AKA Princessy Politicky

May 04, 2018:

Jessica Jones finally gets the chance to update Shuri on her visit with the mysterious "Erik." They manage to discuss a few other things as well.

Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen

For a PI, it's a palace.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Killmonger, T'Challa, Tony Stark

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It would have come some time ago, the notice to Shuri that Jessica Jones needed to talk to her. But it was an 'at your convenience' sort of thing.

Shuri is royalty. Jessica is a grungy detective from Hell's Kitchen. She's well aware of it, too.

And the truth is? She's damn near forgotten about it. Kept off the case of Sizani's death, she has mourned and moved on. Getting the shit beat out of her, the return of her sister, her own private battles— and triumphs— with alcoholism, and Trask Industries have thoroughly distracted her.

The latter is what has her coming out of her bathroom, a towel about her shoulder while peroxide-bleached hair drips. She wears boxing shorts, a white tank top, and a thoroughly grim expression. Jessica Jones has gotten way too much press attention. For the kind of undercover work she intends on doing, a wig or some hair extensions or a pair of glasses isn't going to get it.

She'll redye her hair black at the earliest opportunity, but for the moment, she's going full on blonde. She intends to spend an awful lot of time as someone else, it seems.

The need to unwind and come to terms with her grief is an important one, and Shuri has allowed that for Jessica. She has stepped aside, and given how much work she has to do, it's no wonder that it took some time for her to respond to Jessica. The first response came fairly soon: she had received the message and would reply when she could.

Now is apparently that time. Or at least, there is an enormous black bird perched on her windowsill. It's followed by a second, then a third. While two flank it, the center bird gently taps the window with its beak. The others simply watch, quizzically cocking their little heads at the sight of the now-blonde detective.

The woman starts, and then opens the window. "Hey, Shuri," she tells the birds, as if she's talking to the woman herself, and not the little contraptions. "Come on in."

So to speak.

She goes over to her desk and sits crosslegged on it, waiting for them to take her invitation. She doesn't seem to mind the open window; it's warm enough for her, anyway.

"I got a weird visitor," she says, launching right into business. "It's someone you ought to know about. And T'Challa too, really, but."

Shuri's the one she came to, for a list of reasons that is long, wide, and deep.

Shuri is really, really not one to stand on ceremony. Her three birds hop into the room, and one of them even reaches up to bite the window handle and drag it down to close it. This is done with some slightly hilarious wingflaps, but not without some small sense of dignity. It even preens its feathers back into place when it's done. The birds are… very birdy.

Shuri's hologram follows quickly, and it is very much in color and apparent solidity, as if she were actually in the room. Admittedly, she is sitting cross-legged on a cushion in midair, but that's beside the point.

"Miss Jessica Jones," she replies, her tone warm and… slightly worried. Her lips thin: "I could make a guess. Was he a man? An American man?" Well, that's a pretty good chance. "I would guess that he visited you based upon our relationship. Am I right so far?"

"Yeah. His name was Erik. Though he didn't mention you. Hang on a sec."

She pulls out her phone and gets the picture, then has it project out as a second hologram. "That's my security footage. He came with all sorts of weird, vaguely-political sounding accusations about T'Challa that were really honestly pretty well lost on me. Though…I have to admit, if he'd come on a different day, at a different time, without everything you did to explain what happened and to help me deal…"

She shrugged. "They might have found some purchase, though I don't know what the Hell he thought he'd get out of it from me of all people. I'm just a damned detective. Though the information he dropped that the killer was wearing a Wakandan mask might be of interest to your investigation. Of course, no information on how he knows that, which means he could be a suspect."

"Erik."

Shuri rolls the name around in her mouth and nods once. "I have not met him, nor do I know what his motivations are. My understanding is that he has set himself as an enemy to my king; my suspicion is that he was either behind the attack on Sizani or knows who is."

She lets those words rest for a moment as she regards the man. "My brother is close-lipped. He fears this Erik involving you. He wishes to reward your service with peace and kindness, not with making his enemies yours. Still," she adds with a slight smile. "I think you would not have joined forces with this man. Your instincts are too strong. Were his arguments so convincing?"

"No," Jessica admits, shaking her head. "I barely understood his arguments. He might have gotten me into a froth about Sizani, really, if I'd heard about her murder from him, but that was it. I sure wouldn't have joined forces with him against T'Challa, no. I'd have just gone to yell at T'Challa."

