1963-10-07 - Recruitment Drive
Summary: Emma Frost approaches Illyana about joining her new academic endeavour.
Related: None
Theme Song: None

The letter, when it arrives, is very properly addressed. Not only is the full name used, but it is used in its exact and proper Russian form. It's not written in Cyrillic, but whomever wrote this letter knew enough to make sure they got it right in spite of that.

"Dear Ms. Illyana Rasputina,
Every young person is beholden to his or her ancestors to evaluate and take advantage of all of the opportunities available in his or her life, to make the best of that life and provide the best opportunities to others. As a bright and exceptional young woman, the number of those opportunities in the areas of higher education are admittedly limited, by comparison to what one would expect to be available to a young man of similar ability. But there are those in the world aware of this inequality who wish to do what they can to provide an equalizing force.

This letter is by way of an invitation to you, to take advantage of an opportunity. The Meritorious Scholarship Committee of Frost University is interested in meeting with you, to discuss the possibility of helping you to achieve your future goals, including higher education. Please use the information below to arrange for a tour.

We look forward to seeing you,
Meritorious Scholarship Committee
Frost Institute"


Illyana had, admittedly, needed some help from Piotr and Jean Grey in trying to decipher the eloquent script and the meaning behind it. The name, however, was not lost on her— Frost University. A name synonymous with power, wealth, and success.

It had taken a group effort to get Illyana ready for the interview, including a trip to the salon with Kitty, a pedicure, and being forced into a new dress. Her yellow dress has a slight bell flare to the hem, hanging to just below mid-thigh, and bright black and white buttons suggest a double-breasted look without actually being more than decorative. To top it off, she wears slipper-style shoes in white with a modest heel, which she managed to muddy within 30 seconds of getting off the bus not far from the University.

Following the directions, the blonde woman heads to the University's admin offices, goes to the secretary's desk, and waves the letter and envelope at her.

"I am Illyana Rasputina, Queen of Limbo," Illyana tells the startled secretary with as much imperiousness as she can muster. "I have recieved invitation from the Meritorious Scholarship Committee to inspect these premises at my convenience. It is now convenient for me to inspect them," she explains, staring at the woman with cornflower blue eyes.


When Illyana arrives, the young woman behind the desk is not really startled by her appearance, or even her timing. She is a bit surprised by the imperious tone, and the flouting of the letter, but she adapts smoothly, as anyone in her sort of position would if they are good at their job. "Good morning, Miss Rasputina." she offers, glancing at a sheet tacked up above her desk but below the countertop that separates them. "Yes, I see that you were invited to arrange for a tour. If you would have a seat for just a few minutes, I will make sure someone is available to take you on your tour. Perhaps you would like to review some of our literature in the meantime, to decide what areas of the tour you would especially like to concentrate on?"

That said, the secretary rises to gently escort Illyana to the rather comfortable seats, and then fetch for her whatever refreshments she might request that are in the woman's available options. Then she makes her way back to her desk, and sees about making a few phone calls, seeing to the summoning of that help she promised. "Yes, Ma'am. One of the individuals on the Meritorious list just arrived. She does not have an appointment, but she is hoping for a tour. I thought you would want to know." A pause, and she nods her raven-haired head. "Yes, Ma'am. I can do that."


"I will sit," Illyana says, making it more declaration than anything else. She looks around for the chairs and then goes to settle into one. She flops into it with a boneless grace at first, then seems to guiltily remember an admonition about 'posture' and forces herself to an upright position, arms dangling.

It takes her a few minutes to get it all together— hands folded in lap, ankles crossed and slightly to the side (not splayed out), knees together (she tries crossing them, hates it, and uncrosses them). She reaches for one of the pamphlets and skims it, then goes for a second, then a third, and in short order has a mess of documents on her legs that she's rapidly flipping through.

When the secretary responds to whomever is on the other end, Illyana turns her cold blue eyes onto the woman and lifts a brow expectantly at her.


