The Smooth: Hard Work

April 09, 2015:

As requested, Kitty finds Melody to try and find out more of Hydra's connection to the Smooth.

New York


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

New York, New York.

It was a refreshing few days away from the city that smells like.. death. Gotham that was, East End being embroiled in a war was stressful stuff. For the love of all that was holy, Melody was starting to get a little grey at the roots. But meeting up with Bruce had it's merits; she was currently designing her own upgrades, something that'll at least help her out for the time being and put on a new twist to the being called Rant. But for now?

Hobos of all sorts.

Two boxes of pizza's were delivered to the three men that often sit outside of Charlie's Pizza Shack here in Queens, the ones that Melody used to see every day until the chill of the winter hit, but now they were back with their bags and ruined shoes to decorate and litter the wall as such. And she sits with them, while Jack smokes a cigarette and munches on his bit of pizza, his own two liter coveted in between his legs as Moe twitches, and does the same.

Haus was another story all together, because he had them. "Ya' see Rant. When I was yer age I was shole tha looker. I had women wantin' to rub my poe feets and do my lil' ol' hair. I had a jheri curl you see, all down my back. Ain' no body have nothin on ol' Haus here." He smiles.. toothless. Quite a gem.

"Well, you are a handsome man, Haus." Melody replies. "I am surprised you didn't find an old woman yet to take care of you."

"Nah Rant. Half of them womens got roaches in they moufs."

It takes Kitty a little bit to track Rant down. There are quite a few ways to do so quietly, but the young mutant does not do that. She leaves a few bread crumbs here and there. As Jericho told her that Rant has a fondness of, and is a hacker herself, she figured an announcement of her intentions was only proper and polite.

Eventually, either because Melody got wind or Kitty is just that good, the phaser tracks the woman to Charlie's Pizza Shack in Queens. It's, luckily, not that far for the woman who lives in Westchester. She knows the boroughs of New York City pretty well. Dressed in a leather jacket that is zipped up to her chin and a pair of jeans, she approaches the pizza shop deliberately, stopping by the men and Rant for a moment.

"'Scuse me," she asks. "I'm looking for Rant."

The men laugh and tell their stories as Rant listens in, drawing her phone out to punch a few messages in to while she waits for them to finish eating. Her rule of thumb? Clean up after the hobos, else they wouldn't have anywhere to keep their perch. Gentrification at it's best. Maybe. Who knows.

As the woman approaches, Rant's eyes lift, her gaze falling towards the three men, all fingers pointed in her direction as she lets out a little sigh. "Thanks for the discretion guys."

"Thanks for the pizza, kid!"
"Yeah, shits good!"
"How about a sandwich next time."
"Shut up, Haus!"

The men cackle with laughter, slapping their pizza's together as Melody slowly climbs to her feet, grunting all the while with a slight bend forward to sweep her hat up from the ground. The best and worst part of Charlie's? No outside cameras. Though none of the hoodlums are plussed to do anything to the local haunt.

"That'd be me." She fesses up even though snitched on, the hat soon pressed upon her head and tucked down low to keep her face hidden from the cameras. How Kitty found her? It's anyones guess. Maybe she was one of the best.

"You don't look like the type that steals and what not so I'm not going to offer up my fencing ability, unless you want like some sort of program cracked.. that's going to cost you a bit."

"I stole a pack of gum once, when I was a kid, then felt really bad about it and brought it back," Kitty tells Melody as she watches the hobos vacate. She doesn't give them a wide berth, only stepping out the way when they'd like to walk past her. Hands remain in the pockets of her jacket, bag slung over her shoulder. Lockheed, for what it's worth, is no where visible.

"Jericho sent me," she tells the woman. "Or, he said that I should come find you as you could help us." There's, for the moment, no clarification as to who the 'us' is. Scott never gave her the parameters of how close she should play this to the vest, so she decides that she'll keep things as generic as she can make them without prodding.

"It's not about a program. It's about Smooth."

"I tried stealing a necklace once. I met Oliver Queen that day. I felt bad. I'm starting to rethink my life because of it." Rant was a peculiar sort. She would soon see why. She motions her hands as she begins to pick up the garbage left behind by the tree, placing box and bottle atop of another to head towards the dumpster upon the sidewalk, opening the plastic can, then tosses the junk inside. The name Jericho, it gets her attention. "Oh yeah. He called me a few days ago." She didn't pick up obviously, she was.. well, busy.

They needed help, which she was able to give for now, she took a little sabbatical, but.. the Smooth? That set her nerves afire. She knew about the recent epidemic, and attempted to stay far away from it's reaches. The temptation, it was all too great. It was easily told by the way she lifts her hand to rub hard at her neck, motioning Kitty to go for a walk. She was going home, before she..

