Once you get past Norman's secretary - and the set of large wooden doors - you'll find yourself in Norman Osborn's inner sanctum - located at the very top of Oscorp Tower. The corner office's floor-to-ceiling windows grant a breathtaking view of Midtown East Manhattan. It is otherwise extraordinarily sparse - a bookshelf with various volumes on war, history, technology, and biology - an organic looking desk with laptop - and a shelf of masks, all from various cultures, all notably grotesque and monstrous.
It's not really Parley's style to erupt into offices like a bomb detonation - but he /can/ calculate something like a loosed arrow. Maybe he'd sent notice in advance, maybe he /hadn't/, regardless he greeted Secretary #432 guarding the Oscorp CEO's inner office sanctum and waited patiently with his phone out to be invited in.
His dress style is getting a little more personlized; a darker gray sports coat and mandarin collar worn over a lighter tan button up, slacks and black shoes do whatever awkward attempts they /can/ to mitigate the stiff spiky /entropy/ that is his mop of hair, cutting into the office once permitted like he's looking for a stiff DRINK and the far window is the liquor cabinet.
"There's a change in plans."
He just kind of - tosses the words onto Norman's desk as he passes it. Here ya go.
"Isn't there /always/?" Norman's response is abrupt; terse -- quick and to-the-point. He gives it while he's working on his laptop (seriously, when isn't he working on his laptop), his face tense and his jaw clenched, eyes upon the monitor. His eyes drift over to Parley only with -- what seems to be, /reluctance/ -- before he suddenly adds: "Be specific, mmn? Has Doom finally declared war on all of America?" This idea, at least, seems to give him a tiny bit of a smile.
"Wouldn't that be interesting?" Parley doesn't sound insincere in this, kind of optimistic-light in tone. He's /touching/ things again, Norman. The wall, for one, unzipping it from stem to stern with a fingertip as he walks the parameter, "No. But he has put in chips quite firmly with Alice Lambton, it would seem. I think the proverbial ship, in terms of driving a wedge between them, has sailed earlier than we'd have hoped." Oh dear. He found the bookshelf. Don't mind if he picks at a tome on biology. Because there is riffling through it, to be had.
The particular book Parley has plucked up is biochemistry; it is a dense, tiresome read -- unless you happen to be intimately familiar with words like 'aminotransferase'. "Mmmn. Surprising. I thought Alice would be much more wary of him, considering the fact that he's insane. Still -- politics and strange bedfellows." Norman, at least, doesn't seem too panicked over this revelation; he turns back to his laptop as Parley proceeds to MARK HIS TERRITORY with fingers, eyes, and cheeks.
And then -- without ever missing a beat -- there's a depression of that button. /That/ one. The one that turns the room into the surveillance equivalent of FORT KNOX. Windows darkening, so on. Norman is a paranoid little thing. "Depending on the depths of their relationship," Norman continues, "it may be necessary to burn them /both/ to the ground." He says this like -- it would be such a /regrettable/ thing. Oh, poor Doom! And Alice! He really /liked/ Alice. Ha ha ha, no but seriously.
"It's always fire, with you." Parley didn't earn his long-ago fateful internship at a lab specializing in genetic testing by /chance/ - he skims, anyway, admittedly rusty but seeking out the context clues that so tantalizingly /won't/ suggest themselves as they would to him in a spoken narrative. Like trying to drink a glass of water by /licking the glass/. Brow-furrow. "Mmmh - insanity is somewhat outdated in a world graded by success. Doom is a wealth of resources -."
Parley's eyes flick up, then back down again, when the room seals itself off. "He gave her a toy. Also."
He clips the book shut, a hand flat on the front cover and the back cover as though conducting a prayer through it, tipping his head to the side to hey-hi comment across the floor to Norman.
"I need her at the moment."
"Of course you do," Norman responds, almost like -- Parley just idly commented, 'I'd Rather Stay Alive At The Moment'. "But let's stay on the big picture: Alice Lambton and Victor van Doom are forging an alliance. Of sorts. Alice Lambton works for laboratories that put chips in the heads of mutants. Victor van Doom is -- at the moment -- the world's foremost authority on neuroprosthetics. This is an alliance that /cannot/ be allowed to stand. For mutantkind," Norman adds, before looking up from his computer -- to Parley -- "or for /Oscorp/."
