1965-05-01 - What's Interesting?
Summary: Johnny shows Noh-Varr how to gamble at the Hellfire Club
Related: None
Theme Song: None
noh-varr johnny-storm 

The reception desk in the Baxter Building has been warned now. A simple 'Captain Noh-Varr of the 18th Kree Diplomatic Gestalt' gets a call up to the headquarters of the Fantastic Four even if he's not wearing his uniform this time and is, instead, in jeans and a tank top. . Sent on up, he exits the elevator at the HQ floor once the override has been given. "Johnny Storm." he calls as he exits the elevator. Then as an obvious afterthought, he adds "Or Reed Richards."

In the HQ, an assistant gives a little nod to Noh-Varr, "Mr. Richards is out of the country, but Mr. Storm will be with you shortly." The assistant heads back into the labspace to work on whatever task he was set to.

Outside, a streak of human-shaped fire can be seen shooting up past the windows. Within a couple minutes, Johnny steps out of the side stairway that leads to the roof access. He's dressed in his form-fitting black Fantastic Four uniform, complete with the F4 logo over his chest. Upon seeing Noh-Varr he offers a smile, "Hey there."

Noh-Varr flops down onto whatever piece of furniture looks comfiest to wait in then stands back up and walks over to the ceiling to floor window to look out. As the figure of fire flies past to let him know the man was actually correct, he turns on hearing someone coming down the stairs. "Hello Johnny." he replies, walking over and returning the smile. "This would be a good time for you to show me the interesting places in the city. The ones not obvious to strangers. I've been to enough of those. Did you know your Museum of Natural History makes no mention of the Celestials visiting your planet? I tried to speak to the curator but the guards wouldn't let me and it wasn't worth removing them from my way."

"Of course it doesn't, there's no evidence 'Celestials' exist, let alone visited our planet. If it happened" Johnny's tone is skeptical, "it happened before recorded history, which _barely_ goes back six or seven thousand years. The first time we have recorded experience of alien life was when Loki of Asgard revealed himself on television. Which kinda got him in trouble." He shrugs, as he wasn't involved with that, "Define 'interesting'?" He heads over to the sidebar and pulls out a couple of glasses, pouring two fingers of expensive bourbon into each, and offering one towards Noh.

"About a million years ago." Noh-Varr agrees, taking the glass. "A hundred thousand years ago or so, my people built a base on one of the planets in this system and noticed the humanoids on this planet had been tampered with. The Celestials 'signature' is very obvious." Taking a small sip to test, he follows it by drinking about half. "Interesting. Interesting people, interesting places, interesting activities. Things the person on the street wouldn't approve of. In public."

"A million years ago? I'm pretty sure we didn't have language yet, and still lived in caves, at that point." Johnny seems amused about that, "Even a hundred thousand years ago homo sapiens would have basically just been cavemen still." He tosses back his drink entirely, sets the glass down, "Things a person on the street wouldn't approve of? Three things come to mind."

"You call them 'Cro-Magnon'." Noh-Varr agrees. "That's when my people started their own experiments on yours, trying to make perfect soldiers to throw against the Skrulls. I'm assuming the two histories are the same since whatever differences there are between my reality and this one seems to have branched off much more recently than that." Finishing his own drink, he sets the glass down next to Johnny's. "Then lets do them."

"Fair enough." With that, Johnny leads out to the elevator, though he sends a glance back at Noh-Varr, "Wait, your people started experimenting on mine? You took sentient living beings and experimented on them? Even we have ethical limits on our experimentation, and it doesn't include anything sentient."

"It was a long time ago." Noh-Varr explains, shrugging slightly as he follows Johnny. "We were in a very long war with the Skrulls and wanted to develop a race of soldiers. Or so I'm told. It didn't work very well though their descendants are still around. So what are we doing first?"

"The Hellfire Club." Johnny replies, as the elevator takes them all the way down to the private garage. "I'm not actually a member, but know someone who is who can get us in. There you will find almost any possible persuit of sin and debauchery." He pauses, glancing over to Noh, "Though you're underdressed severely, so maybe save that until you get a more expansive wardrobe." Pause, glance down, "And I'm in my uniform, shit." He presses a button, halting the elevator and reversing it.

Noh-Varr glances down at what he's wearing. "Someone made me these. If you tell me what's appropriate for different things, I'll get some. If you tell me where." He hasn't done any shopping yet. "So should I assume it's for those with wealth if I'm underdressed? What's more fitting to what I'm wearing?"

"It depends, different things are appropriate for different places. For the mutant bar, that's fine. For the Black Cat, its a little casual— a nicer shirt would be all you need. For the Hellfire Club you need to either dress up more or take the shirt off entirely, at which point they'll assume you're there as a product and not a customer." Johnny chuckles softly, heading in and then over to his bedroom area. He proceeds to peel out of his suit, get jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, "But there's a trick to clubs like Hellfire. Dressing casual is okay, just as long as you top it off with a suit coat. I can lend you one."

"Or I can take my shirt off." Noh-Varr points out with a grin. Leaning against the door frame, he watches Johnny change. "Or you can lend me one. Or we can go to this Black Cat instead. Whichever you prefer. That's two. You said there were three. What's the third?"

