2019-09-24 - A Personal Visit


In a SHIELD holding facility awaiting his fate, Kwabena receives a visitor he wasn't expecting.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Sep 24 03:46:27 2019
Location: SHIELD Holding Room - Triskelion

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Three mutants were apprehended not long ago during a SHIELD operation in Iraq, not far from Baghdad. The mutants were suspected as being part of the terrorist attacks on a power plant in Mississippi and a bridge in Cincinnati. Reports will have shown that advanced nanotech was utilized to manipulate, control, and torment the three, who have suffered severe psychological torture and manipulation akin to brainwashing.

One of them, however, has agreed to cooperate, and has even gone so far as to name the terror organization - a Russian-based multi-national criminal organization named Prevoshkhodstvo (Superiority in English). He's been permitted to leave holding, but not by much of a stretch; the man is under armed guard and has been forced to wear a WiFi repeater around his ankle, in order to prevent Prevoshkhodstvo from interfacing with his nanosuit and turning him back into a weapon again.

The reports name him only as 'Kwabena', with a code name of 'Shift'. There is no surname, for it would appear he was abducted as a child and raised under the horrors of the criminal organization. While SHIELD tries to figure out a way to permanently disable the communication capabilities of his nanosuit, they have allowed him access - albeit extremely, extremely limited - to their extended holding facilities in the Triskelion. Basically, it is still prison of a sort, but… there are nice couches, a television, a computer to browse the internet, and even a window to the outside world.

Kwabena is wearing SHIELD issue sweat pants and a nondescript hooded sweat shirt as he circles the room impatiently. A glass of water is in his hand, the television is tuned into CNN, and the computer is open with an internet browser up. The browser is currently on wikipedia's entry for the country of Ghana.

There is no such thing as coincidence, as far as Jessica Drew is concerned. Reading over SHIELD's files for Kwabana, she is experiencing something akin to deja vu. There's only one thing for certain: Jess needs to talk with this man.

Scanning herself into the holding facilities, the similarities between her story and his are rolling through her mind like a neverending train. A record on repeat. As she enters the room where Kwabana is pacing, she carries no papers, no files. No tablet or phone. She brings only herself, and her compassion, to the table. Wearing an espresso colored leather blazer with a black bodysuit beneath, dark jeans, and boots the colour of her blazer, she is quite simply…Jessica. Not Agent. Not Spider-Woman. Just Jessica.

"Hi," she offers softly to the man as she enters. "Mind if I join you?"

As soon as another person enters, Kwabena ceases his pacing and turns, expecting more armed guards, or another person here to take a blood sample, or to poke and prod at his nanosuit, or whatever else. Instead, the hostile expression on his face is stalled.

After looking her over for a moment, the man turns around and faces the window, which isn't really a window but rather a very large screen displaying the actual world outside. "Do I have choice?" he asks in broken English. He doesn't intend to be mean, but he can't help feeling like a caged animal. "Did you bring a thing to drink?" he asks. "Vodka, or whiskey?" He folds his arms, keeping silver eyes upon the faux portal.

"I'm Jessica," she replies, rather than answering any of his questions first. "You can call me Jess, if you prefer. "And I'm here for personal reasons, not business." She walks over to the screen, near him, and watches what he's watching. "But you have to know that if I tried to bring in alcohol, they wouldn't have let me past the checkpoint." She turns to look at him as he is watching the screen. "And yes. You have a choice. With me, you always have a choice."

A long sigh is given at the news that there is no alcohol. Following this is a long silence, during which Kwabena seems uncommitted. However, after a few moments, he turns his head just slightly, looking toward her. His head is a jumbled mess, which, given the circumstances as read in the report, would make a great deal of sense. The armed guards are there to make sure he doesn't snap, become violent, something the report stated is a distinct possibility. He has the capacity to change into four distinctly different phases of matter, including a gaseous state, a liquid state, a super solid state, and a plasma state that could pose a significant risk to, well, everything. He is, by definition, dangerous and unpredictable.

For some reason, he feels less likely to tell the woman to leave. "I am Kwabena," he tells her quietly, keeping his eyes on the video screen. "Is it really de night time?" he asks, and reaches out to tap the plasma screen, creating little bubbles in the surface. "Or do dey just want me to think is night time?"

