Pt. 55 What have I done?
[AVENGERS TOWER SECURITY FILES: 04152017 1845hrs]
Loc: Residential Level A, Quarters of P. Carter, AVENGERS TOWER, Broadway & W 58th St, New York, NY
APRIL: You now have full access to all SHIELD files, Boss. Including all Blackbook and Directorate Eyes Only files that were partitioned and blocked from the file dump performed by Agent Romanoff during the battle with HYDRA at the Triskelion in 2014.
Peggy: <sitting at her desk, pondering where to start, something on the desk catches her eye, she picks up the small piece of metal, fiddling with it, unbending the curves, thinking aloud> Everyone seems to get rather tense and uncomfortable and then clam up when I mention shutting it down.
Peggy: Tell me about Operation Paperclip. When was it shut down?
APRIL: Operation Paperclip was never officially shut down, though the last scientist recruited was in August of 1948, prior to the merger of SSR and SHIELD.
Peggy: <confused> August? That was two months before I left 1948, I don’t recall anyone being recruited during that time. Howard had been badgering me to release some of the scientists incarcerated in The Rat, but I stood my ground. None of those nazi worms deserved to see the light of day ever again. Show me the files.
Peggy: <jaw drops, stammers> No, no, no, no, no. Who in the bloody HELL released Zola?!
APRIL: Files show Dr. Arnim Zola was released from The Rat in August 1948 by Director Margaret Carter, and recruited to Howard Stark’s think tank at SSR/SHIELD.
Peggy: I never authorized anything of the sort!
APRIL: I can only show you what information is available in the files, Boss. All paperwork regarding the release and recruitment of Dr. Zola was signed by you. Handwriting analysis confirms it matches yours.
Peggy: <shakes her head in denial, angry, confused> I, no, I didn’t, I couldn’t have. I’d never trust him in SHIELD, who knows what kind of chaos he’d sow!
APRIL: Dr. Zola was instrumental in resurrecting HYDRA within SHIELD. Secretly recruiting HYDRA agents that had escaped capture after the war, and turning others to his cause.
Peggy: <fighting back tears> I built SHIELD as a memorial to Steve, to protect the world he no longer could. That worm, that snake, that, that PARASITE! He let HYDRA undermine everything I built!
APRIL: Using SHIELD resources, HYDRA was able to sow discord around the globe over the course of the next 60 years.
Peggy: Surely there were people who fought back, who resisted HYDRA’s influence?
APRIL: Those that stood in the way were eliminated, often by Zola’s most effective tool, an assassin, known as the Winter Soldier.
Peggy: <incredulous> How could I have run SHIELD, with no knowledge of HYDRA’s existence within?
Peggy: You said this Winter Soldier assassinated those that stood in HYDRA’s way. Was I one of his victims?
APRIL: No. Only two high level SHIELD operatives have been known to be targets of the Winter Soldier. Director Fury faked his death after being shot by the Winter Soldier.
Peggy: And the other?
APRIL: SHIELD Co-Founder, Howard Stark.
Peggy: <gasps, her hand over her mouth in shock> Oh, no. <the video files continues>
Peggy: <sobbing> Stop it! Stop the file! I can’t watch this! <rises, rushing for the door>
APRIL: <the screen goes blank> Boss, where are you going?
Peggy: <tears streaming down her face, grabbing her coat> I don’t know, I just have to get out of here, I need some air, I need to think.
APRIL: Boss, you heart rate is extremely elevated, and you appear to be in distress, should I call Tony?
Peggy: NO! I, I can’t face him. It’s my fault. All of it. I let HYDRA rise again. I destroyed SHIELD. <whispers> I, I killed Howard. <the door shutting abruptly behind her as she dashes out into the night>