1965-03-29 - Found in Translation
Summary: Doug and Tessa try to get to the bottom of Kwabena's shattered memory from Ghana. What they find is more unsettling than anyone anticipated.
Related: What Happened in Ghana
Theme Song: None
kwabena douglas sage 

Truth be told, Kwabena doesn't really like it down here. It feels cold, and not just in a temperate manner, but antiseptic. Still, he was to meet with Tessa for some mind reading, and he didn't want to risk whatever side effects might take place upstairs, where the students could be affected. Plus, depending on whatever is unearthed from the missing pieces of his memory, they might want to use the base's resources to plan.

Such it is that he's sitting alone in the meeting room with a cold can of beer and the latest Daily Bugle, looking through it with a sour expression.

Doug was, to be quite honest, surprised to get that phone call. But, you know, when you're asked for assistance so politely, how can you say no? So he shows up after the day's work, in his neat button-down shirt and bowtie, adjusts his glasses, and sets down his briefcase. "Ah. Er…" He looks around the room, "Been awhile since I was down here. Ah…" He gives a little wave, "Hello. Kwabena, right?"

Kwabena tends to avoid wearing his trendy or nice clothes unless there's a very good reason to do so, because so often he ends up damaging, losing, or utterly destroying his clothes altogether. So, it isn't out of disrespect that he's wearing a black tank top and XI-emblazoned shorts, but more out of a sense of practicality. Looking up, he sets the newspaper (tabloid) down, and stands up out of respect. "Yes," he answers. "You must be Doug, den?" he asks, and offers a hand in greeting. "Dey say you can translate anything, and dis will sound like strangeness but I… we may need dis talent."

LOG NOTE: tweak opening pose, meeting in a private room not in the X-Men base

"I… ah, hm. Well, may I ask why? If you have something in a foreign language — any language, really — that you need translated, I can. It's just what I do." He shrugs, "But now you've got me curious. I'm not usually on the X-Men's first-call list." Doug scratches his head, and looks somewhat puzzled.

"I'm kinda new here," Kwabena admits, "but if nothing else, am resourceful." He sits back down at the table, eyeing the tabloid for a moment. "Dere is something happening in Ghana. I think dey ah making mutants, but something happened while I was investigating. Much of my memories of it is gone, but I remembah dere were soldiers dere speaking in a language I cannot know. I have someone who is going to try and… bring dose memories back, but it will do no good if we don't know what dey were saying."

"I'm afraid my friends back in London haven't heard anything about Ghana…" Tessa Valentine rounds the corner and steps into the room… and stops justin the doorway. She had, of course, detected that another mutant was there. She's just not snoopy enough to see if conversations were being had beforehand. "My apologies," she says. "I should have checked to see if I would be interrupting." She is, as usual, overdressed. Pantsuit, blue hair back in a braid. Pink-tinted glasses.

"No that's fine, ma'am." Doug says, before he turns to offer a firm handshake to Sage. "Douglas Ramsey, class of '60. Omnilinguist, and pattern hyper-recognition. Kwabena has come to ask me to translate some memories of his that are in a language he doesn't understand?" He turns, and raises his eyebrows at Kwabena, "That's right, isn't it?"

Kwabena stands again when Tessa enters, smiling toward her. "Yes, correct," Kwabena answers Doug, before looking back toward Tessa. "Fathah says dey have tracked some unsanctioned military movements at de Ghana bordah, but is nothing more. Dere resources are few, so we must assume dese mutants dey have made are already out of de country by now."

Sage tilts her head slightly, one eyebrow arching. "Tessa Valentine." And she adds, after a moment of indecision, simply, "Telepath." Her powers are weird. "They've been tracked? Well, your father's resources are far more impressive given how sparse they are."

Doug shrugs his shoulders, and then says, "I've been accused of telepathy at least once, but I'm just a really good cold reader." He puts his hands on his hips, and says, "Well… I'm happy to help, in whatever little way that I can?"

"He is with de President's cabinet," Kwabena answers. "What little dey have, he can influence." He looks to the can of beer, saying, "I have more beer, if dis is to your liking, oddahwise…" He sits down with a sigh. "Maybe we can get dis ovah with?" He may have grown accustomed to working with telepaths, but he still doesn't like allowing people into his head.

