intruding, taking steps through a past that should not entirely be open to him. There is a temptation to raise his voice, to call for the computer to reset. But then his jaw tightens, tendons bunching. Perhaps this is a small moment, a chance to get insight into the British woman he now called friend.
    Quietly, under his breath, he offers a few quiet words of admonishment. "Betsy, girl, you make me tired." That last word heavy with his accent.
    The silvered blades catch the light of the moon as he turns, facing her fully, his stance low and with one arm forward. The black suit hides him completely in these heavy shadows so all she likely can see is the silhouette of the man limned against the wall.
    "C'mon then," He says, "If you think you got the sand."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Kwannon. Named from the Shinto goddess of mercy, and according to Betsy that is the only thing about her that is merciful.

"Little man." Kwannon taunts, and shifts the hold on the blade so that it catches the moonlight and shines it in Jimmy's eyes. Whether or not that works, she responds with a flicker of her blade as she brings it down on an angle to hit Jimmy in his center of mass and gut him.

Who knows what sort of sick, twisted impulse lead Betsy to program this particular wrinkle? All the more startling because it is apparently a hidden algorithm that Jimmy apparently overlooked when he was examining the parameters of the program before starting.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    Perhaps hidden, perhaps something that emerges from the mind beneath, whatever... whoever she is. She is a window into a facet of Elizabeth and her life. And it draws him.
    Her blade twists in her hand, the lithe dance of that single small sliver of light drifting over the dark suit of the man she stands against. It is tight, contoured to the strong frame of the muscular man as he holds that stance. The teacher who plays at warrior. The beast that pretends to be a man.
    Then she flicks it across his eyes and suddenly she is moving.
    He counters. A rough half-dash forward to meet her in that moment, one clawed hand lashing out toward her blade and catching it, the edges sliding against each other and kicking up a flare of sparks then a flash of blood as her weapon embeds itself in between his knuckles. Yet the bones refuse to part or split or shatter under her attack.
    He then twists, bringing his other hand around to try and catch her wrist and immobilize her as he pushes back toward the wall, trying to use his mass to effect...
    Yet she instantly will realize he fights not to kill. The fool.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Kwannon lets out a hiss of displeasure as her blade is lodged in Jimmy's knuckle. Fortunately, the assassin is not caught too out at losing her weapon.

As Jimmy attempts to run her into the wall, she reacts by catching herself on the wall with her legs and using the leverage to attempt to twist the sword out of Jimmy's flesh even as she vaults over him and responds with a kick in the back of his knee with her foot before attempting to snap the her knee into the back of his skull.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    It's a rush of movement, and her opponent's features are drawn tight. It's just pain, pain don't hurt none. Yet part of his brain is calling him a damn liar. Then the sword twists and he can feel the flesh being sliced and torn as she leaps back, plants her boots into the wall and then /flips/ cleanly over him as he pushes.
    The blades of that one hand stab straight into that wall as if it were butter, but then she's spinning and cracks her foot into the back of his knee, breaking his balance even as she feels the heavy /jolt/ race up her leg.
    Turning, the claws slice out of the wall leaving a cascade of dust from the pulverized stone. Only for him to turn right into that knee /cracking/ hard into his jaw enough to send him back where his noggin impacts hard with the concrete surface.
    It's enough to stagger him as he shakes his head, trying to keep his arms up and his guard ready even as he /growls/ under his breath as he sees for a moment three Kwannon menacing him.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
As close as they are momentarily, Jimmy's enhanced senses pick up on subtle little things, such as the fact she's favoring the leg she just used due to the density of Jimmy's bones and flesh. And...

Is that Jo Malone Sage and Sea-salt?

The three Kwannons menacing him all sweep their sword to the side, flicking blood off the blade and restoring the shiny, lethal finish as she looms above him. Fortunately the safeties are on so she won't be injuring him fatally.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    Already the torn flesh of his hand is mending, slowly knitting together as he takes a step back and gives her a little more room. Though he does glance behind him briefly, making sure that the squad of ninjas aren't sneaking up since that would bring this little shindig to an end right quick.
    "What are you to Elizabeth?" He asks even as he stretches that injured hand then tightens it as the joint makes a short cartilaginous crackle. His eyes lock with hers as he turns, angling to put the tree from the garden behind him. Just enough for it to break his silhouette.
    That is when he moves.
    A rush forward as he takes two steps then /leaps/ claws extended as his jaw sets, fangs flashing as he dives in seeking to slice across the ninja warrior's abdomen and spill her blood.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"I am Elizabeth."