She absently towels at her hair, frowning. And then, dryly, "He did say this Gotham job was nothing but busywork. If that's true, I hope the King will forgive me abandoning it to help keep a whole bunch of people from becoming enslaved. As it is…I actually do have some manner of a report for him if he actually seriously needs a bunch of information on the State of Gotham and the Influence of the Batdouche; if he doesn't, then, well, I made a bunch of great new contacts so no harm, no foul."

She shakes her head and adds, "As for my service, Wakanda's done way more for me than I've ever done for Wakanda, as has your brother. I honestly hope someday I'll get a chance to balance the scales."

"That depends entirely on whether this Erik is attempting to throw you off his scent," Shuri muses. "If he is operating in Gotham, he may wish you to turn away in disgust. And if he is throwing the death of your friend in your face, I would expect more cruel lies from him."

She considers this, then taps her chin. "If you will take the commission — T'Challa may never forgive me — but see if you can investigate this man's past. Discover his identity, but do no more that would bring you near to him. I would know who he is, what he has done to others. His past, not his plans for the future. For knowing one, we may more easily understand the other."

"I've already started. Man comes into my office, I run a background check. So far I haven't found much, but I'm working some other contacts to see if I can't make something shake out. He didn't come up in the database, but that didn't surprise me much. Right now I'm using street contacts, I may need to step it up and reach out to some of the suits I know. If I actually shake anything out, I'll definitely let you know. Don't worry, I won't get near the guy."

A twitch of her lips. She's busy giving other people reasons to shoot at her. "I mean. You both do realize that I don't exactly live a safe life, that I get crapkicked and threatened with murder and occasionally kidnapped on the regular, so if I can assist beyond that I don't think you're going to put me at any more risk than I normally am."

She gestures to her hair. "That said, I sort of expect to be living another person's life for a week or two, just as an FYI. Some bad people are doing some real bad shit."

"I thought you must have begun," Shuri agrees with a light smile. "You are not an idle woman. But I would ask you to do so… mmm, somewhat officially. And by that, I mean that I am commissioning you; and by that, I mean that I am paying you."

She sniffs a little, but she smiles when Jessica goes on and nods: "I thought it might be a fashion statement. I did not want to say anything. How may I be of help? Some of the very bad people in this place are… well, let's say that I am working on some of those problems. Just not the way you do. I know you did not choose a safe life, but I will catch all kinds of grief from my king if you come to harm in my keeping."

Jessica chuckles at Shuri's offer of payment. "I just said I owe you guys, and you did fly me all the way into Wakanda recently, my friend. I made promises to you guys. As I told T'Challa, I'll do it for free. I did Gotham for free."

Though she supposes they pay their actual agents. Jess just feels weird about it. It's for Sizani, too, and she owes Sizani a lot.

But then there's this matter. "I'm not sure," she admits quietly. "You know about this registration bullshit. I don't know if you know there's a local company making metahuman slave collars with backing from rich Genoshan expatriats, American politicians and other rich investors and businessmen stateside. I'm going to try to weaken them, I'm on a campaign to take them down however I can. I mean…I'm sure there's some…"

She frowns thoughtfully. "Princessy…Politicky…things? Which might help avoid this madness?"

She really doesn't understand politics. She understands wrongdoing, and politicians who do wrong, and exposing them, but…the actual arts of diplomacy and politics really just escape her.

Shuri's eyes actually widen when she hears about this. "Slave collars?" A moment of horror, and then she shakes her head: "I have been spending too much time in this laboratory and clearly insufficient time out of it. No doubt my people have been…"

She cuts herself off with a huff of irritation. "You may rely upon me, Jessica Jones. I will, when I can make the opportunity, perform all princessy politicky things I can. Wakanda is thoughtful about with whom it trades. I will make it abundantly clear that such things are unacceptable. If these businessmen wish to tap our markets, they must be untainted by this. Of course," she adds with a bit of wry distaste, "they will join the companies who use sweatshops and inhuman labor practices. As you may guess, Wakanda does not trade very much with outsiders. We have principles."

"Trask Industries is the name of the assholes," Jessica says, pleased. She hadn't expected to rope Shuri into this, but from the sounds of it?

That's going to be a pretty major deal.

"I'm not sure how well-known and widespread the knowledge is at this point. It came to me through unusual channels, but. I imagine word is starting to spread like wildfire. Here…"

She pulls up another picture, and fires off a hologram. The collar device itself, and some sort of firing mechanism. As if someone were developing ways to simply fire them at targets from a distance. "That's the one I saw. I'm told there are other models."

