Once upon a time, Sarge Steel became the world's best spy. After a stint at West Point, Steel would end up working in the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command aka INSCOM. While working for INSCOM, Steel worked predominatly in the realm of counterintelligence, but much of his work during the army days remains heavily classified.
Military intelligence provided an easy transition into civilian wetwork. After his time with the Army was up, Steel ended up working for the CIA's Special Activities Center aka SAC. Steel remained with SAC for several years doing more dirty work than you could think to imagine. Steel's handlers used to joke that if his file ever went public the bureaucrats wouldn't be sure to give him a Nobel Peace Prize or send him to The Hague. Steel's illustrious career was cut short when bad intelligence got him burned and captured by Russian agents. Steel would eventually escape his captors, but he would his right hand after trekking through as Siberian winter on foot. His intelligence career seemingly ended, Steel made his way back to the states and settled in Blüdhaven where he grew up.
Back in Blüdhaven Steel took up two new hobbies. The first was the bottle and like his father and mother, before him, he spent every night drinking himself into a stupor. The second was PI work using his long career in intelligence to solve petty crimes and infidelity cases. The work wasn't exactly fulfilling, but it paid for Steel's drinking habits so he couldn't complain. After a few more years of this charade, Steel decided that he would be better off dead.
Right as Steel was about to throw himself off the Littleneck Narrows Bridge, a man approached him with an offer. His name was Miles Craven and he represented a group called International Operations. As it turned out, Craven was looking for people exactly like Steel. People, the world had spit up and chewed out without even a second thought. Steel already sold his soul to the devil once... what was once more?
C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:
I'll be honest, this pitch is a bit more personal than I'm used to making. My Dad's favorite comic character was always Sarge Steel, so I've always had this desire to get a crack at writing him in one of these games. In amalgam games, he seems a little out of place, but in the tighter scope of just the DC-verse? I feel it's the perfect place to shoot my shoot as it were.
I have this vision of a washed-up Cold War-era super spy thrown into a new world of superpowered lunatics and learning to adjust. Personally, I find that I write my best work when I have lots of constraints and what is more constrained than a character that only has his wits, charm, and robot hand to get the job done. I also have a soft spot for the Wildstorm verse, so I'll take any opportunity I can to shine a spotlight on that corner of comics. Hence why I have Steel being recruited into I.O, instead of for example: the DEO or such. That and as Morden has already pointed out, the wonderful world of spy fiction gives you many pots to stick your paws in.
The story I have planned is inspired by the classics like le Carré as well as more contemporary works such as SLEEPER and the James Bond comics by Dynamite. So it's more grounded and gritty in a similar vein to my recent take on Jessica Jones in Absolute (RIP). My thesis statement of sorts being from le Carre actually:
"What do you think spies are: priests, saints, and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists, and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten live"
C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:
The leader of International Operations. Currently leading I.O in a devasting shadow war against MJ-12, A UN-backed shadow council that Craven used to be a member of. Steel doesn't trust Craven as far as he can throw him, but he's enough of a professional to know that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Head of Sci-Tech, the R&D division of I.O. The creator of Steel's new hand and Craven's second in command. Steel trust her slightly more than Craven which is not saying much.
A secret Illuminati style shadow council who heavily influence world affairs. As the name suggests, at any given time 12 anonymous members make of the leading body, but below them, they have an army of spies, enforcers, and spooks across various government institutions across the world. A former member of MJ-12, Craven seeks to topple the entire institution whether it is to replace it with a system of his own design or to truly liberate the world is yet to be seen.
S A M P L E P O S T:
Undisclosed Black Site
Miles Craven peered through the shadowed glass of the operating theatre. In the middle of the room, Sarge Steel lay asleep on an operating table as a robotic drone grafted metal to flesh. Steel was an investment and Craven always made sure that his investment was in good hands.
Next to Craven, Doctor Ivana Baiul tabbed through a hologram of Steel's file. From the corner of his eye, Craven noticed the perpetual frown on her face deepen as she read.
"Do you doubt me, Doctor Baiul?" Asked Craven his eyes never leaving the window.
"Are you sure, of one so old," inquired Ivana. "Is he truly the one?"
"You have the file," explained Craven. "His record is exemplary, the CIA should teach a course at the Farm based on him."
"Yes," admitted Ivana. "But, there is still the matter that when you found him... he was about to jump off a bridge."
Craven laughed at this. His laughter was all dry and sandblasted air, like a million tiny pieces of glass shattering at once.
"I like a man who has lost everything Doctor Baiul. It saves me the effort of breaking them down."
