2010-03-02: Save A Prayer



Date: March 02, 2010


Don't say a prayer for me now, save it til the morning after.

"Save A Prayer"

Jo's Apartment

Jo's apartment is exactly as its always been. The wall is lined with its usual posters tracking one Theodore Scott, the cot is in its usual spot, and the clothes are on their usual rack (although they've been added two with several floral print skirts hidden in between the marine's infamous black pant suits). Yet one thing is amiss. The blue 75 litre backpack is nowhere to be seen. The marine herself stands in the kitchen, staring at a picture of her brother on the opposite wall — a good distance away.

She reaches into a drawer and pulls out a dart which she tosses at Teddy's face, hitting him square in the forehead. She reaches for another dart and hits that dart squarely behind. "What the hell?" she murmurs. When did she get perfect aim. She glances down at her arms and shakes her head; something is wrong. While she was reddish before, she's an electric red now. Frowning, she walks over to the thermostat and turns it down significantly before opening a window.

Her skin clears to its normal colour before bluing into a purple tone. With a frown, she raises a hand to her forehead before shaking it. This is not what she signed on for.

An unopened envelope sits on her countertop; no return address. But this time Jo doesn't open it; hasn't it opened it, won't open it. Not now. Maybe not ever.

Her gun is holstered, but completely exposed. She's not wearing a jacket to cover it. In fact, her army-green tank top and blue jeans are striking in their own right. She leans against the counter while staring at Teddy's photo again. Frowning deeply, she reaches into her drawer and releases it at his forehead again. It bounces off the first one. "Impossible," she whispers.

Cody saw her pink slip yesterday, Jo's been distant for a little while, perhaps the other agent is better at lying low than she is. Nevertheless, the long haired blonde got a voicemail invitation for girls night, something she's been having for about a week now. She really could use a boys night instead. Oh well, Jo's close enough.

The blonde's long hair is braided into long whips again, at the end of each of those whips are a series of glass beads. The weight makes it heavy enough that it'll leave a really singing bite if the agent was ever jumped and able to swing her head. Her hair isn't her only weapon though, she's got her gun holstered at the small of her back, as always. Then at her thigh, she has darts filled with solution. She feels like Lara Croft at the moment, minus the boobs and the shorts. It's freakin' cold outside.

She'd gotten to Jo's apartment building and someone was just leaving, so Cody slipped inside without even thinking about it. After trudging up the stairs (elevators are for lazy bastids), she makes her way down the corridor quite silently and proceeds to knock on her friend's door.

Fortunately, the knock interrupts Jo's solitude and her secret seething towards her current state of affairs. With a heavy sigh, she skulks to the door, undoes all of the bolts, and opens it, stepping back to let Cody enter the room. Her skin is undeniably purple; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

"Nice… hair…" it's the first time she's ever really paid attention to her comrade's do. In fact, it's not in Jo's nature to notice such things. Folding her arms over her chest, she pads back to the window she'd opened and closes it. There's no getting around her strange skin condition, not today, anyways.

"Come in." She bites her bottom lip, altogether unsure of well, anything, really. She's even unsure of her own humanity.

Just. Wow. "Jo.. uhh.. Wow…" Cody steps through the door and uses all of the new manners that Max has taught her to try to make her friend feel a little bit at ease. "You look good." She fails. Miserably.

Forgetting that, she does much better at her own personal brand of feel good. From her pocket, she retrieves a couple of 3 Musketeer bars and tosses one to Jo. They're supposed to be low fat, which mean high in processed goods and completely awful for you. "I brought movie snacks… well snack." Then she looks around the apartment. "Where's your television?"

Catching the bar, Jo smirks slightly. "I… don't have one. I… move too much to warrant it. Besides, who's ever at home?" She bites her bottom lip again before shaking her head. The real moral dilemma has begun. She unholsters her gun and then slowly places it on her kitchen counter before raising a hand to her forehead. "Look. I didn't invite you here to watch movies." She motions around the apartment and then says, "Obviously."

She lowers herself to the floor and sits on the kitchen's cheap yellowed linoleum before burying her head in her hands. She can hear the voice ringing through her own head, Duty and honour. The voice is familiar. It's warm, loving. Katie. Duty and honour. Duty and honour. "Duty and honour. Duty and honour," she repeats aloud between her hands before shaking her head. Finally she looks up at Cody again and shakes her head, "You need to pretend to die. That's… that's the only solution." She massages her temples before chuckling madly.

Her skin fades back to its normal tone before changing to a more red-hue.

"I know that already Jo," Cody says in a low voice as she discretely reaches to her own gun holstered at the small of her back. "I saw my own termination order." Her voice is level, calm, and quite in control. She doesn't take her eyes off her friend as she purses her lips and swallows, the other agent is changing skin color at a phenomenal rate. She's like a rainbow skittle, without the green.

