The World Could Always Use More Villains!

December 25, 2016:

Six is approached by a messenger with an offer she should probably refuse.

Six's Garage

A garage with garage stuff in it.

Characters

NPCs: Schism

Mentions: Star-Lord

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Garage.

Sometimes you need to cram yourself in a lab to figure out a quantum data analysis and backwards engineer some stolen alien tech. Sometimes though, the front has to front, and while changing the oil or fixing up the suspension on some rich Bruce's sports car might seem less adventurous or profitable by way of time, dividends come in all forms.

That is where we join our hero tonight. Doing some non-heroic thing or another. Then, the security sensors will go off (she has those, right?).

There's a sound that doesn't make sense, like something sloshing through the soft foam that separates reality, and then - a crack.

It is a familiar crack, or at least, an Earthly one. The sound of someone biting down on a sucker.

"O..oooowww.." From the other side of a car, a slender, diminutive frame staggers, barely five feet of humanity, draped in tight black and red. Is it a racing suit? Most striking are her eyes, glowing a fierce, ominous red, and closer inspection reveals a subtle luminescence to her skin, as if her veins have been pumped full of something that makes her circulatory system glow. Her hair is a frazzled mop of brown, once styled with spikes, but far to gone to the whims of her madness.

Whoever this intruder is, she seems quite oblivious, clutching her jaw as she pulls her crumbling lollipop from her mouth and spits the remnants out. "Gah, nah peng it all, mah fillin!" Her speech is certainly accented, but worse, it's muffled by her half choking on her candy.

True story about Six: she's not just former military. She also did a stint in the NSA, and the Knightwatch requires it's members to—

Well, anyway, long story short: when she picks up that tire iron it's because she knows she can kill someone with it if she has to. In the dim, distant shadows of the back of the hangar, several near-featureless metallic spheres begin to quietly hum in the cradles they rest in, a response to some precautionary thought on her part.

She slides out from beneath the vehicle she's been working on, gets to her feet. She's tired, dirty, hair a mess and bound up in a high bun. The shirt had its neck cut off long ago, some band's logo emblazoned across the front, impossible to see through god knows how many stains. Ripped jeans and boots. Grease on her arms.

Rounding the car she finds the intruder, and stops dead in her tracks.

Alien? No. She hasn't been with the Knightwatch in almost a year, but they drill you on those extranormal checklists, and she's not sure she'll ever forget them. Pale hazel eyes narrow, flick across the symptoms, tallying. Nanotechnology, she decides. Not just a little — a lot. The sheer saturation, the degree to which cellular systems have been interchanged, hybridized…

She presses her fingertips into the solid, reassuring weight of tire iron.

"We're closed," is what she says.

"Toffin' Crown Store no-goods, is wot!" The stick from the lollipop falls, and she kicks it. It'd be natural to watch her do so, to watch the stick spiral away - then at the corner of Six's gaze, a hazy flicker. Ghostly, it solidifies at even a fraction of her attention.

Super speed?

The same woman, but messily chewing on part of an apple, her brows lifting and eyes going wide when she realizes she's being looked at, and when from just over Six's shoulder.

"Ting is, fam, boss-man says go a place, then I go a pl - wotcha lookin' at?"

As quickly as Six might zero in on them, the vision of that same girl, one with a lollipop, another with an apple, dissolve away, leaving only the one behind and to Six's left. This one has a bag of pretzels. She is loud in her munching, but seems otherwise non-combative.

Of course, if Five if linked into her security measures and has the ability to view this all from a different vantage, he will see the flickering of forms, the apparent translocation - but notice the very important detail: The lollipop stick is gone, as if it never had existed.

When some unknown quantity begins circling you, you put your back to a wall. Six does this, tracking the movement too late every time. The circumstances illustrate one of the more peculiar aspects of her newly-discovered abilities: she perceives things as quickly as they're witnessed, no lag between input and registering the thought, but the rest of her nervous system hasn't quite caught up to the change. She's aware the very moment that the — girl? — disappears and reappears, but her reflexes to follow that movement are still fighting to adjust to this new ease in filtering information.

It makes her feel slightly sick. She feels the start of one of those headaches coming on, and into that sensation comes the additional distraction of Five's speech.

(There is something unusual about your guest.)

/What was your first clue?/

(Some pieces of her do not appear to exist.)

Kinsey doesn't know how to interpret that, and she can't take the time to see what Five is seeing.

