2010-01-17: The Pen Is Mightier



Date: January 17, 2010


Sean Connery: I've got to ask you about the penis mightier

Alex Trebek: What? No… No no no no no no no.. That's the PEN is MIGHTIER

Sean Connery: Gussy it up however you want Trebek. What matters is, does it work?

"The Pen Is Mightier"

Building 27 - A Lab in the Basement

The heels of Max's polished Italian boots cut a staccato beat against the tile floor as he stands up, pushes back from his desk, and stretches his broad, muscular shoulders. He has the look of a man who has been at what he's doing for a few hours too long. His eyes are bleary and red, his hair is mussed from tousling his fingers through it thoughtfully, and he's shucked his charcoal suit jacket so he might roll up his shirtsleeve and loosen his tie.

He reaches for his coffee mug, tips it back, and frowns when nothing comes out. A nearby thermos is treated similarly. With a grunt, he pushes them both aside. "Trial 48 has been met with limited success," he says, speaking into a microphone attached to a digital recorder. From the distasteful curl to his upper lip, 'limited success' may be a bit too generous. "And now I'm out of coffee. Note to self. Requisition another secretary. Don't kill this one."

The recorder is switched off as Max leans back in his chair, producing an impressive snap-crackle-pop from his joints. With narrowed, critical eyes, he surveys his new laboratory. Rack upon rack of glassware. Burners, pipets, beaker stands, and warming racks. A massive centrifuge. These items dominate an island counter in the center of the room. His desk is set off to one side, and behind it is a massive set of shelves that hold dozens of small animal cages. Most are empty, save for a few that are marked '48' and contain dead rats.

The door to the lab opens and a female dressed in black flack armor strides through before closing it carefully behind her. She has blue-black hair that's on the short-ish side that matches the armor, oddly enough. There is the greenish half moon of a fading bruise on her cheek, otherwise her face is unmarred. For once… Kind of…

It is rather amazing, that even in combat boots, the woman can tread silently. She's almost noiseless as she comes upon the scientist and his rats. Looking down at the container with one eyebrow lofted high on her forehead, her eyes flit toward him and her lips twitch into a small smile. "You know, when I said lab rats, I didn't think you actually had rats." Then, like the answer to his prayers, a ceramic coffee mug is held out to him. "Thought you could use this before I put you to work. Apparently this week's acquisitions came in too large a supply. They're making me do my own paperwork. How are you at transcription?"

Max accepts the coffee mug gratefully, though he's wearing a slightly skeptical expression. "Acquisitions? Transcriptions?" He frowns through his short, neatly clipped beard. "Don't we have an attache or a quartermaster who takes care of things like that? Damnable government shennanigans."

He takes a long drink of the coffee, sits back down, and positions his gloved hands over his keyboard. "Okay," he murmurs. "What do—wait a sec. Why is it that your hair keeps changing?"

The files dropped are very empty, but the notebook that is dropped on top of them (her notebook) is quite full and written completely in Sanskrit. "Apparently the secretary pool doesn't want to deal with my notebook. Even if I'm dictating." She eyes the man's computer and keyboard a little dubiously before plucking a pen from behind her ear and handing it to him. Then she opens one of the files and lays it out in front of him before hopping up on to the edge of the desk, making herself quite comfortable.

"You get to help me with this one because apparently all of these are going to belong to you." Cody is apparently unconcerned with his comfort when she places one of her boots on the floor and the other on the rollers of his chair. When met with the question of her hair, her blue eyes slide toward him and narrow ever so slightly. "Scissors and hair dye," she answers very simply. In all of the months she has been seen around the Protocol building, no one has ever posed the question.

Grimacing distastefully, Max takes the pen between his thumb and forefinger as if he finds it particularly repugnant. "Nnng," he grunts, dropping it on his desk with a clatter. He glances at Cody as she takes up on his desk. His eyes flicker down to her boots. A small, tight smile crosses his face, but he doesn't comment. Not on her position, anyway.

"Scissors and hair dye, eh?" Max queries. "How… unlikely." His eyes bore into hers mercilessly. His benign smile never wavers.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Cody stares right back at him. "I don't trust computers with the hacking problem that we have. If you'd like to read the notebook, I will gladly do the writing." the boot on the roller seems to change position almost instantly and it is on the other side of his lap and twisting the chair toward her. "I've been a busy little girl, I wouldn't want you to get a cramp."

With that, the notebook is dropped into his lap and she picks up one of the folders and the pen. Twirling it between her fingers with practiced ease, she gives him a touch of a smile before touching the ball down on the paper. The likelihood of her grooming tactics however, that is left unanswered.