"It's a live feed, Kwabena," Jessica replies, looking back to the screen. "I'm afraid you'll find it really boring, though." She breathes a laugh. "This is a really boring place, most of the time." She turns and circles around the room slowly. "I did bring you something, though." She moves back to a bag she set inside the door as she entered. "Best cherry pie you can buy within a hundred mile radius," she says, setting the bag on the table. "I got you two slices. Figured you'd be starved for something with flavor. Even the coffee here tastes like nothing." With that, she pulls a coffee cup with a paper sleeve and plastic lid from the bag carefully, and sets it on the table beside the bag.

"I read up a little on your history. And I think we may have more in common than you might think."

The man seems content to just listen quietly, until she tells him that she did bring something. An eyebrow rises, and he turns to watch; the same eyebrow drops down low. A nice gesture. He's not entirely unfamiliar with them, but, he's certainly unfamiliar with them in settings such as these. He watches carefully, looking from the pie to Jessica, then back to the pie. The remark about coffee draws a scoff; apparently he has tried the coffee, and it was just as bad as the swill they used to give him. The Russians.

Turning, he rushes over to the table, discarding any decency or protocol. The first slice is grabbed with his hands, and he starts stuffing it into his mouth. They had fed him, yes, but this… is different. He only stops at the last thing she says; lifting his chin, with cherry pie dripping from his face, and blinks at her. No words, not yet. But he is listening. He seems willing to listen, and even though he hasn't asked her to continue, he isn't telling her to stop.

Furrowing her brow, Jessica watches him eat. When he looks up at her, instead of continuing her present train of thought, she asks him a different question.

"Do you need more food than most people? I have to eat twice as much as most, easily. To keep up with my metabolism. I can have some larger meals provided, if you do. I know sometimes special circumstances warrant a need for extra…I mean…I don't want you starving. I don't even want you going hungry."

Setting the pie down, he shakes his head and wipes the excess off onto the arm of his sweatshirt. "No, I do not have did speciah need," he claims. "But, was in, coma. No, stasis. Dey made me sleep." His eyes twinkle. "Because I am dangah."

Its the sign of a broken mind: being personally entertained by how much killing you've done, how much you can do. It's the way one wrestles with a filthy conscience.

"Well." He sits back in his chair across from Jessica, folding his arms. "Tell me is, is de thing of yah history. How is like mine."

"Well," Jessica begins in response, "let me begin by saying that I do not remember my history. So that will not be the same. Everything I know of my life before my awakening, I know because I read it in my files." Jessica takes a deep breath and exhales slowly before she begins.

"I was an experiment before I was even born. They spliced my DNA. They tested a dozen different things to see if they could affect what I would become when I was born. And they did. They created exactly what they hoped. They took me from my parents. They assassinated my mother and father. And they weaponized me. And when they had no need for me, they put me in stasis. For years. They turned me into a killer. An assassin. And it was only when I began to emerge from their brainwashing that I was able to awaken to what life really is, and leave them behind. Anything sound familiar, yet?"

Over time, the stand-off-ish demeanor that Kwabena has brought to bear disintegrates. If she came in here wanting to earn his trust, she has it, at least for now. It's hard to determine someone's mental stability, but SHIELD has rated Kwabena's as fairly low.

"Dey tell me mine are still alive," he tells her. "My… 'parents'." He then repeats the word in Russian, the language he is most familiar with. A bitter smirk forms on his face. "I don't believe dem. But, den I wondah, what if dey tell truth?" He nods his head. "Yes. Is familiah." There are undoubtedly differences, but at the heart of it, they do share a remarkably similar history.

"Do you want to know why I am cooperating?" he asks. His file claims it is for diplomatic immunity and legal residency in the United States.

"I know why your file says you're cooperating. But I don't believe it." Jessica lifts her green eyes to meet Kwabena's silver-eyed gaze. "I think you're terrified. Of losing yourself. What little you have left. You're afraid of dissolving in the life they have fed you. You're hoping it's not too late, and you have to know if you have family. And you need with every fiber of your being to find who you are again, and hold onto it with everything you have. Am I anywhere close?"

This brings a smile to Kwabena's face. He shakes his head, as if she's got it all wrong, and turns to rise from the chair, so that he can walk over to the faux window again.

"Your Agent Simmons and hah friends were… dey found way to disconnect me from Prevoshkhodstvo," he tells her. "So, now, dey cannot tell me what to do. Dey cannot cook my skin when I resist, make my eyes bleed, fill me with deafness. Dey cannot see me, or know where I am." He touches the screen again, wishing that it could portal him outside.

Kwabena turns back around to face her, and his soft spoken voice becomes stronger. "I want to see dem die. I want to help SHIELD bring dem to dere knees. I want my freedom, so dat I can hunt dem down." He makes a fist. "Down to de last one." That same hand rises and gestures toward her. "When dat is done, Jessica, maybe den I will… think of not losing self. Of finding self. At least den I will sleep knowing dere ah none of dem left able to wake me in middah of night."

