Slow Going

August 14, 2017:

Agents Carter and Carter and one Jessica Jones find investigation in Wakanda to be one big slow, uphill battle. Nevertheless, a few bits of info and a couple of courses of action begin to shake themselves out of their efforts.



NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The head start in Wakanda wasn't very helpful. Even with days to work before Jane started mass-texting everyone to let them know that Bucky had been taken, the small advance team had been stymied. Not one person in Wakanda likes them at all, and Jessica's panther-tooth necklace, supposedly capable of giving her some sort of authority to get answers, avails not much at all. Everyone pretends not to speak English, and Jess sure doesn't speak Swahili. This hadn't stopped her from trying to canvass every house and business within a 2-mile radius of the Mizizi conference though, asking, asking, asking and asking. And asking the two spies to help just however seemed good to them.

Growing increasingly withdrawn as she'd realized 99% of her normal efforts and ways of doing things weren't going to work on this case. A cold case, in a foreign country, where nobody wants them there, where they don't speak any of the languages. Any optimism she'd had is long gone. Now it's just bull-goose stubbornness keeping her going.

The effort had finally born some fruit, however. They'd shaken loose a few bits about the local politics— specifically, the fact that many tribes had opposed Mizizi, which might help support Jessica's working theory. And they'd shaken out that it was an arson, not a bomb, with 6 dead and 47 injured. Jessica would give her left arm right about now for some sort of list of all survivors, but knowing there were 47 injured at least creates some sort of starting point.

Calling (or turning to, depending on where they are), Carter and Carter the moment this shakes out, she suggests, "The injured probably went to the closest hospital, right? Maybe we can catch an answer or two there."

Michael doesn't do well with heat. All the training in the world can't make him less British. He's trying very badly to look neat and put together, but the pit stains on his white linen shirt can't be disguised. He stands there, hands on hips, sweat beading on his forehead. Of course, their room's AC just happens to be busted. Of course.

"I keep fighting to try and understand the languages. I know bits and pieces of them, but the accent is what's tripping me up. If I take some time to listen, I might be of more help." A beat, "As I recall arson wasn't usually the Winter Soldier's assasination method of choice."

Though Peggy knows quite a few languages, unfortunately most of her focus involved the European and Russian theatre of World War II. There was certainly fighting done in Africa and in Asia, but that was not her focus of the time. So, her language are woefully euro-centric and does not include being fluent in Swahili. Being a spy, she knows key phrases in quite a few different languages, but knowing 'hello' and 'package' and various other small phrases in Swahili does very little actual help in conversing and asking questions to the general populace.

Jessica's suggestion they scour the hospitals is met with a nod. While generally, she would suggest disguises, it seems pointless in Wakanda, where they do not speak the language fluently and certainly do not look like the general populace. In a country more open, it could still work. But here? Where it takes extensive credentials to get in and she has little doubt they would be watched within. It's what she would do with mistrusted allies to someone she saw as a threat to the stability of her government.

Peggy looks a bit more put together. It's the adaptable gift that she has. She somehow managed to look poster worthy in the trenches. The humid jungle heat does no favors to her hair, but she has managed to tame it as best she can. "I believe the Winter Soldier's MO was generally either a bullet or a large explosive. Though, as a deadly assassin, I wouldn't put any method of death beyond him." Her tone is wry - perhaps the heat is getting to her. "The problem I have with this is that the Winter Soldier was made to be a ghost: single target, clean entry and exit. They would never even know he was there. It's how he managed to be a ghost for so long. A large fire to kill one person is simply inefficient."

Jessica Jones is strangely silent on the matter of arson. Unlike the two spies, she is dressed for the weather. Long, baggy men's cargo shorts with a hemline just past her knees, khaki. White tank-top. Sneakers, white socks. And the damnable necklace. If how she dresses is not going to make a damned bit of difference in what they get, she might as well be comfortable, and it's warm even for her in this country.

She looks down, frowning, studying the map really closely as she looks for the very nearest one. "If you're trying to frame someone," is what she says, "what does it matter if you copy their MO perfectly or not? Him being there is the damning factor as far as Wakanda is concerned, not how it was done."

But it does mean something, and she knows what it means, she thinks, and is trying to decide whether to bring it up even as she says, "I think we take a right up here."

"That's just it. Arson draws too much attention. Unless you're trying to make it look like an accidental fire. But," Michael purses his lips. "As we've established, whether or not he's truly guilty may be beside the point." He mops a hand across his brow and puffs up his cheeks. He's pointedly not complaining about the heat. He's not a complainer.

"I think, generally, due to the fact that it makes people like us suspicious," Peggy tells Jessica. Peggy is dressed mostly practically, but much like Michael, she is more comfortable in cooler climates. "If you are to copycat, it's best to do it flawlessly. Though, I guess in this matter it makes little difference. It is hardly good evidence to tell him how effective a killer the Winter Soldier is and then point to this and say it could not be him as it was not exactly an effective defense."