The pair fell back into their easy silence as they watched the drone work. Flesh to metal and metal to flesh. Soon Craven and Baiul's plans could begin. For now, they watched as the Doctor's drone made Steel whole again. Forging the broken man into something new.
Still alive, somehow. NYC's "finest" are shooting paint canisters at anyone that steps outside right now so I've been stuck inside. The good thing of all this means that I've been able to get some writing done finally after months? So expect a post in the next two weeks or so hopefully?
When she started out Jessica had felt strange looking through people’s personal belongings without their knowledge, but overtime she came to understand the process as a kind of ritual. Desperate parents, spouses, lawyers, and insurance agents offered up diaries, insurance statements, and emails as the transactional medium of exchange by which she was supposed to conjure forth their runaway children, clients, and unfaithful spouses.
To begin her latest conjuring, Jessica set up in a Japanese café that overlooked Bryant Park near where her photo of Sahiba had been taken. Jessica found it useful to inhabit the spaces where her targets existed as if the sidewalk would whisper its secrets to her. The café was attached to a Japanese stationery and literature importer that seemed to carter exclusively to the local expat and otaku scenes. With most of the regular cliental either at work or school, the only other patron when Jessica entered was an old Japanese man reading a copy of the Asahi Shimbun.
The aesthetics of the café reminded Jessica of a spaceship, or maybe an iPad, the tables and chairs made of seamless pieces of shining white plastic, three human-sized tablets replacing what would have been a traditional serving counter. The tablets had cute chibifed depictions of food with their names written underneath in English and in Kanji. Jessica ordered a matcha green tea and paid with an app on her phone that linked up to her debt card. Three minuets later, a paper cup appeared in a glass receptacle near the tablets that had two nozzles – the first nozzle injected in steaming hot water and the second injected in a green slurry like mixture. The container chimed as it opened signaling to Jessica that her tea was ready.
Taking her automated tea, Jessica sat at a window side table that overlooked the park and proceeded to pull out Sahiba’s things from a duffle bag that Wilson had given to her when she left the Cloisters. The first thing that Jessica pulled out was the laptop. A MacBook air brand-new when Sahiba would have started college, but now four years out of date, the front casing covered in stickers from various college clubs and events. Setting the laptop aside, Jessica next pulled out four identical notebooks each corn husk colored and spiral-bound. They were Korean-imports and used extensively by bullet journaling aficionados, the silky yet roughly tactile waterproof paper was like driving in a Porsche compared to her own moleskin.
Jessica took the top notebook from the stack and fanned through its pages. The first thing she noticed was that Sahiba’s handwriting was immaculate. Blocks of uniform typewriter-like writing filled the pages, the words pulled from high quality ink that neither smudged, faded, or bled. What felt like a lifetime of parsing suicide notes and various criminal paraphernalia had left Jessica with a strong eye that was able to pick up on subtle habits hidden in the page. Jessica was able to deduce that Sahiba was lefthanded, that she favored a rollerball pen, and that she had a habit of using her free hand as an anchor point leaving the bottom righthand corner of the notebook more worn than the rest. Otherwise, the notebook did not reveal anything beyond whatever lecture notes the girl had chosen to take down. The next two books followed the same pattern but the last managed to catch Jessica’s interest.
It unlike the others had been turned into a personal planner with ruler-straight lines separating pages into days and days into hours. Planners were significantly more interesting to Jessica than lecture notes as she found they give her a much better picture of a person, how they organized themselves to somehow face the big scary world. Sahiba’s planner was meticulous just like her handwriting with different categories of events being documented by different colored felt-tipped pens. Looking at the vibrant blocks of color that filled the pages, Jessica wondered how the girl even time had to eat or sleep for that matter.
”Guess you’re not the only insomniac in New York, who Who woulda thunk?”thought Jessica drily.
About halfway through the planner, a new color appeared in the blocks that caught Jessica’s eye. There in flamingo pink lowercase letters was the word - therapy – appearing every Wednesday at 5 P.M going forward. Some mental math and a cross-reference to the calendar on her phone confirmed that they began about a month after Stryfe’s attack on the City.
Jessica was on the train when it happened taking the LIRR back from Long Island City when the attacked happened. In the moment she hated being trapped in the East River Tunnels like a sardine, only later she would find out the line had gone dark when a drone infested switch operator swung a wrench at his buddy and hit the switchboard instead. And it only with hindsight that she realized how lucky she was that she was in a metal tube underground instead of experiencing the hell that was going on above. She would only find out the true extent of the damage from Kim when the detective dragged her out to get drunk to forget a long night of shoving corpses in body bags and contacting their grieving families.