"Who is this 'boss-man,' then?"

CRUNCH.

Another pretzel gone and munched away. And then, she reaches in. Disaster strikes! THE BAG IS EMPTY.

Her expression screams 'Why must it beeeeeeeeeee', while her eyes roll back and she tosses the bag to the side. Unlike the lollipop stick, the bag seems to have found a new home and stays right where it's discarded. A finger lifts, as if to beg Six's pardon, and then she reaches into her little jacket to produce a crumpled piece of paper. "A bit complicated. Have to reference some notation." There's a long moment where she reads over something. Again, and then again. Finally, a nod. "Right then. Ears up, ting is bangin's'far as deals go, right? Boss-man for sure has a name, more like, wazzah word, oh yeah! Enumeration. He's like me in some ways, but we don't speak so much in a way I would call 'direct'."

The paper is balled up and stuffed away again - who knows what's on it, really, and this girl - whoever she is - beams a smile at Six that tweaks at the edge of sanity, the wild disregard far behind that red glow in her eyes all but confirming that whatever her condition, it is not the most lucid one. "Boss-man's in charge.. in charge of The Agency. Each and every one of us has tops digs, tops tech, /believe/. Come run with us, says the boss-man. No strings, on you or on the deal. This ting is up and up - we help you, you help us. Even fancy together a demo for you, if you're a skeptic."

Kinsey's gaze follows the back to the floor — rude! — but retrains on the girl quickly, and lingers there. The trespasser is all frenetic activity and energetic speech, and by contrast Kinsey doesn't much move at all, save small movements of her irises and the rise and fall of her chest when she breathes.

That is, until she gets a — a what? A job offer?

One well-kept brow shoots upward in disbelief. "'The Agency,'" she repeats, incredulity limning every syllable. It's like a bad cliche, isn't it? It sounds like something you'd hear about in an episode of 24, or — or read about in some pulp sci-fi book.

"Enumeration, huh. Some kind of hive-mind thing?" She inflects it like a question, but it's entirely rhetorical. On the spectrum of pressing questions she has, it falls well toward the bottom of the list.

She half-turns, just enough to set the tire iron down on top of a set of rolling tool drawers, then turns back to her impromptu guest. Lean arms fold, forearms crossed over her ribs, a posture that reads more like skepticism than defensive retreat. "I have a /lot/ of questions." Understatement of the year, really. "First: how did you find me, and why am I, of all people, getting this offer? And second, what is 'The Agency?'"

A half turn is an eternity in the world of of the not-quite-person in front of Kinsey, and when she fixes her gaze on her guest once more she'll find she's sitting cross-legged on the cold floor, looking up at her with an impish delight at her interest.

"BRUV! These tings, waaaaaaaaay up here." Her hand lifts, and forms a plane above her head. "It's like, wha? Pay grade and all that. I'm just a toff who goes to a place, sees a man - or WOO-man, and makes a statement. Sometimes it's a bloody statement." A nod, and she looks oh so thoughtful, one side of her mouth ticking up. "You cut them just right, just right, and sometimes, it's like, wha? They don't even know it. Life goes on for days. For me it's days. Watchin'm. They move like normal, never sense they already been cleaved. Then it's a cascade."

Her lids grow heavy, and she wavers in place, wobbling left and right, and then she seems to shimmer.

She's not sitting anymore, and she doesn't finish her story, standing just a foot or two from the rigger with her hands on her hips. "Anyhow, I found you cause boss-man knows how. Obvs, yeah? He likes your jam, but don't tell me how or why. RIGHT. The Agency. My fault, I get to callin' it that because sometimes there's mixed company, and boss-man don't like tipping off a tosser. Really, it's just called 'Agency'. As in, free will fam. Right to knowledge, right to exist. Cornerin' perfection. Pushin' bounderies, yeah? More than sky's limit. More than space. You ever been?"

A brow lifts, and so does her smile at the corners, the light of intrigue dancing in her eyes. Is she suggesting that even the messengers of Agency get to go to space?

Is it a threat, or just the less-than-wholly-lucid reminiscences of someone for whom the word 'biology' is now something of a stretch? Kinsey doesn't know, and so assumes the former. Her gaze narrows, thickets of lash screening eyes that convey background displeasure, though she manages to keep the rest of her expression neutral enough.

