Description: After Mortal Kombat tournament, Lita Luwanda gives her after action report and expresses her doubts about the future of the task force.
Chief Mallone was actually having a very nice day.
At his office, the Chief of Interpol was at his oak desk, overviewing a dossier. On his table, amongst the brass lamp and fresh new awards from the 'success' of the various missions (including Daniel's KOF finalist trophy, which he 'acquired' from his desk), a brand new HitSip stands. After his meeting with General Zima, he saw no reason to NOT have one. Sipping a hot cup of Kona coffee, he was just enjoying himself in the formal Interpol office. And even better?
Lieutenant Lita Luwanda was going to have an audience with him.
The melee specialist from Delta Red was a member of the Interpol team as a liaison with the UK. She had proven herself in the King of Fighters tournament, and the island tournament was... she had returned from it alive. Alive, like the others. Sergei and General Zima were obviously mum on the details of it. But Chief Mallone was very interested in hearing the Lieutenant's side of the story.
After all, that's what she wanted to come and talk to him about, right?
When Lita Luwanda steps into the office wearing her crisply pressed Delta Red dress uniform and red beret. In her hand, she carries a disembodied skeletal hand. Under her other arm is a folder. She doesn't say anything as she stops in front of Chief Mallone's desk and brings herself into parade rest, a flicker of complete disdain appears in her eyes for the person in front of her before she stares straight ahead.
In the back of her mind, she remembers something Daniel had said to her, a request for her not to go off on him. Daniel would be disappointed in that but as far as she knew, that Daniel was gone and replaced by a monster. And as far as she was concerned it was thanks to the man seated right in front of her.
Chief Mallone actually looks flustered as she comes in.
Not that she was in uniform, of course. But when she stands at parade rest, he actually realized she was more formal than he expected. If Daniel was like that, well, he might still be alive, or dead, or whatever he was. Chief Mallone stands up, belting out a quick "At ease, Lieutenant!" before sitting back down. "You don't have to be so formal, I have been informed on the success of your mission. You're a hero! Of course, I have... heard rumors that you died on the island!" Chief Mallone puts on the most artificial, insincere smile a man could muster. Unintentionally, of course. "As I can see, those rumors were overstated, of course." His gaze shifts to her dossier... and then, the hand. The smile doesn't fade.
"What's with that hand?"
Lita doesn't move until the chief mentions her death, she places the hand down on the desk, and places her own hand right next to it underscore the similar size between the skeletal hand and her own.
"Those are both interesting questions, that are actually interconnected. I mean the death matter... and that hand."
She steps back and returns to parade rest once more, letting that skeleton hand rest right in front of the chief.
"Unfortunately, rumors of my death were greatly, understated. I had already won my first match when I was scheduled to meet my next opponent in a place called The Living Forest. Instead of my opponent, I encountered someone who I'd later find was a creation of Dr. Tessitore who went by Black Lotus."
She pauses with a cringe as she forces herself to relive the experience of dying all over again.
"Do you know how it feels to have both of your eyeballs stabbed before getting your head hacked off? Zero out of ten, love. Wouldn't recommend. The rules of life and death were strange on this island and so spent weeks as a disembodied spirit that cried blood from empty eye sockets and perpetually bleeding neck. Not a pleasant experience either. Nor is watching your own corpse get consumed by a tree and spat back out with the bones picked clean. Eventually, someone from Earthrealm came along in search of fallen Earth warriors comes along and raises me from the dead."
She glances down at that hand.
"And yes, the skeleton is as genetically mine as these. They ran tests on them when I came back."
Lita wiggles the fingers of her living hand.
Chief Mallone's smile slowly fades.
As Lita relates her story... he keeps thinking of General Zima. Sergei. The rumors, the reports, and... Lita's side of the story. He had wanted to hear her side of the story. But as she explains... The Chief could not believe it. It didn't matter how real her reactions were to the gruesome memories of her own demise. Especially the mention of Dr. Tessitore. Black Lotus. All these were known names. But the answer to them were the same. As she wiggles her fingers, the Chief's face was completely neutral. He blinks.