Jessica drop the notebook on the table and took a swig of her long-forgotten tea. The tea had gone lukewarm, and the sensation of chilled matcha made it feel like she was swallowing a tree. Her face contorted in a corkscrew and she fought off the urge to gag as she placed the tea down on the table and pushed it with a single index finger as far away from her as she could. She rummaged around in her jacket pockets and pulled out a half empty pack of gum. Jessica unwrapped a red-tinged strip and popped it into her mouth letting an aggressive bust of cinnamon go to war with the linger sensation of lawn mulch that hung in her mouth. Jessica chewed in a slow and deliberate rhythm as she turned back to her work thoroughly unsatisfied.
As Jessica picked the planner up, she saw a small white rectangle fall from its place tucked between two pages and onto the table. It took Jessica only a moment to realize that it was a business card, intrigued Jessica picked it up to get a better look at it. On closer inspection, she realized the card wasn’t a pure white, but rather a warm eggshell color and by feel alone she could tell the cardstock was of high quality. Flipping it over revealed a logo written in an instantly recognizable yet understated Rockwell variation.
Haynes Biomedical New York, London, Madripoor
Curiosity peaked; Jessica decided to pull on this thread to see where it took her. Setting the business card on the table, Jessica fished out her phone and snapped a photo of it. Jessica sent out the photo to Kim with the caption – “Does this ring any 🔔s?”
Placing the phone down on top of the business card, Jessica pulled out Sahiba’s laptop It was a 2018 space gray MacBook Air, the front cover coated in a rainbow barrage of stickers from bands, political movements, and tchotchke stores. Turning the laptop on, the first thing Jessica did was enter into the computer’s email client. As a new window sprung to life, Jessica briefly wondered how untampered with were the materials she was working with. After all, if Chadha’s people were the ones that cracked open the laptop for her couldn’t they have also tampered with the data inside? Jessica’s typical cliental often tried to hide their unsavory or embarrassing secrets from her and they weren’t nearly as well off or entrenched in the political quagmire to worry about some P.I seeing something that she shouldn’t of. Despite her creeping anxiety Jessica had to assume that she was working with the full berth of information, it was the only way to stay sane.
Jessica spit the wad of now flavorless gum into her matcha stained cup as she bjegins to scour Sahiba’s abandoned inbox for references to Haynes Biomedical.
“I'll be a monkey's f*@!ing uncle!” whispered Jessica in exhilaration as her keyword search brought up a single response.
The computer had highlighted a single response. A response contained within Sahiba’s online bank statement. There two weeks before Sahiba had disappeared there was a payment to Haynes for a consulting fee.
“Why would a college student be consulting with a Biomedical corporation. And Chadha’s people must have seen this in their search or otherwise she didn’t know why Chadha was paying them the big bucks. So why would they have not told her about this?”
As Jessica pondered over the implications of her newest discovery, a discovery that raised more questions than it did answers, her phone began to vibrate on the table. Looking down at the caller I.D revealed that it was Kim.
“How you doing girl scout? Sorry about the late reply, I was in the middle of grilling a Jamaican who was slinging kiddie porn out of his tacorita.” answered Kim gruffly. She sounded tired and from the sounds of traffic she was probably outside.
“On her smoke break.” figured Jessica as she found herself craving a smoke, alcohol, pot, something anything, to fill the growing pit in her stomach, but she was on call and she needed to stay sharp even if that meant her paranoia getting the best of her.
“You there Jones?”
“Yeah… sorry. I’m sifting through our ghost girl’s things at the moment so I’m a little districted.” replied Jessica only half-lying.
“That why your askin’ about Haynes?” replied Kim.
“Yeah, the girl made a payment to them two weeks before she went and vanished. The only Haynes I know are the clothing people.” admitted Jessica.
“Hanes the clothing brand doesn’t have a ‘y’ in it you f&$*ing moron.”
“F#$k you, English was never my best subject anyway. Do you actually know anything Kim or are you just jerking my chain because it gets you off?”
“I only believe in consensual chain jerking thank you very much. And yeah, I do, don’t you? They’ve been in the news ever since Stryfe happened.” asked Kim.
“I try my best not to look at the news.” admitted Jessica. “There is only so much spoon-fed bulls*@t, I can deal with in a day. What is Haynes with a ‘y’’s deal.”
“Metahuman Gene Therapy or MGT. Basically they are trying to make new Wonder Womens, Supergirls, or you for that matter. Like steroids but way more f*@!ing exciting if you ask me.” answered Kim.