"What about it?" She asks a little nervously, her teeth slightly grinding together in an irritating noise until she stops. "I mean, I know it's everywhere now.. but.. I.. I don't know what you guys want me to help you with when it comes to that. It's all handled and under control."

While Kitty moves to help Rant with her cleaning, she doesn't interrupt, meaning that the hacker merely moves with the other woman she she goes through the motions. Following along, she smiles at the story that Melody tells about meeting Oliver Queen. "I didn't meet a billionaire," she finishes out her own story. "But, I didn't get arrested either, which I find a happy ending."

An astute lady, she studies Rant as best she can without giving her an obvious once-over. She knows very little about the woman other than they have computer interests in common and that Jericho sent her to find her. She has no wish to bring up bad pasts or anything that might be bad for Melody, but these are desperate times.

"It's not," she replies softly. "Not handled. Not under control. We have reason to believe that there's some very nefarious people distributing it and we don't know why or how they're involved. I don't know why, but Jericho thought you might know something about it. That's why he sent me to you. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important. I don't mean to dredge up anything unpleasant."

"Me neither! Though, I did get shot a couple of times and shot in the gut by some Arrow guy. Some silly little gang war but, hey! Still kicking. Am I right?" She'd nudge Kitty, but she doesn't know her, so she continues that slow little stroll. If Kitty were really astute enough, she'd notice that the street cams slowly begin to move.. away from their designated path.

"I haven't been watching the news." Melody admits, a frown curling her features as she draws herself in. "The first sign of the Smooth in the news I've just avoided it at all costs."
But, she continues on. "There's this guy, Richard Dackleman. He started this whole Smooth business and went into hiding. Jericho's and my .." She hesitates a little, she didn't know what to call their special little relationship.. ".. he had a plan to draw Dackleman out into the open to like.." She draws her hand up to wave it a bit, attempting to find the words. "I don't know. Take over? To bring him out of hiding? We couldn't find him no matter what we tried."

She shakes her head at the unpleasantness of it all, but talking about it gives her a tiny rush, one that makes her chew harshly upon her lower lip. "It's okay.. wait.. what's your name?"
"But…you said you met Oliver Queen?" Wasn't Oliver Queen a millionaire? As for the Arrow guy, she frowns. She's never met him, but she can't really talk one way or another about vigilantism when she's a part of the X-Men. A woman attuned to cameras and technology does notice the cameras moving away from them, but she also decides now may not be the best time to bring it up. The best indication that she's seen what's happening is her eyes following one of the cameras moving away from them quickly before focusing back on Melody.

The name Richard Dackleman is new to her, but if Jericho knows about it, then, it's probably not anything like a stunning lead. "Your…?" Knowing who is involved with this search goes a long way, so she's not about to let a thread like another player be dropped like that. "And by couldn't find him, you mean you think he's dead or gone underground?"

It's not like her to interrogate, to pry like this, but it's her first mission and she wants to have something to show for it. "Oh, I'm sorry. My name's Kitty. Kitty Pryde." While she can guess that Rant isn't her given name, she very obviously doesn't ask for another name. If she gives it, that's fine, but she knows the value of a codename.

"Yeah. He seems like a pretty chill guy. Though, my dad says he's a total jackass." Good ol' Arthur Kenway. Hater of all haters. "He was in the jewelry shop that I tried to rob. He talked me out of it, so I put it back. Sad thing is, it's all making me think the current path that I'm taking, know what I mean?" She glances towards Kitty.. and.. here it is. The reason as to why she's called Rant. The girl just can't shut the hell up.

"He was talking some stuff about being good and all of that. How I'm hurting people by taking some of their livelihood, which is true. I guess you could say that I cost someone a meal or two by feeding my own mouth, but people like him, the nice guys who already have money really don't understand what it's like to be dead broke and sick. I kind of hate that. You really can't sympathize unless you've been there. I mean, okay. We can't expect someone like Bruce Wayne or the likes to give up all of the fame and fortune to fanagle with the little peoples but living a day under the Gotham street bridge wearing pee soaked clothes would be like a total come to Jesus moment for those types."

Okay, she was done!

"Yeah. Shift." She states plainly, the mere mention of his name drawing out a faint smile ever since she's met Kitty. Very faint. Hardly unreadable. There was a tiny bit of adoration there. "Anyways, yes. Like.. he's ghost. Totally underground. So Shift is just trying to make him come out of hiding so he.."