And at those words, there's a flash of purple-pink energy where the claws impact a telekinetic barrier around the ninja. Following up with the block, 'Kwannon' flicks the blade of her katana to slice along Jimmy's wrist before following by resting the blade against his neck.

The hard light fades, leaving a hard-eyed Betsy standing in Kwannon's place. Her expression is severe, almost angry, as she gazes at Jimmy. "What are you doing using my programs?" She demands, chest rising and falling with heavy breathes, "They are /mine/."

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    That katana's tip leaves a clean wicked gash along the man's arm, slicing upwards and through the man's bicep as a spatter of blood splashes across the side of his head. He reels, starting to turn as his fist comes back aiming those three blades for a counter-stroke...
    Only for the chill touch of that blade resting against his neck. For that instant they are frozen in time, unmoving, the silence of the night there and strong after she utters those stern words.
    There's the soft drip of blood flowing down James' arm.
    The faint gurgle of the rivulet in the garden.
    The eventual low /thwok/ of the bamboo fountain lightly striking a stone in the water.
    His breathing steadies, those eyes widen subtly. His nostrils flare for a moment as he lifts his chin, as if daring her to cut. But then he says quietly.
    "I was training. So I don't embarrass us on the next mission."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"There are other training scenarios." Betsy replies, words as slow as the blade she withdraws from Jimmy's neck. Those lilac eyes are almost as cold and pitiless as Kwannon's were, and he can feel the flicker of her thoughts pressing against his as she attempts to ascertain the truth of his words.

She cleans her blade with a flick, but doesn't put it away. "Why my training program? What were you hoping to learn from it?" She demands.

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    Rotating his forearm, the wound on Jimmy's arm seems to slowly knit. Hard to see in the dark, but it can be sensed as that drip of blood slows... then stops as he lifts his hands. There's a soft /shingk/ as the blades slide back into his forearms, disappearing as those small wounds they emerge from close after only a few droplets of blood.
    They stand there and he answers her, "No reason." He says that at first, but then she can feel the tumult in his thoughts, that instinctive reluctance at lying. And even if she didn't touch his mind she could see it in the way his jaw tightens, then he adds. "It's your bailiwick. Figured of most folks you have a hang on that not being seen thing."
    Which she can tell is a truth. But only part of the truth. For as he watches her there's that subtle undercurrent. Esteem. He respects her. But also is curious. Knows that she's been in pain, especially after that talk they had. So perhaps curiousity drove that choice in part. Perhaps more than a small part. Yet he doesn't consciously know it.
    Then there's also the deeper thoughts that conjure the image of her. He likes her. On some level is attracted to her. Even now as his arm burns and his head still rings. He views her with a warmth that is reserved. But it's there.

Betsy Braddock has posed:


The revelation about Jimmy's attraction surprises her, and for a brief moment he can see her own attraction, and that she's acknowledged it to herself while also respecting both him and Sif by repressing it deep. Deep enough it's a surprise Jimmy even managed to go that far. But telepathy is a tricky thing, and perhaps resonating emotion called to emotion?

Betsy's expression goes slack and then unreadable as she takes several steps back from him and crosses her arms. "You're an idiot if you think you can lie to a telepath." The response lacks the heat of a few moments ago, and she lefts one hand to her forehead momentarily as she re-establishes shields over her thoughts and emotions.

The hand rubbing her forehead runs through her hair, pushing the purple mass back. Even after their quick little spat, Betsy is barely breathing hard. But even then, she is still not as fit as the Japanese woman she had been impersonating.. A scary fact, really.

She lets out a deep breath and crosses her arms over her chest. "Sometimes, some programs... They're almost like a form of therapy." Betsy finally says, and turns away from him to look over the gorgeous Japanese villa. "I train the mind as hard as I do the body, and often times at the same time." She sniffs. "And if you'd gotten any further, you'd be in traction for a week. I programmed the Kwannon program to full capacity and absolutely no safeguards except mortal blows."