So many polite fictions, and poor Illyana understands almost none of them. Not that she cares, of course, but it is true. So true.

The secretary looks up at Illyana, meeting that gaze without nearly the intimidation factor one would expect; she is only a secretary, after all. But she holds up, and nods to the blonde.

Five minutes later, a young man and a young woman enter the office, both dressed in the appointed patch-bearing navy blazers that denote their private school origins. He has kahki slacks on, while she wears a light gray three-quarters length skirt. Brown-haired, brown-eyed, and caucasian, they are attractive enough without being truly exceptional. Both step up to the desk together, nodding to the secretary, and then turn to face the seating alcove where Illyana sits. They approach, both offering gentle, unassuming smiles.

"Good afternoon, Miss Rasputina. My name is Alan."

"My name is Karen."

"We're here to help you with your tour. Welcome to Frost Institute."


Illyana stands up and regards both of them with a flatly unreadable gaze, then inclines her head a few inches. "Da, well met. I am Illyana," she tells the two of them. After an awkward beat, she extends a hand for a stiff handshake. "I am here to start… college?" she says, sounding a bit uncertain for a moment. "My professor said I might need to complete my, uh… equillency degree," she says, mangling the word a little. "But, also want to experience tour of location. Please lead," she invites, waving a hand in invitation for them to begin the tour.



"Illyana, then." Karen offers, being the first to accept the blonde's hand, though both do. "You will probably want to discuss your equivalency degree with the representative for the Meritorious council. I know that there are programs and tutors available for those that need them." Karen continues.

Alan leads both women, leaving Karen to walk beside Illyana, clearly feeling that is the more appropriate way to handle this. They lead Illyana through the administration building, and them across the covered walkway towards the archway that marks the opening of the main campus.

"Frost Institute has been completely refurbished in just the last two years. This facility was originally home to a Catholic church, as well as an attached monastery and abbey. The church building remains, and also serves as the home for the philosophy and religion departments." Alan begins.

Karen continues. "Through the Archway, here, you can see the Quadrangle, an essential part of the campus, our own private park of green space, home to a campus garden as well as a statuary garden. Benches and semi-secluded tables are spread throughout, making it a great place to get out and study in the open air, weather permitting."

Alan picks up from there. "To your right, we have the Science building. To the left, the Humanitites building. Across the way, you can see the International building, and the Men's dormitories."

Karen picks up again. "To your far left, you can see the Library. To the far right is the Church, with the women's dormitories flanking to either side. The laboratory buildings are beyond the quadrangle, flanking the clock tower."


"Is very impressive," Illyana concedes, looking around. Gothic architecture /is/ spectacular— large, bold, designed to uplift the human spirit. There's an artistry about it that sets wheels turning in Illyana's mind, thinking of her own clumsy, childish attempts to build architecture in Limbo, in a land where gravity's a notional concept.

"So… boys and girls both study here?" she inquires. "Is this college for… /exceptional/ students only?" she asks, putting a small emphasis on the word. "Or can anyone with sufficient academic aptitude apply?" She follows along obligingly as Alan leads the way, though it seems more like she's allowing him to pace ahead than merely tracing in his wake as he directs the tour. Her large blue eyes take in everything, with an impressed expression and looking intently at several students milling around the common areas.


"It is very impressive." Karen agrees wholeheartedly.

"The school is definitely a magnet for exceptional students." Alan offers, his tone not placing any real emphasis upon that word. "Anyone with sufficient academic aptitude can apply, but the school is very, very exclusive. And the Meritorious committee, and others, work hard to make sure that it is a student's talents that make them worthy, not how much they can afford to pay."

Karen continues. "One of the things that makes Frost Institute so special is the patronage of some of the most powerful women in the world. The school has been built from the ground up never to discriminate against women. Our student body is actually over fifty-percent female, which is why the women's dormitories are larger. Many colleges still, to this day, so not accept women, or accept only a handful. Here, that will never be allowed to be the case." That alone makes it a highly exceptional institution.