"Ah, but taking off your shirt means you have to be prepared to be bought." Johnny points out, "And prostitutes don't get to be picky, and wealth does not mean beauty." Slipping into the jeans, and then putting the shirt on— both tight enough that they are not especially effective coverings. He then goes to a side closet, and pulls out a navy and black blazer. He shrugs into the navy, and offers the black over to Noh-Varr. "The third is the Eight Ball, a bar in Mutant Town that caters to the…different."

"I've been to that one." Noh-Varr takes the jacket and shrugs it on, giving the hem a tug downward to straighten it out. "Mutants aren't particularly interesting. What they can do is but they're just humans with the genetic code realized that the Celestials implanted into you. Just being a mutant by itself isn't any more interesting than someone with different hair color."

"Except red hair doesn't give someone the power to destroy a building with a thought, fly, throw tanks, control plants, turn invisible, … etcetera." Johnny shrugs, and heads back towards the elevator again, leading the way. Once in, they're speeding down to the private garage, and there Johnny leads to his collection of sports car. Today, he chooses a blue convertible, and gets in.

"Their powers can be interesting." Noh-Varr agrees. "But it doesn't make them interesting. I'm sure you have boring mutants." He looks over the cares as Johnny picks one out then gets in. "What do you need so many vehicles for, especially when you can fly?"

"For one thing, its part of what I'm famous for. I race cars, do stunt driving. For another, consider it a collection— I'm an enthusiast collector for all things engines." Johnny then laughs softly, "More importantly, I can't very well carry flammable things— like, oh, this coat— when I'm flying. Plus, passengers generally aren't keen on burning to death if I carry them."

"Point." Noh-Varr agrees. "I haven't been in one of these before. What powers it?" Sniffing the air, he adds "A chemical reaction of some sort. It's styled very nicely even if it's not very advanced." Turning his attention on Johnny, he starts watching what he's doing. "Tell me how to pilot it."

"Internal combustion engine; gasoline— refined hydrocarbons— is injected into a chamber, a spark goes off, and the explosion sends pistons up, they then descend again, and the process repeats." Johnny puts it in gear, and peels out, the wheels screeching slightly as he speeds out towards the exit, shifting up the gears once he's on the road and speeding up. "Right pedal increases the amount of gas that goes into the chamber; more gas, bigger explosions, faster. Left peddle is the brake to slow down. Middle is the clutch, it has to be down to unlock the gears to change gears—" He indicates the handle, "Low gears are slow, high gears are fast, but you can't go from slow to fast, you have to go step by step."

Noh-Varr listens to the explanation as he watches Johnny's hands and feet. "A simple process but effective for ground transportation." Satisfied he can now drive with the best of them, he settles back in his seat and watches the city blocks go by. "Tell me about this club we're going to."

If he's learning driving from watching Johnny, he's going to get into trouble with the law sooner or later. Johnny deftly weaves in and out of traffic, going way over the speed limit, which has him having to speak loudly, "It's for the wealthy, the famous, and the powerful. There's Hellfire Club branches in nearly every major city of power the world over, and what goes on in them… well, I don't even know everything. My fame opens certain doors, but not all. There's, at least, good food, good drink, gambling, and probably more then a little bit of sex."

"So an interesting place as promised." Noh-Varr decides. "Good. I'm not wealthy of famous yet but is being Kree enough to open those doors? I will be a novelty and don't mind at all." As if being the center of attention could be a bad thing.

"Actually, being Kree would be a bad thing to mention in there— it will most certainly close doors. You're with me, that's your in. That and looking like a pornstar or model helps." cautions Johnny, "This is a place where the powerful meet to make deals and entertain themselves. If you're a pretty boy there on your looks, you're an attraction. If you're an alien, you're a threat."

"If they think that a pretty boy can't be a threat, they are stupid." Noh-Varr says. "Everyone can be a threat and the bigger ones are the ones who don't look like it. It seems your people share at least one trait with mine."

Johnny shakes his head slowly, "You don't understand. This place exists precisely to allow them indulgance without worry or fear of threats. The attractions— and I'm one— are safe. Of course its possible that I flame on and burn the whole building to the ground, but they know I wouldn't."

After a moment, Noh-Varr nods. "I see. We have some similar place on Hala, frequented by similar people. Well then, it'll be fun. I don't mind at all being an attraction and will do what you do."

Continuing to drive, Johnny finally pulls in to the garage next to the club, and then he's out of the car. He tugs on his jacket a bit, runs a hand through his hair, and offers Noh-Varr a grin. "Let's go." He heads to the front, where there are big, burly looking guards, "Johnny Storm, and Noah Varren." Of course they recognize Johnny, "Charlie Dade's guests." One nods briefly, and steps inside to check on their stories.

Noh-Varr follows Johnny to the building and looks it over as he talks to the guards. He looks puzzled for a moment then remembers the name Johnny 'gave' him. Close enough and if it lets him fit in those times he actually should… Nodding to the remaining guard, he gives him a smile and seems content to wait with Johnny.