"Well, that's very flattering. And very worrisome. Sorry — no offense, but this is a pretty /awful/ pitch. Does anybody actually sign up for this without more details? I'm not telling you 'no.' You're obviously…" Eyes like liquid gold trickle over the glowing red points beneath luminescing flesh. "…extraordinary. So I'm not calling you a liar. And I'm a curious person, so you've piqued my interest. But sister, lemme tell you — I'm gonna need a whole lot more to go on."

The red eyed pixie looks as one might expect when she's told what a terrible salesperson she is, her head turning to the side, eyes peeking towards the ceiling, as if that alone might keep the tears at bay. "Sorry I got.. you know that ting, when you get a bit of dust? Prolly just that, yeah?" She sucks in a little breath and then reaches down to her belt, which is somewhat obscured by her jacket. Could it be a weapon?! The way she draws it forth doesn't make it seem like much, and when she opens her hand, there's a small hexagonal bit of metal. She thumbs the center of it, where there seems to be a touch pad, and a holographic sphere rises up on front of them both. "Truth here, fam. Only truth. We ain't come to ask anyone /but/ you. /Believe/, you got all the parts, all the marbles. Tony Stark, he got tech. But he don't want truth. He don't dream, not like you, bruv. That's our ting. But I get you. Sure do. Risky business, all this. That's why this ting here, it'll let you reach out and speak with us proper whenever you need."

She thumbs the holo-sphere away, which seemed to be shimmering with every one of her words - obviously reading her voice and transmitting it somewhere. A proof of concept on the device's function, perhaps. "Agency's well known else-parts. Not so much here on the mainland, er.. Earth. Most up there, they know enough to say yes, first go. But boss-man, he said right here, said it I swear, in my instructions, that you'd need some more. So baby steps. His words, honest to Eon. You get in trouble, need some help? Call'n ask. Agency's got your back. Maybe we come callin', ask for help. You help /us/ then. We dance a little like people do when they's just startin' to date, and eventually boss-man might arrange a meet to show you a bigger picture. No strings. None ever."

She holds up a hand. It isn't quite scouts honor, but she seems to be making a pledge. It could be dangerous to take the strange device. Maybe it might track her. Maybe it could simply explode whenever they want. Or maybe it could be a window to opportunity.

Maybe it just needs someone who's willing to take a risk to find out.

Kinsey observes the sudden shift in the peculiar young woman's behavior and experiences an immediate and genuine pang of guilt, which some other aspect, logical and pragmatic, finds slightly absurd. She can't tell if that's part of herself, or if it's Five. These days, those two things are drawing ever-closer to being the same. Still, some of that guilt lines the tone of her voice as she says, "I'm sure it's not really up to you what you can say. Hierarchy and all, right? /Pay grades/, that's what you said? But no lie, from where I'm sitting? This sounds sketchy as hell."

The figure slipping so readily into and out of existence in her garage goes on to explain that more than this is not typically needed, as the demographic to whom they offer jobs knows — apparently — better, and accepts straight-away. Kinsey's skepticism remains entirely intact, though it suffers a peculiar, pear-shaped change when —

Kinsey laughs, a brief, short note of that ongoing incredulity. "Tony /Stark/? I can't compete with Tony Stark. I don't know if you've noticed, but…" She lifts her hands, gestures at the cavernous space around her. "I run a /garage/. But you want to hire me to…dream up wild ideas? Some kind of cosmic think-tank?"

She knows she shouldn't be, but she really /is/ flattered. She'd been so /proud/ of the work she was doing, and it had gutted her to sign the rights to it away forever. She'd had no choice. Then again, what she'd been doing had been dangerous enough that it almost killed her. Did that make it irresponsible science, appealing to institutions with irresponsible aims? 'You kind of accept the risks when you're working at that level,' she'd told the nice blind gentleman on the sidewalk outside of Hominis Nova, and she'd meant it. But that had just been danger to herself. Working for someone, for some unknown quantity, would change everything about that equation.

All of these thoughts happen in virtually no time at all. Skepticism yields to pensivity turns to troubled indecision in the span of a heartbeat.

(Will you take the blue pill or the red pill, Neo?) asks Five, with as much sarcasm as an AI can mentally muster.

/I can't believe you're joking about this./

(Everything about it seems like a bad idea to me. But you — /we/ — do want answers, do we not?)

/Yeah, but…how badly do we want them?/

Silence.

