2010-02-12: The First Lesson



Date: February 12, 2010


Fiat justitia, et ruat caelum. - Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

"The First Lesson"

Building 27

Scribble-scribble-scribble. Scribble-scribble-scribble. Scribble-scribble.

Max has been inspecting and signing off on what feels like an endless stack of paperwork. Psych evaluations for the newest batch of detainees. Most have been set into a second stack, but a third and much smaller pile is forming near the edge of his desk. Pen in hand, he pauses to re-read the last sheet. "Jack. Jack Derex," he murmurs under his breath, rolling the name across his tongue experimentally. "You'll do, Mr. Derex."

He adds the final evaluation to the smallest stack, drops his pen, and massages the cramped muscles in his writing hand. Too much paperwork. Too many administrative hurdles to jump through. He aches for the familiar confines of his lab. For the feel of a scalpel between his fingers. This new office with it's bare walls and cluttered desk is already starting to feel like a prison.

There's no sound down the hallway as Cody weaves the familiar corridors, she's been to the empty lab. The smell of rot and decay from dead rats has long been cleansed and replaced with the sanitary odor of bleach and other solvents. After a few question and answer periods with various other agents, the woman has been pointed in the direction of another office. There is no name, yet, but after a knock and the experimental opening of the door she peeks in.

"Swan, can I come in?" She's dressed in her usual outfit of black fatigues, minus the jacket. Her dog tags are safely tucked inside her v-neck, the only indication they are there at all is the silver beaded chain that hangs around her neck. Her blonde hair is braided into a series of long whips that are piled at the top of her head in a messy ponytail, it's hard to tell exactly how long it is. "I came for my notes, I need them."

Halfway through scrubbing his gloved fingertips across his goatee, Max pauses and glances toward the door. "Agent," he greets, nodding cordially. "Come in. I have them around here somewhere…"

A frown creases his face as he shuffles through the mess on his desk. He's become accustomed to accumulating piles of stuff during lengthy experiments. Having the same problem without the release of scientific progress is… frustrating. And it shows.

It takes a few moments, but Max emerges victorious. He passes the notes to Cody, lets out a brief sigh, and settles more comfortably into his chair. "There we are."

Eying the paperwork, Cody takes the notes and folds them into one of the side pockets on her cargo pants. "Looks like they have you buried in here…" She observes, after careful consideration of her words, she rolls out the extra chair and takes a seat. "Can't be very satisfying. Do they have you on any of the experiments at least?"

Stretching her legs out in front of her, the woman folds her arms over her chest and purses her lips slightly. "Swan, I know you think this is some kind of joke… but I really need to know. If someone enjoys the torture, how far do you go and what other method will you use?" She's not smiling, if that is any indication of whether she's being serious or not.

Though he would love to list his complaints in response to her first question, Max bypasses it in favor the second, which is far more interesting. He steeples his fingers into a thoughtful triangle as he ponders his answer. "You go as far as you must. It's not the subject that defines the limits. It's the interrogator. That said, I've never met a subject that I couldn't break. Some have incredible resistance to pain, but no one is immune to the knowledge that they are being systematically destroyed. That if they don't give, the damage will become permanent. People take pride in their bodies. That they are in working order." An unhealthy, unwholesome light takes over his eyes. "You have to strike a balance between inflicting pain and inflicting permanent harm. Once you cross that line, you remove much of the subject's motivation to talk. It takes practice and confidence to get it right."

Flexing her jaw, Cody turns her head to glare at the wall. "I'll have to practice that," she says lowly, the tensing and release of her muscles seems to indicate that she's agitate albeit slightly. "I've had practice in the seat, just not as much on the other side. I need to know how to make someone talk without killing them. Though in some cases killing is the way I'd love to go." She's never been one to spin a floral bouquet of conversation.

