5850/Iron Fortitude: The Secretary of Defense

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Iron Fortitude: The Secretary of Defense
Date of Scene: 04 April 2021
Location: Director's Office - Playground
Synopsis: Bobbi details a very dangerous mission to meet with the SecDef. Part of the mission involves her wearing the Mockingbird flight suit. May will have to learn to fly solo - and her code name will be Blackbird.
Cast of Characters: Bobbi Morse, Melinda May

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    It's been over a week since Bobbi has had the luxury of pressing a single button and knowing a room is completely locked down. No signals in, no signals out. The ability to talk freely without driving out in to the middle of no where is restored. She presses the button and leans up against the desk. It's not her desk, she's not going to sit at it.

    "May.. I was talking to Fury about some next steps and one of the hot issues was the SecDef. The obvious question is -- is he HYDRA? is he compelled by HYDRA? or is he just a stooge? ..."

    A very big question. How high up does HYDRA's influence go? how long have they had to plan this move they took against SHIELD? "If we're ever going to convince the world we're not flying around dropping nukes on countries or stealing their gold, we need to find all the rot. Peggy's operation has an angle but I think we have a new front we can explore here..."

Melinda May has posed:
May isn't about to take that desk, either, though she will concede this is somehow a much more comfortable room than the Triskelion's Director Office ever was. Probably, she reflects, because Peggy had a hand in its original design. She folds her arms over her chest and leans a hip against a chair, head canted slightly as Bobbi speaks.

"Meaning?" the senior agent asks, dark brow arching faintly. "How do we get to him? I agree we need to figure out whose side he's really on, but... With everything we've seen, lately?" A beat. "I have a bad feeling about this."

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    She nods her head, "As you should. Because we only have bad options at this point. I feel we need to pull a Batman on this one. Go straight to the source. Infiltrate the SecDef's residence and ask him questions directly. We can't kidnap him or inject him with something to compel the truth out of him, but ..." she raises an eyebrow and motions to May herself.

    "Correct me if I'm wrong but you're going to tell if he's being dishonest with you, right?" She pushes off the desk and walks over to a side table. There, a brief case.

    "And if anyone is going to go in to such a hot zone right in to the belly of the beast to interrogate the SecDef like that, they're going to need to be extra mobile," she says and opens the brief case revealing her Mockingbird wings. "If you're up for this level of crazy, I had a thought you might like to learn how to fly solo."

Melinda May has posed:
May narrows her eyes at first, considering the first question. "I can..." she allows slowly. "At least, I can make an educated guess." It's not like there's a feeling that's actually truth or dishonesty. They're more... combinations of other things she's still learning to sort through.

But when she's presented with the wing suit, she blinks and her brows rise. "I... think that's a very convincing argument," she admits. She knows how to use jet packs. And she's used a traditional wingsuit. But the Mockingbird wings are something else again. Much like Falcon's wings. Unique. Powerful. Freeing.

And useful as hell.

"What exactly do you have in mind?" Infiltration, obviously. But details help.

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    "I know Daisy can tell if someone is lying or not.. but.." she pauses and presses her lips together. Her arms cross over her chest almost protectively. "This is not a mission for our young level 5. This is.. too important. If the SecDef is HYDRA, the odds of walking in to a trap is really high. How bad a trap? who knows.. going after the SecDef after his TV appearance is an obvious move and will be anticipated."

    "I'd go myself, but - well you well know I'm not physically up to the challenge right now. And even though we got the HYDRA moles I... well I will just feel better having the primary on this mission be _you_," she says and lets out a long breath.

    "You can say no. I know in SHIELD we all have a problem with saying no sometimes and I am dangling my fancy wing suit in front of you. The mission is simple enough. SecDef has dinner with his staff at 8pm and finishes up with a brandy around 10:30pm. The house is quiet by 11pm like clockwork. Then - you Batman on in through the top window."

    "We disable the silent alarm, you enter through the window and ask him blunt and direct questions about his knowledge of HYDRA, AIM, Feavits, Dr. List, Whitehall, ... everything."

    She motions to the wing suit, "This is your in and your out. Especially if things go south. You'll be flying close to the ground to avoid radar and helicopter. Whether or not it's a trap secret service will realise something is off eventually and your extraction will have to be swift. This is Washington DC - instead of heading out is what they'd expect. Instead, you'll be heading in to the science and technology museum."