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    That carries more weight with him for some reason. Calling him a liar. She can see that rush of a mental growl slide over his synapses flaring them to life, and even if she weren't a telepath she'd see his eyes narrow subtly. His chin lifting as he murmurs with only a hint of sharpness. "M'not lying," And it's true he believes he's not, more... a lie of omission really.
    There's that touch of attraction for sure, but whenever it flares she can likely sense him tamping it down, that moral framework of his ethos a stalwart thing that he holds before him like some sort of mental shield. It's a tried and true method for him.
    Then his jaw tightens as he listens to her, nods. Then pushes a hand through his hair and leaves his hand resting as it holds the back of his neck. He gives a grunt, "I asked fer somethin' ta focus on stealth, yours popped up. I shoulda dug more."
    It's an admission, something approaching an apology. Barely. His eyes slip to the side as his thoughts wend toward other bits of that decision making process when he adds. "And I was curious, yeah. Mea culpa."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Lie to yourself all you want, Jimmy, but it takes more than that to lie to me." Betsy retorts, the last bit of her anger washing away as she closes her eyes at the apology and takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly in a controlled manner as she finds her mental center and gets herself back under control.

"I know you didn't mean anything malicious." Betsy murmurs, still looking out over the garden. "If you want to try a stealth program, I would be happy to help you find a more appropriate one, and perhaps give you some advice." Pause, "First being careful with your blood. Even if you don't need it to survive, it can be used to tell your position and/or direction. I'd suggest wrapping your hands with bandages if you're going to bleed when you use your claws."

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    Another slight exhalation of breath, something approaching a scoff is given to Psylocke as he steps away from that wall, rolling his hands a little as he feels the way those claws are held within his forearm, frowning to himself for some reason at that sensation then nodding slowly. Those blue eyes meet hers as he murmurs, "Prolly some wisdom in that,"
    He admits, albeit grudgingly. Then he tilts his head to the side, "Still, there are better ways ta tell a fella hands off yer stuff than stabbing him with a katana." A mild bit of admonishment there as he steps past her, footsteps quiet as he steps down and onto the path that leads through that garden, turning his head slightly as he moves. Perhaps he expects her to walk with him, or perhaps he's heading for where he remembers the archway will manifest.
    Either way he says, quieter as he attempts to change the subject a little. "You doing alright, Elizabeth?" And there's concern there, she can feel that small mental thread extending, a touch of empathy or sympathy in his thoughts. Knowing she's been having a hard time of it lately.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
The scent of expensive perfume is the only indication that Elizabeth does follow after Jimmy, after taking a brief moment to look out over the quiet villa. Jimmy can't see it, but she's looking straight at the keep. And, presumably, the Japanese assassin kept there.

"I tend to teach more permanent lessons." Betsy sniffs a bit arrogantly, "Besides, I dare say you would prefer the katana to the alternative. Although I'm told by people that wake up from the alternative it was a lovely night's rest."

She runs a hand through her hair. "I'll be fine." She temporizes, rubbing her forehead. "I just haven't been sleeping that well. Fortunately, I know where the every-lovely Henry McCoy keeps the sedatives and will dose myself before the mission to ensure the second best night's sleep a girl can give herself."

Jimmy Hudson has posed:
    A small grunt is heard from him as he pauses there by the rivulet that wends its way through the garden, his eyebrow quirking up as he eyeballs her sidelong. She can likely sense that knife's edge he balances on, between leave it and leave her be, letting her keep her counsel to herself... and that desire to push and see if she wants to talk. Though part of his thoughts... do bring forth that image of that Asian assassin that so plagues her, as he considers what it must be like to have gone through that change of self.
    That loss of identity...
    Shaking his head slightly he murmurs, "Yeah, I intend ta run myself ragged. Get exhausted, then sleep the sleep of the wicked. Then when Sif rounds us up... should be ready."
    Eventually those hazy thoughts of his clear as he says, "If you wanna talk aforehand, Bets..."
    He stops to meet her gaze. "You know where ta find me. Alright?" In case she needs to hammer through this more before they're tasked with the mission ahead.