"Are there any facilities you would like to see in more detail, Illyana?" Alan inquires, trying to do his best as a tour guide, without interrupting Karen. He's good about that.


"Would like to see kitchen and library," Illyana says, instantly. Maybe a little /too/ enthusiastically— she clears her throat, looking at her tour guides. "What? Is important to eat well," she says, lifting her chin challengingly. "Bad food makes for bad learning. And I like to read."

She fidgets a little. "Also want to know more about Miss Frost," she invites the two of them. "She is very demanding." She looks around at the university's soaring spires, a little uneasily. "But… must admit, this is very impressive," she concedes, almost grudingly. "And good way to help many women and … others," she adds, cautiously. Piotr's reprimanded her about that many times. "Is she good headmistress? Teaches things you need to learn?" she asks, her shoes clicking on the stone underfoot as she follows Alan along.


"The kitchen?" Karen questions. "Do you mean the main cafeteria? There's also a student union lounge with a kitchen. And most of the dormitory suites have kitchenettes as well." But they're happy to lead the way to the cafeteria, if that's what she meant. And they do, right now. Feed the hungry visitor, before she decides to eat them instead. She has that sort of look to her, after all.

Alan nods at Illyana's questions. "Miss Frost is a very exceptional woman. Very special. She inspired this school, and has contributed heavily to it. That's why the school was named after her."

Karen nods in agreement. "She is very impressive. Many of us idolize her, hope to do half as well for ourselves as she has. That she has given so freely to build a place where other women can find opportunities as she did inspires us." She smiles warmly. "But you are right. She is very demanding. She accepts nothing less than the absolute best from us. Yet she accepts nothing less than the best from herself, and everyone who works here as well. That's why we have the best teachers, the best aides, the best equipment and facilities. She couldn't cut a corner to save her life."

Alan corrects, "But she is not Headmistress of the Institute. She is the current Director of the Board of Trustees. But the Dean of the Institute is Doctor Alexandra Poplin."


"Indeed," Illyana says, murmuring quietly. She can certainly respect that. She follows them to the cafeteria, and by the time they leave, she's got a panini in hand and is devouring it with a hunger that no self-respecting royalty would ever cop to. It's gone before they hit the library, and Illyana's eyes go with with an almost atavistic desire— clearly, she's a woman who appreciates the value of knowledge.

By that metric, the impressive library is a place of immense value, in her eyes.

"I do not know this Doctor Poplin," Illyana admits to Alan and Karen, once they're out of the library. "Does she teach, or is she simply … Dean of Institute?" Illyana inquires, as if unsure of what precisely that status confers on Dr. Poplin.


The top-shelf cafeteria has impressive selections, and will custom-prepare almost anything with sufficient notice of the request and patience for the prep time. And they don't stint, either. As a rather outstanding advance, they are actually using early plastomer ID cards with digital swipe strips to cover meals, so no student has to have cash, and it is explained that they only use the swipe data to track that students are eating, never actually charging, so no student can go hungry here.

As they walk and talk, the other two are happy to fill Illyana in, though they do not talk in the library; it is a quiet space. "Dr. Poplin is an educator, and has taught for many years. She is an administrator, here, however. She directs the educational priorities of the school, rather than teaching classes herself. Though I've heard rumors that since the school is completely up and running, she may start teaching Emeritus courses, perhaps one or two a semester. She is a brilliant educator and psychologist."

Karen inquires, "What more would you like to know about Miss Frost, by the way?" She did ask to 'know everything', but Karen's not sure what more she should offer.


"I… why is she so mean?" Illyana blurts, after a beat, and clearly lulled into a sense of conspiratorialist honesty by the two friendly young students. "I have never met anyone so bossy as her— and she loses her temper like /that/." Illy clicks her fingers snapping them, the irony of her accusation utterly lost on her.