She bites her tongue then and there, her gaze falling towards the ground to continue walking. "I'm guessing.. someone must have gotten ahold of it before Shift did. And Jericho wants me to find Shift for him so they could talk and work together again. Like old times."

At Melody's speech about the rich not understanding the plight of the hungry, she listens. It's not hard to keep her mouth shut as she's genuinely interested in the woman has to say, not just because she needs information, but because Kitty is a curious person. "I've, uh, never met him," is all she can reply about Oliver Queen and his world views.

However to the rest of the things that he says, she smiles and nods. "I know what you mean. The only reason I am where I am is because of a scholarship." Of sorts. It was Xavier who plucked her out of Illinois and brought her Xavier's. Without him, she would be an unremarkable woman who most likely worked at some tech company in Illinois who could not rise above a certain level because of her debilitating headaches.

"Shift." The name is also familiar to Kitty, and it's easy to hear in her voice that she knows it. "That's who else I was supposed to find. I've been trying, but he's completely off the grid, like you said. He apparently would know more about it, too. So, it's the pair of you, then." Finding Rant will hopefully lead to a breakthrough.

"It's not so much a working together again. I think Shift knows things that'll help stop this." That's the impression she got from Jericho and Scott, at least.

"He's cute. But you're not missing anything." Melody states plainly. "See? Hard work. That gets you somewhere… at least, I think it does. What are you studying?" Her hand lifts now to rub at the back of her neck then, nodding slowly. "I haven't spoken to Shift in almost a week. I can't keep tabs on him either. It's a bit hard. He moves around so fast that I can't keep up even if I were to try."

"So you know him, that's good. Maybe you could find him yourself." She glances up towards the sky, stopping for a moment. It was something she had always done when Shift disappeared, waiting to see a whisp of smoke floating by.. but there was nothing. Just like before.
"How bad has it gotten?"

Melody's quips get a smirk from Kitty. She can see why Jericho said they might get along. "I studied computer science. It's what I teach now." She knows she looks young, so there's not defensiveness behind her statement.

"A week," she frowns at the confirmation. "Jericho hasn't been able to find him, either. Nor have I, and I'm pretty good at tracking down people if the can be tracked." It's not a brag, that's just what she does and she states it as such. She found Melody, after all, even if she gave the woman the chance of allowing herself to be found.

"Honestly, I don't know him. I've never met him or know much about him other than the fact that he must know something about the Smooth and what is happening. I've been looking, but…" she trails off with a shrug. That should say enough.

As for how bad it has gotten, Kitty looks downward onto the sidewalk, remembering the hollow faces of the dozens of addicts rescued. "It's…bad," she says. Taking a calculated risk, she adds, "A couple dozen mutants were rescued from somewhere. They were addicted to Smooth and being tested on. There's…a connection there and we're not exactly sure why. I think…" She pauses, her eyes resolutely looking up from the ground to meet Melody's.

"I don't know if this means anything to you, but Hydra may be involved."

"Really? I got a degree in Computer Science! Well, I guess you could call it that. I barely went to class. But you know, I made it work!" It was a good talk really, blending in good parts of their lives with the talk of smooth. It really helped with her addi..

"It's hard to find someone with just a name. But you found me, so you could find him easy." She pauses. "Tall black guy. Talks like he's got cotton mouth." She giggles just a little. "His English is good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes when he swears? It cracks me up, totally." She sighs a little, a smile drawn upon her face, locked into a bit of silence.

Until they've gotten into how bad the Smooth had gotten.. that is. It almost brought upon that need; the memory, the needle shoved into her toe which makes her foot ache as they walked.. the feeling of her entire psyche expanding.. she felt like a god. Like she had true power; locked within that deadly high. Her shoulders lift, nearly touching her ears as she brings herself inward. It almost made her want to cry, for it was a thirst she's long submerged. Now she needed to find Shift too.

"Wha?" She suddenly asks, pulling herself from her reverie, her bottom lip trembling slightly as her head slightly shakes. Shift needed to know about this.

"Hydra." Melody stops in her place right then and there, a slight look of shock and anger drawing upon her face, her eyes widening as..

That expression falters as she begins to break out into a fit of laughter. "I have /no/ clue what Hydra is. Isn't it a big ass lizard with like, five heads? Those things are ugly. Who the hell would name themselves Hydra anyways? I bet the lead dude is some bald headed freak with a porn stache and a penchant for peanuts." Oh.. she was on a roll now.

"I bet they have a couple of assholes with unassuming names. I could totally see them having a big henchman with the name of Stacey." She snicker-sizzles out a laugh, surely it was a serious moment but anything to deflect from the need tearing her heart apart. But, this was Rant. And she could go on for days.