"Jo, you're probably the best friend I've ever had. We don't make friends easy, people like us. Tell me what's going on." Are they using her to test experimental drugs? What good would having a technicolor army of assassins do for the United States? Or anyone for that matter? They'd be spotted miles away. "Maybe I can help you."

"I don't know," Jo admits quietly from her place on the floor. Katie, you be strong now. You be strong. You can handle this. With a sigh she furrows her eyebrows. "They didn't tell me anything. Other than what they wanted me to do; I can't do it, I'm a lousy marine. I can't kill you." She presses her lips together as she leans heavily against the cupboards.

"But if you live… then they'll kill us both. I don't know what we're involved in, but something is obviously wrong. And beyond the oddity of offing comrades, I'm changing colour, I have increased visual accuracy and spatial perception, and … I don't know." She shakes her head.

Katie. Play nice. Always play nice. Remember when you were a little girl and the boys let you play? You can be rough, but always play nice, the male voice continues to ring in her own mind. Shaking her head, Jo buries her face in her hands again.

No, Katie. Justice is the rule of the day, a female voice argues. Clamping her eyes shut, she shakes her head again, she can't make sense of what's going on.

"When did you see the order?" she asks levelly. "And did you know it was issued to me?"

"I had no idea it was issued to you, I saw it yesterday. You're not a lousy marine, Jo. You've always been a good one. Good soldiers don't just follow orders, they understand why things have to be the way they are." Sometimes, Cody can actually be deep. Especially when she's talking about stuff she knows and she knows the military. "Remember the first time we met? We only met because Cool and I disobeyed a direct order. That order was wrong and because we disobeyed we saved three SEALs." They also got discharged a few days later… but that's another story.

"If you don't understand why you're following the order, why it has to be done, is it a good one?" Slowly, the blonde unholsters her gun and brings it into view. She's got her finger off the trigger and both of her hands are leveled in a surrender position. There's no contest here. Keeping her eyes focused totally on Jo's the entire time, she slowly lowers her gun to the table in front of her. "If you want, I can tell you my part."

"I got it two weeks ago. From Jensen. Eta Protocol, he called it," Jo's skin is now that same electric red it was before. She rubs at it impatiently as if trying to remove a stain from her skin. Katie, you should listen to the pretty blonde, the male voice pressures as Jo dizzily raises her head to look at Cody. She stifles a mirthless chuckle at the reminisce, "Disobeying orders is painful. Duty and honour are my life's blood, Cody." She rarely uses first names. There's something strangely unfamiliar about them on her tongue.

She'd resigned to the fact Cody might shoot her upon her admission, yet she still sighs, somewhat relieved as the gun is placed on the table. See Katie? I knew she'd not kill you? Didn't I say that? the female's voice asks. Jo just narrows her eyes, trying to ignore her own strange thoughts.

"There are a lot of protocols, Jo." Eta is a new one that Cody hadn't heard before. Jensen, it's a name she's seen at the top of quite a few lists. Alpha is the gathering and neutralizing, Beta is the testing, Delta is the reversal, Epsilon is the tracking, Kappa… has something to do with her own arch nemesis. She keeps eying the other agent, her eyebrows twitching together as she witnesses the woman frantically rubbing at her skin. Her mind is whirling with possible scenarios and solutions to the problem.

Slowly, Cody gets up from her seat and keeping her hands raised, she closes in on the kitchen. "Your skin is bothering you, what happened? Are they testing something out on you? Did you volunteer to be a lab rat?"

"They said you were a traitor," Jo says blandly. A new voice pushes, Off the traitor. Off the traitor while the first male voice urges, Katie. Katie, just listen, and the female voice soothes, Just justice, Katie. It's all about justice. "DAMMIT! SHUT UP!" Jo finally cracks as she leaps to her feet and places her hands over her ears. With a deep calming breath she shakes her head, "That… wasn't to you, Cody…"

"I don't know. I don't know how this happened or why. I don't know what started it. I don't know. But I do know it's getting worse. Whatever is wrong with me is getting worse." She presses her lips together and finally urges, "Tell me about the other protocols."

Good work, Katie! It's okay to need help from time-to-time, the male voice encourages. Jo fights the urge to roll her eyes.

"I'm not a traitor Jo, you have to believe me." The blonde agent flickers her finger a little at the brunette, beckoning her over. "Come here, we'll both be away from the guns. I'll tell you about the other protocols, why I'm in protocol. Then you can decide if I'm a traitor or not. Okay?" It's a risk, a really big risk. On the flip side of the coin, they might already know everything already. Jo doesn't, that's what Cody's counting on.