The muscles in Max's jaw clench and unclench visibly. It's his only outward display of emotion as he abruptly stands. Positioned between Cody's legs, he leans forward and rests his hands on his desk. "Since you're clearly the FNG around here, I'm going to say this nicely. If you don't take your feet off of my chair, I'm going to cut you off at the knees and bury you alive."

Only a few inches away from Cody at this point, he winks, purses his lips in a pretty kiss, and then leans back to retake his seat. "Now then. Where were we?"

One of Cody's black locks springs up in a curl before she lifts her boot, the defiant expression on her face the entire time, and then places it soundly on the floor. It looks rather comical, flipped up on the side, but it's as though she doesn't even notice it. "You're the boss, Swan," she murmurs with only a touch of malice in her voice. She taps her feet on the floor impatiently and taps the ball of the pen on the paper twice. "We can start with the ice queen."

Max moves on as if his threat had never been uttered. He eyes Cody's errant lock of hair curiously, but says nothing on the matter. Instead, he lets out a resigned sigh. "I can't read this," he admits, passing the Sanskrit-filled notebook back to her in favor of the pen.

Despite his best efforts to ignore Cody's mention of the 'ice queen', there's another clenching around his jaw and a tightness around his eyes. His voice is steady and level, though. "Tracy Strauss. Professional gladhander. She's responsible for the loss of my arm. We… lost custody of her while I was in rehabilitation."

Taking the notebook quite cordially, Cody gives him a small and rather tight lipped smile. Her eyes drift toward the arm in question and she clenches her jaw. "KeLyssa Gallagher. Personal secretary to Nathan Petrelli. Responsible for the darts made of ice to my face and the massive case of frostbite on my hand." Looks like there are just a couple of parallels to the story. Fortunately for Cody, hers ended a little better. "We haven't found Strauss yet as far as I know, I'll tell you first when I do."

Another curl springs on her head and she turns toward the notebook and clears her throat a touch. "Capable of controlling ice. Not very giving in the few interrogation sessions that we've had. Believes Agent Baker to be an ally, possible candidate for controlled release in order to find possible terrorist cells."

"There's two of them?" Max's tone and expression betray exactly how little he thinks of that notion. Still, he jots down Cody's information in brief, bulleted notes that are suitably sized for later digestion. When he's finished, he draws a line across the page to seperate this entry from the next.

"I've never been a fan of controlled release," he continues. "Too many risk factors, too few rewards. There are exceptions, of course. But I think there have been enough already. Anyway, who's next?"

"Too many variables to consider it worthwhile," Cody agrees before flipping a few pages. "But… Ronnie Krug. Assistance operator. Capable of affecting the friction of surfaces." It's an unconscious action, but the woman's foot touches the roller of the chair again. Her other foot is tapping almost silently on the floor. She just can't sit still this one.

"So what are you going to do with them when we bring them down here?" She asks quite non-chalantly, eying the cage of dead rats on the shelf. Not that they look much different than the people on the tables upstairs, just a little furrier. That's always a bonus.

"'I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, and torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.'" Max quotes as he finishes his notes on Ronnie Krug. "Nietzsche said that. It's as accurate a description as any. I assess the will of our captives and devise ways to overcome it."

His icy eyes flit over to Cody's hair, which has been moving quite a bit in the course of their conversation. "Must be some scissors you use," he observes dryly.

Observing Max as he so clinically delivers the quote and explanation, Cody's lips twitch just a little at the job description. "What sort of tactic to you use if torture and pain excites them?" Then she reaches down and taps Ronnie's name softly. "No will. He wet his pants and gave up before I had a chance to fire the dart. Would you like me to find a better replacement?"

The woman's hand then runs over her hair, smoothing it. "Scissors, gel, mousse… I'm a product girl, really." By the lack of makeup and the flow of her hair, it is possible that the woman just might be telling a fib.

Max lets out a disdainful snort. "Right," he replies blandly.

He scratches down another quick note in his flowing, spidery script. "Mmm. No, don't leave anyone out. I have to take an unbiased slice of the population or my results will be contaminated. Have to stick with procedure, you know."

Getting up from her position on the desk, Cody gives him a quick glance and begins to unfasten her constricting body armor. "Do you mind if I put this over by the door? I can't imagine this is going to be as quick a visit as I imagined." Probably due to her being a little more interested in the side conversation than actually getting the work done. "I'll have to break my date. Shucks…" Underneath the jacket, she is wearing a black blank tank top. Her dog tags are hanging loosely over top of it. The equipment is dumped somewhat unceremoniously near the door before she stretches her arms out, wincing just a little as her unrestricted torso actually begins to move. Lucky Max, she's keeping the pants on!