"Regardless of her utility," Norman continues, "we either have to break this lovely little romance of theirs up -- or render them /both/ irrelevant. The obvious way," he adds, "is to expose them as plotting against the US government in some capacity. However, I'm open to solutions that leave Ms. Lambton relatively unscathed."
"Mutantkind, Oscorp," Parley, a mutant currently /in/ the Oscorp headquarters, doesn't really treat either word with much reverence, rolling the book to make an offhand sweep, "I feel we've been a little small minded in our approach. Rushing around to battle symptoms without concern for the cause."
He slips the book back onto the shelf, "You need power to fight it, Mr. Osborn. Become both of their ally and you would have access to /either/ of their technologies. I wonder."
He leans his back against the book case, crossing ankles, "If you'd be able to develop technology that could /block/ the signal running to these brain chips. Render them useless."
"Block the chips functionality? Likely impossible," Norman comments, with the steely calmness of a man who's already considered this possibility. "Not, at least, without a severe risk of harm to the person the chip is /in/. But." And now the laptop is pushed away; steered toward the other side of the desk -- his elbows descend atop of it, hands folding together as he leans forward to /peer/ at Parley. Eyes narrowed.
"Doom claims his machines run via wireless transferrence of energy. Maybe more chicanery, but it's hard to say -- I see no reason to /doubt/ the claim. What interests, me, then, is this -- is there a method to block that signal? If so," Norman adds, "it may be feasible to turn his robots off -- or better yet, control one myself. Imagine," and at this, Norman /smiles/ oh-so-toothily, "the damage I could do to US and Latverian relations with one of his own full-bodied prosthetics under my control." Then: "But I would need one of these machines to understand the technology."
Norman scowls. "An alliance with Lambton is likely impossible. Not without -- something to offer her. The same goes for Doom. My position is precarious. I need either leverage to secure an alliance -- or to weaken their respective positions. Preferably, both."
"They're not /so/ deeply developed as to control the body's functions," Parley contends with a bland smile, "Yet, anyway. My dear fellow escapees have all had their removed already."
The smile remains, but it's riding atop a slow inhale, then exhale. "By Dr. Rasheed Toure, actually. He seems to have already infiltrated Iolaus Saavedro's circle of trust amongst the mutant Mendel Clinic. Which answers the question as to why Ms. Lambton and her fellows have been so patient about rounding them up and taking them back - they already /have/ them. Information I'm sure that would find me dead in under an hour, if they knew I had it. You /do/ like handing people dynamite."
For a long moment, Parley is considering the man Norman Osborn, his head canted. Until he ventures, "Have you thought to offer Lambton a bite of your /pride/? You could always ask her what you would need to do, to make amends. She'll suspect you of course. But she does not /waste/ her game pieces." Is he so subtly /not/ saying 'UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE'?
"...did you keep any of the chips?" Norman asks, suddenly -- eyes locked on Parley. "It would be -- /very/ useful to have some of them in our possession. We could possibly reverse engineer the technology; see what we're dealing with. Determine what is and isn't possible."
At the mention of Rasheed Toure involved in the mutant Mendel Clinic, Norman smiles; unlike Parley's, there's a great deal of satisfaction there. "Oh, dear. Has that little idealistic debacle been turned around already? How /lovely/. You know, when Roosevelt wanted a registry for every citizen of this blessed little country of ours, all he had to do was promise them a small stipend for retirement. People will /always/ surrender their anonymity for basic necessities. And adequate medical coverage -- such a /hard/ thing to come by, here in the States, isn't it? Even /harder/ for mutants. I daresay sneaking registration past your kind will be easier than many people think."
Norman /sniffs/ at the notion of sacrificing his pride on the altar of Alice Lambton. "I suspect she'd use any such offer as an opportunity to further destroy me. She's a predator, Parley. Were I to bear my throat to her, she would lunge. Still," he adds, considering, "maybe you're right. Maybe there's an opportunity there. If I can offer her -- /something/. Concerning Doom, perhaps."
The silence worn about Parley suggests he was waiting patiently for Norman to ask just this question, "It's likely Toure has taken precautions to secure his technology, but I intend to look. I don't personally have one." His teeth slightly flash, a thin sliver with eyelids lowering. "They only chipped those they considered dangerous."