"Alpha protocol is the gathering and neutralization of human weapons. Beta is the testing for effectiveness, every target we bring in is graded on whether they're weapons grade or not. Delta is the program that reverses the solution we give them in Alpha. We're playing God with these people… we giveth and we taketh away." Cody pauses and purses her lips as she half lids her eyes. What is visible becomes slightly unfocused for a moment as she loses herself in memory, but they're always trained on Jo. "Epsilon is a program, a computer progam that they use to track them. Kappa… I think they're trading these people to terrorist to use as weapons against the United States." Cody blinks once and refocuses on Jo.

"You know Adham Sayf Udeen," She must know about him, she's been in the military long enough. She's been over to the middle east. "I've been trying to find him. He's got something to do with Kappa Protocol."

It's okay, Katie. Follow the nice blonde, that still-familiar male voice urges as Jo is beckoned away from the weapons. Listening to the voice and her friend's finger flicker, she pads over as if in a trance. If it could, her skin would pale at the news. Human weapons. Finally she asks, "Why would they want to reverse the solution? Cody, this makes no sense? And why would they be trying to give weapons to sworn enemies of the United States?" Her eyes are wide. But before Cody can response, that soothing feminine voice explains Katie, human weapons would mean money. Dollar signs. You know this.

She casts her gaze downward. "H-h-how? How can this happen? Are they trying to start a war?" She twitches. None of this is information she's been privy to. In fact, quite the opposite.

"Jo, listen to me. I never left the service, I'm still very much a soldier and very loyal to my country." Cody says country, not president, the people are the ones she works for. "A few weeks after we met I got discharged out of the air force and recruited to Delta Force. I've been there ever since." To prove the point, she reaches into her shirt and slowly pulls out her dog tags. "Take a look at my tags Jo, you'll know I'm not lying."

The voice in Jo's head is repeated in different words, all through coincidence. "It happens all the time Jo, the Iran Contra Affair? Sadam Hussein? Hell.. even Osama Bin Laden's people were trained and supplied by the United States during the cold war. You know all this. Well it's my job now to keep the United States from shooting itself in the foot. That's what I do."

Dizzily Jo stares at Cody. "I. I believe you." She doesn't even need to look at the dog tags. Twitching again she frowns, "You can't stay around. If I've been ordered to off you, and I don't do it, then…" she shrugs. "Someone else will."

"And are they stupid? The accidents these people have are deadly enough — leaving them in the hands of someone like Adham Sayf Udeen would be sheer idiocy. Not that I'm one to call the President an idiot." Jo runs a hand through her messy curls. Katie, you must keep this from happening. It wasn't enough that Teddy killed us by accident, it would break him if he was made to kill someone on purpose the male voice urges causing Jo to frown quite openly. "I. I need to stay on the inside, don't I?" She frowns. That means more death. More colour changing (assuming they're responsible?). More nonsense. More voices.

"If this is the direction they're going, I don't know what can be done…"

"Tell me about Eta, what they're doing to you. I'll be disappearing in the next day or two, we'll make it look really convincing, trust me. I just need a little more time, Jo. Those people on the inside, I've interviewed them and figured on ways every one of them could be used as a weapon. Some of them are even powerful enough to be WMD's." Heaving a long breath, Cody turns and guides Jo to the couch. Then she reaches to her thigh and pulls out one of the darts of solution that she has strapped to her leg.

"This stuff, it strips them of their power. Some of them know how dangerous they are and they don't want to be like that. Could you imagine if an enemy agent had control of Lambert? She could level an entire city by just walking into the middle of it." Looking at Jo, she purses her lips and offers the dart to her. Cody's eyebrows twitch just a little as she looks into the other woman's eyes. A silent 'it might help' is translated in her eyes and gesture. "There's another one, Derex? He can teleport things into his hand from a hundred feet away. Anything as long as he knows where it is, that thing could be a heart… Could you imagine the potential assassins we've got? I could go on and on…"

"I don't know what they're doing to me," Jo says levelly as she closes her eyes again, trying to remember her conversation with Jensen. "Jensen gave me a list of names. He told me I would be asked to kill each in turn over the weeks to come. And then after I accepted my mission he welcomed me to Eta Protocol. Not two days later my skin started to change colour… I remember nothing else."

She swallows hard as she accepts the dart, "You don't understand, I can't be one of them! I can't be like him. He killed our parents! He put our brother into a coma! I can't… I can't…" desperation is the word of the day as she shakes her head. For once, her lack of emotions is assisting her. Now this is new information; Jo hasn't really talked about her family since she joined the AP. Of course, Teddy's posters line the walls.

She rolls the dart around in her hand. "They wouldn't, would they?! I can't! I… I would rather die…" And that is the truth.

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