2019-09-08 - Second Opinion


Mari brings the contracts to Agent Turner for a second, less-explodey, opinion.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Sep 8 04:49:01 2019
Location: WAND HQ, the Triskelion

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Theme Song



It's a battered and filthy Mari McCabe that's escorted into WAND two hours after the incident at Harry's Hideaway. The Golden Portal flares as the ex-model steps through, her hair still electro static'd charged and the stains of blood still on her hands.

She's got nicks and scrapes all over her.

"Agent Koa Turner?" The SHIELD agent doesn't want to move much past that portal and is eager to hand the woman off.

Koa Turner is leaning over something with a small flip knife that he HAD been about to press into his palm when someone called his name. The well built agent glances over his shoulder - silvery tattoo on his neck catching the light a little bit - and quirks an eyebrow.

"Tell me that's a doppelganger."

When it becomes apparent that it isn't he sighs and closes the knife to hook it back on his belt.

"Miss Mari McCabe. You look like ten miles of bad road. Let's take this in my office shall we?" He motions, already moving.

"Please Agent Turner." Mari's eyes linger on that tattoo and rise back to Koa. "I'd say we both have stories to tell. It's good to see you again though I would have preferred to do so under other circumstances. I need some help with contracts I found and one of your Agents, seems to have gone rogue."

Has that news hit WAND yet? That Agent Black was a clockwork monstronsity?

When they make his office, Mari pulls the contracts out and holds them out - not putting them on his desk, just in case. "My business seems to have attracted the attention of a rival. And … I think it's business of an arcane nature."

The 'contracts' are copies, but the texturing printed on the paper hints at what the originals must be. Old-fashioned papers, ink handwritten on vellum. Not anything a modern business would use, but the exact kind of contract you'd sign with a faerie, a demon, or a particularly stuck-in-his-ways vampire. They're hard to read, and it's not sure at a glance whether it's because of the archaic, calligraphic handwriting, or if they're in another language entirely. A Latin phrase book may be handy.

The news probably has arrived but even if so Koa wouldn't necessarily know. After all chasing down rogue agents isn't his job unless someone assigns him to it and he has a full plate so no one has. Extradimensional invasions tend to do that.

"Let's see…" Koa takes the papers in hand and starts to peruse them. "No I hadn't heard that one of our agents went Rogue. That's… quite serious. I take it you've already reported that, Miss McCabe?"

As to stories to tell that gets a thin smile. "Some less pleasant than others, I am afraid."

But down to matters at hand. "Where did you happen to get these? This is the kind of thing I'd expect to see if I were investigating something of a more infernal bent. Or maybe arcadian. It's not your standard NDA, I can tell you that much." He goes digging for some of his reference books while listening to the reply.

"It's one of the reasons I'm here." Mari says dryly. "Mari, please, Agent Turner. You've escorted me to at least one event, after all." It's hard to keep Mari down and this is no different. "Let's just say that it's a long story and Agent Black had been recommended to go over these but it wasn't Agent Black that showed up? I'm sure you'll get a better retelling than from me - except that I went a little … wild …. and tore the simulacrum up with my claws."

That might explain some of the blood at least and the general mess the ex-model is in.

"There's a woman called Rivera who I turned down for a job. She's been targetting my business recently and causing problems. I understand … from a powered person, that Rivera has been calling entities to inhabit people and make them do things. These contracts were found in one of her offices and there's nothing good about them, I believe."

"Ah. Well unless Rivera is more than she seems to be my best guess just from a quick scan is that she had help. These are well put together. Very traditional. And quite hard to read…" Ah there we go. Koa starts to go through them again this time pausing every so often to look up words or phrases in very, very thick books. His eyes glimmer a bit red as he does.

"Do I need to call that in, Mari?" Because that's a priority if SHIELD doesn't know. On the other hand if SHIELD does know it's likely that someone has already been tasked to go look into the matter. WAND has some excellent hunters when it comes down to it.

"Hrm. Some odd clauses in these. Or well, not odd just REALLY old forms. Certain language goes in and out of style but really long lived beings tend to stick to the same handful of phrases and imagery. It's one of the ways to figure out how old the person who likely wrote it was."

Which is interesting he is sure even if not terribly informative.%r

The contracts come in two distinct categories. Some of them are signed between Rivera and other businesspeople, promising wealth and power. But the majority of them have much stranger names on the other line, demonic names. These promise odd, seemingly-metaphorical receivables: 'anger' or 'outrage', some 'protectiveness' or 'adoration', sometimes vices like 'jealousy'.

Those contracts don't make it clear just what it is Rivera offers in exchange for these services; they all say that the services are 'pursuant to contract M1'.

So naturally, it's important to find that contract. It's been shuffled around, and ended up around halfway through the pile. Here, the name should stand out to him just as it had to the thing that looked like Sarah Black.

This contract is between Molly Rivera and Mephisto.

Mari looks a little sheepish when Koa asks that question. "I … called SHIELD the moment I realised there was something wrong with Agent Black. They sent a team on my request, which I was grateful for. I managed to disable the creature but I wasn't in state to do anything else." Which must mean she's been questioned already, right? "But thank you for checking."

"Look at the name in the last contract It made Agent Rogers rather uncomfortable."

And yes, Mephisto. That's the name.

