Professional Courtesies

August 28, 2017:

Jessica Jones welcomes Agent Melinda May to the Mizizi na Nyasi investigation team. She wastes little time setting May on the trail of some of their leads.

//Birnan S'Yan, Wakanda //

A fortified city on the border. Ringed with heads. On pikes.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Peggy Carter, Michael Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's convenient enough that Jessica's current set of investigative tasks have taken her down to Birnan S'Yan, because that's where the country's one and only airport happens to be. And with Peggy involved in her own leads, it falls to one Jessica Jones to actually go to the airport and fetch her.

This will be the second 'new' team member to arrive in as many days, but this one happens to have been expected and invited, so she gets the courtesy of a pick up from someone who has had time to figure out how to pay for the commission of a self-driving car as a guest in the country unequipped with Kimoyo beads…something it had legitimately taken Jessica and the Carters a ridiculous number of hours to figure out upon first arriving to the science fiction novel sitting implacably on the African continent.

Thus, the woman stands at the gate with a small sign reading "Melinda May" that is…probably unnecessary. In the extreme. Because really, who else would the slim white woman in the cargo shorts— navy blue, today, with a matching navy blue tank top— and panther-toothed necklace be waiting for? Who flies into Wakanda at all? The few natives who fly out, mostly, and there are few enough of those. But…maybe it's just one of Jessica's rare and awkward stabs at courtesy at work.

Or it's irony.

It could also totally be irony.

May had originally been planning to fly herself out there, but quickly learned that Wakanda is dead serious about their no-fly zone. So, she settled for a slightly more roundabout journey. Quinjet to the nearest China-side SHIELD base with a city that DOES fly into Wakanda, then a commercial flight from there. Much more of a paper trail than she'd been wanting to leave, but c'est la vie.

Currently dressed to resemble a Chinese businesswoman and having left all of her weapons behind except the sash whip wrapped decoratively around her waist (and THAT rankled), May steps through the 'Arrivals' entryway and notices the pale young woman with the sign when she looks for a taxi stand. Well then.

She approaches Jones with her carry-on sized rolling suitcase and combo purse/laptop bag. "You must be Ms. Carter's friend." She's totally playing up the cover of being Chinese and not American, accent and all. Just in case.

Jessica lifts her eyebrow at the accent. She hadn't heard an accent over the phone. And then…ok. Spies. Got it.

She probably shouldn't have used the woman's real name then. At least she didn't write 'Agent' on the card?

She tosses the card into the nearest trashcan and offers a hand. "Jessica Jones," she agrees. "Thank you for coming, Ms. May."

She picks up on cues well enough, does Jess. She gestures to the doors of the airport, leading out to the street. "We're staying up at the capital," she says. "I'm not sure where Peggy is at the moment, but she sends her regards and apologizes for not greeting you in person. The learning curve on getting around here is steep, so I thought I'd spare you some headaches."

She gives a quick smile, the smile of someone who doesn't do it very often or very fast. "Self-driving cars are a freaky trip. But they'll give us a nice forum to discuss business from without much interference."

Or any that matters. Really, Jessica just assumes everyone knows who they are, what they're about, and why, to the mind of the average Wakandan, they suck. She hasn't been much bothering to hide any of it. But she can see that May will want to be a little more circumspect, right off the bat.

May shakes Jessica's hand then follows her to where ever they're going. "I appreciate the assistance in transport," she offers perhaps a bit too formally, the slightly stilted way she's speaking hopefully making her seem even more like a non-native English speaker.

"Could we perhaps stop at a banking institution? I have currency to exchange." Because as much as US dollars are likely close to worthless here, she made a point of bringing Chinese currency as well as a few … more universally valued items to use anywhere she might need to pay someone.

While she seems to be playing the part of businesswoman, May's eyes check everything about the airport they're in — habit. She can't help it. But she makes mental note of security types and how subtle or not they might be. She has to learn the lay of the land here, since this is not an area that SHIELD has ever been or likely will ever be permitted.

"There isn't one, really," Jessica says apologetically. "This is part of what it took us forever to find out. But if you do like a Google Wallet or Apple Wallet or whatever else on your phone? What we found was that Wakandan technology is capable of scanning it at a station liiike… that one," she points to a small vending machine at the end of the corridor leading outside, "and it will basically automatically make the conversions on your behalf, tell you exactly how much you're paying right there on the screen, super-impose a yes or no question over your own screen and let you proceed. It's a little jarring to have it take over your app like that, but…it works. And the converter is good, cause the Wakandan currency is so much more valuable than most. I saw '2W' for a cab and thought I had entered a form of price heaven until I realized that was actually $28 American."

