Fingers in Chaos

February 13, 2016:

Shift's ongoing efforts to uproot truth from rumor surrounding a mutant activist prompts him to meet with the Scarlet Witch, so they might discuss an upcoming trip to Greece.

One of Shift's secret stashes, located in a warehouse at New York Harbor

Characters

NPCs: One poor, displaced Purifier.

Mentions: Captain America (quoted)

Plot:

Mood Music: New Person, Same Old Mistakes by Tame Impala


Fade In…

New York Harbor is a bustling place, but there are quiet spots, and one of them isn't exactly what it seems. Easily accessible by train, it was once an old meat packing warehouse that now serves as one of Shift's assorted hideouts. A message to Wanda instructed her to meet him there after 1am.

The building is unlocked, but security monitors inform Kwabena of who comes and goes. Its cold inside, save for the one occupied area; a place where racks of old firearms and surveillance gear are stored. A massive electric heater hangs from the ceiling, but it's bill is handled from the export building next door, thanks to some clever electrical engineering by the mercenary himself.

A single lamp above provides illumination. Shift is seated at a table, jacket worn open since it's still a bit chilly inside. A radio is blasting 'She's So Heavy' by the Beatles. A bottle of whiskey sits next to a game of solitaire, and cigarette smoke rises from the fag in his left hand. Shift is wearing his merc attire, which consists of the gunmetal gray uniform often mistaken as 'superhero spandex.'

*

Even though she was invited, Wanda is still wary as she enters the secret base. Maybe it was because she was invited…or who did the inviting. She hadn't told anyone where she was going and she still isn't sure why she did that but here she is, making her way through the cold building towards her meeting. Since this is clandestine she is dressed in 'civilian' clothes; boots, short frayed black dress, scarlet jacket. In fact, she looks like she did when she was homeless. Another layer of disguise?

Then he is there in front of her. "Hey" Wanda greets as warmly as she can. "You wanted to see me?" A nod towards the radio. "I remember The Beatles. They were banned in Transia so of course everyone had to listen to them." She makes her way warily to the table. "Nice place."

*

Shift looks up when Wanda enters, watching her for a long moment. Her greeting is met with an upnod, and a gesture toward the chair opposite him. "Don't worry, I don't live here," he answers with a touch of rue. There are few who have been to his actual 'home' and it's likely to stay that way. "I wanted to discuss developments, keep you in on things."

The Ghanaian picks up the bottle of whiskey, about to pour a bit more into a tin coffee mug, but he pauses for a moment. "You drink?"

*

"Umm…I'm not sure" is Wanda's answer to that question as she sits at the table. She stares at the bottle for a while before nodding. "Okay…why not? Developments? It seems everything is developing at once. I wonder if I can make it stop doing that?" She stares up at the ceiling for a moment before her head suddenly turns to the left as if someone said something. "I could if I wanted to" she whispers in that direction before turning back to smile at Shift.

*

For a long moment, Kwabena determines two things. A, whether it's legal to give her booze, and B, whether he should. In the end, he pours a small amount in a mug and slides it over. "Sip, slowly, don't shoot it." A pause. "Don't drink it all very fast."

He lifts his mug to take a testing drink, before setting the mug down and launching into his explanation. "I was able to secure two falsified military IDs, but we couldn't come up with an ID to match your age and description, so, I'm afraid de infiltration opahration will go on without you. Howevah, dere ah some few things in Greece dat need attention. Is your passport in ordah?"

*

Wanda takes a sip of the smelly drink and winces at the taste. Then a minor coughing fit as she puts the mug back down. A shake of her head. "I don't think you have to worry about me drinking it fast" she gasps at him before suddenly looking rather disappointed.

"You've done a mission without me? I can change what I look like" Wanda protests but since it is already done there is little point in continuing. "I can convince people of anything" she offers as a final mumble before looking guiltily across the table. "I don't have a passport. I'm an illegal. I mean, X-Red did give me one. Some documentation to stay here at least but…that should be enough, right?"

*

The younger woman's look of disappointment draws a slight sigh from Kwabena, and a thinning of his lips into something more along a straight line. "I do dat, sometimes," he explains. "I have fingahs deep in de criminal undahworld. Sometimes, I'll do some ugly things to maintain dose connections, and I don't assume dat anyone else wants to be drug through de mud."

