9625/Cards and Humanity

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Cards and Humanity
Date of Scene: 14 January 2022
Location: Lobby - Hellfire Club
Synopsis: A meeting at the Hellfire Club over cards turns into discussions of the stars and teleportation! He's a good listener.
Cast of Characters: Valeria Richards, Bruce Wayne

Valeria Richards has posed:
It's a quiet night. There's a little event going on, and the adults have gone to discuss boring things. Johnny's hitting on the ladies upstairs at the club. Valeria Richards is not.

A small group of tables sit to one side, secluded and quiet. They have a modicum of entertainment, in their private booths. Simple things, like cards and chess boards. The acceptable games of skill or chance, which are deemed appropriate for the Hellfire Club patronage. Val is sitting at one, making time pass in thought.

There is one custom she is unaware of though. These are sociable tables. They are meant for one to sit at and be joined by another, to play a game or suchlike. Perhaps she will be surprised. Or perhaps, perhaps she'll simply be bored with another night of politics and frustration.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"Can I join you?"

Bruce hadn't seen Valeria in quite some time, though he was exceptional when it came to remembering faces. He gestures towards the seat opposite her in the booth. He tilts his head for a moment, not knowing exactly what she knows and doesn't. He decides to go with the public Bruce Wayne persona, all polite charm and affably dim billionaire.

"Bruce Wayne, by the way. I'm an old associate of your dad."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria Richards is nearly as well known as Bruce is, her name splashed on the front page many a time, and if given opportunity would be considered quite wealthy on her own. She looks up, her smile appearing as she recognizes Mr Wayne, and offers him a seat with a hand.

"Sir Wayne! It's ...a surprise!" She was not expecting to see him. "Please. I was dying of old age waiting for my parents." She's not, but it's a thing wired into the DNA. Teens are impatient.

"I..would love some company." She reviews the area, then picks up a deck of cards, tipping it thoughtfully. "Do you play?"

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"A little bit," Bruce answers with a nod, taking the seat he's offered after shucking his tuxedo jacket and laying it gently down on the seat beside him, "I've done a couple of the celebrity world poker tour things, but I think they might just get me on lose. But it's all for charity, so I don't mind."

He glances towards the stairs when she mentions her parents, smiling slightly: "Everyone wants to hear your dad's solution for climate change, or your mom's advice on, well, just about anything. I'm afraid you probably won't see them for a while."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"There's a lot to discuss, I get that." Valeria smiles slightly, adding, "I take it I don't need to introduce myself then. Which I do not mind, when it's a gentleman asking." She wasn't raised to be rude, after all.

"I know the rules for most of the standard games, but Uncle Ben tells me that there's a lot more to it than just the rules. I'd be happy to lose to you for a change. That's how we learn."

She unsheathes the cards, then places them on the table. "Would you mind?"

She looks up at him, her mind wondering. What's really on this rich gentleman's mind?

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"I've always made sure I'm a gentleman, so don't worry about that."

Bruce gladly picks up the cards, beginning to shuffle them idly. There's a definite sort of grace in his hands that probably shouldn't belong to one of the idle rich. He glances away from the deck as he does, looking to Valeria and then glancing sidelong towards the stairs.

"Your uncle's a real card sharp," he continues, tossing her two cards and then giving himself two. He checks them as he speaks, "I'd take every bit of advice he gives you."

He tosses a chip into the pot.

"I'll bet."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria has a look at what she's got in her hand. She sighs, and says, "Call. That's right isn't it? If I need more cards?" She puts her right hand into her hair, her poker face more of an innocent face than one of cards. "There's an issue with card counting I'm told, but I have no idea how people don't remember what was already dealt."

She pulls out two cards, and places them down. "I need two."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Bruce nods his head in response, laying cards down in the river and checking his own hand against them. He's remembering what cards are dealt too, of course, but with the added complication of pretending he can't. It's difficult to play dumb.

"That's right. Not much of a card counter myself. Maybe I should learn? Seems unsporting, though."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria raises an eyebrow. "I refuse to play to a lower level than I'm capable of, Mr Wayne. May I call you Bruce? I really feel like it's probably appropriate right now. Never certain these days, socializing isn't my ..."