"If you had told me this was Emma Frost who made this academy, would have laughed at you. Now I have seen it with own eyes, and… is spectacular," she admits. "And given without sense of need or want from others. If is scam of some kind, is most expensive scam in world. So… why do this?"


Karen as the aplomb to laugh softly at Illyana's outburst. Alan at least manages not to gawp like a beached fish, but he's clearly a bit shocked. Nevertheless, they slow down and make their way to a study lounge off of the library floors, and close the door before starting this discussion, which cannot be carried out in whispers.

"This is no scam, I can tell you that." Karen offers. Alan nods, going along, but letting Karen lead, at least for now.

"She is doing this because she lucked out, in her life, with the family resources to push for an education far in excess to what other young women can usually accomplish. And that has given her the means to go far in her own life, at an exceptionally young age." After all, the woman is a CEO at 26, and her star is still rising!

"Even with those opportunities, she had to fight long and hard against the prejudices that array against women, and see many exceptional people fail to achieve what they could have because of lack of opportunities. Even the most staunch capitalist can be a philanthropist, when he or she sees that doing so can have major benefits. Think of all the bright young minds she is giving a chance that they might never have had otherwise. Now think of the pool of talent that offers her, and others, to recruit the best and the brightest to take their companies into the next decade, or even the next century. It's an investment in potential and future."

Alan picks up. "You're right, though. She can be incredibly bossy. But the only time I've ever heard of her losing her temper was when she was disrespected. I heard she humiliated and ruined the first selectee for Dean of the Institute, when he spoke down to her in a Board meeting. She may be bossy, but she is as demanding of herself as she is of anyone else. She pushes everyone to be as excellent as she believes they can be. She won't tolerate anything less. But you can see the rewards she makes available for those who will push themselves to meet those expectations."


Illyana grunts, grudgingly, but nods. "I… suppose I can sympathize," she mutters, finally. "No one likes being disrespected." Somethhing a bit guilty slips across her icy features, but she composes herself quickly.

"I must confess that the Academy has made me see her in a new light," Illyana exhales, finally. "This is an undertaking of exceptional size. I cannot imagine getting so many people cooperating— all legs moving in same direction. It is very impressive."

She looks at Alan and KAren. "But real question is— would you stay here, if you did not have requirement to do so?" she asks, her question surprisingly direct and pointed for how young she appears.


"No. No one likes being disrespected." Alan offers, nodding affirmatively.

Both nod as they listen to Illyana's impressions and feelings from having seen the campus and the details of the school's facilities. But Alan looks utterly poleaxed and perplexed when she finally puts the question to them. He couldn't parse that, and has no idea what Illyana means. Karen, however, speaks up. "Would I stay here, if I had other options? Yes. I love it here. It's one of the best educations available to anyone, man or woman, in the world. In the entire world. And as a school that strives firmly to make sure women are as much a part of higher education, and the teaching and administration, as any man, I'd be a fool to go anywhere else."

It's not as if there aren't other excellent women's colleges in the country, and the world. But none of those were established by a woman with the business sense and determination of Emma Frost. It's incomparable. Catching up, Alan nods. "I suppose, if I got a shot at Harvard, or MIT, I might consider transferring. But I'm happy here."

Once the tour is finished, including the library and the athletic campus, the trio make their way back to the administration building. If Illyana is especially sharp-eyed, she might pick out the presence of a stark white Towncar on the ground floor of the nearby parking garage.


"Very well," Illyana says, nodding at their assessment. "I appreciate your candor," she tells the two guides. "It has been extremely telling that you'll speak so frankly of her— not glossing over her flaws, but accepting them as part of her. It speaks much to what Miss Frost will do for yer students."

