A Person of Interest

August 15, 2017:

Michael Carter, Peggy Carter, and Jessica Jones compare notes. The most promising lead? A person of interest named "Blackstone." But in Wakanda, investigation is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, prompting Peggy to reach out to another ally back home…



NPCs: None.

Mentions: Caitlin Fairchild, Bucky Barnes, Captain America, Sizani

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Jessica Jones sits in a corner table in what is basically a deserted hotel lounge. With few foreigners coming into the country it's a wonder their hotel industry even survives, but she supposes people do have to travel from one end of the country to the other, maybe to see relatives, or friends, or whatever. She has her head back in the seat and her eyes closed as she listens to someone on the other end of the phone. He is loud enough for the sound of his French-accented voice to be heard. "I understand, Professor," she says, and the fellow barely seems to recognize the bite in her voice. She has an earbud in her ear, and the phone on the table, as well as a legal pad with a bunch of names on it, all scratched off, one by one, save for this one, and one other— Caitlin Fairchild, which has a note that says LMTC by it.

This guy won't shut up. She sloooooooowly lifts her middle finger and directs it at the phone. "Right, I—"

And the professor is off again.

At last, she hits mute and says, "Jarvis, run no-bars protocol."

She unmutes, and now her phone just sounds like it's going all static. "Wait," she says, flatly. "You're breaking up. Wait, Professor. I can't hear you. Oh no, we're breaking up. Damn those Wakandan…dust…storms or whatever…"

And then she hits the hang up button and scratches this latest name, rather savagely, off her list.

She snags up the lite beer she's bought from the hotel bar and sucks down a good half of the 12-ounce can without breaking stride.

Peggy enters the hotel, looking just as dispirited as Jessica looks annoyed. It seems her own forays into information extracting haven't been going well. It seems that her contacts are not what they use to be. Not surprising in that most of the ones she built up over the years since World War II are mostly long dead, but also because without the proper SHIELD channels it is even harder.

It's not hard to notice Jess in the lounge and her trajectory to the rooms shift toward the PI. An eyebrow raises at the beer in her hand. "Rough day?" she asks in way of greeting.

"Dust storm. I see a lot of jungle and not a lot of dust. You better hope that the man you were speaking to doesn't look at a map." That's Michael's amused tone as he enters just behind Peggy and walks up towards Jessica. He's looking less overheated today. The air conditioning is now working in his room, and he looks to have found more appropriate clothing.

He looks at Peggy and smiles a bit tightly. There's a brief sad look before he tucks it away. "Well, shall we compare notes? I do have some things to report, though I'm not sure how much good it will do."

Jessica doesn't even look embarrassed to be caught drinking. "Rough summer," she grunts.

"I'm just having the one, promise." And since for her, in terms of impact, having a light beer is akin to sort of standing around smelling the stuff she used to drink, well. Maybe there's some justification for the flippancy, even if it does represent something of a step back for her.

"You two want one? I'm buying."

Michael's amused geography lesson earns half a smirk. "He'd be hard pressed to find one of those given where his head's stuck."

She glances at Peggy, who looks dispirited, then at Michael, who looks like he's in a great mood. "Well, here's my note," she says.

She holds up her hand, making the zero sign. "Got every name of every injured person not native to Wakanda, spent hours calling all of them and nothing. Nobody I've gotten in touch with knows shit. But a lot of them sure wanted to pontificate. If either of you have better notes than that, color me excited as fuck."

The look from Michael is met and noted. There's not much in the way of a response to it at the moment, however that is not unusual for the pair of them or the Brits. That is things to discuss at another time, not in the midst of attempting to unravel a mystery where every door is not only locked but welded shut. The fact that the injured list amounted to legwork but not much else, she frowns.

"Unfortunately, I believe my own information is along the same lines: a plentitude of nothing. However, in that nothing I do have a kernel of an idea." She slips to a chair. There is a moment where she debates a drink, but if Jessica is having 'just one' she doesn't wish to add on to the woman's indulgences by ordering the stiff drink she is certainly debating at the moment. "No," she says instead with a smile. "I'm quite alright. I believe a clear head is needed at the moment."

That taken care of, she adds, "I am sure you all have noticed, but everyone has a similar bracelet and card. They are Kimoyo Beads and they're government regulated. They're IDs as well as how they get on the internet. I'm starting to believe it essential we find a way to commandeer one. Jess, do you believe your agent status might allow you to access one? Or, can the woman who gave you the necklace help us?"

"I'm not much of a drinker," says Michael. And he's got a similar problem. He has to have an awful lot of booze for it to do a damned thing. That, and he never developed a habit for it, even when it did affect him.

He takes a seat beside Jessica and looks at them both. "My discussion with the porter came to nothing, I'm afraid. It's rather what you'd expect - a lot of carnage and a lot of chaos.