While Wakanda isn't exactly a great haven for the metahuman population — mostly the only super-special people Wakanda wants consist of its royal family — the whole slavery thing… maybe resounds to the princess of one of the very few African countries that was never colonized or mined for enslaved labor. It's not hard to be against slave collars, after all.

"I am perhaps a little scandalized that this is a legal thing in America. I seem to remember there was a bit of an issue with slavery in the past. I recognize that America has not gotten over it, but this one should be a… no-brainer?"

She takes the holograms and seems to almost weigh them in her hands, catching them and pulling them apart, turning them this way and that, examining them closely. "Not nice," she murmurs. "Trask Industries. I will also mention this to Stark, though I certainly hope he knows."

"Yeah. That's what I thought too. Our legislation hasn't gotten anything passed in that direction yet, but they're laying groundwork. Taking steps. Maybe they won't get there. Maybe saner heads will prevail. But I prefer to give saner heads help. As for Tony, yeah, I think he does, but that doesn't mean a discussion won't help stuff, you know? Maybe you two will find even more angles to tackle it when you talk about it."

It is not hard indeed, but Jessica is heartened every time someone feels as disgusted and freaked out about them as she does.

A pause, and a faint grin. "Wow, wait a sec. You're working with Tony? He must have shit himself with happy. The man flat on kissed me just cause I brought him some Wakandan art once. Getting the attention of a real live Wakandan who also likes to build things? I'm surprised he hasn't proposed to you yet. Unless he did."

"We… did not hit it off very well when we first met. I believe my brother kicked him once. And I was…"

Shuri breaks off with a smile and a shrug. "I fell to bantering with him the way I do with my brother. There are some things that they have very much in common — oh, they are very, very different men, but I suspect Tony is a better man than he pretends to be. We shall see. Since I am also Wakanda's Minister of Science, we have no end of subjects to discuss. But, well. My brother and I have years of teasing one another. I felt so comfortable with Tony Stark that I fell into the same, but what is teasing to my brother is cruel to my peer."

She pauses then and, as if suddenly remembering, adds: "This city is becoming less dreary as springtime rolls across it. Where do you love, Jessica Jones? Where do you go to find the springtime in your heart? I would like to see this place through the eyes of someone who loves it."

The question startles her.

For a moment, there's just a long, "Uh."

Jessica has not been a person to find much springtime in her heart. Even when some shoots and leaves start coming up in her life she occasionally finds herself squinting at them suspiciously. At the same time, the question makes her want to offer something.

"My heart," she says at last, "is a crusty, black thing. But…I do love the city. When I remember that love? Top of the Brooklyn Bridge. You can climb right up there, see pretty much the whole city. I love that view in any season."

And then suddenly she grins. "And when you're done? Find awesome in your stomach. Sal's Deli on 50th Street has the best damn sandwiches in town."

She will never stop being Sal's biggest fan.

"Perfect!" Shuri claps her hands. "Then you and I will do this. I will find you on the finest day of the next week. But we will do this in the opposite manner: we will go to Sal's, we will get our sandwiches to go, then we will climb the bridge and sit and look at your city and eat our sandwiches. Both of us deserve this. I will not take no for an answer, Jessica," she adds. "You will be under my protection, and I will be under yours. Regardless of all bad men, we should be able to sit and have our sandwiches."

"Done," Jessica says with a smile. This, she had expected even less than the question that preceded it, but it seems her crusty black heart can appreciate the chance to grow a friendship. "Maybe I'll find a few other cool spots to show you, too."

Because hey. Why the Hell not? She learned a long time ago that if you don't take a few moments out to be a normal person in all the madness you miss the chance and you go insane. A lesson she had to learn the hard way, but she did learn it.

"Name the day and we'll go," she adds. She might have to go wearing a hoodie, because she can't let people see blonde Jessica Jones, or, ironically, a black wig, but that doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world to her.

"You will know the day," Shuri replies. She rises slowly from her cushion, striding to stand before Jessica. "You will know it when you wake up. You will have slept beautifully, and the sun will stream through your window. The morning breeze will be cool but will promise sunshine rather than rain, and it will tell you that this is the day."

"And if it doesn't," she adds, "I will just knock on your door and tell you." Her eyes crinkle at the corners in a bright smile.

"Until then, Jessica Jones." She crosses her arms over her chest in salute. Her agent. Not her only agent. Perhaps her favorite agent.

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