Us and Them

May 23, 2018:

In the wake of current events, Kitty Pryde needs resources but isn't sure who to trust to get them. In the hopes of finding a way, she reaches out to Jessica Jones.

Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, New York

A cozy place to plan a felony or two.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Emma Frost, Wanda Maximoff, Pietro Maximoff, Colossus, Illyana, Matt Murdock

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

When Kitty Pryde comes to wait for a friend she hasn't seen in some time (none of Jessica Jones' defenses have anything against phasing, after all), she'll find the place somewhat vastly changed from the last time she was here.

It's almost cozy. There's a big L-shaped sectional black leather couch, with a row of ottomans to extend it. Sleeping pillows and an old quilt indicate this is probably being used to dual purpose. A nice coffee table sits in the center, and the back of it is to the 'office space.' It's in front of a big projection screen that allows for TV viewing.

Behind it, the desk, with its one PI chair and its two client chairs. The windows behind it are as they ever were, except updated with bulletproof and shatterproof glass, and locked with high-quality window locks. A punching bag sits where the file cabinet once did.

The built-in shelving is actually full. With the kinds of things normal people might have there, even if it's an odd assortment. Books: The Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A Tibetian singing bowl. A framed photograph of herself as a teenager, and, presumably, her late mother, father, and brother. A sketch of an old black woman. A holograph of a Dora Milaje, though if one had never seen a Dora before he or she might be forgiven for not knowing what, precisely, the exotically-clad African hologram is meant to represent. A statue of Athena. There's space for more stuff, and it looks like the space might even get used eventually.

Kitchen and dining area are about the same. The bedroom holds a bunk bed set. It looks like someone might live there who isn't Jess. Bathroom is as it ever was.

There's not a hint of a booze bottle in the place save one. An empty Jack Daniels bottle serves as a flower vase in the center of the table. Currently it's holding a couple of roses.

Meanwhile, the keycode lock Jessica has put on the outer door beep-beep-beeps. Someone is keying in the code, but the woman who walks in bears no resemblance to Jess Jones. Blonde hair is swept up into a severe bun. Green eyes. She wears a peach colored business suit, with a pale white silky blouse and peach colored pumps. Fashionable glasses and gentle make-up that looks tasteful, not at all the heavy eyeliner and dark lipsticks Jones favors. She carries a briefcase and has her nails done in a French manicure.

*

Kitty waited outside Jessica Jones' place for awhile. She knocked, she did all the things one usually does when being polite. However, what she is here to talk to Jessica about is sensitive and she doesn't want to be caught outside or have too many people see her here. So, after about fifteen minutes, she phases her way through the door. She's careful to try and not touch any of the electronics, as those tend to fry out as soon as she phases through them.

Once inside, the 'curiosity got the Kitty' takes her through a short tour of the place. It looks very different from her last visit. She doesn't touch anything and she only looks at what is out and easily accessible. She's not here to snoop, after all, she's here to talk.

The keycode hits her ears with a bit of a startle. However, she calms immediately and moves backward in an attempt to look nonthreatening. Her hands are raised. She doesn't want to startle her friend and she's already prepping herself to phase should Jess decide to reflexively attack: she wouldn't blame her.

However, the woman who enters looks nothing like Jess. She has blonde hair, green eyes and a business suit. However, she also has the proper code. That might denote a friendly. Frowning, she moves forward, tense and ready to phase this stranger through the floor at the first sign of trouble.

"Don't be alarmed," she says softly and as non-threateningly as possible.

*

The woman stops.

"Oh hey, Kitty," Jessica says.

"Everything okay?"

And here, a process of transformation begins.

The hair is let down, and while it's the wrong color (and the dye job isn't great) it's the same shape as Jessica's hair. She pulls off the glasses and tosses her jacket aside, revealing the fact that the silk shirt is a silk tank top. She kicks those pumps about as far from herself as they'll go. She rubs at her eyes, muttering, "Fucking contacts itch. How do people who wear these manage?"

Off to the desk, where she rummages to find a pack of Marlboro Reds. It is some sort of Jessica-like chimera, it seems, but it's Jessica enough for identification once she begins tap tap tapping the pack of cigarettes on the flat of her hand. "Man, I am glad I won't have to wear those fucking things any-fucking-more."

*

Kitty blinks a few times as the hair comes down and Jessica's voice comes out of this blonde woman. What the hell is going on?

"Uh." That is her intelligent rejoinder to what she just witnessed happening and whether or not she is okay.