It hadn't truly been a total surprise to Jessica once they'd figured it out. Once upon a time, T'Challa had basically taken her Stark Phone, done a bunch of crap to it, and basically given her a red phone straight to him that she could reach by dialing '9'. She has no idea if that still works, though. She's not about to test her luck by trying it here, now. But it had formed the basis for the understanding that had come when she'd finally angrily waved her phone at one of those little terminals, only to find it working just fine.

Security isn't obvious, but the foreigners pretty much have some subtle types watching them right off the bat. Jessica is aware of them. She just ignores them as a matter of course lately. It's safe to say that it's hard to do much of anything in the nation without drawing some sort of eye.

She takes them to the doors and hits a button on the side of a pole holding up the parking area. "Summons our car," she explains.

Everything's electronic? That's going to be problematic. Because May isn't actually a Chinese national or a businesswoman, she'd banked on using all physical currency to get by. "I … learned to not travel with electronic currency. Had my phone stolen in Marrakesh." A blatant lie, but hopefully reasonable sounding enough for most frequent travellers.

She makes a mental note of the button Jessica pressed and then asks seemingly idly, "Are there any not self-driving cars?" Because sometimes people don't want computers knowing where they're going.

"That app doesn't work everywhere by the way, just at places where ousiders might be. Hotels, here at the airport, cabs, restaurants, stuff like that. As for the cars…If there are, I don't know about them. I kind of like them. They're smarter and safer than human drivers."

Strange words from a notorious control freak, but Jessica Jones hates human drivers more than she hates relinquishing control to an AI.

"And ok, well, I guess— my hotel room has two beds, you can just take the other one." Weird to room with a near-stranger, but May comes well vouched for. "I'll handle your food and stuff too." Cause the last thing Jessica Jones is worried about right now is money.

The car pulls up and she gets inside, waves her phone at the little terminal in the cab, and then uses the holographic display that pops up to program a destination. She slides into the far side and waits for May to get in, then asks, "How much has Peggy briefed you on our case and its progress?"

After settling her suitcase and then herself into the car, May waits for them to be underway before dropping the businesswoman act. First thing to go: the heels. "Nothing beyond the one phone call you heard." The accent is now gone as well. "Likely because of the risks involved with telecommunications." Also, the fact that she can Peggy haven't worked together enough to really build a 'code' system the way she has with other agents.

"Alright. I'll start from the top then, and I'll try to be as succinct as possible," Jessica says, a bit apologetically. Succinct is hard when one is going through a complex case, but she'll try.

"The Mizizi conference took place back in May, and it had a lot of opposition from several of the tribes. It speaks to a split here in Wakanda…between those who are kind of ready to join the world stage and stop being so insular, and those who still hate outsiders and are suspicious of change. It was a worldwide science conference, and many saw it as giving charity to outsiders or some crap. At any rate, someone firebombed the thing, leaving 47 injured and 6 dead. Bucky, of course, is being blamed, but Bucky, of course, didn't freaking do it."

Jessica leans back comfortably. Briefing someone like this is easy territory for her, easier than trying to make small talk.

"I've got a theory of the crime though. I believe it was an inside job, that person or persons unknown within Wakandan Intelligence Services— the Aikili — did the deed with Hydra's help. And…not a thing we've learned so far is really working to disabuse me of this notion yet. In fact, that case is only kind of strengthening as we move on. They took charge of the entire event's security because they felt like counterintelligence was called for on what they thought was an invitation to spying, which means they were perfectly positioned to conduct a false flag attack if certain elements wanted to use it to create a political point."

Jessica is careful with theories of crimes, really. They're good starting points, but they can also cause one to get tunnel vision. But in this case? She's growing less concerned about the latter. She adds, "Of course, feeling pretty god damn sure about something and proving it to the King's satisfaction before he slaughters James? Two different tasks."

It's Bucky or James interchangably, a lot, with Jessica.