He says firmly. "That's all impossible, Lieutenant. If you were dead, then you wouldn't be here. If they thought you were dead, you would be walking here. Clearly there was a mistake in the report. As far as that bone hand..." He looks at the skeletal hand warily. "That can't be you, obviously. Because you are here. There must have been a mistake with the tests. That's the only thing that makes sense." The Chief leans over his desk a bit. "Have you received a psychological evaluation after your... incident, Lieutenant Lita?"
And Chief Mallone puts a hand on his forehead.
"Oh! Before I forget." He raises his mug of coffee. "Would you like some coffee? I just got a HitSip and some Hona Kona coffee for it. They are absolutely wonderful!" Changing the topic.
"Or maybe you like some tea?"
Her tone becomes eerily calm as she says, "Or perhaps you'd like to run your own bloody tests."
She places her own folder on the table with a gentle touch on his desk. Her motions are calm, deliberate as she pulls out four plastic bags and a pair of swabs packed in a sterile plastic wrapper. She's even slow and deliberate as she places a bottle of sanitizer on the table. It's so that her next motions can have as big an impact as possible.
She suddenly becomes a blur of motion she draws one of her kunai and hacks two pieces of her skeletal hand off at the wrist/forearm area, chipping off bone and marrow. She then flips the kunai in the air and goes for the swabs opening the packages before catching the kunai and pricking her own finger with it. The kunai gets flipped into the air once more as she goes for the swabs and then catches the kunai with her pinky before putting her own blood on them and putting them in individual baggies, then she puts the bone and marrow pieces in their own baggies. She then spins the kunai before sheathing it.
"If you're so doubtful about Delta Red's ability to run their tests, then feel free to let Interpol run their own. The reason I brought back my hand was because I knew shits like you would doubt my story. But that's the thing if I don't pass along information, my comrades and subordinates are hopelessly unprepared for things like that tournament. For incidents like Majigen. And for dealing with things like what had attacked your daughter. But you're good for making sure your people are hopelessly unprepared, aren't you?"
The Chief does everything he can to hold his composure.
As the folder comes down, he was only expecting details on the report. What he was -not- expecting was the whirlwind of dexterity that unfolds. The only flinching he starts with was blinking, and snapping back from his forward leaning. Leaning back now, the blur of kunai comes with Da Chief recoiling fully. As the bags are filled, The Chief stares, wide-eyed, unsure at the show. He might have been stunned at the display... until Lita mentions his daughter. Something audible snaps; Lita had drawn blood.
And the Chief pounds a fist on the desk.
With an eruption of rage, he stands up. "Now listen here Lieutenant. Don't you -dare- talk about my daughter that way. What happened to her wasn't the boogie man, wasn't those 'monsters' that Daniel Jack rambles about. Do you know what happened to her?" "She was sent to the hospital by the psychopath that Agent Little was supposed to be tracking. Her -partner- in fact. And did Agent Little protect her? Did Agent Little do -anything- to capture the freak? No. He just reported it was some supernatural incident. He wanted to do supernatural incidents? Then I'll send him to that hellhole of Majigen! Which is what I did!"
The Chief was red faced now, but he was not slowing down.
"Every time I trust that detective with something, he only screws up further. That -I- don't give him enough materials, enough resources, it's my fault? I have given him a TEAM to work with. There are -no- specialists in Interpol, Lieutenant, dealing with these alleged supernatural events. At this point, Daniel -is- the expert, and every mission I have sent him on dealing with the supernatural has only ended up with more questions than answers, and complete and utter failures. All I have is that eternal screwup Agent Little, and the rest of you on the International Task Force, who are infinitely more competent than he is..."
"And I might not even have him now, anymore."
Chief Mallone sinks into his chair, fatigued by his outburst. "I don't know all the details, but Daniel may have gone rogue. We have good information he may be in Thailand. He's... he's doing things that can't define the rules of physics. There is no eyewitnesses but..." He looks at the skeletal hand again. He grabs it this time, looking at it closely. "... You said that this is from your body, right? This is your body. So if there was more of you... there would be two bodies, right? Two Lieutenants..." He trails off further. "two Sergeis..." And the Chief narrows his eyes. "Now I'm not admitting I believe you, but..."
"That does make sense, two bodies, right?"