Melinda May has posed:
May's instincts about truth and lies are good to begin with. Add her nascent abilities to it, and chances are she'll be as good as anyone who isn't actually a telepath. And better than most.

She listens to the details and considers it. "Daisy's not a good choice in this one, no. Quake is too public. If I get caught, it's a failed assassination attempt by a disgruntled former agent thwarted by the brave men and women of the Secret Service doing the jobs they were trained to do. A feather in the administration's cap and proof that SHIELD is evil. The motivations they assign to it become simple -- revenge, retaliation, terror, whatever. The risk of escalation is moderate, but it won't be an uncontrolable three ring circus. Just a helluva lot more surveillance and a circling of the wagons."

She shakes her head, expression grave. "But if Quake is caught, it's not just an assassination attempt, it's an attempt to destabilize the US government by a rogue element capable of decimating cities, possibly counties. Escalation will be both inevitable and excessive. It'd be like declaring open war. Next thing we know, we'll be living in a state *publically* run by HYDRA, instead of merely puppeted by it."

Yeah. She gets what's at stake here.

"I'm your best choice." Not the only choice. Sharon Carter could probably pull it off, too. But she'd need additional help as a lie detector. May doesn't. "I can do it."

She cants her head. "What at the museum?"

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    Bobbi takes a moment to walk around the room nodding her head as May describes her dooms day scenario of the USA v Quake. As if Quake wouldn't win, right? ..well. She smiles a touch when May agrees she's the best choice. "It'll be bad if they caught you, but may be not terrible for SHIELD. They could frame the narrative.. but they'll think you're Mockingbird. Mockingbird has been seen here and there over the years - but rarely with SHIELD agents. I tend to use the identity when I'm solo."

    She rolls her eyes, "So I guess if things go wrong, my alter ego will be a villain. Amusing, but - let's not dwell on the bad outcomes. Let's hope you do get out of there and we get the answers we need. If he's confused then we know he's a stooge. If he's nazi proud of his actions he's probably HYDRA. If he's just smug, he might have gotten paid.. corruption is a thing still. And if he's scared, may be HYDRA has someone he loves..."

    She grins now and says, "So glad you asked." She makes a gesture to the screen and it springs to life with the schematics of what looks like a super primitive quinjet, "This is the Bell X-14. One of the first ever working VTOL aircraft. Designed and built in the 50s. Heck Peggy probably knew all about it. May be that's where the quinjet originated... there's one in the science and technology museum on the Washington Mall."

    "Prior to your Batman impression, one of our techs will have entered their warehouse, bypassed the fuel system and connected one of our batteries to the machine - as well as one of our older model paint based cloaking systems. All very old school. Instead of sneaking a real quinjet in the DC airspace - you're going to steal and fly the OG out of DC airspace undetected."

Melinda May has posed:
"I'll try not to get caught," May says dryly, though it's sincere. Neither of them really want to 'burn' the Mockingbird alias. She pushes off the chair and moves toward the desk as Bobbi speaks. The litany of emotions isn't wrong, but she doesn't need to say that. They both know it.

But the grin elicits another arched brow. And as the Bell X-14 appears on screen both brows rise. As the exfil is explained, however, she ends up reflecting Bobbi's grin.

Seriously, it's impossible for any real pilot in SHIELD not to grin at this. And May has the added pressure of Bobbi's own excitement to augment her own. "Works for me," she says, eyes glittering. Crazy wingsuit and the OG quinjet? Hell, yes, she's in. This could be...


Dangerous... deadly... but fun.

She continues to look up at the image of the plane. "When do we do this?"

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    She makes a swiping motion with her arm and the screen moves over to the mockingbird wing suit specifications and operating system. Falcon operating system just like Sam's - modified to handle the alien anti-gravity plates that are inside the cloak that make up the wings.

    "As soon as you're able to handle flying with the suit and Piper is done prepping the exfil. DC is going to go crazy with secret service, police, road blocks, helicopters, the moment any kind of alarm is raised. That's why we're being extra tricky with our plans here."

    "Next step is to get you flying though. It's going to be a bit rough but I've found a location you can learn in. It doesn't handle like any plane or jetpack you've used before but I'll talk you through it." She smirks with slight amusement, "And if we're lucky Daisy doesn't hear about this. She already gives me enough crap about 'being a superhero' because she is one and thinks Mockingbird should be one too. If she finds out you're going to be Mockingbird for a night she will flip. The last thing you need is that level of excitement around you."