"However, through my contacts I discovered that the Wakandan Akili, their intelligence provided security at the conference. Which means their files are quite classified." If the average Wakandan is suspicious of outsiders, it isn't hard to imagine how closed off their intelligence services are.

Jessica thinks about it. "You know, she might slip me a Kimoyo for the asking, at that." She reaches down to text Sizani, then grimaces at the phone.

"She'll see me in a few days. Well, I should have guessed that she'd become less accessible the moment we entered her country, instead of the other way around."

Jessica drums her fingers thoughtfully on the table, not at all ruffled by the fact that they both turned her down. "Yeah. WIS— the Akili, I guess— have been stonewalling. I wonder if that's the operation that they were running. Did you get any names of any of the Akili who might have been working there that day?"

Sighing as the Kimoyo reaches a dead end, Peggy slumps against her chair in a very unladylike fashion. Nodding to Michael, she adds, "Yes, exactly. All I managed to find was the name of the Akili's leader. We can attempt to get a meeting, but as the minister of intelligence I believe that would be incredibly difficult. Not only are we outsiders, but we are very publicly friends of Bucky." She glances at Michael. "Except perhaps you." She doesn't mean this in a snide way. "Perhaps you might be able to garner a meeting with Kagiso. You and Jess with her agent status might have better luck. I can attempt to continue my investigation from the ground."

"Indeed I did," says Michael. "His codename is Blackstone. His real name is Bhekizizwe "Beck" Wright. He's an external actor. He wasn't even in the country until recently. From what I gather, he's a staunch loyalist. If we do find him, he's likely to take some work to convince him to give us anything. But none of the WIS agents know where he is. Now, this could mean he's on mission, or it could mean he had something to do with the bombing."

He looks to Peggy, "I might not be considered a friend of Barnes, but I'm a foreign intelligence operative. For some Wakandas, that might just be worse. It might be possible for me to get a meeting with Kagiso, but my sense is that it would be purely professional courtesy and I would be completely stonewalled. A man like that isn't going to let anything slip to an operative. If he has intelligence to share, he would do so with my superiors." He takes a breath, "I could certainly try. It may be no more of a waste of time than some of our other leads."

Jessica jots both these names down. Kagiso. And Bhekizizwe "Beck" Blackstone Wright. "What does that mean, an external actor?" That sounds like a bit of spy lingo she's never heard before. And he's missing?

She also nods to Peggy. "I'll go with Michael, if you think it will help."

She tap-taps her pen against the legal pad. "If I were working this case back home, I'd do a full public records work up on each of them. That…shouldn't be impossible here, even if they are in the intelligence community. Any property, or cars, that they own might still be a matter of public record, for example. If Wakandans do credit reports maybe I could get that too. I don't expect to find much, but I don't see the harm in looking. I mean it's just a matter of paying the copy fees and then sending them back for translation. I'll do the same search on the building where the conference was held, and I'll start calling around to insurance agencies to see if anybody had a policy or got a payout. It would be…grimly hilarious…if this whole thing wasn't a terrorist act at all, but just someone after a check."

She leans back in her seat, nursing the beer now. "When was Blackstone last seen, anyway?"

"A person who does his work outside the country. Moving pieces internationally to have an effect for his country," Peggy explains to Jessica swiftly.

As Michael says that he believes he will be stonewalled, she frowns. "If you think it a waste of time, I won't push," she says. It's the first indication of acquiescence that Peggy has shown Michael. It's something of a gesture.

To Jessica, she sighs and shakes her head. "We need Kimoyo's to do anything. I've been trying to bring up Wakandan reporting - just general newspaper articles - on the bombing and have found nothing. Everything is on their internet and that is only accessible with the bracelets," she tells the PI with a sigh. "Even simple public record look ups are going to be difficult without the proper tools. This is a highly advanced technological society. We are like cavemen to them in some ways. Without the right keys, I believe we will be completely locked out on multiple things."

Michael Carter inclines his head towards Peggy and looks to Jessica as the explanation is given, confirming that's what he meant. "I am an external actor, for instance. I rarely work within the borders of the United Kingdom."

As for Blackstone's whereabouts? "Unknown. He presumably disappared shortly after the bombing. I couldn't get a precise date, which is not surprising." He huffs a little breath of frustration.

He looks to Peggy and his expression softens a little. "It may not be worth it for a meeting with Kagiso about the bombing, but if your contacts fail," he looks to Jessica, "Perhaps his office might assist us. After all, there are times when the WIS could want something MI-6 could provide."

"Oh," Jess says, looking embarrassed. She…probably should have figured that much out— the external actor bit— for herself. Duh.