The idea of somebody wanting to be like her caused Jessica’s stomach to twist. She couldn’t lie and say that her powers weren’t useful sometimes. I mean who didn’t have somebody that they hated so much that they just wanted to throw them through a wall. But they also were nothing but a glowing beacon for weirdos and psychopaths of all shapes and colors, folks like Kilgrave. Even just the very thought of that name made Jessica want to throw her fist through the nearest wall.
“And… why are they in the news?” she replied finally through clenched teeth.
“Courting rituals with the Department of Defense.” answered Kim, the disgust plain on her voice. “They want to set up a trial program to make people like me into superpowered Übermensch. Police forces and military personal prepared to deal with Stryfe level responses without the need of private citizens in tights saving the day.”
“That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” replied Jessica. “I barely trust most cops with guns and they want to make them into mini Captain F@!*ing America’s?”
“You don’t need to tell me that.” answered Kim.
“This doesn’t answer why Sahiba would of paid for a consulting fee.”
“Well isn’t that your job to figure it out? Y’know do some actually detectiving like the rest of us?”
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the info you insufferable b*@@h.” replied Jessica with a sigh.
“Love you too!” Kim replied with saccharine cheer as she hung up.
Jessica ran her finger over the slightly raised lettering of the business card. And for the second time since sitting down she got that sickly feeling in her stomach that this case wasn’t as cut and dry as it appeared. Jessica didn’t know the whole story yet, but Kim was right it was her job to figure it out whether everyone like it or not.
I'm still here and still writing. My apologies for not being able to meet the two week deadline this time. Though, I suppose we are all struggling in that regard. Post is about halfway there and I should have some more free time to finish it up after Wednesday, so hopefully I'll be able to get it out there before the week's out.
Hope everyone is in good health and remaining financially secure in these times of ours.
@Roman I'm glad your enjoying it so far! Sorry that you have to read through several pages worth of text for one post when you got all that reviewing to do lol.
And since I'm here anyway, let me say that I'm digging the stuff your laying down for Constantine right now. I'm a big nerd for more cerebral tinged horror stuff so I'm excited to see where you take John!
And that's number two, my apologies for the delay - work ended up being more hectic than I would of liked. I'm currently on the third draft of a syllabus in as many number of days because our administration is rather shit at crisis coordination, but hopefully things will start to level out now.
The car arrived the next morning promptly at eight. It was one of those new electric models that only existed in a strange transitory space that was restricted to advertisements and the five hundred dollar a month VIP spaces in parking garages. As the chauffeur, a fifty something year old Asian man with a bald head and stoic expression, open the door for her, Jessica recalled that Chadha was championing a big “green art” initiative as of late, and she found herself cynically wondering if the car was just for the optics.
According to the late-night wikipediaing Jessica had performed after her rendezvous with Kim, optics seemed to be something that Mohsin Chadha was intimately aware of. Chadha before entering politics had been one of the biggest private consultants in the interior design world. His clientele was the BlackRock don type who had enough money to fund their own private military, but who instead chose to exert their soft power through the purchasing of extremely expensive furniture handpicked by the likes of Chadha. It appeared to Jessica that Chadha was able to translate the soft power experience successfully into the political scene. Cultural Affairs wasn’t supposed to be a politically heavy position in city government compared to posts like the Comptroller, but ever since his appointment Chadha had been pushing back against that preconception. While he didn’t ultimately have a lot of individual power, Chadha did have a lot of ability to champion causes like his “green art” initiative to shift public perception and policy. This ability to do a lot with a relatively small amount of political gravity is why Jessica figures that the establishment finds somebody like Chadha so enticing.
“He’s enticing enough for them to hire me to try and pull him out of the fire…” Jessica contemplated as she regarded her reflection in the car window.
To her credit, Jessica had listened to Kim’s advise and cleaned herself up. She had properly brushed her hair for the first time in a week, and she had managed to scrounge up an outfit that didn’t reek of alcohol. Though she did keep her jacket, she found it in a box of her birth father’s old things after she woke up from her coma and for some reason was compelled to take it with her. For the longest time, it simply hung in her closet almost like an ornament, but after the incident Jessica had started wearing it. It was dumb, but it was a kind of comfort that Jessica desperately craved, a comfort that she reached for as she adjusted the collar through the reflection.