"Then I bet they got some stupid lackey who hangs on Porn-stache douchebag named Renfield who's all yes Master no Master, all sneery and shit. Get the fuck out of here.."

She pauses then. "Not you Kitty. I like you. I kind of want to hug you but the last time that happened it got all weird. Not with you. But someone else." Another pause.
"I bled on him."

"Okay," Kitty nods at the description, mentally taking it all down. While she still has not yet met Shift it's good to have something of a mental picture on him. "Got it. Still don't know him, though," she tells Melody with. "I'll look forward to it, since he can hopefully help us get this all stopped."

She's never tried Smooth, in fact the phasing mutant is pretty much a goody-two-shoes with anything involving drugs. Perhaps it's better that way. "Yeah, the myth is of a beast with many heads. Whenever you cut off one, two more grow in its place. Nasty stuff that originated in World War II. Nazis. Like, literal Nazis and not just figurative ones." As if that explains everything. Perhaps it does. For Kitty, that's all that needs to be said.

"I'm not about to go anywhere. This is too important," she assures Melody. "And I like you, too. Though, I'm not one who really likes to be bled on. If it happens, sure, but I don't go out looking for it."

"Well, I'm sure if three people are looking for him now, his ears will start burning and he'll call." Melody says matter-o-factly. "Or, he usually typically calls when I'm doing something I'm not supposed to be doing. You know how when you go to the doctors office and you start rummaging around because they take too long, and then they pop in the door willy nilly? He's like that."

She didn't realize it then, but her fingers were starting to dig hard into the back of her neck, creating little marks that would soon set to bleed if she didn't stop, thankfully, it was all covered by dark, slightly wavy hair. But it didn't matter, it was helping her forget enough.

"Yay.." She says, her voice softer now, clear worry within her eyes. "Hydra.." So, Nazi's. "..I'll call my dad to see what he knows about them. He's a real lover of history. I bet he's chalked full of that sort of information." Even though she didn't want to, if Hydra was now behind the Smooth? She needed something to tell Shift, some sort of intel to give.

"But really, that crew sounds like a piece of work. And.. don't worry about hugs. I think I'm too depressed now to give any." Depression.. worry.. Smooth out of hand.. stress.. her eye twitches a little, but a smile was soon forced.. and taken away. "If.. if it's gotten out of hand.. do you think that.. that Dackleman is back and Shift is in trouble? That he's like.. siding with Hydra to get back at him?"

"I don't think I'm the first person to go looking for Shift," Kitty tells Melody as calmly as she can. While she is new to this entire project, that seems pretty sure. "I think his ears must be burning pretty loud and no one's heard from him. If you know of a sure way how to contact him, that would be pretty helpful."

As she's already tried to make sure Melody knows how important it is that they get in contact with them, it doesn't seem like such an odd request. "I don't know Dackleman," she tells Melody, sadly. "Nor how he relates to Shift other than what you just told me. But, whatever is happening right now seems pretty bad."

With a sigh and a shrugs as to what Shift is doing, she shakes her head. "I don't know. I haven't been able to find him. But, what I know about Hydra is that they're not good people. The last time I heard of them, they were trying to engineer a virus that would wipe out mutants. This Smooth thing…well, it's up their alley." Affecting mutants one way or the other. "If you trust him, I'm sure he's not with those Hydra guys."

"Possibly not. I've learned that he'll come around when he's ready.. but if not.." Her voice trails off, she didn't want to think of the bad. It wasn't as if the Darkness was back to swallow him whole again.

She stops in front of the row of brownstones that little Queens, one that was obviously hers, for she stops to leans against the railing in thought. Her skin.. it starts to glow faintly, little white sparkles beneath the skin allowing the nanites to roam and work as they were brought to life and online.. truly. Her house, her wifi, she does what she wants.
"I'm going to try to get more information on Hydra so I can prepare Shift. He probably already knows that it's out of control and maybe trying to work something out.." She had faith in him, at least. And hoped that nothing was truly wrong. "Check your phone? I uploaded a picture of him and my contact information. And.."

She hesitates, just a little. "If you don't hear from me? You and Jericho and find me?" She doesn't exactly say why. But if Shift wasn't around.. She was afraid of herself at that very moment.

"I'm going to go inside and try to work out a way to find him. I'll try to keep in touch. Okay?" And.. true blue, like the weird girl she was, she doesn't wait around for a goodbye, favoring sending that message to Kitty's phone, as well as the address of the current brownstone that they stood in front of, just in case she forgets.

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