"Why are you dressed like that?" There's a lot of questions going on here, but that's the first thing that spills forth. The mutant stays exactly where she is, allowing Jessica to walk around her to get to her cigarettes. "What's going on that you feel like you need to bleach blonde your hair, Jess? I mean, I think you're Jess. This is definitely weird."

As her for herself, she shrugs her shoulders. "I did come here for a reason, but I want to make sure you're okay before we even get into it."

*

"Undercover work," Jessica says grimly. "Done now, but…I've had my face on various videos a few too many times for me not to go whole hog when I'm infiltrating a place I happen to know is making slave collars for people like us. Didn't really want to find one around my neck. It would have made me fucking cranky. So. Full forgery on the paperwork, different voice, different accent…I've been a fucking Southerner for a week…and a fun-filled career as a temp-to-perm secretary whose temp job is now done. And thankfully, I got something done for my trouble. I don't think the rank and file gives a shit about collars, but I think I have a bead on a location just chock full of evidence of stuff people will give a shit about."

She wanders into the bedroom with the cigarette dangling between her lips. When she emerges the rest of the business suit is gone, replaced by ripped jeans and a Pink Floyd tank top.

*

As Jess emerges from the bathroom in her ripped jeans and t-shirt, Kitty actually relaxes a little. That's more like the Jess she knows. After a soft intake of breath, she nods. "Those collars are why I'm here." Her arms cross in front of her and she moves toward a surface that is not Jessica's desk to rest upon. It need not be a chair.

"I want to find out more about these things and I want to know how I can help stop them. Piotr and I have talked about them. I want to hack into Trask Industries, but I need a secure server to do it. We were thinking Stark, but who knows with that guy. I can't tell if he's a playboy idiot that pays people to make him look smart or if he's a genius playboy who just does a lot of stupid things." She sighs and shrugs her shoulders.

"You're a PI, Jess, and I trust you. I came to you hoping to toss in my lot, help out where I can. See if we could pool information."

*

There's chairs! Jess picks the desk, sitting crosslegged on it. She takes up an ashtray and tumps out a few ashes. "You can trust Tony absolutely," she says quietly. "He's a genius playboy who does a lot of dangerous things trying to do good things, but if I knew the only thing standing between me and certain death was Tony Stark, I'd put my feet up and know it was going to be all good. But you probably don't want to make this look like a corporate espionage thing. What does a secure server entail? I mean…is this something you can just buy?"

What she knows about computers is how to turn them on and that Alt-Control-Delete is the proper sequence when they inevitably piss her off. Which they do, on the regular.

"If you want to go with me to break a bunch of laws to secure all this evidence I could probably use a third team member, too. Piotr and Wanda came to me, too."

*

Kitty folds her legs up onto the chair. There's a lot on her mind and she's trying to not just lay it all on Jessica's feet. However, the pressure of this knowledge and what might happen has been pushing against her for weeks. "He's not one of us, though." That's the be all and end all of everything. "Maybe he is trustworthy. Maybe he is good. But, if push comes to shove, he can walk away. I can't. You can't. This is more than just certain death, Jess. This is people trying relegate us into categories and trying to tell us that we are not worthy of basic human rights. Do you trust Tony to go to the mat for us when dealing with something like that?"

There's a frown, she looks to the side. "I know he's…friendly with Emma Frost, so maybe that'll sway his mind. But Frost is…she's not good news. She's only out for herself. And if she's the mutant that has his ear? I'm not sure I can trust him."

As for secure servers, she shakes her head. "It's more than just getting something you can buy. Though, that's certainly something. We need a completely secure network. I can build something, but I'd need quite a lot of bandwidth and some time…also some money. It's not cheap to take a computer off the grid."

As for breaking the law, she nods her head. "I'm willing." Though, she tilts her head just slightly. "Who is Wanda?"

*

"Tony doesn't have an us versus them mentality. Tony has a right versus wrong mentality. He hates bullies and he hates people who treat others like shit. I damn sure think we better not have an us versus them mentality. The moment we start pushing our allies away is the moment we lose, Kitty."

Jessica wrinkles her nose at mention of Emma Frost, but it's kneejerk. Mention telepath, see nosewrinkle. And of course. Oil. Water.

"I have his ear." She adds. "I'm basically his primary contract investigator. He has taken good care of me, Kitty. And my family. But. Let's do it this way. Money I've got. I have an expense account. I can use it for whatever I want. So. Let's just buy it and then Tony gets plausible deniability too. I can list it as 'investigative equipment.' Wouldn't be lying. And then you can trust me, and forget trusting him. While using his resoruces. Win-win."

