2010-03-03: I See Dead People



Date: March 3, 2010


Jo meets someone unexpected in Building 27…

"I See Dead People"

Building 27 — Governor's Island

It's a typical Wednesday afternoon at work. Jo had considered calling in sick, but somehow red-skin didn't seem like enough of an ailment to stay away from work. She'd walked up and down the halls to find quiet space to work, but most of the quiet spaces she'd known of were occupied by new recruits. In fact, the only empty room she'd managed to find is one she's avoided for the last week and a bit — since shooting Agent Law. Jo isn't superstitious. In fact, she knows it's silly to believe that the room is cursed, yet she still sits at the small table with her notebook in front of her, and the door wide open, even though the hall is noisier than she'd like.

Sitting at the very chair she'd chosen when betraying her colleague, she shivers slightly before removing her blazer. No, she's not cold, she's off. Just a little off. With a sigh, she removes the elastic band from her hair to redo her ponytail. As she pulls it back up, she smirks at the open door — the noise level in the hallway has increased. Muttering to herself, she stands from the chair, and shuts the door, blocking the noise. "See Jo, nothing to worry about…"

As the noise level drop, there's a sudden smell of smoke in the air, like something burning. Maybe someone used the room for a smoke break. It even stings at her eyes for a brief second. It could be coming through the vents…

"That's not very respectful to the dead."

The voice is disembodied, but familiar, despite only having heard it once, in this very room. The main difference is this voice sounds hoarser, like someone who's got a sore throat, or smokes too much.

"Do you deserve to get off for doing that?"

Rubbing her eyes, Jo turns away from the door, blinking hard. The smell is enough to cause her to clear her throat. She pads towards the vent, although the voice draws another shiver from the marine.

"W-who's there?" her eyebrows furrow as her eyes narrow. She unholsters her gun and holds it in front of her. With a twitch she peers about the room. The voice itself causes butterflies to press against her stomach and her palms to sweat.

"Get off what, exactly? I don't know what you're talking about…"

"Already killed me once." The flicker happens again, on the other side. This time his face is collapsed in, bloody, broken from the bullet. But he's standing, which he wasn't doing before.

Any attempt to look directly at the figure fails, though. Once she moves, he's gone.

The gun is pointed at the first flicker and then the second, but it's not a person. Jo's heart races and her breathing turns ragged. Taking a deep breath, she temporarily holsters her gun — this could be some trickery concocted by one of them. Her eyes peer about the room. With another deep breath, she pads towards her chair and sits down. The room seems empty.

"You're dead," she finally says blandly. "I know you died." She closes her eyes and takes a few more cleansing breaths. It's just her imagination running wild again. Maybe.

"You should know, you're the one who killed me," Justin's voice says, his form flickering at the edge of her vision as the room continues to get smokey. There's almost haze on the edge of her senses, fading out in some places, but he always seems stark and bright— for an instant.

"Do you feel any regret for that? Now that you know what you know? About what this place really is?"

"I was following orders," Jo's eyes narrow as she folds her arms over her chest. "That's what we're trained to do: follow orders. Plain and simple. All of the time." She tries to focus on his form, but it's useless. Her palms continue to sweat as she lowers them on the table. This is beginning to feel like an interrogation.

"Do I regret what? Killing you?" she asks bitterly while tightening her ponytail once again. "They told me you were a traitor. They told me you were against the Protocol." She purses her lips together. "They weren't wrong, were they?" Tightly shutting her eyes, willing Justin away, she pushes the table away and leaps to her feet. "And of course I regret it! This is not what I signed on for — what any of us signed on for! Do you think I wanted to become an assassin?! Do you think I want them to use specials for weapons?! Do you?!"

"Oh, I love how people use the orders excuse when they justify their actions. Is the man in charge even military? Does he have any rank at all, besides being the leader of this operation?" Justin's voice asks, as the table seems to go right through the edge of him for a moment, dispursing him like smoke or mist, until he reforms somewhere else, on the edge of her vision.