A small, self-satisfied smile creases Max's face. He taps his fingertips together in a rolling, drumming motion, savoring the sensation of his metal fingers against his flesh ones. Slowly, very slowly, he reaches across his desk to the smallest pile of psych evaluations and picks up the top sheet. Still smiling, he slides it over to Cody. "Start with him. His name is Jack. As near as I can tell, he doesn't exist. Not officially, anyway. His ID is fake, his prints and dental records are fake. Even the registration for his car is fake. He is, for lack of a better word, perfect. No one will miss him if you make a mistake and he should accidentally disappear."

Ah. The pleasures of teaching. As fulfilling for the teacher as for the student, if not more. Max huffs in a deep breath through his nose, savoring the moment. "I can give you a few pointers if you like."

Picking up the sheet, Cody's sharp blue eyes flit over the profile before she turns to the statistical analysis and the picture. "Impressive, faking dental records… Why would anyone go that far unless they're hiding from something." He is perfect, who knows what sorts of secrets lurk in the heart of this man, this time it'll be Cody that knows, not just the Shadow. She looks up from the sheet to catch Max's smile and the left corner of her lips upturn ever so slightly. "Give me what you've got Agent. I'm like your sponge."

"Then get ready to soak this up," Max purrs, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his desk. His metal forearm CLACKS against the wood as it hits, even through the fabric of his shirt and suit jacket. He doesn't seem to notice. "Start with the psychological. Always start with the psychological. There are a lot of reasons. You keep your asset intact. You keep an ace up your sleeve in the event that you have to interrogate the subject again. Most of all, those few who won't crack to save themselves always seem to have someone to protect. Lesson the first: Find a nerve. Something or someone of personal importance. You find that nerve and then you squeeze."

Cody licks her lips and parts them to suck in a long breath. She's not thinking about the man handed to her on a piece of paper by Max, she's thinking of someone else entirely. Someone that she very much wishes to have shackled to a chair up on one of the other floors. "What if they believe they are following the righteous path of God? A religious zealot?" She met one in her initial interview for AP, it's likely in her file that the subject ended up dead of unnatural causes about five minutes after Cody walked into the room. "Would you start by tearing down at their beliefs?"

Max shakes his head slowly. Growing more comfortable, he leans forward to rest his chin in one gloved hand. "A fanatic will cling to belief like a shield. Don't waste your time. Most of them either expect to die for the cause or to devote their life to it. Your best option is to convince them that you are in control of that death, and the most they can hope for is that it be quick and merciful."

As Max becomes more comfortable, Cody becomes just a little more grim. "Maybe I should just hand him over to you when I find him, because I really think I'll lose my temper and just…" What, kill him with her eyebrows like the last one? Maybe rip him to shreds with her arm hair? Or the old fashioned method of just twisting his head until his neck snaps. Then her thoughts turn inward, something she voices, "About a year ago, I was kind of in that situation. They didn't have a nerve, so they went right for the physical." She raises her hands and flexes them, "Managed to keep my fingers though, it was a good day in my books."

"Sometimes you can't win them all," Max sympathizes. "I can perform the interrogation for you if that's what you want," he continues, immediately taking on a more businesslike tone. "But this sounds like a personal matter that would be better handled by you. Remember, interrogation isn't about revenge. That makes you an animal, and a dangerous one at that. It's about the careful, methodical extraction of information."

"Careful and methodical," Cody repeats softly, committing every word to memory. Then she looks across the desk at him, "No, it's not personal. Not as much as you might think." She licks her lips and knits her eyebrows together in a small frown. "Eh, I need to think some more, maybe get some more chocolate." Then she looks down at the sheet again and studies it for a moment. "Object relocation huh? Do we know how big of an object? Like could he transfer something the size of a car or… I suppose that's something I can find out for myself. Unless they've already transferred him to the barracks. Then it's just too late."

Max shakes his head glumly, lifts it up, and laces his fingers together. "Unfortunately, we know very little about him or what he can do. It'll be your job to figure him out. He has a collar and has been released into the general population, but I can assign you a couple of agents to drag him in for questioning whenever you're ready."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License