Who is Wanda? "What, you didn't meet the sister too? They seem to be so far up each other's asses Game of Thrones style I thought they never separated."

*

Kitty frowns at Jessica and wraps her arms around her legs. "It's not so much us versus them so much as the fact that…" she frowns. "Historically, I know that when push comes to shove, if you are not part of the group that is being oppressed? There's a tendency to save yourself and your family rather than the the others." That seems to be her own kneejerk reaction. While she wants to believe in people who will help them, Tony has an extra strike against himself by associating with Emma Frost.

"I don't want to put you in a weird position, Jess," she tells the investigator truthfully. "I just don't know him and from what I've read about him? I don't trust him." Much like her own twitch at the telepath, she also is quick to judge Tony based on his association with Ms. Frost.

As for buying their own investigative equipment, she blinks a few times. "You can do that?" Between Tony and Jess? She trusts Jess far more explicitly. "And you'd be okay with it?"

As for the sister, she tilts her head. "The sister? Piotr's sister is Illyana. I've known her for years. Is Wanda Piotr's sister, too? He…he never told me."

*

"Maybe we're talking about two different Piotrs?" Jessica asks, jumping to the most likely solution. "A plethora of Petes? It's not like there can't be two Piotrs in the whole state."

But she simply nods to 'you can do that.' "I can do that," she says. "At least part of what they want me to use the expense account for is doing good. Just. You know. Try not to get caught, as that would be evidence that puts me in jail, not you or Tony. But since I'm breaking the law about eight ways from Sunday right now to take these people down anyway? I don't care. I have a great couple of lawyers. I'm 100% okay with it. If Tony wants to get pissed at me over it I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

Even if she thinks they'd be exasperated to know what kind of stuff she gets up to. If they don't already. They probably know already.

As for people saving themselves, she simply sighs. "I should have paid more attention when they were talking about registration. I honestly kind of shrugged. I was like, welp. Everyone knows what I can do, so the fuck what? I didn't think people would turn goddamn insane."

*

Kitty frowns, looks down at the ground. "I paid attention. I tried what I could do, but it wasn't enough." The idea that registration is insane that people would turn to that when scared? She doesn't smirk, she doesn't smile, she just looks up at Jess. "It's not," she tells Jess flatly at the idea that it is insane. "It's happened before. This isn't insane. This is what bigoted and scared people do when they think their own world is challenged. It's always easier to blame an Other. For Germany, it was the Jews. Today, it's the mutants."

Unfurling herself from her seat, she sets her feet on the ground. Her hands rest upon her knees. "If you're okay with it, let's do it. If there's another place we can set up, that would protect you. If they try to ping back to our location, we can just leave the traceback to that space and let it rot."

As for taking these people down? Kitty is completely on board. "Yes. Okay, if you're willing, so am I. I'll hack and build where is necessary. I'll infiltrate, too. I'm sure I'd be useful on that front." The different Piotrs is met with a nod. "I think so. Peter is a pretty popular name. What is your Piotr saying?"

*

"He's the one that showed me the collars," Jessica says. She grimaces at the mention of Germany. She doesn't even like thinking in that direction. She exhales and scrubs her fingers through her hair, thinking.

"I have a place," she says. "How do you feel about doing it in Dundalk, Maryland? Vacant crime scene house that won't sell because it was so gruesome, is in an economically depressed area behind the world's creepiest Chuck-E-Cheese, and is now owned by the land bank because there were no heirs to claim it. Among its other…um…virtues…it has a hidden panic room lab beneath the kitchen floor. If that sounds like a good place I'll give you the address. You buy what you need, I'll expense it, and then if you want me to stand guard while you hack or something, I can do that. I only scratched the surface of that company playing secretary for a week."

*

There's confusion in her face as Piotr was also the one that talked her about the collars, too. Is this the same Piotr? It can't be. He doesn't have a sister called Wanda. At least, not as far as she knows. "Maybe we should all meet to get the confusion out of the way," she decides.

As for a place to run the op out of, she nods her head. "I can hack out of anywhere. It can be a hotel room rented under a false name, it can be anything. I just need a place where I will have privacy and that we will never go back to again. That creepy Chuck-E-Cheese sounds perfectly awesome, but also a place you should keep for a sufficiently desperate time. A motel or a random room somewhere will work."

As for keeping guard, she nods her head. "Having someone to be a guard and eyes would be great. Hacking tends to involve all senses. I don't want to be randomly dropkicked while trying to hack through a firewall."