Before saying anything else about this, he leans forward, studying Wanda carefully. "What can you do?" he asks. "Show me something."

*

"Haven't you seen the news?" Wanda replies with a curious look. "They have me plastered on there often enough." It is obviously something she feels uncomfortable about. There are supposedly people hunting her after all. "So you would just like a little trick?" she asks in a disappointed tone as scarlet energy starts to build around her hands. "I change reality. I am chaos. Because people don't realise that reality /is/ chaos. So I can do things like…" A simple wave of her hand and the whiskey is now lime cordial. "Or something like this…" More concentration now before the whole room is bathed in scarlet and the walls simply disappear to reveal a bright sunlit day in the country. "Is it real, Shift? It is as real as I want it to be." A faint summer's breeze wafts over the pair before Wanda waves her hands and they are back in the dark, cold room.

*

To Kwabena, the news is irrelevant, because the news is not the truth. Interestingly enough, the mercenary has a distinct understanding of reality and chaos. After all, he's been dead before. Beyond dead; his soul shattered into a thousand pieces and spread to the farthest corners of the Galaxy and beyond.

So, he looks on as her magic trick is performed, eyes narrowing slightly. But then, the entire landscape changes, and he looks up and around, observing it. He stands and approaches a small bush some distance away, reaching down to touch and feel it with his bare hands. A leaf is plucked free, brought to his mouth, it's scent inhaled and the material tasted.

The mercenary walks back to the table, oddly placed now in the countryside, but before he can sit down, the entire place has transformed back into his hiding hole.

"I'm impressed," he tells her, truthfully. "Dere is a chance, howevah, dat such displays would be a red flag. Something to raise an alarm. Can you trick de mind? For example, can you make anodah person believe something different about de person sitting across from dem?"

*

"The wonder of chaos is that it so…chaotic" Wanda smiles ruefully. "Sometimes I think I am in charge. Sometimes it is the voices." She taps the side of her head. "But when it matters…I think that is when I work best" she notes before looking over at him. "Would you like me in your mind, Shift?" The scarlet energy builds once more. "I tend to make a mess so I do not wish to do it to people who are on my side."

"I hope you understand." This time Wanda speaks from a far corner of the room and a Purifier sits in her chair. A Purifier pointing a weapon at Shift. "Is that me, Shift? Or did I pluck a Purifer from his 'reality' and the confused man is about to shoot you?"

*

The talk of voices doesn't exactly unsettle Kwabena. He's seen… some things. Things a normal mercenary is often not exposed to. He folds his hands and leans forward, fixing Wanda with a silver-eyed intensity that makes most normal people tremble a bit. "It would be unwise for both of us if you were to entah my mind."

Because what's deep inside is tormented, fractured, and littered with garbage of the arcane, the gods of the universe, and beyond.

So yes. He understands.

He turns at the voice, tilting his head curiously. Then he turns back to look at the Purifier; its a Smith & Wesson revolver. A fine weapon, handy in a pinch, packs a punch to be certain. "If we're to be working togedah," he tells the Purifier, though the word could be for the now-distant Wanda as well, "den you should know what I can do."

He leans forward, taking the Purifier's gun and positioning it so that its barrel rests square between his eyes. "Shoot me."

The Ghanaian grins. This part never gets old.

*

Wanda wasn't expecting that…and neither it seems was the Purifier. Even though he is covered with armor it is obvious he is sweating. How did he get here? Why is there someone pointing his gun at himself and demanding he shoot him? His finger twitches. The loud sound of a nervous swallow. The finger tightens…and then he is gone.

"No" declares Wanda determinedly. "I don't care what you can do I won't let anyone be hurt when I am involved. Not enemies. Certainly not friends." She walks back over from the corner, perspiration evident on her skin. The scarlet clog slowly subsiding. "You will have to accept that if we are working together. Though remember, there are worse things than pain and death."

*

When the Purifier disappears, Kwabena sighs. He reaches for his whiskey, doing a double take to make sure it's still whiskey. "My organic material will transform into smoke, allowing de bullet to pass harmlessly through. Knives, oddah legal items… explosives can be a problem, as can enahgy weapons." He turns to face Wanda, determination, perhaps a touch of disappointment in his eyes. "Dough, I've found a way to manage it, it simply isn't… quiet or safe."