The women that looked back at Jessica appeared even more tired than she felt. She had hoped that the added financial security would’ve helped her combat her lack of sleep, but it ended up doing the exact opposite. Throughout the night, Jessica found herself returning to where she had stashed the money. Like many people, Jessica lived paycheck to paycheck. She had inherited some money from her parent’s life insurance policies, but most of that money went straight to paying off the hospital bills that built up during her extended coma. That and Jessica’s typical clients were just as likely to pay her in fresh bread as they were cash. If she had wanted to, she could have charged more, but most of the people that came to Alias did so because they didn’t have any other options. Besides, Jessica wasn’t in the work for the money, or even for some sense of a greater “civic duty”, Jessica did what she did because she was good at it.
And yet, as she sat in a private car heading across the Williamsburg bridge, Jessica couldn’t help but feel a little bit like she was a trespasser, the proverbial Adam taking a bite from the apple. To her new employers, five thousand dollars wasn’t a life changing amount, five thousand dollars was a little bit of sweetener they used for a deal. If Jessica had wanted to do the grunt work for rich assholes she might as well of just become a real cop and not a P.I. The simple fact of the matter though was that she was desperate, desperate enough to ignore every inch of her that knew she was going to regret this. Her mounting anxieties hadn’t left her by the time the car had snaked its way up to the Cloisters.
The Cloisters were so far up town that they might as well of been in another city from the rest of New York. This distancing effect was only enhanced by the fact that very buildings themselves looked completely alien to the rest of the city, the four cloisters that made up the museum having been dissembled in Europe and rebuilt in America during the Great Depression. It was a project that in many ways seemed doomed to fail, like much of the American experiment during that time. Yet the likes of Rockefeller, Stark, and J.P Morgan made sure that it didn’t. So, when the Cloisters were done and finished it was only fitting that it was designated to hold medieval art - a token to those kings of industry who now preceded over a booming post-war American empire.
A woman was waiting for them when the car came to a stop. Jessica pegged her for recently out of college based on her clothing choices, and probably still inexperienced given the amount of pep that she carried with her. She introduced herself as Claire A. Wilson, paying interest to stress the A. Ms. Wilson informed Jessica that she was Chadha’s personal assistant and that they were on a very busy schedule so if she could “please follow her that would be just great.” Jessica did so without complaint walking slightly behind her watching with mild interest as her chestnut colored French bob bounced in time with the clack of her shoes.
“Officially, the Cloisters don’t open for another hour, so you will be able to have your discussion with assured privacy.” Wilson explained as they entered the museum properly. She had begun typing on a tablet and in the silence, Jessica could hear the soft vibrations that came with each touch of the keypad.
“You do that often,” Jessica asked immediately lowering her voice as it began to echo along the empty walkway. “rent out museums for business meetings I mean.”
“Sometimes. Only when they are important.”
They halted outside of the doorway of what Jessica recalled must have been the tapestry room. Jessica looked at Wilson who gestured towards the doorway with a nod. Jessica took a deep breath and entered.
The first thing Jessica noted was that Mohsin Chadha was much taller than the press photos made him out to be. As Jessica entered the room, the Commissioner’s back was turned to her. He wore a white turtleneck paired with a light grey suit and his hands were clasped together in a pensive tent. His attention was directed towards a tapestry on the wall, the last in a sequence, that showed a Unicorn held in a paddock. Jessica wordlessly came up to his side and they regarded the tapestry in silence.
“Do you have any children Ms. Jones?” Chadha asked finally breaking the silence. His voice was smooth and clean like a pair of skis sliding over fresh snow.
“I always thought parents were the lucky ones,” Chadha mused. “but perhaps I was wrong.”
“When was the last time you saw your daughter Mister Chadha?” Jessica asked having already pulled out her notebook and pen.
Chadha produced his phone from a pants pocket unlocking it with a press of his thumb. He quickly swiped over to his picture app and brought up a picture of he and Sahiba standing together proudly at what Jessica guessed was a coffee shop. The two of them looked happy.
“Two days before she disappeared,” said Chadha with a sad smile. “Sahiba had just found out that she got into Berkley’s PhD program, we were celebrating.”
“Family life seems okay…. probably didn’t run away.” Jessica thought to herself as her brain already began to do the cold calculus that detective work required. Jessica had gotten extremely proficient at breaking down people and conversations into their elementary particles over the years. It was a skill that she had picked up when she went back to school after the car crash. The social aspect of school was harder than it used to be. People have begun to ostracize her for reasons that she herself couldn’t quite comprehend. Old friends that she used to have begun to pretend not to know her or would actively join in with the clique of girls that had decided to make her life a living hell. After that, Jessica started to consciously self-evaluate conversations as they happened, as she tried to figure out if whoever she was talking to was going to betray her in some way. Her chosen line of work had only managed to increase that secondary sense overtime to the point where it was sharpened to a fine intuition.
“Would anyone want to hurt you Mister Chadha? By going after your daughter?” asked Jessica.