She exhales through her nose, looking a bit put-out as she discovers Emma is perhaps a more complex persona than Illyana had first expected. "When does one normally meet with her to discuss enrollment? Or is her involvement only as, er… financial backer?" she asks of the duo, following them on the last leg back to the admin offices.


Alan answers. "Miss Frost is the Director of the Board of Trustees, so she does have an administrative function within the operation of the school, but it's largely about directing the finances, and what projects and developments will get what funds."

Karen adds, "But I believe she also serves on a few of the various committees. I am not sure which commmittees, but I know she was on Meritorious when I was recruited, so she was part of my interviews."

Alan nods at this information. "That's true. I didn't come in through Meritorious, so I didn't know that. But I've heard a few others say the same."

When the trio arrives back at the front desk where Illyana was first greeted, the secretary stands to welcome them back. "Thank you kindly, Alan, Karen. I appreciate you taking some of your time to take Miss Rasputina on a tour of our facilities." They demur, as they should, and then head off with waves and promises to stay in touch if Illyana ends up attending the school.

The secretary then mentions, "I was not able to reach many of the Committee without prior warning, I am afraid. However, I was able to reach one member who was able to get free. If you would like to take your interview this afternoon, that can be arranged. Or, if you would like to schedule a meeting for another time, I can make that appointment now, and make sure to have more of the committee available at that time."


"I will stay for interview," Illyana tells the scretary, nodding once. "I am here and have arrived without notice, so… is only fair I be willing to wait until someone is free. I will wait here until someoen can see me." She nods at Alan and Karen, giving Alan a handshake and kissing Karen on the cheek. "Thank you for your help," she says, gravely. "It was very appreciated. I look forward to attending classes with you soon, and in near future," she adds, before turning to the secretary.

"Do you have something I can read while I am waiting?" she asks, seriously. "Either that, or can run home and get a book before meeting starts," she says, before moving to settle into a chair.

With a surprisingly thoughtful expression and patience.


"Something to read?" the secretary responds, more to fill time than out of any uncertainty in what was said. Then she nods. "Certainly. We have a course catalog, several tracts written by Dr. Poplin on a variety of relevant topics, and a few modern novels." !960s literature can be quite enlightening. If only the secretary were the sort to worry about modern literature. They're probably bodice-ripper romance novels. "Would any of those interest you?"

Once Illyana is settled and reading, it's about twenty minuts before the secretary approaches her at her seat. "Ms. Rasputina? A member of the Meritorious Committee is here and ready to see you. If you'll just come with me?" With that, she leads Illyana past her own desk and down a short hallway to a pair of double doors. When she opens these, she reveals a large conference room, dominated by the table surrounded by comfortable chairs.

Only one of the ten chairs around the table is currently occupied, and that one holds a familiar figure arrayed all in pristine white, her platinum blonde hair twisted into an updo today, and an array of papers spread out on the desk in front of her. Emma Frost looks up, acknowledging Illyana's entrance, and stands. "Ms. Rasputina. Please, come in, have a seat." Emma gestures towards a chair to her left towards her end of the table, and waits for Illyana to reach it. "Can we get you anything to drink?" she inquires, before making sure the secretary fetches that, and a carafe of water for Emma's own consumption.

"I understand that you have had a tour of our facilities, here. What are your thoughts, if I may ask?"


Illyana looks around the table, surveying the area. She walks to a chair next to Emma and looks around once more, seating herself, and waits until the secretary has come and gone before looking at Emma.

"I am impressed, slightly suspicious, and interested," she says, finally. Apparently she decides that being blunt is the best tact to take— there's little point in subterfuge or equivocation.

"When we first met, did not like you. Still not convinced," Illyana tells Emma, frankly. "You asked much but offered little. Having seen this-" she gestures vaguely around them, "I am inclined to reconsider thoughts on you. Not sure I /like/ you," Illyana tells Emma. "But this— not easy to dream up. Even harder to make into reality."