"Mmh. Registration is practically a foregone conclusion," Parley agrees, blandly, "I'm already assuming they'll be adding our names /for/ us - though wouldn't that yank the legal circus I'm sure Holland would otherwise cause out form under him. I've already suggested a few ways to Lambton to make the laboratories more public, to offer stipends to inspire volunteers, actually."
Ahh. Norman's description of Alice could practically be making Parley /purr/, his, "Oh. She would lunge. But there are levels of /tail/-tucking between here and baring your throat. I'm trying to keep you /alive/, Norman-san. If all I have at the moment is duct tape and dental floss to fortify a collapsing building, I'll use it until I can find something better." He thumps back his head against the book shelf, "--you weren't off base, in thinking of fabricating something. I will - listen. For something she might like." Like a /wingman/, Parley?
"'Considered' dangerous," Norman repeats, as if testing the flavor of those words on his tongue. He seems -- amused by the taste. As to the matter of Alice -- Norman laughs, briefly: "It may not be necessary to fabricate anything at all, Parley. You know, I've been looking into that assassination attempt on -- Doom? Alice? At first, I thought perhaps some political dissident from his homeland, but -- mmn. If she's not already aware of his full-body prosthetics, that would be useful. Otherwise -- I need a sample of his technology -- either the means by which energy is transferred, or -- one of his splendid little machines. He gave Shaw one -- I think Doom realizes that allowing me access to one would be dangerous to his interests." A pause. A slight grin: "If Alice discovered his machines are controlled from afar -- she would /love/ a means to neutralize them, wouldn't she?"
"That, or control them herself," Parley reminds, not unamused considering Norman had wanted the same. Maybe he's one of those kids that /like/ when Mom and Dad are fighting, because he can get better toys when playing them off each other. "Though she's in a position where perhaps she feels she can gain control of the person /controlling/ them. She's quite nimble." With his ankles crossed, he's rolling one foot on an ankle, "...you'd need evidence."
"Mm. Controlling them would be --" Norman considers. "Very unlikely -- not in the long term, at least. Hijacking drones is -- /very/ tricky. However, it is possible to intercept the signal -- break it. Or, better yet, simply /listen/, and discover just what it is Doom's been snooping on. But if I were to acquire one of his drones, I would be more interested in building one of my own. As far as the public is concerned, anything that /looks/ like Doom may as well be Doom." There's a snort, then. "Really, you could just frame him by dressing up a /mutant/ in his armor and having them go on some rampage. With the way he carries himself, I'm sure the media wouldn't put it past him anyway."
"Evidence," Norman repeats, and now he leeeeeans back in his chair, thinking. "Tricky. But, I'm sure it's possible to -- mmn. Yes. Keep your ears open. We need something that -- makes Alice distrust Doom, and also trust /me/. You know," he adds, almost wistfully, "I've almost been tempted to send Goblin out to go fetch me Shaw's."
Parley has been, during this time, using a thumb nail to clean out a trace of grit from his index fingernail. - and then just stops. Eyes slowly return to Norman, all leaned back in his chair. Maybe he's trying to decide if the other man is /screwing/ with him again. "--I'm taking one of your books," is what he /decides/ to say, plucking one AT RANDOM off the shelf. And flicking his eyes towards the door, because there's no getting out of here unless Norman fucking Osborn /says/ he can get out of here.
Norman fucking Osborn says... Get out of here. The button is pressed, as Parley glances toward those doors; the lights immediately undim -- the opaque windows once again becoming so clear one might imagine they aren't even there. "Mmm. I'm fond of the books on the tactics of war," Norman informs Parley, almost boredly; like he's making a suggestion. PARLEY, READ MORE WAR MANUALS. But, the biology textbook is probably a bit more along Parley's interests. "Keep your ears open. We need an opportunity. /Soon/."
"Soon." Parley agrees, and he'll just take THAT BOOK TOO, THANKS. Norman's office is now apparently Parley's private library and he casually tucks them both under an arm on his way across the door. Maybe he'll 'return' /different/ books that he thinks /Norman/ might enjoy reading. "Stay healthy, Mr. Osborn." Off he goes, slipping out the door and off to the rest of the day.