It seems as if she was just on the stand defending Barnes and now she must do so in a different manner. At least this is more espionage related.

"There," she points to a building closest to the site that is a hospital. "That seems like where they would take people in an emergency. It's closest through main roads."

Jessica folds up the map— an anachronistic paper map that she can write on, of all things— and shoves it into her wholly not-anachronistic Stark phone, which is further blessed by magic to serve as her own personal closet. And that, in a nutshell, is kind of Alias Investigations right now, in a very 'I hope you know what "ther" means, because it's all the explanation you're going to get' sort of way.

Jessica exhales. "Well, we already know the staff won't even take bribes," she says, studying the building. "What we need are records, maybe. Things that maybe…Michael, do you think your people will translate them for us if we can snag them? Do you think we can snag them? Like figure out how to?"

"Most certainly," says Michael with great confidence. "MI-6 employs talented linguists. Whether our transmission of records out of the country would be intercepted is another matter. Our people are very skilled, but Wakanda takes its privacy very seriously." He looks at the pointed hospital.

As for how to get the records? "My approach tends to be direct, or completely indirect. The second method would require perhaps outstaying our welcome here, at the very least, if we were caught. Do you suppose that claw of yours would provoke cooperation from the staff?"

"I would prefer not to be thrown out of the country before we manage any sort of meaningful defense. It seems they are convinced in Bucky's guilt and we have to go to great lengths to assure them this was not done by his hand. So, perhaps direct. And if direct does not work, indirect." The first, at least, gives them the defense that they attempted to get the files by above the board means.

Peggy gives a laugh. "I was not planning on bribing them. Perhaps appealing to them might do us more good. Or, if we can get in and they start to stonewall us, we segue way into a little of column a and a little of Column B."

Jessica exhales and holds up the necklace. "It hasn't been good for jack shit so far," she grumbles, "But…I'll see what all my natural charm can do. They probably won't give us medical records. Americans wouldn't. If you want anything from a hospital you gotta steal it."

She clears her throat. "She said. As if. She knew anything. About that. But we might be able to just get them to tell us a thing or three, if we find the right doctor or administrator. And if something just happens to whoopsie into either of your hands that could go up for translation…"

Jessica shrugs her shoulders as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, then starts for the emergency room.

"They wouldn't, to the average person. But we're conducting an official investigation. Of sorts." Not that they really have the customary power that goes along with it. Michael follows behind as they head up to the hospital. "Even if they won't give up records, perhaps they'd explain what they saw that night. Doctors, in my experience, are interested in the truth above politics."

"No, I'm not expecting paper records," Peggy agrees with Jess. "But, any information we can gather is better than no information at all. Even a lead, or a family member might lead us to something to link us to who might have done this."

There's a nod. "Us not knowing the language is certainly an impediment. It's times such as these that I wish there were some sort of universal translator you could put in your ear and understand all languages." She sighs, but this will not put them off their mission. "Let us hope we find a compassionate and either English, French, Russian, or German speaking doctor."

The Emergency Room certainly smells cleaner than any American or even British emergency room. Wakandan medical technology being what it is there is no long line of sick people stuffed into the waiting area. People don't even spend very long in the rooms they go into. Jessica has been the beneficiary of this level of healing at least once, and doesn't look particularly surprised.

She does flash the necklace around a bit, and asks for any doctor who was on duty during the Mizizi conference. They get Dr. C'Grella, a willowy, older man who looks at them with impatience. But he folds his arms, willing to talk.

Just…not to Jessica. In this case, her decision to dress like a tourist has worked against her, and the necklace be damned. The two sweaty spies in their nicer clothes, however…

"Ask your questions, make it quick."

"Or Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic or Dutch," Michael adds wryly, just before they enter the hospital. He takes in his surroundings with the attention to detail of a proper spy. He looks for any medical equipment that they might have heard of, but not confirmed.

When the doctor emerges, he straightens. "Sir, my name is Michael Carter. This is my sister, Peggy, and Ms. Jones, a private investigator. We've heard that you were on duty the night of the arson. I was wondering if you might be so good as to give us a brief description of what you witnessed. I understand that you are a very busy man, but we would appreciate any information you could give us." His tone is crisp, polite, and manages to walk the line between deference and straightforwardness, while maintaining sincerity.

There's a bit of a look as those take in the necklace and how they are dressed. Peggy notices that despite the symbol, C'Grella is speaking to them. She is about to take lead when Michael takes over. There is a flash of annoyance on her face as she is used to being the one leading the talking. However, the tone he strikes and the manner with which he does so reminds her so much of their childhood that she doesn't verbally counter him or intervene. Of course, it is also, probably, far more professional to not squabble in front of a doctor.