When she makes her way back to the desk, she doesn't sit back on it. She actually finds a piece of bare wall near him and leans against it. The notebook is once again flipped open and she reads one more name. "Lisa Meyers. Airport Tower Controller. Taken from Berlin, Germany." She doesn't even bother to explain that one. "Has an ability that can really only be described as kinetic absorption."

Max lifts one eyebrow in a scant, bemused curve as he watches Cody move to and fro. The scarred side of his mouth twitches upward into a small smile as he resumes his note taking. "Kinetic absorption, eh? I would've liked to see the capture on that one. I look forward to getting my hands on her."

There's a crisp shuffling sound as he flips to a fresh page, followed by a scribble-scribble-scribble as he urges his suddenly dry pen to produce more ink. A frown is just beginning to tug at his face when he succeeds. "There we are. Who's next?"

"Pretty uneventful, I was as Tegel Airport for a different collection when I just happened to see her get hit with a tire. She didn't even flinch." Giving Max a rather conspiratorial glance, Cody narrows her eyes a little before puckering her lips thoughtfully. "Further testing provided the possibilty of her ability. Need a new pen, Swan?" Her hand moves to the velcro pocket on her right thigh as she eyes him carefully. "Can I ask a personal question?"

Though he waves off the offer of a new pen, Max nods to the second question. "You may ask," he rumbles, his voice low and pleasant. "Though I can't promise that I will answer." His expression is the facial equivalent of a shrug. Still, he's happy to give his writing hand a break. He sets his pen and paper aside, leans back comfortably in his chair, and loosens his tie.

"I'll even get you a fresh cup of coffee for a few answers." The black haired woman says with a grin and then she licks her lips slowly, preparing herself. The notebook is placed on the floor beside her and Cody regards the man with a very cool and clinical eye. "You were a detainee here…" Her eyes never leave him as she picks and chooses her words very carefully. "How did they catch you?" She doesn't ask why he stays, the laboratory is enough of an answer.

"A sniper," Max explains, more than a little abashed to have been taken down by such a mundane technique. "A few agents on the ground caught me after a large meal and kept me busy long enough for the marksman to draw a bead." He touches his fingertips to a spot low on his abdomen. "I woke up two days later in Building 26."

Cody's eyes follow his hands, at first because he might have been pointing to something. Then, they linger for a moment before slowly drifting back up to his bearded face. "What will you do if they fire u- the evolved working here?" Then on to lighter topics, with the touch of a smile she repeats her former question. "And what would you do if one of your rats enjoyed your treatment?"

"To answer your first question, I've maintained more than one escape route over the years. So if they should fire us…" Max shoots a sly glance at Cody. "…I mean me, I have other ways to make use of my skills."

Smirking, he crosses his arms over his chest. "As for your second question, data is data. Every occurance is something to be documented and analyzed."

Her thin legs are stretched out in front of her and crossed at the ankle rather comfortably. Then Cody mimics Max's arm crossing and stares at him, her darker blue eyes boring into him. "Ever had it happen? How far have you had to go? What sorts of techniques did you use?" The quick barrage of questions are carefully thought out, even though they seem rather random. Her expression would tell him that much, for once she is quite serious.

For the first time since this line of inquiry began, Max pauses and shoots a skeptical glance at Cody. "Do not mistake me for some seeker and panderer of cheap thrills," he says coldly. "I take my work very seriously. Now if you're quite finished, I have other business to attend to."

"They're very serious questions, Swan." Cody gets up and thumps another notebook down on his desk beside the files. It's possibly much older than her time at the AP, likely the same notebook that she's been using for years. Flipping through the pages, it's written in a variety of languages and numeric codes. Only the past few months have the telltale curl of Sanskrit. "You're not the only one that takes their work seriously." Once she gets to the back few pages, she pulls them out of the loose binding and drops them into the file folder. "I'll leave these with you so you can get one of the secretary pool to translate them. I'll leave you to your other business."

"Good day, Agent," Max says briskly. He only glances briefly at the pages Cody leaves behind, then he seats himself at his desk again. His upper lip retains its unpleasant curl, and his demeanor is taciturn at best. He picks his pen up, considers it for a moment, then tosses it back on the desktop with a clatter.

"When you're finished with the pages, I'll need them back for my book." The woman says coolly as she picks the armor up off the floor and hefts it over her shoulder. From the stack of notebook pages on the desk, Cody really has been a busy girl. It is a fair deduction that Max isn't the only scientist that will be given a chance to study her captures. And his names total at least 15. With one last glance to the pile of dead rats, Cody thrusts open the door to the room and walks through it. It's a pleasant gesture that she didn't slam it on the way out.

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