"I always found cold reading fascinating," she admits. Tessa loves using -that word- to describe things that interest her. A lot. "Of course," she says, pulled back to the matter at hand. Good thing Kwabena didn't let her get off on the tangent. She'd start trying to learn cold reading from Douglas, given the chance. "I'm ready whenever you are."

"Well, it's my ability to interpret and respond. Microexpressions, subtle gestures, perspiration—I just understand what it all means on an instinctive level." Doug admits. "…Poker isn't much fun for me anymore." Then he nods. "All right, yes. Let's get started. Whenever you're ready, Mr. Kwabena."

Lifting his eyebrows, Kwabena takes a slug from his can of beer, before settling it down. "I left de whiskey upstairs," he says, looking to Tessa. "Did not want things to be all blurry in dere." An attempt at humor to offset his nerves. "I'll warn you, what I do remembah from dat place, it is… not pleasant." With that, he closes his eyes and breathes out to steady himself. "I am ready."

"Appreciated, but no thank you. Telepathy and drink is often not a good combination." She finds herself a seat, adopting a position she's comfortable with before taking a deep breath. "All right. How shall I do this? Do you want the two of us inside your mind?" It occurs to her that despite a bit of chatter with Kwabena on the issue, they didn't address the actual, you know, doing of this.

"Not while I'm working, thank you." Doug says, his eyebrows going up. "Well, if you simply repeat what you hear inside his head out loud, I should be able to translate it, I know interacting with multiple minds at once can strain a telepath. However you feel most comfortable doing it."

"Whatevah you think is best," Kwabena answers. "But, if it is easiah to bring him in, do it." His nervous expression becomes far more determined. "Whatevah dese bastards are up to, I want to find any way we can to stop it."

"I'll repeat it out to you, then." Douglas is right. It is a strain to bring in another mind. She's done it before, but it's not her preferred strategy. As Kwabena has seen before, Tessa adopts a familiar 'stance': three fingers touching the right side of her head as a focus, her gaze concentrated on him. "All right. Close your eyes, focus on the moment as best you can…"

Doug sits down, and takes down a pad of paper and a pen, so as not to speak out loud and disturb anyone's concentration. He puts the point down on the paper, and waits.

Kwabena does as instructed, and closes his eyes. Parts of the investigation he can remember with absolute clarity. The village, the people, the bunker smack dab in the center of town that clearly didn't belong there.

Infiltrating the bunker was easy, but it's ground level was largely empty. Signs of military activity, but dialects and languages that were unfamiliar to him upon many of the cargo crates and vehicles found inside. The sense of confusion is a trigger in the memories, something that might fill the gaps in his mind prior to his journey into the hidden lair beneath the bunker.

Everything else is tuned out. Or rather, this segment of Tessa's mind focuses on Kwabena and his actions in the memory. The rest of her mind, divided between Douglas and the rest of the memory, can handle keeping rack of all those fleeting words if need be. « All right. I am following you. » Reliving a memory is an odd sensation sometimes. Like being in a movie as it flashes all around you. « Do you remember where this bunker is? »

Douglas jots down words given to him as they're recited, in english, with flicks of his pen. Occasionally he frowns, but he continues writing, leaving it to the others to figure out the meaning — he's just here to translate.

« Yes. I remember exactly how to get there. » There it is again; in his mental projection, Kwabena lacks the strong dialect. His English is perfect, his eyes brown rather than silver. « In the Afram Plains District, north of the capital. I could easily pinpoint it on a map. » He stops by the crates and vehicles, the ones with unfamiliar words. Time seems to warp about in the memory, as if slowing there was an unnatural thing causing space time to warp. « These. Tell Doug. What do these say? What countries are they from? »

Libya, the Sudan, Ethiopia… old, old markings suggesting they may have been stolen and used by guerrilla soldiers long ago.

Within the memory, Tessa looks at the crates. In turn, the image ends up projected in Douglas' head. Where normally Tessa would scold herself for focusing on European languages for her studies, she does not know. It's good to know -someone- can translate. That's good. Still, Tessa's been prompted. She's going to do research. « Good. We'll do that when back on the physical. Let's move on. What next? »

Douglas jots down his translations with quick, scratching movements. He doesn't interrupt, his eyes cast down to the paper, instead choosing to focus on getting everything down rapidly.