Lita wanted to draw blood. After all, if it bleeds, she can, at least threoretically, kill it be it in a literal or in this particular case figuratively. She watches impassively as the Chief rages at her. She's received worse from the military.
"The reason I dare is because of the difference in how we were respectively were prepared for the tournament. Delta Red prepared me by briefing me on who would be my expected support, some of who I would be expecting to face and who I would be expecting to rendezvous with for the potential of more information about it. How you prepared Little. You knocked him out and he woke up on the island. I mean blimey... We were finalists in the King of Fighters and pretty much had an invite. Hell. I even received my soul shard for the tournament in recognition of our team's accomplishment personally from the hosts. And you say that /he's/ the screw up. We might've been champions right now if not for Sergei taking Daniel out of the equation."
She decides to back off on that point and answer the Chief's question. "I don't know to be honest. My running theory is that because most of my body was lost in that forest it was easier to form a new body for me than to bring back the old one. I would have to confer with the person who brought me back to know for certain since I believe she had intended on bringing back more than one of the Earthrealm fighters. That being said, I suspect whether or not there are two bodies depend on what the condition of your body is in when you were brought back. Thankfully, I was brought back before the end of the tournament since it gave me opportunities to get information on what had happened since I had died."
Sergei taking Daniel out of the equation.
The Russians were being awfully meddlesome. But Chief Mallone trusts General Zima; the Russians wouldn't betray Interpol. As Lita mentions the King of Fighters tournament, Da Chief places his hand on the trophy that Daniel got. Maybe... maybe he was giving the Russians too much space. Maybe the Lieutenant had a point. And with the talks of the soul shards and... this was going back into the supernatural. He had to stop it here.
And he tightens his resolve.
"If I didn't let the Russians have their way with Daniel, we wouldn't have been able to tag him, and track him." He releases the trophy. "We've seen him crossing the ocean on that tracker, and even show up in Thailand. If it is him..." He trails off, trying to muster answers. "I don't care about champions, I care about getting to the bottom of it. Something is up with that tournament, just like this tournament. It is the duty of Interpol to investigate every major tournament! But... Earthrealm..."
Da Chief leans back in his chair.
"I... can't believe you, Lieutenant. That's above my paygrade. But with my Agent Little last seen in Thailand... Well, I'm not taking an official stance on this but... who brought you back? And was it the same person that brought Daniel back?" The Chief pauses a moment.
"I wasn't able to get a picture of her while on the island but..."
She opens the folder and flips through it to bring up an image from a fairly recent Saturday Night Fight where Ayame was standing side by side with Riki though it was before the horn appeared near the end of the fight. She pulls out the particular image and then slides the image towards the Chief.
"She and her associate were the ones that brought me back from the dead."
Unfortunately for her that particular question about who brought her back derailed the particular path she wanted to take with the conversation and so she decides to zero in on a particular thing. "In terms of the King of Fighters, I'm ashamed to say that Little's former intern did a better job getting to the bottom of that tournament than we did. But in the case of the Mortal Kombat tournament, the champion is important for multiple reasons."
She opens the folder once more. When she gets to the images she wants she pulls them and holds them in her hand. She takes a moment to look the Chief in the eye.
"Because I was brought back, I was able to ask around about the Scarlet Dahlia's record while I was gone. As you probably know, she beat Sergei, Aranha, a Nakoruru, the woman who single handedly turned the tide against our team in the King of Fighters, Athena, and Rose, before going on to win the tournament."
She lays down the photos in front of him. Nakoruru's picture in particular is an artist rendering since she hadn't been seen in the fight world at all until now.
"Oddly enough, when she went up against those representing Earthrealm, she didn't kill them other than Sergei and apparently Daniel who was brought back to life to be Rose's opponent in the same round the Scarlet Dahlia was fighting Athena. According to the rumour mill, Daniel in particular had been acting strange up to that point. Stalking various fighters. When the Dahlia won the tournament, things went chaotic and so my ability to gather more information was compromised. But the sense I got was, the Russian made it a kill or be killed fight and she wasn't having it."
It was all unfolding before him.
As much as the pieces of the supernatural was, Chief Mallone wasn't looking confused. No, from the moment he shows Ayame, something dawns over Mallone. Lita was showing the Chief something he was familiar with. Going through the list, all these were images so familiar. Even the figures he didn't recognize, Nakoruru's the Scarlet Dahlia's sketches, weren't completely lost on him. Familiar faces. As she reaches the end, Chief Mallone shakes his head.