"Guests of the conference would have had to access the Internet. There might be such a thing as a visitor's bead. Who issues them, Peggy, do you know? If Kagiso won't, well, maybe there's basically a DMV line we could go stand in. No need to burn favors if we can just do it ourselves. As for Kagiso, I say we see what he has to say. Anything, anything at all that he lets slip could help us. Maybe we try all three things, you know, till we get the bead. What happens to those beads after folks die? That might be worth knowing too."

She writes 'External Actor' under Blackstone's name. "So he was an external actor but came back here specifically to work the conference? Which was an internal thing? The 'why' of that might be a great question to ask Kagiso. And…we could frame it as trying to help him find his agent, not just trying to clear Bucky. As a bit of International Cooperation between the Akili and MI6. That might give us more of an 'in' than asking about the fire."

She finishes the beer but, true to her word, doesn't order another. Instead, she says, "Peggy, there have got to be people back a SHIELD who do not give a shit about your suspension and will help you for the asking. I mean this is kind of a both of you thing, contactwise, but…it might be real important to know what Blackstone's last assignment was, or even where it was."

"Michael's notes are met with a nod. "I feel as if any help we can get at this moment must be seized upon. We're not only outsiders, we are those aligned with someone they believe to be a terrorist. The people here generally assume all outsiders are going to have ill intentions. And we are actively aligning ourselves with someone they know to be a threat to their country." Peggy lets out an annoyed puff of breath.

"It's like China," Peggy tells Jessica. "They have their own version of the internet that only they can access. It's possible that the visitor bands will be highly restricted. Though, that is certainly better than nothing." There doesn't seem to be a moment where she recognizes Jess' embarrassment. It seems to float over her head, but she doesn't seem to treat Jess as if she's missed something important in asking that question.

Instead, she frowns. "I've put out requests," she tells Jess firmly. She will not say to whom she did, as she does not wish to sully their name should it come to that, but she has done so. "We shall see if they bear fruition."

"We need friends, that much is clear. Friends who can give us insider information and help us navigate the system." Michael leans on the bar and inhales slowly.

"In any other country, I would be far more helpful. I'd have local fixers, friendly agents, and the framework of British Intelligence itself. Here…" he looks around and sighs in frustration.

"It can't hurt for me to make enquiries at WIS that I wish to speak to someone. They may just give me a low level agent and the runaround, but perhaps not. Fighting to get to the man at the top would likely be a waste of time, but a general contact would be useful. I don't see how else we might discover Blackstone's whereabouts."

"Sorry, not getting in your grille, Peggy," Jessica says glumly, on the matter of Peggy reaching out to her agents. "Just…grasping at straws, I guess."

She leans back and folds her arms, letting her head rest against the back of her seat as she gives a flat look up to the ceiling.

"Once we can access some newspapers we could get the archives and find out the actual conference organizers, maybe, but…that takes us back to the fucking bead."

She blows out her cheeks. So help me, if I wind up with a god damn case in god damn China…

And lowers her voice to a whisper. "Okay, pop quiz, Spy Friends. Let's say there's not a DMV and nobody helps us get a bead. You're spies, you're in a foreign hostile nation, and you need to get something off the black market. How does the James Bond set do that? Cause that…for beads, for information, for whatever…"

As a famous movie once said, 'ehn. Legato. Illegato.' Handwave, handwave. As far as Jessica's concerned the law is in the way of doing good as often as it is in aid of it. And so, again, not shy about suggesting that maybe they have to color outside the lines a little.

Surely even this frickin' country has a black market.

Michael's assessment is met with a clear nod. That is the easiest way to make their moves forward at all helpful. "We need either a friend or a bracelet," she agrees. It might also be best to not keep all of us as a trio so that we can attempt a semblance of rotation and scale."

"It's quite alright," Peggy assures Jessica about contacting a member of SHIELD. "In any random country? I would attempt to steal a code. However, these seem to be tied to ID and this is a technologically advanced country. Us stealing one might easily be immediately be recognizable and expulsion worthy. However, every country must have a black market. It seems reasonable. "I shall look for the black market. You two are obviously more worthwhile in a legal sense. If someone's name must be tainted, let it be mine. We simply cannot lose the Agent of Wakanda title or your contacts at the MI6, Michael. Should the worst happen, denounce me and I shall go home."

The problem Michael faces is that he's an official, recognized agent of British Intelligence. That's part of the reason he was even allowed in to the country. If he's caught doing anything illegal, he risks causing an international incident. And of course, his clever sister knows this.

"Let's avoid you falling on your sword, Peggy," he says wryly. It's a tone he used in the past when he felt she was being dramatic. "I shall make enquiries at WIS, and we will go from there." He nods to them both, then slides off the stool. "Best I do it now. I'll be persistent until someone speaks to me." He flashes a bit of a smile, straightens his shirt, then heads off.