The guard returns, nods to Johnny, "Welcome, Mr. Storm, Mr. Varren." And then he opens the door and ushers them inside. Once in, the pair of them draw some stares— from both ladies and men, for that matter. People of power in this particular club don't try to hide their deviant tendencies very hard. He heads over to take a seat, and immediately a servant shows up, "A bourbon, please." And looks to Noh, "Let's have drinks, then I'll teach you how to play poker. I'll loan you some cash as stakes."

Noh-Varr looks around the inside as he follows Johnny and returns some of those stares from the more attractive occupants. Taking a seat, he makes himself at home, a task he's an expert at. "You know what I like. I'll have one of those or something like it." he tells Johnny. Poker. Sure, why not.

Johnny looks up to the servant, considers a long moment, "Something strong but fruity. Surprise him." He turns his attention to the Kree, curious, "Do they have gambling on… Hala, you called it? Its technically illegal here, but the Hellfire Club pays enough to the local police that it'll never, ever be raided."

"Of course though we prefer games that rely more on skill than luck." Noh-Varr answers. "There's also wagering on fights which is more the skill of the fighter than the wager. Why is it illegal?"

"Supposedly, gambling increases crime and other bad behaviors— but really, because humans like to legislate their morality into laws, just so some uppity people can disapprove of the moral character of people doing what they don't themselves want to do." Johnny has already mentioned his opinion on laws in general, "Poker is a game of skill, well. There's a luck component but that's just per hand; over the course of the game, its your ability to calculate odds and read the other people that really determines who wins. I don't particularly care for gambling that involves just luck. Craps, roulette, that sorta thing, not my game."

Noh-Varr nods at the explanation. "That should be pretty easy then. Anyone who can navigate through space and realities can do the simple mathematics of calculating odds. And your faces are very expressive unlike some races like the Cotati who are vegetative and telepathic."

Johnny glances up at a servant brings them their drinks, "A deck of cards, love." he asks, and she's off and back in short order. He opens it and splays them out on the table between them, "Four suits, thirteen cards a suit. 2 through 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace— 1. Your objective in power is to get the best 'poker' hand— a set of five cards. The best hand is a royal flush, then a straight flush…" He demos examples of each hand as he goes over the basics. "My favorite type of poker is new here, its not really played anywhere but in this club and Texas. Everyone is dealt two cards face down, then they bet or fold— quit the hand. Three cards are dealt face up, they bet. One more card face up, bet. One final card face up, bet. Now everyone who survived the betting phase turns their two cards up and makes the best five card hand they can out of the seven cards. The shared-cards mean you have to really watch the other *people* to try to analyze if you think they're bluffing or what hand you think they might have based on their betting patterns."

Noh-Varr studies each hand as Johnny displays it then listens to the rules of the game. "I see. Thirteen cards per suit, fifty two cards total. A relatively small number of combinations, lowered by the cards in your hand and then lowered more as each card is revealed. Easy to figure out. The only variable will be if the players are playing against the odds or lying about what cards they have." He studies Johnny a moment then adds "You're similar to Kree but I doubt your expressions mean exactly the same thing."

"Bluffing, not lying." corrects Johnny with a nod, lifting his drink up to take a long swig, "The key is to know when to fold. Don't commit if the odds are too far against you, but don't only keep a hand that's likely to win. Its a balancing act."

Noh-Varr nods. "I shall master it soon enough. I just need to become more familiar with human facial expressions under these circumstances. They're easy to read under normal ones but when someone is trying to l… bluff, that shall take some study. It's a lot like diplomacy though."

Rising, Johnny cocks his head and, drink in hand, leads the way to one of the side doors. He leaves the deck behind. Pulling his wallet out of his pants, he takes out a couple hundreds. There's several poker tables there, and he heads over to table and slaps down both bills, cocking his head to the following Noh. "Half for my friend here." And he settles in then to play. He's good and over the several hands comes out ahead, though not by a great deal.

Diplomats are trained not to reveal what they're thinking and warriors are trained not to telegraph their blows. And since Noh-Varr is a genius, keeping track of the cards and odds isn't difficult. But as he said, reading human expression under these circumstances is unfamiliar. As the game goes on, he becomes better at reading the specific players which makes up for his losses at the start. Breaking more or less even isn't bad for a newbie.

After awhile, Johnny collects his winnings, anods to Noh, and cocks his head back out with a grin, "So, what'd you think of the game? You didn't do so bad for someone new to it. Keep your winnings, consider it a down payment for our partnership. By the way, I've got permission from Reed to show you our computer— the actual computer and full schematics. When you decide what part you can improve, we'll negotiate price."

"It's not bad though not what I was thinking of by 'interesting'." Noh-Varr answers. "I didn't think playing games was something your culture objected to. Your species in this reality is very strange. Or maybe it's just the time. Several decades from now you've becomes more tolerant." Pause. "A little."

"That's only one thing one can do here. You have to explore. There's private strip-shows, massages… other activities." Johnny chuckles and shakes his head, "But its not the playing games that is objected to, its the betting. Gambling."

"I don't see what difference that makes." Noh-Varr says, shaking his head. "But every culture is different." So says the diplomat. "I think I've had enough cards. You mentioned massages? We should do that next."

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