« Downstairs… »

What plays out next is truly horrifying, but Kwabena tries to remain focused on the languages he couldn't translate, rather than the inhumane treatment of the 'test subjects' being into the irradiation chamber. « There. Those men, the officer, the scientist. I only got pieces. Tell him. »

The horrors continue to play out… forty-some people, taken from their homes, beaten, forced into a chamber. Forced by soldiers to receive an injection in the backs of their necks, then irradiated by the crude technology in the bunker. Here, when all but two of the prisoners end up as little more than charred corpses, Tessa will get a glimpse into just how vicious Kwabena can be when faced with such terror.

Still, within the memory, while he's literally tearing the soldiers apart, Kwabena manages a thought. He sounds a bit sick. « Not this. I saw it… the officer, the scientist. They got out. I couldn't get to them. Is there… anything? »

There isn't. Kwabena's anger floods the memory with the fight, until everything goes white. The reactor fired, and he transformed, just as Tessa had witnessed before. Memories don't really go away, they are simply… relocated.

Doug considers this, and then writes down everything he hears. Or rather, 'hears'. Aside from a slight paling, he lets nothing slip, instead scribbling furiously, to be sure that he has the full set of notes to hand to them when the session is complete.

Did not think it would be like this. She thought it was merely the transformation that blotted out recovering the memory. She really didn't think that the memory itself would turn white while experiencing it as an observer… but it does make sense. Still, it was worth the effort. Tessa closes her eyes when things get a little too white, forcing herself to look in a different direction. « Nothing from those men. Do you… come to your sense at some point? This must be how your brain processes the exposure. »

In the real world, Kwabena grimaces and grasps the edge of the table.

In the memory, he's changed to plasma, and is burning. He can see the two transformed mutants escaping, but in time he burns out. The memory is dark and muted, this one that his brain shoved into the subconscious. He crawled back to the elevator shaft. He climbed back to the ground floor. He found one of the military trucks had been taken, and some papers on the ground. The supplies hastily ransacked. In the haze, however, he turned over a piece of paper, upon which are scrawled coordinates. Degrees, minutes, right down to the second, but… they were in a language he didn't know.

The memories flash. Crawling out into the village. A family taking him in. Days going by, the family nursing him back to health… when suddenly things become clear.

« I remember the rest. »

Douglas knows them, though. He always knows. He jots down the translation, and taps his pen on the paper.

« Given the series of memories that are muted and hazy, » Tessa says, gesturing in a 'back there' way to refer to the sequence they just experienced, « I could hazard a guess as to why this happens, couple from my brief examination of your genetic structure. » She sticks around the haziness and the aftermath to catch the sentences spoken, passing them on to Douglas as need be.

« I had another lapse, at the test facility. With Lorraine. » Kwabena looks away from the woman who was helping him, ready to get underway on his journey back to Accra. « It's when I burn, isn't it? » He shakes his head and rises, thanking the woman in his native dialect, before walking out the door with his backpack in hand. « I would like to wake up now, please. »

In the real world, Kwabena is no longer gripping the table. Instead, a tear has formed and is currently shaking down his cheek.

After a time, Douglas pushes himself back, and holds up the notepad. "I have it." He says, "I have all of it. With your permission," He says, to the two of them, "I'd like to turn this over to the two of you, go home, and try not to think about it anymore. Because as it is, this is going to keep up tonight."

And just like that, Tessa brings them both out of those memories. She takes another deep, cleansing breath. She won't forget any bit of it. Sure, she witnessed it as an outside party, but still… "I appreciate you stepping in to help, Mr. Ramsey."

Kwabena opens his eyes, and promptly wipes the tear from his face. "Yes," he says, taking a moment to turn eyes toward Doug. "Thank you." He glances toward the notes, before turning to look back at the table. His other hand… for a moment, it seems to be melting, flesh turning into some kind of goopy liquid. Another one of his strange, unfamiliar transformations. He sits up straight, and the hand just snaps back to normal, but he keeps staring at it for a long time.

"We have to put an end to dis," he remarks. "Has gone on long enough."

"That's quite all right." Doug says, shaking his head, and putting his fingers on his temples to massage them. "I am not used to that. Let me know if you have anything more you need. And now… I think I will have that stiff drink."

"Agreed," though Tessa's not particularly specific on which one of the duo she's answering. Could be either, really. "We'd have to assemble people. Find a way to get to Ghana."

Kwabena finally reaches out to accept the notes. "We will," he assures Tessa. "I'll… bring three to Miss Grey. As for de whiskey… kitchen, above de fridge, behind de flour."

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