"I am running an ER, not a crime lab," C'Grella replies tartly, and with some annoyance. "As it was, I did not even see all of the casualties. The authorities confined all of the foreigners to their hotel rooms, and we were required to send a mobile team to see to them. If you are asking me to tell you what their third degree burns might suggest about the perpetrator you are sharpening spears for the wrong hunt. They were scared, they were in pain, and it was my job to alleviate the latter just as quickly as I possibly could."

He shifts his weight, restless, his arms still folded, glancing at the mostly silent nurse's station before turning his piercing gaze back to Michael, who he has finally settled on being the worthwhile party of interest in this transaction.

Michael has stared down more intimidating men than the doctor. At least the doctor isn't trying to kill him while he looks at him like that. "Not about the perpetrator, sir. I know your duty is to provide care for the injured, not deduce the motive of the attacker." He inclines his head.

There's a brief look to Peggy, but then he returns his attention to the doctor. "Was there anything unusual about the burns? I am not a man of medicine, but it's my understanding that different types of burns require different treatments. Chemical versus incindeary for example, or if an unusual number of people suffered third degree burns for the size of the blaze. Was there any evidence that the burns were out of the ordinary, say, compared to a house fire?"

"Of course," Peggy smoothly slips in to assure the doctor that they are not here to interrogate him, so much. She looks over at Michael and catches the look, but her own expression betrays nothing. With Bucky's life on the line, she is not willing to risk it on something as trivial as a sibling fight for who is Most Spy.

Instead, she nods at Michael's assessment as to what they are here to do and not to do. "Also, did anyone attempt to leave before they were suppose to do so? Or any sudden downturns in a patient's health?"

It's possible that whoever did this attempted to target a single person and then finish the job later. Or, this could eradicate the idea that this was an assassination and was - instead - truly an act of terror.

The doctor looks from Sib to Sib and his lips thin. "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to clear anything else with the hospital director before I offer any further information. Excuse me." And he walks off.

"Damn it," Jessica grumbles. "I think he wants to talk. Maybe. But the foreigners definitely will. We just gotta find them. Michael, can you stick around and see if you can squeaky wheel a little more info out of these guys? Peggy, can you reach out to some contact of yours," she's got to have someone who will help, "who can give us the passenger lists out of Wakanda shortly after the conference? That might give us more people to talk to. I am going to go back to our hotel and call all the local hotels to see if I can cobble together a list of the injured foreign guests. If I can get some of the on the phone…"

She leaves it unsaid. If she can get some of them on the phone, maybe they will talk.

She seems to realize what she's done seconds after that and clears her throat. "Um. Is that all okay? With you guys?"

Michael watches the doctor go, and comes to a similar conclusion to Jessica. "None of what I asked should be sensitive information. If we were Wakandan, I don't think he would have hesitated." His brows arch. "Not that I can blame him. I'd be suspicious of us, too." Then again, he's pretty much suspicious of everyone.

He nods as Jessica rattles off her plan. "I'm not certain I'll be able to get anything else out of them, but I can try. Perhaps I can find a porter," aka, a janitor, "…who may have been on duty that day. I can also attempt to get passenger lists. Between the two of us, we should be able to get ahold of that information." He wasn't trying to say his contacts are better than Peggy's, really and truly.

"As C'Grella tight lips and moves away, Peggy watches him go with a frown. That was certainly not the answer she was expecting. "We are, after all, digging into a sensitive subject and we are certainly not to be trusted."

There's a narrowing of eyes at Michael's offer to get a hold of the passenger lists, but she sighs. "That—-might actually be better. I don't quite have the same contacts here as Michael might." Frustrated, she shakes her head. She doesn't speak the language fluently and she doesn't have her SHIELD contacts here. It's hard to tell if that's a good or bad thing. "I will see what I can do with my own angle."

Jessica hesitates, because neither of them even called her on the thing she thought they were going to call her on.

Which is actually fine by her.

She shakes her head and says, "He dropped one detail, anyway. It's a start. I wish anything about this would move faster, but it's a start. We're farther along than we were."

She, of course, does notice all this displeasure between the two siblings, but for days now she has maintained a strict policy of pretending not a damn thing is happening. She is, in fact, rather gaining an appreciation for the British Way of doing things, because two Americans probably would have been shouting by now. This is much easier to ignore, and they're getting the job done.

With their respective tasks divided up, she casts one last longing look at the hospital— and probably whatever secrets she thinks its file room might be hiding— before turning to go. She can make her calls far more productively from her desk in her hotel room than she can sitting around here.

Everyone knows what they're doing now, and hopefully they will all shake out a "next step" as a result of their efforts.

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