    "Speaking of which, how are you doing? I keep wanting to talk to you about your ability. All I know is what I've seen, gossip I've heard, the few tidbits you've dropped and the fact that Jemma hasn't issued a negative operations report for you... what is going on?"

Melinda May has posed:
"Daisy's excitement is a helluva lot better than some other emotions people throw at me," May opines dryly. "But, yeah. Copy that."

She spends a few moments examining the wingsuit specs, nodding some. "Where are we training?" It'll doubtlessly be a great distraction from almost everything else she's trying to deal with.

The question about her well-being though... well, it is the first time they've actually spoken privately since Nepal. She lets out a slow breath. "I'm coping," she says after a moment. "Good days. Bad days. It was easier in the beginning. I didn't feel anything myself, and needed to touch people to actually feel what they were feeling." A beat. "There are days I miss that insulation. But there aren't many people I know who've worked harder on controlling their emotions than me, over the years. So, I guess I've been training for long enough." A beat. She adds, "And I've got a little help."

She lifts her leg and places her foot on the edge of a chair, fishing her holdout blade from her boot. "This little thing?" She looks at it for a moment, not passing it over. "It's got some sort of weird mojo placed on it. Keeps the strongest emotions muted enough I can deal with them without losing my shit. I'm working on not needing it, but... God, it was helpful back when this all started."

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    She smirks and brings up an image of a beached oil tanker from the 80s down the coast that had been converted in to a paint ball battle arena - inside and outside of it. Tall ceilings, open spaces, obstacles, abandoned. "Welcome to War Paint Ship, as it was affectionately called by the enthusiasts who ran it a decade ago. They went out of business, but it's a useful obstacle course for learning to fly around tight corners - ie: buildings."

    She nods to May and says, "Nepal.. was.." A twitch, even with the dagger a strong emotion of loss from Bobbi. "I made the mistake of not building emotional walls around the mission. I made friends, I got to know the place.. and it turned out I belonged there. Then I lost it. The place had problems, +lots+ of problems. But ... there was something special about it."

    She raises an eyebrow at the blade, "You have an emotional support blade? That's so you." There's a small smirk of amusement but she doesn't question it. If it works for May, good. "Once more of our agents are settled in to this place tomorrow we'll grab an SUV and head down south to the coast for your Mockingbird training. I ... guess we call you Mockingbird II ?"

Melinda May has posed:
May gives Bobbi a wry smile, feeling that twitch without reflecting it, her own emotions around it strong enough to deflect it. "They hated me there," she tells Bobbi bluntly. "I didn't need to have empathic abilities to know that. They made it very, very clear." Then again, she is the 'Butcher of Bahrain'... or something like that. If only they knew what she truly felt on that fateful day.

Why does it always come back to emotions?

"I doubt the fact I survived accidental Terragenesis will change their minds." It doesn't change hers, really. It only makes everything that much worse.

Still, she shoves the blade back in her boot, chuckling dryly at Bobbi's observation. "I do like it," she agrees. "It was that or find some way to break into my apartment to retrieve my old wedding ring." A beat. "Which I should probably do, one of these days." A shrug. "I like the blade better."

Mockingbird II? May arches a brow at that. "I guess we do. Does that mean I need to wear a blond wing? Blonde really isn't a good look for me."

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    She shakes her head, "I.. don't know what happened in Bahrain and I understand if you still don't want to talk about it. But -- this is a really weird thing about that group at Afterlife. They forgive everyone who is Inhuman. Blank slate, clean start. It was, to be honest, unnerving and a touch infuriating."

    "Do you remember the woman in the flower dress? people smuggler who was abducting Inhumans for Whitehall? She was there, in Nepal. You may not have recognised her. She was covered in porcupine needles and was haunty but skittish. Her ability? she could see in to the future... she told me weird things which.. hah. Well, let's just say other things she said came true."

    "The point being.. she's on our most wanted list and she abducted Inhumans and gave them to Whitehall for experimentation. She did _that_ and they forgave her. All because she was Inhuman. Their philosophy seemed to be that once you'd gone through terrigenesis, you were one of them irrespective of your old life. It was a talking point Gonzales," she pauses a moment and swallows, "And I had discussed. He didn't want to bring it up right away -- that those criminals hiding out in Afterlife still needed to answer for their crimes."