*

"Well good, even better, now we don't have to go all the way to Maryland. No shortage of no-tell Motels in New York," Jess says thoughtfully. "Is this equipment we can buy tonight? Do you gotta get it off…Hacker Amazon.com? What's the procedure here?"

Because Jess is very much about getting shit done yesterday, really, and this is no exception. It seems a plan is forming, and she doesn't see any reason to waste time. There's work to be done, she's on to going to do it. Especially with the other problem looming and lurking.

The one that has Dundalk at the top of her mind in the first place.

But for this, it's best to keep them focused on one thing at a time.

*

Unable to help herself, Kitty gives a quirk up of her lips. "Best way to do it is to pay for everything in cash at Best Buy. I can find everything I need there. Honestly, we just have to find a place that either has a good wireless connection or has a broadband we can tap into. That's the main thing. The network is important. If we keep the same room for long enough, I can build as much of a secure network as I can. It just may take a bit."

Much like Jess, she is completely invested and wanting to start to get to work. "As soon as we find an appropriate place, I can start building."

*

"Great. To the Best Buy."

Jessica stands and pulls her hair into a ponytail, then grabs a hoodie to throw over her hair. She has to fix it before she can really be out and about without one. She pulls out her phone to find a suitable hotel near the Best Buy. "Don't have a car anymore," she says apologetically. "So if you need to haul a lot of stuff we maybe need to rent one. Unless you've got one."

She didn't have anything else going on this evening, and really she was dissatisfied with what little she found while she was being someone else. Her need to work a problem until it is solved drives her forward even while tired, though she does note, "We can grab food too, if you're so inclined."

*

Kitty nods at Jessica's call to Best Buy. "That we can certainly do. It shouldn't take too long and it shouldn't be too much to involve a crazy amount of lifting. I've already got the computer. It's just the space that I need. Also some routers and cords"

The tilt of her head, she takes in the hair-do, the eyes that were covered by colored contacts. "What were you doing, if I may ask? And what did you find there?" Unable to help herself, she studies Jessica and wonders what it is she has been up to.

*

"He might be pulling some shit with illegal weaponry. Some of it might be going onto these things called Sentinels? I have a location. It might have evidence. No good for cops, but great for the media. I'm going to turn it over to Trish. Get her to call Trask out for endangering the public. A war of media and evidence and public opinion is going to hurt their profits, their stocks. Pull resources out from under their feet. It's not everything. It's only one piece of the puzzle. But it's a start."

She heads for the door, holding it open for Kitty. Jessica has long since finished her cigarette. She adds: "As a temp worker, I had reason to go all over the building, stick my nose into files, sit at computer terminals and poke through everything I had access too. It wasn't everything by a long shot, but it was enough to start putting some patterns together, to note shipments that didn't add up or make sense, payments, orders, leases. I had to do some actual work around that, but. You know. I can type and use Google Cal with the best of them."

*

"Sentinels. What do we know about them?" Kitty has only limited knowledge and getting more from Jess is a perfect opportunity in her mind. As for turning things over to Trish, she nods he head. The more the public knows about things, the better.

Curious, she can't help but ask, "So, when did you start smoking?" She knew Jessica as a recovering alcoholic, but she certainly doesn't remember he as being a smoker.

"Being a temp is a perfect cover. People tend to not care about you and ignore you because you're supposed to be temporary help. It's perfect."

As for pulling resources from under their feet, she hopes this hack will hep with that. Her resolute face as she follows Jess through the door nods. "We'll get through this." After a pause, she exhales and inhales. "Thanks, Jess."

*

Jessica chuckles softly. "Bout a year ago," she says. "I stopped smoking to get over a different addiction."

The Matt Murdock addiction, to be exact.

"Helps with the booze addiction too. Can't give up all my vices. As long as I don't overdo it my body processes it anyway. Soothing. No lung cancer danger if I don't overdo it. And I think they're…giant robots? Meant to hunt metas? I think it's the dumbest shit I ever heard of. Hey, let's unleash giant robots in the middle of the suburbs."

She waves her hands about in a sarcastic sort of jazzhands. "What could possibly go wrong?"

But, thanked, she blinks. "We're friends. We're in this together. Nothing to thank me for. You know I'm always on call for you, right?"

*

Kitty reaches out to briefly touch on Jess' arm. It's not a grip, it's not anything other than a brief moment of contact between two similarly minded people. However, she gives a smile to Jess as she does so.

"We are," Kitty agrees with Jess about them being friends. "And you know I"ll be here for you whenever you need it too, okay? Sometimes it all just needs to be said out loud."

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