She touches her tongue to her upper lip, thinking of the proper words. "Piotr says, I am … hair trigger. So I am inclined to apologize and start fresh— considering particularly, your generous invitation."

She looks Emma dead in the eye. "I am sorry," she tells her, firmly.


Emma remains calm, taking a seat again only once Illyana does the same. She accepts the carafe of water and pours some for herself, and some for her guest, before settling in calmly to listen, letting the young woman have her say uninterrupted. Being Emma, she doesn't even let her expression show much of anything, either, as she waits.

"For the record, Ms. Rasputina, I accept your apology, and I thank you for offering it." Emma offers, formally but also genuinely. "And I am very glad that you recognize and appreciate the generousness of the invitation and the opportunity." It helps, after all. "I would also like to say that it was never my intention to insult or upset you. I simply have specific expectations. And when they are not met, I do not react with kindness." Understatement.

"I am also pleased to know that the facilities and capabilities here impress you, and that you appreciate them." Emma finishes. "I am given to understand that you will require assistance in completing an equivalency exam, prior to beginning classes here. Hopefully your guides were able to make clear that tutors and assistance will be provided to help with that process."

Emma pauses for a bit, and then gets to the point. Or at least a point. "Do you have any questions, before we continue with the interview, Ms. Rasputina? After all, while we may be recruiting you because of our interests, this is as much about your benefit and desires as our own."


"Da. Am… not strong with some academics," Illyana admits, struggling hard to not let that color her face. "Reading am good. Some math. No history or sociology," she explains, hands folded on her lap.

"Did not have… positive home environment," she says, evasively. It sounds a bit rehearsed, but her expression is almost impossible to read.

"My question is, what you are gaining from this," Illyana says, looking steadily at the elegant blonde woman. "I asked around. Many said, you are hard woman— very career and success oriented. This seems… very generous and without self gratification. Not sure why you are doing it, and can only assume that you are gaining something. I cannot understand what."


Emma takes notes as Illyana explains. "Very well. I'll be sure that our tutors are made aware of your issues, so that they can help you best to prepare for the exams. Should you choose to join Frost Institute, you will still be able to stay here in campus, while preparing for the exams. Once you pass, you will be enrolled in classes."

Emma nods at the explanation. She is sure there's more to it than that. Then again, isn't there always? There certainly was in her own case, and that's not something she's going to explain just now.

"I am a very career- and success-oriented woman." Emma answers with forthright honesty. "I am no altruist. But I know how difficult it was for me to achieve what I have. And I know what I have accomplished." Emma shrugs slightly. "I have pursued getting this school set up because I want to see others like myself get the opportunities they would otherwise be denied." She then allows a hint of a smile to show. "And having helped them to achieve their own goals, they are likely to be positively inclined towards any suggestions I might make in the future, including job offers which would allow my company or my allies to benefit from their capabilities. And more." It's the more mercenary equivalent of 'pay it forward'. In short: The Good Old Girl's Network. Or the mutant equivalent.


"Reasonable," Illyana concedes. "And pragmatic." She nods at Emma. "I can respect and understand that."

"But raises question— what do you expect from me?" Illyana says, lifting a golden brow at the pale telepath. "I have no wealth on Earth. No family money or connections. Is unlikely I will become businesswoman or invest wealth or make great money. I have everything I need in Limbo, except for family. What do you think you will get from me?"


Emma chuckles softly. "I will get from you - should you prove willing - the same thing I get from anyone: an open mind. At some point in the future, a situation may arise wherein I believe you have the connections, the resources, or the abilities to help me accomplish something i wish to accomplish. And I will ask you, then, for your help. And you will decide whether or not you are willing to give it."

The scariest thing is that Emma means what she's saying; she's unlikely to force anyone to do her this favor. It's possible. She might, especially if she deems it vital. But that isn't her intent. Her intent is to leave young people feeling beholden to her, more willing to consider doing her these favors. And that's enough for her.


