4835/Loose Ends: Know thy enemy

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Loose Ends: Know thy enemy
Date of Scene: 23 January 2021
Location: Earth Orbit
Synopsis: Peggy goes to Spaaace! for a meeting with the director.
Cast of Characters: Nick Fury, Peggy Carter

Nick Fury has posed:
    Peggy was asked by Fury to come to his office. Except he wasn't there and a meeting with him had popped in to her digital calendar. The instructions were to board quinjet #1. That's Fury's quinjet. Except, he wasn't there either. In the quinjet was a note that simply said "Strap in and enjoy the ride".

    The quinjet set off automatically, lifting off in to the sky.. higher.. and higher.. and higher.. until it hit the edge of space and the specialised RAPIER engines. The quinjet raises in orbit height and then starts to make manoeuvres, though there is nothing there. Until Peggy sees the odd twinkle of stars much like the cloaks used by their quinjets.

    The quinjet docks at SWORD1. A light indicates the seal is good and waiting at the hatch is Nick. He has a smug little smile on his face. This is his space station. It's still under construction, but still.. he finally did it. Nearing a permanent space presence for SHIELD.

    He offers his hand, there's artificial gravity of some kind, "Peggy. So good to see you. Come in come in." He invites her in like she's just come over to a log cabin for the weekend. "This way, don't mind the mess, still moving in." There's construction materials and computers everywhere. No other personnel in sight though. "I thought we could chat in a place where no one is going to hear us," he says, paranoid to the end.

    He takes her to an office with a view. A big glass view of Earth and right now also the moon. He sits down at the desk and motions to the other chair, "Take a seat."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The strange run around to get to Nick Fury isn't really all that surprising. By the time Peggy's strapped into the quin jet, she's just smirking in amusement to herself, "I swear you've gotten worse as you've aged, Fury..." She mutters aloud to no one really present, but maybe there's some speakers listening somewhere. She straps in and waits, eyes widening a bit as she realizes she's taking her first space journey ever.

In her day, space was nothing but a dream. And then it became a very careful, very rare, very well planned reality. But people didn't just pop into orbit like going to the store, and here he's bringing her up for a meeting. For a few moments, Peggy genuinely lets herself stare out the window in wonder at it all. Even she can be surprised on a rare occasion.

She's entirely gotten it back under control, however, when she's stepping off into the artificial gravity. She's wearing her usual style, a 40s swing skirt, heels, red lips and nails. She looks like every historical SHIELD photo ever, just in full color and warmth in person. An amused smile crosses her lips as she follows him downt he hallway. "I...appreciate not being overheard, though this is a BIT of showing off, Fury. A fascinating bit of showing off." Amused appreciation is behind her clipped voice as she settles into the offered chair.

Nick Fury has posed:
    "Is it? I hadn't noticed," he says playfully and smiles. He has a fondness for Peggy. She is as big of a legend to him as he is to much of modern SHIELD. "You know, when Agent Morse added you to the special priority operations team I thought she just wanted to hang out with her idol. Then I get this call from Agent Gonzales," he says raising his eyebrow, "telling me you're digging in to the descendants of operation paperclip."

    "Now either that's nostalgia or genius, i'm not sure which. But Peggy, I have to ask you.." He pauses and leans in, "Just who do you think HYDRA is? I mean.. really who they are. I know you fought Johann Schmidt in World War 2 and pockets of HYDRA trouble as the years went by.. but have you ever considered where they came from and why we can never seem to get rid of them?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
When he mentions Paperclip, Peggy's face nearly entirely shifts. Closed down and cut off, any casual teasing she was doing is quickly gone. She stares at him silently, searching those eyes, trying to weigh just how much she can trust him. If she *can't*, then they are screwed, but she doesn't look totally convinced either. She exhales slowly. "You know have been talking to Gonzales... you know I've found things. Someone in SHIELD is erasing the digital record of our sins. Of known, active HYDRA cells from my day. Letting them flourish..."

Peggy sits forward a bit more, her hands folding on the desk in front of her. She's no longer marveling at the moon and earth, or really staring at anything other than drilling holes into the eyes of the man across from her. "HYDRA is in SHIELD... I'd put good money on it. And that's why we can't get rid of them. Probably the US government as well..."