"Sorry. Words I at bad. I'm Valeria, and I was kind of hoping to be honest tonight. Not to dumb myself down for a guy. Dad says that's a bad habit to get into."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"You absolutely shouldn't dumb yourself down," Bruce answers with a nod, aware that he's doing that exact thing, "Especially not for men. Underplaying your strengths just to fit in only means you're trying to fit in with the wrong people."

He tosses another chip into the pot.

"You can call me Bruce. I'll call you Valeria."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Excellent," Valeria says, putting in two chips and picking up her cards. She glances at them. She loses, as expected, but doesn't seem to mind. It only leads into another hand.

"Bruce, why did you come over to my table?" She deals this hand, her own hands far less agile than her partner's. She isn't faking, she really is an amateur. So far. "There are much prettier people in this club."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"Maybe. Though I think your father and uncle might object if that notion crossed my mind."

Bruce takes the pot when he wins, stacking the chips neatly before shuffling again and dealing another hand.

"Besides, you're the smartest by a long shot."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Hm. I'd normally fold this hand. I think. Four please," she says, putting in a chip. "I didn't mean...I mean, you clearly didn't come to me for a date. The data doesn't support that assumption. So it must be for my other qualities."

She doesn't even consider the non-egotistical options yet. He might have been bored, or lonely. Or it might be some other option NOT ABOUT HER. Don't worry, she'll get there in time.

"Also, yes. But don't tell father, he's still uppity about getting beat to the clinical proofs on the Eppstein experiment." That...the Fantastic Four have proven the Eppstein equation? That'd mean they now have a system for quantum entanglement theory with working applications. Interesting.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"Really?" Bruce makes a mental note to investigate that further. The Watchtower's teleporters were all well and good, but a version that didn't use as much power would prove infinitely more useful. A Batman who could be anywhere as soon as he was needed. An intriguing proposition, though none of it shows on his face.

"Well, keep looking at the data. Why do you think I came here?"

He deals the cards.

Valeria Richards has posed:
On her own topic Valeria is charming, if perhaps a bit easily distracted. "Yeah, I teleported the bottom floor of our building and relocated the upper floors into the space, and nobody noticed. It was hilarious." A one hundred story building, moved without anyone noticing? That's not only useful, it's potential for misuse is staggering.

"Dad locked it in one of the medium restricted areas." She shrugs, then considers the data as asked, taking up her cards. "Well. I didn't see you wandering about, so you must have either just arrived or were just leaving. Are you waiting for a ride? No, nobody at our level has to wait." She says, waiting for her parents. "You could be using this location to watch the hallway?" Not bad, it is a good location. "Or you could simply ...you know of me from the Foundation. Are you curious about me?"

She asks it almost shyly. Like someone who isn't sure if she's got much to be curious about.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Bruce lets the cards wait for a moment, fixing his attention on Valeria. He doesn't interrupt the story, taking it in thoughtfully. He's making mental notes. He always is. But for the most part he's just listening, learning about the inner goings on of one of the smartest people on the planet.

"You got it," he answers simply, cutting the cards and shuffling them idly in his hands, "I'm curious. And you're satisfying my curiosity."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Bruce's shuffling draws Val's attention back to her cards. She blinks, startled to find them still in her hands, and slips them onto the river. "Sorry. New hand? I didn't see what you were holding, did you win again?" She has a serious issue with focusing on what's in her mind, to the point where she might be a danger to herself if called on to deal with a mental problem.

"Well, it's not like it's really practical yet. The machinery required is monstrous even my our standards. Give it a couple of months though and I think some of the larger components can be..um...handled. I'm boring you aren't I?"

Shut up, nobody wants to hear about science. Bruce Wayne is well known for playing women. Is that what's happening? Am I women now? Oh god am I a date for a playboy?


Also, see: not playing dumb. Actually dumb.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"You're not boring me at all," Bruce says with a shake of his head, "The opposite, actually. I've got a flight to St. Moritz booked but I think I might cancel it so I can hear more about your genius designs."

He deals out the cards once more, seeming not the least bit perturbed or agitated.

"You won. Congratulations. I could just lie and say I won, but I feel like you'd read that on my face. Why don't you tell me more about you?"