“I have political rivals Ms. Jones like any in my position might have, but none that would commit such a heinous act.” There was a conviction in Chadha’s voice that only politicians seemed to possess. A blind faith trust in the institutions of government.
“Do you have anything idea at all where Sahiba might be, even if it’s just a hunch?”
“I have only this.” He swiped to another app on his phone which when pressed brought up a map of Manhattan and a single red dot. That dot was fixated on West 113th street right near Morningside park.
“We use a GPS tracker to know each other’s location. My security advisor recommended that we do so after my mayoral ambitions became clear.”
Mohsin sighed as he turned off the phone and slipped it back into his pocket.
“She went to the park every afternoon to go on a run. It seemed as if she was having a normal day and then she just vanished. We had people scour the area, we asked the nearby churches if they had seen anything and there was nothing. My daughter appears to have disappeared off the face of the planet.”
The formal posture that Chadha presented himself with began to crumble. His broad shoulders drew together in a hunch and the tall man appeared extremely small. The hand that put the phone away clenched at the fabric of his pants as tears began to drip slowly down his face. Ever the politician, Mohsin Chadha did not sob or fall into hysterics, the tears remained aesthetically resonant as if a photoshoot was bound to happen at any moment.
Wordlessly, Jessica pulled out a small travel container of tissues that she kept in her jacket and offered one over. There was a pause before Chadha took one, his face showing gratitude even if his words couldn’t.
“Is there anything else Mister Chadha?”
On cue, Claire A. Wilson walked into the room, her heels clattering loudly in the silence. She was carrying a duffel bag in her hands that she offered over to Jessica. She peered into the bag revealing its contents to be a laptop with its charger and several notebooks.
“Ms. Sahiba’s personal effects,” Wilson continued letting Chadha recompose himself. “our crisis team recovered them from her dorm soon after she disappeared. We’ve cracked open the computer, but we couldn’t find anything of interest. You might though.”
Quickly, Jessica began to reevaluate her initial impressions of the young woman. The pep that she presented before had all but vanished, it was replaced with a curt bluntness that only came with experience. Wilson seemed to be all too aware of the mental math taking place in Jessica’s head, her eyes twinkled with a subtle mischievousness.
“Thanks,” muttered Jessica unsure of what to do with the duffle, before deciding on placing it on the floor at her feet. “if that’s everything I’ll be on my way.”
“Wait!” implored Chadha his voice cracking with emotion.
Jessica turned to face him but did not say anything.
“Is it true? That you are different then people like me?” Chadha asked.
“I ain’t no Superwoman if that’s what your asking.”
“But… you are stronger yes? Stronger than any of us could ever imagine?”
“What are you trying to get at Mister Chadha?”
Chadha took a deep breath as he readjusted his posture. The hand holding the tissue clenched into a fist, the moistened material easily shredding under the added pressure.
“Can you hurt them? Whoever did this?”
Jessica reached down and picked up the duffle.
”Is this why Kim was able to convince them? Daddy wanted the woman who can throw men through walls to do his vigilante justice for him?”
Jessica knew that people like Chadha only accepted people like her when they were useful, and they conformed to a specific ideal. You only had to look at folks like Wonder Woman or Captain America to see that was true, the moment they stepped out of line the “heroes of the world” became pariahs. The simple fact of the matter was that the moment they threatened to preestablished hierarchy, the same extraordinary abilities that made people call them gods, were the same things used to justify their damnation.
“Respectfully Mister Chadha” began Jessica. “I’m a detective not a hired thug.”
The disappointment that spread across the commissioner’s face was palpable. He looked like he was about to argue with her, but then thought better of it.
I'm in the middle of coordinating with my department because all classes are going online due to the coronavirus, so I'm currently running a lot of tech support for the Boomers. Next post is just about done though, so I should be able to get it up tomorrow at some point when I have a minute.