May listens to Jessica without interruptions, accustomed to SHIELD briefings and being given similar infodumps. Once Jones is finished relating what she knows, May takes a moment to think over each salient point before starting to pose questions of her own. Mostly she's wanting clarification on a few key points.

"First off, what tangible proof do you have stating that Barnes didn't do it?" It's not that she's doubting Jessica's or even Peggy's word on it, it's that that is the single most damning or acquitting piece of evidence they can put on the table. "The Aikili do sound like a plausible group of suspects, but seeing as they're Wakandan Intelligence, collecting intel on them is going to be tricky at best. I'll probably start there. Do we have any information on the kind of explosives used in the attack?" Where there are explosives, there is usually a paper trail. It's a lesson she learned early at SHIELD: follow the money.

"And regarding the money situation here, do you want me to give you the funds I brought along to reimburse?" She could almost as easily set up a wire transfer to have SHIELD put money into Jones's account to cover expenses, but again. Paper trail.

"Welding fuel, propane, and polyethelene microfilaments woven together in an unknown and previously unseen fashion, then mixed with explosive charges placed high on the building," Jessica says instantly. "The polyethelene let it spread all over the place. Then it all got fucked up worse because someone hacked the firefighter's drones."

She shakes her head. "I don't have any evidence James didn't do it except his word. He says he didn't, I believe him. He says Hydra framed him, and someone's working that angle already. I believe him. But the biggest thing is he was here with Jane Foster. If you've met the woman you know she'd cut his balls off and feed them to him if he set fire to a science conference, and his badass abilities wouldn't matter in the slightest."

She waves off the money uncomfortably. "Whatever seems best to you. Hell, if you wanna do that I can just buy you your own room." she says, then goes right back to the case.

"We do have a little on Wakandan Intelligence. Kagiso apparently doesn't really give a shit about the fact that his agent, Blackstone, is missing. That's the one I asked you to dig up SHIELD intel on if you could, did you find anything? And he apparently doesn't give a shit about the fact that we're asking questions either. There's also some operation being talked about over at WIS called the Staff of Orisha, so maybe you could use your contacts to dig into that, see what that might mean. It might be unrelated, but a lead is a lead. There's also the matter of whomever made this homegrown bomb. I've got one of our team mates looking into where someone could source welding fuel and propane locally, but the fact that the process is unknown tells me there might be a famous bomb maker. I don't know how spy-types dig guys like that up in foreign hostile nations, but if you've got ideas on how to find that information…"

She spreads her hands. There's a little more, but she finds herself reluctant to reveal what she has from Jane just yet. May is the only member of the team who is a true unknown to her, and protecting Jane is high on Jessica's list of priorities.

Her phone starts ringing, but she gives May her full attention, not picking up yet.

"I have a trusted colleague following up on leads for me. When I hear back, I'll share any new information with you and Carter." Not entirely true, as she would normally have only trusted this kind of intel gathering to one person, but for this she felt it was okay to farm out a bit. It's also a bit of a litmus test for the agent given the task.

Making a mental note to transfer the money into Jones' account once she's back in the US, May dismisses that as no longer important. "Sharing a room is easy enough. I doubt I'll spend a lot of time there anyway."

The mention of Kagiso not caring about Blackstone or their separate investigation gets a raised eyebrow, and tracking down a bomb-maker with that kind of MO is simply a matter of having an ally tap their … less than above-board contacts.

The ringing phone only gets ignored by May for one ring before she notes mildly, "That might be worth answering."

Jessica nods her head to both observations. She's not spending a lot of time there either, though she does use it to sleep, and make phone calls, and as a sort of basecamp for the work they're doing here. As long as she keeps moving, as long as she keeps working, she can push everything else to one side. Her fear of losing the man they're here to save. And everything else.

May tells her to get the phone, and she picks up. And for a moment it just deflates her like a balloon. "Fuck. Ok."

She leans over and changes the destination, taking them right back into the city they were so swiftly leaving. "We'll sort this out, don't worry," she says, injecting strength and confidence into her voice that she doesn't, by the tense, unhappy look on her face and the sag of her shoulders, really feel. "Be there soon."

Then she hangs up.

"Peggy," she says, "has been arrested. She hasn't been charged with anything, they just didn't like the area of town she chose to work in." Answers where she was, Jess guesses. She smiles thinly.

She should never have said the world 'underworld' in Peggy's vicinity.

"So. Detour time."

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