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria shakes her head, eyes looking down. "I was never good at reading people's faces. I'd rather read a beaker full of nitrogen oxoacid compound baked in a base lime solution, or something like that. It's simpler."

She pulls in her chips, sighing. "I appreciate your honesty." Even if I'm not being honest. Shut up. Tell him. Another sigh. "Look, Mr Wayne? I'm sorry, I can't give away details of the work. Everything, and I mean everything I deal with is restricted on some level or other. We have a very complex system of gradation there, but it all falls in somewhere. This stuff is dangerous."

Clearly she's finally come to the most likely conclusion: Bruce is trying to get some amount of a jump on the tech market from talking to her. It's not a bad logical leap.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"I'm the furthest thing from industrial espionage that you're ever likely to meet," Bruce answers with a light shake of his head, "So by all means, if you can't talk about it then don't talk about it. Believe me, I have no interesting in stealing your secrets. For all the advanced technology coming out of your lab, most people aren't ready for quantum teleportation and they're not likely to want to try it."

He starts dealing cards again, seeming completely non-plussed by her reaction: "But that said, I'm sure you've got interests beyond work."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Well, technically all teleportation is quantum based," she starts to say, then shakes it off. "Sorry. I got into an argument earlier about misunderstandings of basic terminology. It's not important, I get that physicists speak a different language from real people. It's fine." Not fine, but she'll deal with it. Grumble.

She reaches out to accept cards, checking them, and an eyebrow rises. Something significant in her hand. "Um. Okay. Well, sort of. I love to travel. Have you ever been to another star? Not talking about the chance to chart solar radiation patterns we're unfamiliar with at close range, I'm talking about simply being there. There's a deep honesty in it, to me. Knowing that this light isn't older than my entire lifetime. It's young, new. And so beautiful.."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"I think you've got me beat there," Bruce answers with a slight grin, "I've been to the Antarctic. I was thinking of going into space, but people don't seem to much like the ideas of billionaires doing that."

Of course, none of this is really true. Batman has been to different worlds, different dimensions. There's a Batcave on the Moon, after all. But none of it is true of Bruce Wayne.

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria mou'es her lips. "Pish posh. Utter twaddle. Go to space, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's ridiculous is what it is. You want to hear what's in space? Everything that isn't here on earth. If you want to find anything new, and trust me everything's been done here, you have to expand your horizons. Get out of here, Bruce."

She waves her hands, showing her cards accidentally. She had a full house, apparently. "I don't mean to do it frivolously though! My parents think I'd leap onto any passing space freighter. I'm not an imbecile. I want to do adventures too! I'm not helpless, damnit. Sorry for the language but still! It can be done in relative safety, with a bit of proper preparation! DO THINGS!"

She's almost shouting now. Repressed anger much? Her parents are of course keeping her safe. Yet she lives with a team who got their start by going into space..

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Bruce doesn't seem to be perturbed by the output. He knows how it can be. Though when he gets a glimpse of her cards, he casually folds and begins shuffling a new hand.

"You know, maybe I'll take your advice on that. And it sounds like you're about ready to visit there again yourself."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Val pauses, then frowns. "I had a good hand," she muses. She looks at the cards on the table, putting two and two together. "You know, in order to do well at cards, I hear you have to actually pay attention to playing cards. Uncle Ben keeps telling me that one." She raises an eyebrow, taking the lesson for what it is. Then she smiles.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"I don't have much advice I can offer," Bruce admits, dealing out another hand and tossing some chips into the pot, "I'm infinitely boring by comparison, I'm afraid. But if you ask me, it sounds like you know what you want to do. Might be time to do it."

Valeria Richards has posed:
Val looks at him then. She says nothing for a good moment. She looks, she thinks. Then she says, "Nothing worth doing is ever simple." Likely where her train of thought ended up. It looks as if she's planning. Which is definitely better than stewing. "I should go. Can we do this again?"

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"If I'm in town, sure," Bruce answers, remaining seated and folding the cards away into a neat pile along with the chips themselves, "I'm sure you'll know how to get through to me. You've probably got some way of calling my phone from another solar system if you really wanted to. It was nice talking to you, Valeria."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"It was," she says, not really giving the exactly appropriate response there. But then, her mind is in another galaxy. It's there when she gives him a distracted smile, and by the time she leaves?