J E S S I C A C A M P B E L L J O N E S ♦ F U N C T I O N A L A L C O H O L I C ♦ N E W Y O R K, N E W Y O R K ♦ A L I A S I N V E S T I G A T I O N S
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:
"I told you when you hired me-- These things-- These things rarely end well. "
Well, except for some tweaking of the backstory this is the general run-of-the-mill Jessica. Namely she didn’t get hospitalized by the Avengers during her time with Kilgrave for obvious reason. I recently rewatched You Were Never Really Here and had a chance to play Disco Elysium, so I’ve been thinking a lot about Trauma lately and its relation to the thriller/detective genre. I guess, fundamentally the biggest thing I went to do with Jessica is explore that trauma. As someone who personally deals with Post Traumatic Stress Order for reasons not unlike Jessica’s and who ended up coping with it in similar ways for a long while, so the idea speaks to me in a real core way. (Write what you know and all that, I guess.) Jessica is going to be struggling and I’ll put content warning stuff out there right now about things like self-harm and suicide if people would rather want to avoid that. I don’t want to glorify trauma in anyway, but I also don’t want to pull any punches either and I feel that the identity at the core of Jessica is good at handling that. I also want to juxtapose this core idea of trauma and helplessness with another about control and how those in power manifest different kinds of control. To that end, I want to take Jessica out of New York’s mean streets and into its penthouses with me also taking inspiration from a lot of Gibson’s post-cyberpunk works especially the “Bigend cycle”.
C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:
To quote the youtuber Screened on his piece about You Were Never Really Here "This is a Story of an Exhausted Woman... trying to find a Reason to Stay." Jessica Jones is a broken woman. She spends almost all the money she makes on her alcoholism and she tries to kill herself at least once a week. The unaddressed trauma of her life, particularly the death of her family and a horrid encounter with Kilgrave early in her detective career has left in dire straits in terms of her mental health. But even though Jones is broken she is still a strong woman both literally due to her super strength and metaphorically due to her tenacity. Jessica throws herself completely at her detective work in order to avoid her own problems. As a result, Alias Investigations has a growing reputation for its track record and more and more powerful people have begun to ask after Jessica. This season will primarily follow Jessica as she is dunked headfirst into the darker side of New York’s rich and famous and how she deals with it. I also aim to focus on more smaller vignettes this time around guided by an overarching plot instead of doing the usually long-form style that I usually work with.
C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:
Supporting Characters: Detective Zoe Kim - Contact for Jessica in the NYPD. Patsy Walker - an old friend of Jessica's and secretly the vigilante known as Hellcat. Mercedes "Misty" Knight - Owner of Knightwing Restorations Ltd, a security consulting firm with her partner Colleen Wing. Knight was a cop who turned P.I during New York's crime boom in the 1980s due to her disillusionment with the force. Serves as an impromptu mentor to Jessica from time to time. Mohsin Chadha - NYC'S Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and rising up and comer in the Democratic Party. Hired Jessica to find his daughter Sahiba who has gone missing. Kilgrave - The one they call the purple man. Used his mind control powers to make Jessica his own personal slave for the better half of a year without her even knowing.
S A M P L E P O S T:
The last few nights had been hard on Jessica Jones. Sleep avoided her like the plague replaced only with waking hallucinations that felt more real than anything else she had felt for the last three days. Whenever she closed her eyes to try and sleep, she saw the color purple and heard laughing. That laughing followed her everywhere: at the grocery store, on her daily run, and especially in the shower. Getting rid of the bathroom mirror by putting a fist sized hole through it had helped initially, but the laughter crept back into her head soon enough. She finished all the booze she had, and then she spent the last of her tucked away rent money stuffed underneath her mattress on more. The booze didn’t even help her sleep anymore, but it still thankfully worked as a mental anesthetic. But now even that booze was running low and she feared that a dry spell would send her over the edge. That’s why when Jessica got a text from an old friend to meet her on the Coney Island Boardwalk, she jumped at the opportunity and took the Q as far as it would take her.
Jessica flicked her lighter on and off. It was a tick that she did when she was anxious, agitated, or waiting like she was now. She cupped the flame with her free hand to shield it from the sea breeze that habituated the boardwalk. Sitting there with the fur lined collar of her trucker jacket pulled up against her neck making it look like a priest’s habit, Jessica couldn't help but feel like she belonged in a Tarkovsky film. Unfortunately, the mere mention of Tarkovsky triggered a primordial gag reflex in her. She dated a film critic once and they collectively decided to do a marathon viewing of the Russian's work while slamming down several bottles of $15 Georgian vodka; she vomited for a week after that. Now the mere mention of Avant Garde Slavic filmmakers made her stomach do somersaults.
"Stomach disagreeing with you?"
Detective Zoe Kim sat down next to her. A solid streak of grey hair along her left temple made her look older than her mid-thirties. Dressed in all black with a matching leather jacket torn at the left shoulder and patched with duct tape, Zoe looked more like Lou Reed than a cop. But, the way she walked, like she owned the city, like she knew it like the back of her hand could have only been acquired by someone who had walked the beat.
"Cause you look like you're about to throw up your lunch Jones."
"Shut it Kim," Jessica croaked forcing down a rising current of bile. "it's just a psychological reaction."