"Fair. I have similar deal with demon princes in Limbo," Illyana tells Emma. "They may run their own demesnes, as long as taxes paid to me and they serve when I call. Word for it… futilism?" she says, struggling to sound it out. "Read it in book once— seemed like good idea," she shrugs, tugging on her hair with both hands and absolutely ruining her carefully brushed out corn-silk mane.

"Democracy does not work with demons. Any species where eating boss is valid way to advance, not big on parliamentary procedure," she confides in Emma.


"Feudalism, practiced by monarchies in the pre-Constitutional era, including most of the Western and near-Eastern world." Including pre-Communist Russia. Emma twitches, slightly as Illyana continues to casually make observations about Limbo and demons, as these are things Emma was not aware of as being real. Or germane. But she is quick and adaptable. It's one of her greatest strengths.

"As you may have realized," Emma continues, "I am making a point to extend offers of scholarship to students who are exceptional in ways beyond purely academics." Subtle, but plain enough that she's guessing Illyana will pick it up. "One of the less public aspects of this program is that I hope to assist said students in training to perfect and master their talents."


"Da. Karen and Alan— very discreet. Would not answer me directly." Illyana seems to approve of their discretion. "Am not sure how you can help me. Asked some people about your powers— they said you could read minds, become diamond-hard. My talents are mystical in nature, not mutant," she tells Emma, incorrectly. "The living energy of the universe itself. The Sorceror Supreme is teaching me to harness them. What can you do to improve over his lessons?" she inquires, clearly curious of Emma's own expertise.


Not having been sure what the exceptional young woman's abilities were, Emma takes a few moments to wrap her brain around this latest revelation, before she speaks. Better to be silent and thought a fool, than open ones' mouth and prove the point. "In truth, Karen and Alan could not answer your questions any more precisely than they did, as neither is actually exceptional beyond their academics. Though that adorable young man with the bright red hair you saw on the quadrangle is one such individual. Not unlike young Rory, I suppose, though not precisely similar." Not a mutant werewolf, then. But some kind of shapeshifter.

"As to how to help you, Ms. Rasputina, that honestly depends on you." Emma answers, honestly. "There is nothing I myself can teach you about magic. I suspected it could be real, but had no proof. But I do not see you lying to me about such a thing, so I will assume you have indeed become that proof." Again, bald and forthright honesty. Emma is no magicienne, and would never claim to be. Too easy to prove she's lying. "But I can assure you that you are a mutant. I do not yet know what your ability may be. It could even be that the ability to harness magic is a mutant gift. But even so, I suspect I may be able to find other teachers. Even when one is taught by the best in a field, another perspective is never amiss. And I may be able to provide other resources, given time to study the problem." If magic is real, after all, then there must be items that can harness that power. And with her resources, surely Emma could find some.


"Oh, is very real! Come, I will show you." Illyana looks positively excited at that notion, and stomps a foot on the ground. Abruptly, yellow light flickers into a pale circle around them. She takes two steps forward— and the world warbles, shifts, and resolves itself into a hellish, chaotic landscape of purple soil and green skies. Gravity feels more notional than reality, and a strange soil formation like a curled riptide frozen in mid-crash bears fruit trees growing inverted.

"See? Is magic! Welcome to Limbo," she tells Emma, holding her arms outstretched. It smells oddly of ozone and a strong earthy scent. "Always feels good to be home," she sighs, taking in a deep breath of the… clean? air.


Emma is about to stand up from her seat at Illyana's summons, when she is instead hurled pell-mell into another world while still mostly in her seat. Only sheer luck means the chair doesn't tip over and dump her in the purple dirt, and Emma is not happy. She's not yelling, but her face says 'damnit' quite clearly. "But this is not home, Ms. Rasputina. You were born, and raised for several years, in the heart of Russia. Where you not?" Emma does her research. She's smart like that. "I presume that you can take us back to the conference room?" she inquires, choosing not to rise from her seat should that change be rapidly forthcoming. Besides, heels and purple dirt do not mix. Especially not white heels!