She crosses the polished concrete floor with three businesslike strides, leans as though to pluck the metal hexagon up off of the slim figure's palm between index finger and thumb, but hovers with fingertips just shy of claiming it. The lean places her eyes on level with the peculiar eyes of her propositioner. Both of her brows lift, just enough to make her gaze pointed. "I'm not promising anyone /anything./ And I want to talk to this boss-man."

The Messenger looks down from that locked gaze, to the device in her hand. Then up again. And back down. It happens so quickly, so insistently, it's like she's trying to will it into Kinsey's hand! But it isn't out of some nervous desperation, just energetic anticipation. It seems her quota of sitting still and being civil is quickly running out. Could be they don't usually send her for this sort of work, for as Kinsey so pointedly, CRUSHINGLY pointed out, she sucks at it.

Maybe there's a reason Five and Six got the low hanging fruit this time around. "Nah, ain't about thinking tanks. S'all about, wha? Truth, yeah? Stark's got toys, money, all these tings. I read of him. Saw him speak of someting last week. DEAD FAM. Full dead. Whole speech. Awful. No soul." She rubs the fingers of her free hand together, then gives a shrug. "Don't need him. Need curiosity that won't stop. That's how I got to be me. Looked in all the wrong places, found beauty on the otherside."

When Kinsey's fingertips hover, The Messenger's hand pulls back, as if she might rescind the offer. "Let me inquire as to this, fam - you ever imagine a world where you might take this ting straight away?" The ominous question is the kind of thing someone asks before they mess with reality. The words of Rick come to mind, about uncertainty, and how dangerous it is! "Heee." The half-laugh comes as she simply tosses it up into the air in front of Six. She could choose not to catch it, but The Messenger seems to think that Kinsey has already made up her mind.

"Don't worry bout talks - they'll happen. I don't mind making promises, at least for our part, yeah? Oh, and one more ting, maybe call it, first bit of business. Godlings got this man in a cage down here, think they got the only discretion, yeah? Something bout he touched on some girl or.. I dunno wot but, anywho… he goes by Star-Prince. Guess he's some kind of royalty, but not related to Kings or Queens. If you run into Peter FUCKING Quill, you give us a call fam. He's got whole crews lookin' to merc him, best we find him first for bounty that will be kinder. /Believe/."

'Ever imagine a world where you might take this thing straight away?'

"No," Kinsey says, without having to stop to think about it…but she takes the object, as so rightly predicted, snapping it out of the air without having to break eye contact. "Because there's a fine line between reckless enthusiasm and outright stupidity."

Still, though: she takes it. And what that means for her she isn't sure, doesn't know, but that much she can't take back. Done is done. 'No strings,' says the girl on the floor. It'll be a cold day in hell before Kinsey believes that, but maybe if everything flips upside down and this is all an elaborate way to ruin her life, she can take some comfort from the act of wailing about how she was promised something better.

She straightens out of her lean, draws a long breath and releases it as a sigh, turning the little communicator or /what-ever/ it is over in slender fingers, meant more for delicate work in robotics than dealing with this gross machinery. "And what do you want him for? This man?"

"Don't know all the deets, bruv. Just the mission. Bring him an' his fam up and away - bossman's got questions bout some ting they stole. But Quill's got charges that run for days and days. Which means bounty - favors are more important than quid up there." She points a finger skyward, then gives a shrug.

"But like I said - no strings. You find him, let us in on it, poof - check in your box, right as rain. If not other tings will come along that can help us. Meantime, I got stops to make - but don't hesitate to call. Calvary's just a touch away."

There's a salute, and then she blurs. But it isn't like the distortion that Kinsey saw before. She's moving /fast/ before she blinks away, perhaps revealing a little more of her strange suite of abilities.

Then she is alone. Except for the ever-present Five.

Kinsey stares into the emptiness of the warehouse for a long few moments, waiting to see if there are any more surprises in store, but she remains perceptibly alone.

Honeyed eyes fall to the small object in her palm, glinting under the harsh, sterile-white fluorescents. She folds her fingers over it and after a handful of seconds standing, staring, thinking, pivots to retreat to one of the bays in the back. Her approach prompts a sudden change in the floor, panels of concrete recessing and sliding back in sheets, opening with a pop-suck of air to reveal a narrow set of stairs. The light that spills up from this underground chamber is pale blue against the white interior briefly visible before it slides closed and interlocks behind her.

Time to get to work.

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