Cost and Benefit


aviators_icon.gif candy_icon.gif

Scene Title Cost and Benefit
Synopsis Candy wakes up in government custody and is offered amnesty in exchange for her loyalty, however temporary it may be.
Date November 20, 2009

Homeland Security Holding Facility

Dark and smothering are two words that spring to mind when Candy is tugged from sleep by the sound of a door creaking open on its hinges. Dark because her eyes, fogged with fatigue though they are, can only identify vague outlines — four concrete walls, the shape of her body beneath her neck, slender arms wrenched behind her back at the shoulder and fastened together by what feels like a pair of handcuffs. Smothering because the drugs in her system make it difficult to do much more than seek out an answer for what's happening with her eyes and realize that her mouth tastes like a latrine after being unconscious for so long on whatever medication she's been forcefully injected with.

It's like Moab Federal Penitentiary all over again.

And that thought alone, that it is like Moab all over again is almost enough to make her panic, though the drugs that are going through her system certainly keep her from doing that. Candy looks around while she sits there, her eyes trying to find what sound work her as she tries to work at the handcuffs, her mind trying to clear through the fog of the drugs. Nasty thing, putting needles in here when she can't see them.

On the other side of the room, leaning in the cell's metal doorway, what little light leaks in from the hall outside reflects off a pair of polarized sunglasses on a rough-looking face that Candy doesn't recognize. "So," says a voice. "Do you prefer going by Candace these days, or is it Noriko?" Heavy footsteps carry her captor further into the room, well within the range of her ability if the suppressants weren't draped over it like a wet towel. He's a man of middling age, black hair beginning to gray around the temples. Government. Possibly Company. Without a badge, she has no way of knowing, and even then—

"I've been reviewing your file," the man continues, removing the sunglasses from his face so he can study the young woman with eyes that glitter in the dark like chips of volcanic glass. "I can't say I'm impressed, but my superiors? Different story."

Candy studies the man for a couple of moments while she sits there, hands still straining at the cuffs that keep her locked up there. She manages to slur out through the drugs that are going through her system, "Candace." Only able to focus on the one question, and not even able to summon up the gumption to inform the man that if she wasn't drugged, he would have been dead as soon as he walked through the door. Her eyes roll around, as she tries to keep focus on him while he moves, before finally saying, "They should be… killed a lot of people like you." That'd be a bit of an over-statement. She's really not killed all that often, at least, where it could be counted.

The man circles the chair, leather loafers squeaking against the cement floors underfoot. As the world continues to come into focus, Candy will make out a one-way viewing window on one wall and a camera mounted in one of the cell's high corners. It blinks red at intermittent intervals, suggesting that the conversation they have underway is in the process of being recorded elsewhere.

He stops, comes to rest his hands on both Candy's narrow shoulders and gives them what would be an affectionate squeeze if he was her father or some other relative. Since he's not, it's impossible to read into his motivations for initiating physical contact, but she's probably safe as long as that red light keeps winking and them.

"I'm going to be honest with you, Candace," he says. "I've been doing this all week. I'm tired, I want a cigarette, and the Department of Homeland Security has a very strict no smoking policy inside its facilities. You could be dead, but you're not, and if you want to stay that way, then I suggest you listen very carefully to what I'm about to tell you."

Candy looks up at the man that is slowly resolving into clarity. "I'm listening, but you should mind how long you take," she says, as the haze stats to burn away a bit. "Better give me my own reason why I should make your blood cover the walls by the time I get control of my powers back," the sociopath says with an insane grin. She doesn't care about her dieing, just about how many people she can manage to take with her.

One hand moves to Candy's cheek, brushing strands of sweat-slick hair away from jaw with callused knuckles. He smells like a combination of sandalwood and chewing tobacco, stale cigarettes and sour whiskey aged in a wooden cask. "Your work infiltrating Humanis First has put you in good standing," the man says. "If you're willing to accept a similar assignment and lend us a hand overseas for a few weeks, we're in a position to make your criminal record a thing of the past. New identity, new life. Money for graduate school. You can even stay here in New York, get your Masters in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography at Columbia…"

"Yeah? Just like that I get a whole new life, huh? What is to stop you all from coming back and grabbing me just like this, and promising that it'll be the last time," Candy asks, she shakes her head a little and replies, "I can't accept something like that. Even if I were prepared to have to go back undercover and participate in those kinds of acts again."