Illyana's face twists, as if she's unware of the emotions coiling across her features. "I… yes. But… not home. Not anymore," she mutters, rubbing her arms absently. "Family… gone." Dead— there's no mistaking the subtext of her tone.

She looks at Emma, then nods. "Er… da. Is easy." She stamps a foot on the ground, a *puft* of dust flinging around her. The yellow circle returns, expands around the two of them— and with two steps, the world rematerializes, putting Emma's chair right back where it was supposed to be.

There's no evidence of their trip— even the purple dust on Emma's shoes is evaporating into twinkling light.


It takes Emma a few moments to reassure herself that they are well and truly safe, back in the conference room. That the purple dust is gone. That she is once more clean. Then, at least, she raises her gaze to the blonde Russian girl, and squares her mind to continue the conversation.

"I have heard you speak of a Piotr. The tone of voice. I am assuming he is family. So not all of your family is gone. And home … home is where you choose to make it. I will never tell you where that should be. Never. Just so long as you accept that wherever you make it is your choice." Emma can be quite a dichotomy, and she doesn't make it easy.

Nothing worth doing ever is.

"I do not know magic. We have discussed that. But from what I have heard of magic, and what I have just seen, I suspect that your ability to transfer from here to Limbo, and back, is not magic. It is a mutant power. I cannot prove that. But there is nothing of the arcane in your efforts. No gestures. No words. No materials. Not even much effort. And that seems to me the act of an innate gift." And thusly one that Emma could help train, unlike the magic. "Just my own perspective. Food for thought, as the expression goes."


Illyana's brows lift at Emma's suggestion. "Da, Piotr… brother," Illyana murmurs, clearly thoroughly considering Emma's words. Her eyes drift to a corner of the room, thoughtful as they sink into her consideration.

"Would explain some things," Illyana concedes, finally. "Did wonder for many years how Belasco brought me to Limbo. I wonder— did I go to /him/?" she murmurs, considering that with a thoughtful expression.

"Will consider it," she tells Emma, looking back at her. "And… thank you, for those thoughts."


Emma nods, accepting the reply, and giving Illyana time to dwell on the thoughts, and the feelings they provoke, without rushing her. She has time. She takes the time to sip some of her own water, and pours a glass for Illyana, leaving it within easy reach without requiring the other woman to even so much as acknowledge it. It's just there.

Eventually, then, Emma does continue, when her sense of the others' feelings and mental state indicates the timing is right. "Have you any further questions, Ms. Rasputina? You may ask me anything you wish. It is possible I may choose not to answer you. But I will not lie. And you should have all of the information you can, before evaluating for your own decision."


"Many questions at the moment, but ones I can answer with reading," Illyana assures Emma, shaking her head. "I have several pamphlets to examine and then I must discuss with my brother. He is one I trust and has always good advice," Illyana tells Emma, quite seriously. It's very obvious how much she trusts and relies on her brother's presence in her life.

"I appreciate your time and… consideration, Miss Frost. I am considering your offer quite seriously," she assures the elegant blonde woman.

"Have you any questions for me?"


The platinum blonde businesswoman considers the young Russian carefully for a bit before she answers. "I have a few. But most, I think, may go better with some time. After all, should you decide not to accept the Institute's offer, there would be no reason for you to entrust me with the answers to my questions. For now, just let it be said that I am very curious, and I look forward to an opportunity to learn more. I hope that is an acceptable compromise to you?"


"Da, is very acceptable," Illyana assures Emma. She flickers a smile at the woman. "Thank you for your time, Miss Frost. I will respond to you soon with my answer— whatever it proves out to be." She gives Emma a regal nod farewell and turns to take her leave.

She makes it two paces, turns, goes back for her small purse, nods at Emma again, and /then/ walks out of the room.

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