Nick Fury has posed:
    A gruff hmph as sounded as Peggy stares him down after mentioning she thinks there's HYDRA in SHIELD. He sits back in his chair considering for a moment, then touches a button on his tablet and a holographic display blooms over the desk between them. "This is ex-Agent Harry Franks, who went by the alias 'The Faux'. He worked in quality assurance as level 5 specialist. His job was to certify that our gear was in working order before we put it in the field."

    He cups his hands together, "Instead he took mothballed projects and rejected them, as well as active gear and rejected them, truncated the disposal process and stole them.. then turned around and sold them to sellers in various black markets."

    He uncups his hands and motions as the image changes, "And this is Kirk Vogel, multimillionaire, business philanthropist and engineering genius. Mr. Vogel builds some of the parts we use in our quinjets."

    With a motion of his hand the two pictures spread apart and a list appears in the middle, "And this is a list of all the phone calls ex-Agent Franks made right before he was found out by Agent Morse. Note that Franks made a call to Vogel. Now.. why do you think that would be?"

    From the tone it's clear he's not actually looking for answers. "HYDRA no doubt has undercover operatives in SHIELD, just as we have undercover operatives in HYDRA. That's why I maintain a very strict security level structure. I keep things compartmentalised Agent Carter. It's a precaution - a necessary one."

    "HYDRA isn't a bunch of nazis running around in tight clothes shooting laser weapons. Well, some of them are.. but HYDRA has a vast business network out there. They are sitting pretty in their board rooms and wearing gouchi sweaters sipping their martinis and laughing at the misfortune of their enemies. They probably don't even pay their taxes."

    "Peggy I want you to find them. Find them all. This is far bigger than SHIELD, or the US Government. The only way we flush them out is by shining a light on them."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The woman listens quietly, but without any surprise. Fury isn't telling her a damned thing she didn't know, even if it makes her jaw tighten and teeth grit just a little. "...Yes, sir. I am... distinctly aware of HYDRA's prevalence and privilege they are no doubt practicing day and night nowadays. We... failed in our original mission and they have managed to grow in the years I was gone. Even the few decendants I've already tracked down and...cleaned out... Had high level business operations all over New York and most of this continent. The fact that no one was keeping tabs on them and there was no digital record?...Tells me all I need to know about just how well operational security is working."

She exhales through her nose as he gives her that mission. It is also not a surprise, but one hand reaches up to drag down her still slightly sunburnt face. "I have been...working on it, sir. And I will continue to do so. But it's not a thing I can do in the halls of SHIELD. And I'm not bringing those files back into the building. Not until we're certain everyone is clean." Which probably means never.

Nick Fury has posed:
    Fury wraps his fingertips against the desk top and says, "Puhlease Agent Carter. You went to war against a super villain without a face and walked away from it. HYDRA has clearly been around longer than Red Skull and barely blinked when his operations were destroyed. I need you to promise me you're going to be careful on this one. These people.. this arm of HYDRA, whoever they are. They like their privacy, they like operating in the shadows. They're not flashy like the Whitehall's and the Schmidt's. They've got a bite worse than their non-existent bark."

    "Vogel International operates out of Rome. You're going to need a quinjet to get around." He considers for a moment and then smiles, "I know just the place where you can operate quietly and independently. You'll love it, quaint little town, nice lake view. You commissioned the place after all. The Lighthouse. I believe you know the way."

    He pauses, "And Peggy. You're the only person I can trust with this. Apart from Steve Rogers, but he's busy being an Avenger - which means I've got you. And only you. You've run SHIELD, you've fought HYDRA. You've been in my chair so you know what my job is like. Now I'm asking you to put aside all the worry about what could have been if you'd done things differently and focus on making the here and now better. I want HYDRA gone. Tap senior agents for team assembly when you need action taken or intel gathered. Any one in the special priority operations group I am personally vouching for."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The comment of the Lighthouse gets an arch of both brows, but there is a faint, nostaglic smile that floats across her face for a heartbeat at the thought of it. "Is the Lighthouse still on network with the rest of SHIELD? I appreciate the place and trust it's security but...I don't trust SHIELD's. Not right now. The fact that you heard what I was doing means I've probably been too loud about it already." Apparently, Peggy planned to hunt HYDRA down with nearly just herself and a few very trusted friends? That sounds like her.