"I think you'd be surprised how often the American government grants amnesty to people like you in exchange for their talents." He removes his hands from Candy's shoulders but does not step back into full view. The cell door has been left wide open, giving her visual access to the world outside and one of the facility's orderlies wheeling a gurney past her room. It's covered in a crisp white medical sheet, obscuring the identity of the body laid out across it, though one long arm dangles over the side, peeks out from under the starched fabric and ends in a feminine hand with bloodied fingers curling in on themselves.

"I'm under direct orders to add a dose of potassium chloride to your IV if you refuse me three times," the man says. "Now, you're smart girl. I know you know what that means. How would you feel about the deal if I offered to give Tenshi Mamagoto the same benefits at no cost?"

Candy raises an eyebrow, as the gurney passes, before her attention returns to the man. "And just who the hell is Tenshi Mamagoto," she asks as she looks at him. Her eyes careful to watch him, pressing against the cuffs as she continues to try to find a way to free herself for the moment. For now, she'll lead him on, get information, and maybe then agree.

A low, gravelly chuckle of laughter is the initial response Candy receives to her question. Then, "I think you know her as Angel."

Candy listens to that for a couple of moments, considering the things. Finally she says, "And what exactly do I need to do, other than something similar. If I have to infiltrate Humanis First again, you might as well go ahead and start the drip."

"Not Humanis First. Vanguard." He finally comes around full circle, a glance cast askance at the viewing window before his attention settles on Candy's face. Those eyes study the expression there, silently scrutinizing, and when he speaks again, it's in a gentler tone than before. "You'll be put on a team with several other individuals and sent abroad. Unfortunately, I'm not authorized to tell you much more than that, but I can promise further details will be made available when you arrive at your destination."

Candy listens to it while she sits there, well, at least she wouldn't be alone. "Fine, I'll do it. But on one more condition, I want a bank account with enough money to at least keep me comfortable for more than a few years, along with the rest that you have said," Candy replies while she looks at him. Yes, she's a bit of an extortionist.

"I think that defeats the point of sending you back to school so you can start on a career path," the man observes mildly. He slips both his hands into the pockets of his suit jacket and shrugs his shoulders, working the tension from the muscles there. If what he told Candy earlier about doing this all week is true, then she's probably not the first individual he's needed to haggle with. This is confirmed when audible exhaustion begins to creep into his voice, worn any weary. How many others have asked for the exact same thing? "We'll open a bank account in your name and fill it with enough money for a down payment for a two bedroom condo in a borough of your choosing. Your graduate studies at Columbia, and any studies that Angel might wish to pursue, will be covered by special government scholarships. If you want a job, I will personally find you a salaried position in your preferred field."

Candy listens to that, and considers it for a while, before she finally nods her head. "Fine, you have a deal. Now, how about letting me out of the cuffs. Do I really need to explain to you about what flashbacks of Moab might do to me? Or better yet… ever seen Rambo?"

The man takes one step back and then another, angling toward the door. "Your chin's too weak for Stallone," he tells her, apologetic. "I don't really see the resemblance." On his way out, he produces his sunglasses from his jacket pocket, unfolds them, and places them back on his face to shield his eyes from the hallway's fluorescent glare. "You'll have new accommodations as early as tomorrow morning, but no sooner. Don't blame me, blame bureaucracy — there's paperwork and all that."

Candy groans as she sits there, before she takes a moment to concentrate. The young lady deciding to putting herself to undoing the handcuffs by putting enough water into the key hole to be able to turn it.

It doesn't work. The suppressants in her IV dampen her ability to the point of uselessness, and even if they didn't, it's questionable whether such a tactic would be met with success.

The door grinds shut, light floods from the room and she is alone again. This time in pitch blackness.

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