Jessica gives Michael a little wave, and Jessica casts Peggy a worried look. "I'm not sure I should have suggested that," she murmurs to the other woman. "Just cause they don't really do jail or sending you home. The last thing we need is you ending up in Bucky's same position, with an actual crime under your belt. They threw me into a fight to the death— well, it was going to be mine, I didn't kill my opponent— just for asking to investigate the crime. For the crime of fucking audacity. Like that was the thing, that was the crime I got tried for at the embassy. And it was a goddamn trial. It seems stupid to call it that when it lasted 10 minutes and Bucky had an actual trial back home, but that's how they saw it."

She looks over at her friend, grimacing wryly. "So much as I hate to maybe step in some shit by maybe agreeing with your brother, he might be right, and every plan I have to break the rules might be wrong. That's…stuff that often works back home that, like the mother fuckin' rest of the world Internet, doesn't fucking work here."

Michael's attempt to tell her not to fall on her sword is met with a raised eyebrow and a very pointed look. Apparently she certainly believes in his contribution with falling on swords. With a somewhat good natured roll of her eyes, she nods. Good on him.

"A black market seems to show that there are other things at work. Perhaps they will attempt to make an example of me, but I feel as if attempting to find a technological device and firebombing a conference are very different extremes," she tells Jessica. There is a bit of worry there, but not to the extent that Jess seems to be exuding. "Falling on one's sword seems to allude that I plan to be a martyr. Honestly, I merely wish to find a way through all this."

With a sighs, she glances down at her lap. "I have already reached out to my SHIELD contacts. While I may not be exactly the proper individual, they may still help."

Peggy's phone lights up with a reply: Give me your location.

"We have a person of interest at least. That's more than we had before," Jessica says with a sigh. "At this point I'm getting desperate enough to start offering school children $50 a pop to let me use their Internet access for 10 minutes, and that's saying something. But I suppose we have a plan. Try to see Kagiso, find out more about Blackstone, try to get a Kimoyo bead or two somehow, try to make some friends."

Pause. Beat. "Man. Without any paperwork not even digging through people's trash is going to work here."

For some reason, she flashes, weirdly, on Captain America. Would Captain America sit there and be all glum? No, he'd try to lead the charge with positivity or some shit. So she makes herself straighten her shoulders and smile. Why, she's not certain.

"We're making some kind of progress, even though we're all working uphill. And I'm sure—"

She cuts off as she hears Peggy get a text, falling silent so the woman can answer it.

Peggy texts back to May and tells her about where she is in Wakanda. She finds no confidentiality confusion in this. Jessica's question is met with a nod "We will figure this out," Peggy tells Jess firmly. Holding her phone out, she gives it to Jess with a moment of shared trust. She knows hat Jess will not attempt to download all her contacts or the like.

A text comes back to Peggy's phone: Will need to clear my schedule. Can be there in 48 hours max.

Jessica looks a little surprised when Peggy hands her the phone. Rather than continuing to monopolize that, she simply programs May’s number into her own phone and sets up a quick conference text.

“Hi,” she texts in. “This is Jessica Jones. I’m sitting here with Peggy. It’ll be good to meet you, Agent May.”

She does remember getting the card from Darkedge, what seems a lifetime ago.

“As you’re getting here, do you think you could look into an external agent of the Wakandan Intelligence Services, codename Blackstone? Would it be possible for you to reach out to the intelligence community, find out where he was stationed last, or who he might have been in contact with, or what he was doing?”

She types out the guy’s full name, then: Bhekiziwe “Beck” Wright. “Or get us anything else on him?”

Thank goodness for holographic keyboards. Jessica tends to text full, complete sentences with punctuation and everything, and this message would have taken a torturous long time to send over thumbs.

There's a few moments before the next message comes through. "I can try. I'll also ask around here, bring what intel I can get."

Trying is all anyone can ask for. Jessica contemplates this for a moment, then texts: "Is there any way I can help you help us?"

Because sometimes that's the right question to ask. She looks over at Peggy, who seems lost in dire thought. It's a self-conscious look, because she has just kind of taken charge again, but…

It's not like that stops her.

Standing by the doorway of her small, bland apartment away from SHIELD jurisdiction where she'd been just about to leave for the day, May pauses to consider Jessica's offer to help. She can't think of anything offhand. Well, except for one thing.

"Tell P she owes me. Bigtime."

Jessica Jones actually chuffs a laugh at that one. P, of course, can see it for herself, on her own phone, in the conference text. She decides that's enough of the conversation, and she puts her own phone away. "I'm going to go take advantage of the hotel pool," she tells Peggy softly. "Clear my head, see if any more ideas shake out." Because right this very second, her hands are basically tied.

And with that, she slips out of the hotel lounge. But she does pause by the front desk, at least long enough to ask if there is some sort of bureau where a visitor's Kimoyo might be issued. She might get laughed out of the hotel, of course, but…she can't just go take a break, even for a quick dip, without making sure she's done everything she can do.

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