"Some orders shouldn't be followed. What did you sign on for?"

"Isn't theoretically the man in charge the President?" Jo asks angrily. "And even if he's not I am. Was. Am." She frowns as she buries her face in her hands. "I grew up in a military family. All children served. Mom and Dad ran the house like a ship. Of course, I defer to orders; I've been following them my entire life. I never even rebelled growing up; that would be irresponsible in the chain of command."

"I signed on to protect Americans. I saw what these people could do and I was determined to stop them from hurting more people! Look, they're dangerous. Even with their 'accidents' they're dangerous! I don't care what anyone says, Alpha Protocol is justified. The rest of them…" she snorts. "It's a joke, isn't it? All of it."

"Do you think the President knows what's really going on here?" The voice asks, the form lingering along the edge, even with her eyes covered. It's like an afterimage effect, sticking in place, the form of a man, off colors, contrasting with the dark of her own eyelid.

"Do you think he would sign off on any of this? The torture? The dehumanization?" Of so many of the things here, there's one thing that seems constant. There's a lot going on here that breaks Geneva Convention rules… in many ways.

"The weaponization?" The tone stays thick, raspy. There's even a feel of heat and warmth against the side of her head, like someone's breathing on her.

"Aren't they Americans too? Who's protecting them? And how is turning them into weapons, helping anyone?"

"Torture? Assuming no one dies it's standard protocol." Kind of. Sometimes. When lawyer-types can argue just-cause. Even then they warrant inquiries. "The Patriot Act allows for reinterpretation. We've waterboarded people for time-sensitive information. We've tried to contain the threat. No. Alpha Protocol was necessary. Is necessary." Jo raises a hand to her forehead. Justin is providing her with an argument she'd had against herself all night; she hasn't slept in over forty-eight hours.

"But who even knows about the weaponization?! I sure as hell didn't. You think I'd be okay with that?! I signed on to protect Americans!" She shakes her head at him, "And perhaps the targets are American, but the needs of the many MUST outweigh the needs of the few. Any military training dictates that."

Twitching again, she shakes her head. "Of course weaponization is wrong. There's no denying that. And selling people-weapons to terrorists… that's human trafficking combined with weapons trade. I'm no philosopher, but…" she growls as she plants her hands on the table again. "So yeah, I have regret, but maybe not about what anyone else would. I know what these people can do. I know how they can hurt others. I've seen it," she hisses. "I do regret shooting you though. But traitors can't be tolerated."

That warmth can be felt against her neck again, almost as if a cheek is pressing there against her chin. The air smells of smoke, cigarettes, as breath brushes against her ear.

"And what do you think you're doing now?"

"Speaking to dead people," Jo answers as her eyes well with tears. "Clearly." Fortunately, the tears don't extend to her voice. It doesn't waiver, not in the least.

"I'm doing my job." And then she tacks on, "Because I have to. Someone needs to keep these people from being dealt as weapons. And it sure as hell isn't you. Or Baker. No, it needs to be someone they think they can trust. It needs to be me."

"The needs of the many need to override the needs of the few."

"Think you got it all figured out, huh?" the voice says, but the warmth leaves, and it seems to be moving further away from her. "Obviously I can't do anything to fix it, but maybe you can. Or maybe you can't. But if you're going to try… now's the time. Before they do worse then they already have." The further away the voice gets, the smell of smoke and warmth leaves, creepy away. The haze around the edge of her vision remains. She's been up way too long…

Snapping her notebook shut, Jo breathes a little easier as the voice becomes distant. "Fine. I'll get on it. After I get some sleep." She raises a hand to her forehead and plucks her blazer from the back of her chair before padding to the door and opening it. Shaking her head she murmurs, "Great. I'm changing colours, I have increased visual accuracy and better hand-eye coordination, and now? Now I see dead people." Rolling her eyes, she pads down the hall, the echoey sound of her steps announcing her presence.

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