There are worse things, indeed. "Any such manipulations would need to remain subtle. Surgical. Such as making us appear differently dan we are; having our lies believed; convincing oddahs to tell and show us what we need to know. When we have what we need?" A wry grin spreads across his face. "A bit of fun wouldn't be out of line, on our way out."

Its distinctly possible he means to tear their operation apart once they've finished learning what they need to know.

*

"Those kinds of things I can do" Wanda nods slowly, though she doesn't sound completely confident. "I work best in the situation. It is when I have some clarity. You can rely on me to think quickly," A warm smile slowly forms. "I like fun."

Wanda retakes her seat and picks up the mug once more. She's keeping hers as lime cordial but Shift can have his whiskey back. "Why is it in Greece? It hardly seems to be the center of the world. Even Transia is doing better than Greece."

*

An approving nod, and the mercenary is sipping from his whiskey once more. "A man once told me; 'be good, do de right thing.'" The cup is set down again, a new cigarette lit. "What we ah to do may not be good for dose peopah. Manipulating dere thoughts, changing what dey see, betraying dere friends and putting dem in dangah. It is not de right thing. But if we can prevent dem from being bad, from doing de wrong thing? Den I sahpose our choices, our actions, become redemptive. Wouldn't you agree?"

Another drink is taken, a glimmer of mirth passing over him when she agrees to a bit of fun. Then, Kwabena leans back and smirks wryly. "Dat is precisely why so many criminal organizations have found dere home in Greece. It's become a hub of illegal activity lately; dere simply isn't de money to police it effectively."

*

"Good. Bad. It is hard to tell. I do not work in good or bad, I work in whether something is deserved" Wanda replies, musing on her own philosophy with trepidation. "When chaos is your life then there is no such thing as a moral certainty. Just what I feel in here." She places her hand on her chest. "And I have to hope that is…'good'."

Wanda nods at the dissolution of Greece. "Do the Greeks want us there or are they happy with these criminals? I suppose it does not matter if the criminals want to hurt us." A pause. "Who are they again?"

*

"Well, I've been on both sides of it," admits Kwabena. "It's always a mattah of perception, isn't it?" With a hand gesture, he seems willing to put the matter of philosophy to rest.

"My undahworld contacts led me to Greece in ordah to fashion a pair of falsified U.S. Army identities," he explains, "which will be used to infiltrate De Section here, stateside. Howevah, I also learned dat one of de mercenary operations funded by De Section has its training and communications hub… in Greece. From what I am told, what Greek officials do know if it, they turn a blind eye. I'm open to suggestions, but, considering we have de capacity to be whomever we want? We go in to dis op, we learn everything we can about dere network, den we tear it apart piece by piece."

*

"And we are certain that this network is doing wrong?" Wanda asks reluctantly. "I am sorry, I just like to be sure. Which is silly because how can I ever be sure when surrounded by chaos?" A laugh at her own stupidity beforeshe continues, "So you do not want me for the operations here, only for the one in Greece." She considers for a long moment. "When do we leave?"

*

"I've heard rumors," Shift tells her. "Disturbing rumors, and I love rumors. Facts can be so misleading, subjective, but rumors hide as many facts as they do lies." He puffs on the cigarette before assuring her, "If we find what we need, it would confirm dese rumors. At which point, you won't need to ask me dat question."

It might be Kwabena, then, who needs to hold her back.

*

Wanda nods slowly once more. "Very well. Then I hope we do not find what you think we will find." She has to think about that for a moment in case it was confusing but, no, it made sense. At least to her. "Should I tell X-Red when I go? I often wander off and they could just assume it is another of those."

*

"No, tell dem, and I will do de same," answers Kwabena. "It will be in one, maybe two weeks, pahhaps soonah. I apologize for not being more specific." He takes another drag, then finishes off his whiskey, before adding something as an afterthought.

"I hope we don't find it, eidah." He would offer to give her a lift, but… his car is still in the shop.

*

Wanda smiles at Shift. "Do you?" she asks of his last comment before standing. "I better get back then. I wish I could still fly" she sighs, "But now it is more of a 'leap'. Goodnight, Mister Shift. I shall hear from you soon." She starts to walk out but stops after a few steps and turns to look at him. "And thank you…for wanting me along." A warm smile before she slips out into the cold night.

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