    "If they were willing to take in a monster like Reina, I've no doubt whatever it is that happened in Bahrain would have been dropped too." She waves a hand, "Any way, a moot point. Afterlife is gone and the rest of that Inhuman group are missing. I'm just hoping List doesn't have them."

    She grins and nods about the blade and the wedding right. "I expect HYDRA might be watching your place. Who knows how much they learnt about us from.. ugh.. Sitwell. That -- I sat in so many meetings with that man talking about highly classified stuff. Garrett? Yeah, makes sense. Hot head who likes being the big man. But Sitwell?," she shakes her head.

    She bliiiinks at the idea of a blonde wig and laughs, "Not a terrible idea. At least using the Mockingbird disguise -- you're not SHIELD. You're just some low level superhero type sticking her nose where it doesn't belong."

Melinda May has posed:
May has no intention of telling Bobbi what happened in Bahrain. She's told Peggy the rough details, but not even Coulson knows it all. And he was there. She finds the idea that they'd forgive her, when minutes before the mists they were ready to leave her for dead, fairly hard to swallow.

"I'm sorry about Gonzales," she says, feeling Bobbi's grief in a way she couldn't when it first happened. (Probably a good thing, then.) "He was doing his best to build a bridge. I think having me in the room was sabotaging it. Making things hotter than they needed to be. But he was doing his damnedest."

She shakes her head, adjusting her boot briefly before putting her foot down. "We'll find List. If he does have them, we'll make sure he doesn't keep them." And maybe kill him in the process. She's not above that. Collateral damage.

"If it's just HYDRA watching my place, that's one thing. If it's Talbot, that's another. Talbot could be HYDRA, but... the digging I've done suggests he's a point-and-shoot kinda guy. Not a big philosophical thinker. If he's HYDRA, there's someone pulling his strings."

She snirks at the superhero comment. "Wearing a wig won't matter, if I'm caught. It'll come off and they'll know to blame SHIELD, regardless. Just as soon as they put my face through facial rec."

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    She shakes her head, "I don't know. I got to understand that Jiaying wasn't exactly open to the idea of working with SHIELD. I think the only reason she was even in that meeting at all was because of Daisy and her desire to keep me on side. Politics in other words. May be they got riled up seeing you too, or may be it was just more excuses to justify their extreme position - they really didn't like anyone who wasn't Inhuman."

    She nods her head, "Thank you. It was so strange packing up his things. I kept some of his stuff - but that's all back at the Trisk so I can't even look at the keepsakes any more. Old stubborn jerk," she says with a grin. "Speaking of which.. do you want to come check out my ship? The Iliad? it's one of the assets I'm meant to be managing now and I have no clue what I'm doing. I've been reading up on how ships are commanded because I don't want to mess up anything the chief and captain have going."

    "Personally I'd like to see List put down," she says without any hint of joking. She's serious and has no doubt suggested to Fury that he's placed on the kill list. After what Whitehall did, they cannot have someone else following in his footsteps.

    She rolls her eyes and says, "Talbot! ...that guy. I read his profile too. Very straight line thinker. He picks a direction and charges forward regardless. Fury thinks we can turn him if he's not actually HYDRA. I think he's too dense to recognise an ally when they're staring him in the face."

    She nods her head, "Okay, not Mockingbird II then. You're not very good at teasing people. It's a natural talent of mine after all, honed by years of practice with Lance. How about..." she ponders, "Let's go with the dark theme of SHIELD being underground. Blackbird? Just don't go singing in the dead of night?"

Melinda May has posed:
"Yeah. I picked up on that," May says as to the prejudice at Afterlife. "And, yes. I think Jiaying was just going through the motions." A wry smile touches her lips again, a little self-mocking. "Though I will say, the look of shock on her face when I didn't crumble..." She lets that trail off, not wanting to reference Gonzales. She shakes her head. "Raina called me 'The Caretaker' before she died," she says after a moment. "I have no idea what that's supposed to mean."

But as for the comment about List, the soft grunt of agreement May gives is doubtlessly telling. She'll happily put a bullet in his head. And in Vogel's. And possibly Huttz'. She's feeling more than a little vindictive these days. It could be she's picking up on the emotions of her colleagues. But it's just as likely it's personal.

Still, 'Blackbird' is a damned sight better than 'Mockingbird II'. "I don't sing," she tells Bobbi flatly. "I don't sing and I don't like dancing. You're safe." She didn't say she can't dance. She can. And quite well, at that. She just doesn't like to. (Except with the right partner.) "We'll need to camo the white parts of the suit, I think." A beat. "Hell, we'll need a new suit to attach the wings to. There's no way I'll fit yours." There's a good six inches in height difference between them, never mind an entirely different distribution of weight.