"Okay. These are all based off a master contract. Let's see do you have it in this stack?" Koa shuffles through until he finds the primary one. And of course the first one signed. "Demons subcontracting. What has the world come to?" He mutters mostly to himself.

"I'll follow up to make sure SHIELD's aware. They'll send someone to deal with it, I am sure."

Now let's see. Koa's mouth hangs open for a moment and then he sighs.

"Well, Mari, your rival isn't dealing with any two bit demon or hell-prince. This is signed by Mephisto, one of the most potent hell lords around. He doesn't play for small potatoes either. Whatever havoc Rivera is wreaking right now, it's almost CERTAINLY secondary to what Mephisto got out of the deal and that's sure to be a long term gain for a long term game."

HOPEFULLY it isn't one being played out on Earth.

"There's two ways to deal with this. Find a way to force Rivera into breach of contract or just locate and remove her from the game. This looks almost like an infernal pyramid scheme. She's spread these deals around, but there are other demons involved as well. So there's likely a whole structure at play here. The good news is you don't need to take the whole thing out to resolve this. Just someone high up enough that the pyramid under them falls apart."

With a bit of squinting, Koa also finds that contract M1 specifies 'as long as she owns this contract'. Not simply 'holds' the contract, so Rivera doesn't need to have the original on her person, and they can't steal the associations from under her.

But on the other hand, if something were to happen to the original contracts, that should make the deliverables null and void. The question is, where are they?

"A… pyramid scheme. Well that would be Rivera. She was sloppy and lazy and it showed in her work. It doesn't surprise me she's tyring something to get rich quick." Mari shakes her head and thinks for a bit. "A potent hell lord. I … see."

It's so not good and Mari has to consider if she wants to involve her friends in this. Well, she'll give the opportunity to say 'yes', even as she encourages them to stay safe.

"Agent Rogers and a the Black Panther are confident we could bait her out, particularly with me as the bait. We might be able to take her out but from what I have seen, she's got some potent arcane support about her. What would force her into a breach?"

Koa lays the sheets down and pushes them back toward Mari, tapping a particular section of spidery script. "It says here that the contract is valid for as long as she owns it. Ownership is an interesting concept. You could try getting her to sell but I doubt she would. She's got too much to gain. If the originals were to be destroyed however…"

That might void the contract. "Of course the trick is finding them. If she's smart she'll have them some place safe. And fireproof."

Fireproof would be important in this particular case.

"Alternately, here an infernal lawyer? I'm partly joking but it can be done. Not uuuuusually worth the cost though."

"Hmmmm." Mari squints at the text but it doesn't mean anything to her. "I don't know where she is but … I might be able to find her. Baiting her out and forcing her to speak, might work. I'd rather not kill her if I don't have to." Super Heroes, man.

"Are you able to help me, perhaps? Is there such a thing as anti possession charms or the like? From what I understand it's like imps or similar that 'inhabit' the host. I might not be saying that correctly."

As to a lawyer, Mari shakes her head "Something tells me that would be like a bad episode of Lucifer."

"Wards, yes. The trouble is you have to have some knowledge of what you're dealing with for the wards to be effective, and they can still be overpowered. It's better than nothing, though." Koa notes. He does wards himself though not usually of that type.

"We could provide some warding expertise if you needed it. Charms are a little simpler in some ways and a little more complicated in others but we might be able to come up with something for that as well." It's just if they get the 'calibration' wrong on what they're supposed to abjure it won't work. And worse, if they're planning a trap it could give the game away.

"I might have something down in the vaults that we can release to you that'll help. We can go take a look there shortly if you like?"

The contracts Koa's seen all suggest that the demons are expected to provide some 'emotion'; it isn't exactly a possession, as the demons won't assume direct and complete control of a body. But it can certainly look like it, given how emotions drive people's behaviour. Protecting against emotional manipulation is a different matter from protecting against direct possession; still definitely possible to create wards or charms against, but making possession wards could be like bringing a knife to a gun fight, or grabbing the wrong set of keys on your way out the door.

"I'm not the arcane expert, Koa." Mari says quietly. "They say what I do is based on magic but I wouldn't know. Anything you can suggest. Articles of faith? Holy water? Turning widdershins three times with my eyes out? I'd like something to protect the Black Panther and Agent Rogers, as well as myself."

It's a tired smile she gives to the Agent.

"Is there anything else I need to know? If not, I'm going to start to planning to beat this woman down."

"Mmmmm… oh wait. This isn't possession. It's mental manipulation. Eh, that's trickier but we can probably work something with that too…" Koa takes a breath and lets it out.

"Let's go take a look in the dusty scary rooms where we keep the things we don't want anything else to have, but off the top of my head no. Beat her down. That's probably the easiest thing for you to do in honesty. As a member of the Agency I can't really advise you to end someone's life but… let's just say that stakes are the ideal response to vampires for a reason."

He rises and gestures. "Shall we then?"

"We shall." Mari stands and moves to the door, waiting for Koa to precede her.

"If it's emotional manipulation, maybe telepathic blocks would help? I can make enquiries in that direction as well, unless you've got some on staff here, or in SHIELD?" As to ending someones life, Mari nods soberly. "I won't let someone bring harm to my friends if I can stop them, Koa. I'll use … suitable force."

"Let's take a look though and maybe you'll let me buy you a coffee before I leave. I really do appreciate your time."

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