Jessica is quiet for a long moment after the revelation. She isn't sure exactly what to say. At first.

Then, she looks back up to Kwabena where he's watching her, too. "I know that feeling too, Kwabena. The organization that made me is still out there. I fear every day that they might try to take me back. Reclaim me as their property. Every sound in the night wakes me. I have night terrors, images of them taking me back. And I can't even remember my time with them. But some part of me does. I see their faces in my dreams." She shakes her head. "I ripped the icemaker out of my refrigerator, because every night it would wake me, and I thought they were there for me. But it doesn't help. There's always another noise. Or if not, my mind fabricates one." She looks down at the table again and shakes her head. "I understand." She can't condone it. But she can sympathize.

Remaining there at the window, Kwabena turns around to watch it again. His fingers uncurl, and he finds himself… at ease with the revelation, even though the part of him, the child repressed deep inside, is not at ease with it.

"What did dey do to you?" he asks. "Dese, how do you say it, experiments? What did dey do?"

"They edited my DNA. They spliced in the DNA of a dozen different types of spiders. To make me stronger. To give me powers beyond those of a human. So I'm faster. More efficient. More ruthless…instinctual. The ruthless came with their brainwashing me. But the instinct…" She shrugs and shakes her head. "There are times when I react certain ways that I can't help it. Chemicals in the air. Danger. Other things…." She trails off at that thought, in particular.

"But they gave me powers they didn't expect, too. Things they could never have predicted."

Kwabena listens, in a way thankful to be talking about something other than his bloodlust. There is empathy there, a sign that behind all of the damage, there exists a human being. So he holds out a hand, palm up, and uncurls the sleeve of his hooded sweatshirt.

The nanosuit that has become genetically bonded to him was concealed, somehow, somewhere. But at his very thought, it crawls down his arm from its hiding place, covering it down to his hand, clinging to it as if it were a second layer of skin. "Dey told me it would protect me. Let me do things, go places. Dey did not tell me what else it could do, what it would become."

His arm transforms then into a cloud of black smoke, with thicker tendrils inside that move around a bit, but when the arm and hand reforms, the nanotech is still there. Bound to it. "Everything else is nature. Mutant, dey said. X-gene. Evolution of de man."

Jessica nods, watching with wonder at his ability. "It's remarkable. There is no need for you to be tortured for it. Unfortunately, it seems like for every step forward in the evolution of Man, there are at least five back in the dark ages to remind us that we're still primitive in understanding. Empathy." Jessica shrugs. "To remind us that we are still ManUnkind."

"I have observed," Kwabena answers, "dat man is evil to its core." He gestures to the computer. "I have spent dis time reading of things dey kept from me. War, politics, hungah, hate. I try to look for good things, but I only get so far, before… good thing leads to bad thing."

Maybe he shouldn't be looking for a bright spot in humanity by surfing the web.

Lowering his arm, he focuses on Jessica's face, and his eyes finally actually look into hers; not toward them, or around them, but into them. "I am sorry dat you have no maker of ice," he tells her.

"You can't look for the heart of men in their creations, Kwabena. You look for the heart of men among men. You look for what they're capable of in their creations. And we both know what they're capable of. But I'm here. And I want to help you find peace. I want to see you fulfilled, and whole again. I want to help you find everything they took away from you, so that you, too, can live a fulfilled and happier life without an icemaker." Jessica offers a faint but sincere smile.

The idea isn't lost on him, but they are words. Words that are filed away into that 'maybe later' category. The joke, however, draws a single laugh, and a quiet one. Humor, it seems, isn't lost on him either, and for a moment, he just might be mistaken for a normal man.

He looks from her eyes to her smile and back, and he feels it tugging at his own face, but then the defense comes and the shadow reforms. He turns away and says, "Thank you for de pie. I would like to be alone now."

Jessica understands. She rises, and moves toward the door, before turning back to him. "I'll come back tomorrow if you'll tell me what you want for dinner. I'll bring you whatever you want. There's nothing here that salt can fix. If you aren't sure now, leave word with the guards, and I'll check back in with them."

A moment before Jessica turns back toward him, Kwabena turns toward the door. with a word on the tip of his tongue. That's what she'll see, but he stalls the word and listens instead. "Tomorrow." He nods. "Yes. Tomorrow, I would like that. I don't care what you bring… as long as it is not from Russia."

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