"Sure looks like a psychological reaction," Kim replied with a shake of her head. "you mind if I borrow a light?"
Jessica raised the open flame of her lighter to a cigarette that Kim produced from her jacket pocket. There was a slight tremble in Kim's outreached hand that neither of them commented on. Permanent nerve damage that occurred on the pair's first outing. Kim took a bullet for her before she knew about the whole gene altering chemicals deal. The bullet luckily didn't go anywhere lethal, but it did fuck with the nerves in her left arm. After that she was shifted up the chain of command where she found detectives spend a lot more time sitting behind a desk than doing actual police work.
"You know," started Kim as she exhaled a cloud of smoke. "this was the first place I saw someone die? I was 13 down at the amusement park and this kid had just won a big stuffed polar bear to impress a girl. It was one of those big bears holding a heart, real sappy shit. Turns out though the girl's boyfriend wasn't moved by the suitor's advances and he drove a knife between the kid's ribs. The bear didn't stay too white after that."
"Love hurts." summarized Jessica with a shrug as she stashed her lighter away.
"Ain't that the truth," replied Kim with a philosopher's solemn nod. "though I suppose I didn't call you here to bitch about my childhood trauma."
"Yeah," replied Jessica. "you usually only do that when you're drunk."
"Haha," Kim answered in a dead monotone. "you know I can always offer this gig to somebody else."
"You'll be hard fucking pressed finding somebody better than me."
Silently conceding to Jessica's point, Kim withdrew a Manila folder from inside her jacket pocket and handed it over without comment. The first thing Jessica noticed was the word CONFIDENTIAL written in red permanent marker across the width of the folder. The second thing Jessica noticed was that the folder was very light which signaled to her that the case was either very old or very new, and judging by the fresh marker smell she suspected it was the latter. Jessica reached into the folder and in her digging she caught the edge of something smooth which she withdrew from the envelope.
It was a 4x12 print of a girl standing in front of the library at Bryant park. She was dressed stylishly in the latest trends and with long black hair that fell to about her waist. Young adult in her early twenties, judging by the cut of her clothes came from a wealthy family, and if Jessica had to guess probably Pakistani or Indian. She looked happy, but if she was happy then Jessica wouldn’t have to get involved.
“Who is she?” asked Jessica as she peered closer at the photo as if some hidden secrets would reveal themselves to her.
“Sahiba Chadha,” Kim stated as she ground the stub of her cigarette out into the bench they were sitting on. “senior at Columbia, studies Sociology, wants to pursue her PhD, and the daughter of the current Commissioner of Cultural Affairs - Mohsin Chadha.”
“And what’s wrong with her?”
“She’s been missing for a week now.”
“Are you and the good old boys in blue looking into it?” questioned Jessica.
“No investigation has been opened up, and I should let you know Jones,” answered Kim “this call comes straight from the Mayor’s office.”
Jessica raised a brow. She knew that soon after Kim got promoted the Mayor’s office had reached out to her to perform some consulting, but she hadn’t realized Kim had become the Mayor’s hand in the force. It was something that Jessica could never do, she hated politics with a passion and tried her best to keep a respectable distance from any governmental office. But Kim had rent to pay like anyone else and Jessica figured it helped having friends in high places.
“What’s the Mayor’s office have to do with this?” Jessica asked as she slotted the photo back into the envelope.
“Mohsin Chadha is the man that the establishment is grooming to be the next Mayor. A big enough scandal could bring down a mayoral race before it even starts. So, the powers that be want to do everything in their power to solve this problem before the press get their hands on it. So that means no NYPD, and especially no official investigations.”
“Only little old me,” finished Jessica “I hope the “establishment” knows that I don’t come cheap.”
“Check the bottom of the bag.” replied Kim who by this point had turned her gaze away from her companion and towards the water.
Jessica reached further down and felt her hands brush up against a small bundle held together by a binder clip. Pulling the bundle out of the envelope revealed it to be a neat collection of hundred-dollar bills, and if Jessica’s quick tally was right, she was looking at about five grand. Jessica nodded approvingly before she stuffed the bundle back into the envelope and out of public eye. It was enough to pay rent and make sure she didn’t go into withdrawal this month.
“You’ll get another five thousand at the completion of the job with room for potential bonuses.” Kim replied still looking at the outgoing tide.
“Is this excursion taxpayer funded?” asked Jessica.
“That would leave a paper trail.” Kim pointed out and didn’t need to elaborate more than that.
“Last question,” Jessica asked as she ran her free hand through her hair “when do I start?”
Last question,” Jessica asked as she ran her free hand through her hair. “when do I start?”