"But... yes. I'm on it. And I'll take a jet if it's clean, but I don't want anything that's trackable. I've been using burner phones for this whole mess, a cash in hand car I bought under an alias, and most of my own weapons so people aren't wondering why we're digging heavy weapons out of the armory. Trust me, Director... I want this done as much as you do. I'm not going to stop cleaning up after the messes I left behind. But I don't trust SHIELD right now and I..." SHe exhales slowly, "I'm...hoping I can trust you."

Nick Fury has posed:
    "Peggy," he says with a sigh and steeples his fingers as he ponders how best to put this. "Morse did the right thing setting you up in the special priority operations team. It's a vertical slice, extra encrypted. Not even Morse could look at what you were digging in to. The only people, in fact, was Gonzales and myself."

    "You wound me and yourself by not trusting SHIELD. Sure, be paranoid like a sensible spy. People are listening, people are watching. HYDRA is afraid of you Peggy. You've been ruining their day for eighty years. I'm not going to tell you how to do this thing, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," he says and then smiles a touch.

    "Besides, every time they make a move, we get closer to them. Like this Vogel and Franks connection. Let them stab themselves in the back for some easy wins. Now, are you done telling me how I've completely ruined SHIELD and it's filled with enemy agents waiting to stab me in the back, or are we good?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
A painfully British smile tugs across her red lips as she stares up at Fury, "Nicholas..." The way she'd speak to him when he was a fresh recruit, sharp and one of the best, but with a tone that makes her sound like her hundred years of age, "I rather think I was admitting that I left you a nest of vipers and I intend on cleaning up my own mess. But... yes. We both know there are security breaches. Part of this hunt is my trying to figure out where they are but, until I know that... I'm extra careful. Better safe than sorry."

She then bows her head gently to him, "But we are good. We're on the same side here and we *want* the same damn thing. I'd move to doing this full time if it wouldn't draw too many eyes wondering why I'm not in the field otherwise. So... this takes priority, but other missions remain as well." She gives a husky, slightly tired chuckle, "And sleep when I'm dead."

Nick Fury has posed:
    "Speaking of which," he says and lowers his tone. "How are you doing Peggy?," he says more like a friend than a boss. "One moment you're dying, the next you're frozen, then next you're unfreezing and dying. Then my two top biologists are pumping you full of weird DNA repairing stuff and you bounced back up on to your feet like it was just another Tuesday."

    "You don't have to be the superest of super agents. You're not the director any more and you have exceptional colleagues. The kind of colleagues you must have dreamt of having when you first set up SHIELD Academy. Well, it worked, we have the best. And with the Avengers, better than the best... on their good days."

    "So take a beat and slow down if you need to. This job isn't easy. Hell I fly in to space just to get away from things and think," he says and half turns his chair to look down at the planet. "SWORD is going to be our new line in the sand Peggy," he says almost nostalgically for the future to come, "Like you, I get to see the birth of it. It's glorious."

Peggy Carter has posed:
As he asks how she's doing, Peggy's eyes drop for just a moment. She doesn't want him to see and she knows he's a good enough profiler to well read through the fact she's not quite in tip top shape -- emotionally or physically. "I'm... as fine as can be expected. I appreciate the concern and I realize no, I am not a super human. I'm nothing more than what I've always been but... that has been enough. And it will continue to be so." She states, flat and firm, the tone of her voice saying she's certainly not giving herself any other options.

Then he's getting another faint, still slightly tired, but honest smile. "Besides... what would I do with my time off? I don't exactly have family and those I called friends are dead. Better than sitting at home alone, realizing you've out lived everyone you ever..Loved. I love my work, Nick. I don't need time off, nor do I really want it. I...I'm glad you have this. You are building something you can believe it. It's... wonderful to finally make a dream come true. But I need to keep cleaning my dream up so I know it won't hurt anyone ever again."

Nick Fury has posed:
    "Margaret Carter if you blame yourself one more time for the evil deeds of evil dudes I swear to you I will hire a new agent whose sole job is to follow you around telling you positive affirmations all day long. Have I made myself clear?," he says with enough authority that he might actually mean the threat rather than just trying to encourage his oldest mentor.

    "Now.. you're dismissed. I need my space time to think. Enjoy the ride back to the Triskelion," he says as his face and voice soften again.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"Of course, Director. It was...good catching up. And that agent won't be necessary. I've got other duties on my mind, I promise." Peggy stands and gives him a smooth, respectful salute, in the way he would her at the beginning of his career. Then she turns on the ball of her foot and heads for the door to take a trip back to earth.