Da Chief opens his dossier.
"Brandon Malone, yes. By god, I wish we could hire him instead of that wreck Agent Little was. Unfortunately, there was... reason why we couldn't." He did not want to get into the details. "Right now he's mired with Lee Chaolan's pseudo-legal activities which... has been growing more disturbing. As you know, In the King of Fighters tournament, Lieutenant, we have... suspected Lee Chaolan of certain activities. Being a ring leader for the tournament, there are several under the table activities. We still don't know what his game is, outside of those blasted robots, but... those blasted robots have been a thorn in our side. I've been instructed by several members of the United Nations to step away attention on Lee Chaolan. The Americans, the Russians... and the United Kingdom." He taps on the picture of Ayame and the giant woman. "Now I know this girl. That was the attempted kidnapping, wasn't it? I thought we could have gotten Lee Chaolan on something so bold but... hmph. This is also the girl who won the RUMBLE tournament before the KOF. If she also went to the island Tournament...
"It's all going back to the island tournament."
"... The fact that you were gifted the soul shards after your tournament win is... very suspicious. And now that it ties back the other way; if this Scarlet Dahlia killed Sergei and Daniel; I don't think it is as simple as 'kill or be killed.' Sergei is a professional, and Daniel is a well-meaning idiot. If what you said was true, it sounds like these were eliminations inside the guise of a tournament. If it wasn't for the resurrection, then the entire Task Force International team would have been eviscerated. This is too much of a coincidence; too many familiar faces, too many corpses, and now in the aftermath, Lee Chaolan is up to something..." He looks up from the pictures. Gone was the wrath. In its place, was an intense focus.
"Lieutenant Lita, Red Delta has not withdrawn their support to Interpol, have they?"
"All of the participants were given soul shards regardless of what faction they were fighting for. Those from top ranking teams in the King of Fighters tournament for the most part received theirs directly while others had theirs dispensed in general distribution. I hardly used mine and so I have no idea if mine was sabotaged or not."
She shifts from parade rest for the first time since she performed the dexterous blade show with her kunai and folds her arm across her chest.
"Scarlet Dahlia was actively fighting for Earthrealm. It was because she won that there isn't an incursion from another realm. I went down to Black Lotus who was Tessitore's paranormal creation. Bolivar went down to a gunman who was actively fighting for the invading realm. I have my doubts that this was a targetted elimination. Other than Sergei and Daniel, there's no connection. But..."
Lita glances at the picture of Rose and looks like she's about to reach for the pictures but stops. Once the photo is released, she returns to parade rest.
"There's a way of getting a better idea of whether or not Agent Little has gone rogue. There's a couple of people I can think of who interacted with him on the island. One of them, I've already met in person. As for whether or not Delta Red will withdraw their support, that depends on whether or not Agent Little has gone rogue. I could always trust in the 'well-meaning idiot' to be well-meaning. Nothing that Sergei has done since teaming up with him for the King of Fighters has allowed me to build trust in him. And I will not work with someone who I feel the need to look over my shoulders without someone I can trust to watch my back. If he truly has gone rogue, I have no one I trust."
No one she could trust.
The Chief shakes his head at that. The russians might not be trustworthy; they had their own agendas. But for him to not be trusted.... well, maybe Lieutenant Lita saw how he treated Agent Little, and saw that maybe she would be treated the same way. A nagging, heavy thought plucks at the Chief. Dangling over him, weighing him down.
Could this all be The Chief's fault?
No, no, It was Agent Little's fault.
"I've already sent Sergei to seek out where we suspect Agent Little is, over in Thailand. With his... social limitations, I expect he will be retrieving Agent Little in pieces, if he even finds him at all. Please, Lieutenant, if you know some people who might know what happened to Agent Little, I grant you what ever authority you need to get to the bottom of this." Chief Mallone leans over the desk.
"Find out what happened to my agent, Lieutenant Lita."
"You are dismissed."
Log created on 13:34:16 06/06/2017 by Lita, and last modified on 08:00:59 06/08/2017.