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    Bobbi's eyes widen just a touch. A tell. She needs to work on that - but the emotional pang as May mentions 'crumble'. Intense and sharp but gone just as quick. She is no slouch at controlling her emotions too. "The Caretaker? You're.. takin' care of business?," she says with a grin.

    "Perhaps she saw how despite your professionalism, everyone gravitates towards you. You don't make people feel safe by being there, you make people safe by teaching them how to protect themselves... least, that's the way I've always thought about it. Heck, when I was a new agent you taught me too."

    "Ah. Yes well, mostly it's a harness. It's effectively a cape with body straps - so you won't need to wear _my_ stupid Mockingbird look. The belt, however, that Daisy oooh so helpfully donated does still have the M on it.. Ah well. The glasses, well, they're yellow and I personally think stylish. I'm sure you can rock them."

    She makes a motion to the screen again and it brings up the glasses and Falcon operating system. "Glance controlled user interface, overlays, predictive threat detection. I'll walk you through all of it on site at the beached ship. It is a cool name though. If word gets out it might stick." ...unsaid: 'better than the cavalry'.

Melinda May has posed:
May is very good at taking care of business, it's true. She snirks, nonetheless. But she'll accept the description Bobbi gives as to how she protects her people. "They need to know how to protect themselves," she says, as if it were self-evident. "They can't rely on anyone else being there to protect them all the time. Not even me."

As for the Mockingbird regalia. "Yellow goggles aren't that different from ballistic glasses," she notes. They're often yellow, too. "I'm sure it'll be fine."

She returns her attention to the screen, expresion growing a trifle more serious as she studies the system. "It might," she agrees. 'Blackbird' would be better than 'The Cavalry'. But 'The Cavalry' has the weight of years and an ever increasing legend behind it. It will never truly fade, no matter what call sign she uses.

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    Bobbi has been guilty of making up Cavalry tall tales. It's practically a SHIELD tradition now just to spook the rookies before they meet May. It also helps avoid them not taking May seriously because that's a waste of time and sometimes injuries that no one needs. Cavalry lies are a preventative measure.

    "The Caretaker. She called me The Combiner.. and Daisy -- The Destroyer," she says and cocks an eyebrow up at that last one. "Catchy names. You've spent years honing control of your emotions and now you're expected to handle everyones? I spent years learning Biochemistry and now I have an ability that reads and manipulates it - ironically none of what I know about biochem seems to be helping. And why not Jemma? she's way smarter than me and far better at biochemistry... and science in general."

Melinda May has posed:
May knows a lot of the rumours about her are spread by the senior agents. Hell, she knows Coulson's been guilty of it. She lets it go because... well, it benefits her, too. And, besides. It's a contemporary rite of passage -- surviving an exam with the Cavalry. Only the best make it through, which is how it should be. And if she takes over STRIKE? That'll only increase the legend.

"I'm going to go with: The Universe has a twisted, sadistic sense of humour," she tells Bobbi dryly. Hell, it made her stand in a pothole in the middle of god-knows-where Long Island talking to some invisible goddess about blessing a holdout blade.

Something she will never, ever speak aloud.

"Heavy titles, regardless," she says to Bobbi. "I suppose we got saddled with them because we're all mixed up with the Inhumans in ways Jemma and the others aren't."

Bobbi Morse has posed:
    Bobbi pauses to look around the office. More space. Brick. Furniture. Technology. Not at all like Fury's corner office in the Triskelion. "Fury said we can use this room to prepare for ops.. I don't think he intends on visiting too often. I'm not sure what he's up to but it's big - some how bigger than everything happening to SHIELD. In some ways I suppose we should be flattered that he thinks we can take care of it."

    She shuts the case containing the mockingbird wing suit and then motions down to the screen and it clears away the specs and turns off. "Let's begin tomorrow afternoon. The Blackbird shall take flight," she says being playfully dramatic.

Melinda May has posed:
"Lucky us," May murmurs. Still, he's not wrong. Between the two of them, they can handle operations out of this base. Nevertheless, she nods. "Tomorrow it is," she agrees. She actually gives a tight smile. "You can teach me how to really fly."

And for once, she'll look forward to it.