Pt 56. The House of Cards Begins to Wobble…..
[SHIELD IN HOUSE SURVEILLANCE FILES: 04152017 1845hrs]
Loc: Operations Command, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st
Nick: <looks over at Agent Klein> This went smoother than the last rally. I’m gonna go grab some chow while it’s still quite arou <Klein’s computer chirps an alert> nd here.
Klein: <winces> Director?
Nick: <rolls his eyes, through clenched teeth> What. Now.
Klein: Someone’s accessing Directorate level files with a dormant clearance code.
Nick: <hang his head for a moment, closes his eye, shakes his head> Carter.
Klein: Yes, sir.
Nick: Remind me again, WHY her old code is still in the damn system?
Klein: When Howard Stark built the original SHIELD network back in the 80’s, he hardwired both his and Director Carter’s access in to the network. In order to remove them, we’d have had to start over from the ground up. Stark built such an advanced network, that we were Y2K compliant a decade before anyone was worried enough to come up with a name for it. We’ve upgraded hardware, his son Tony has done upgrades to the systems and security, but the original framework Howard built is still there. After Stark Sr died and Director Carter retired, their codes were still a part of the system. Since they required three levels of biometrics as well as a correct passphrase, no one ever expected them to be usable.
Nick: <glares at Klein> Our JOB Klein, is to ALWAYS expect the unexpected. I’ll assume we can’t shut her out, but can you tell what she’s sticking her nose into?
Klein: <checks files> Looks like she’s digging into Operation Paperclip. How it led to Zola, HYDRA, and <pauses> Howard Stark’s death.
Nick: Shit. Get me Stark on the line, NOW. <communications chanel opens, video screen lights up, Tony answers>
Tony: <grins> Please hold. <the image shifts to a slideshow of pictures of Tony, while AC DC plays in the background>
Nick: <growls, fire in his eyes> This ISN’T a time for games, Stark!
Tony: <pops back on screen, shrugs> I like to watch that little red hold light blink.
Nick: <mix of anger and snark> Do you know what your ‘Dear Auntie’ is up to right now?
Tony: <confused, but snarks back> I’m not a babysitter. Probably playing online footsie with Rogers, even though you’re supposed to be keeping them separated?
Nick: They still have no clue. I’m more concerned with the fact that she’s catching up on her future history -specifically Paperclip, HYDRA, and Howard’s death.
Tony: <pales, shouting> Friday! Where’s Aunt Peggy?
FRIDAY: Miss Carter has left the Avengers Tower. Before you ask, I’ve already tried contacting her. She’s not responding to calls.
Tony: <visibly worried> Shit, shit, shit. She’s gotta be devastated. Nick, we gotta find her.
Nick: <snaps his fingers at Klein> Start searching traffic cams, get some teams out to canvas the area. <turns back to Tony> I thought you had a tracker on that repulsor watch you gave her.
Tony: It only activates if the watch is armed. I didn’t figure on having to hunt her down unless she was in danger.
Klein: <looks up> Sir, you’ve got an incoming communication from Agent Romanoff.
Nick: <sighs> Put her up on the screen too. <the screen splits and Nat appears> Kinda busy here Romanoff, I’ve got a missing agent to track down.
Nat: Has Rogers checked in with you yet? FYI, he snuck back into NYC last night, probably with help from King T’Challa.
Nick: <mouth in a tight frown, inhales, then exhales, nostrils flaring> So now we’ve got Carter AND Rogers wandering the streets? <shouting> I WANT THEM FOUND, PEOPLE!
Nat: Wait, Carter? I thought Sharon was in South Korea keeping an eye on the VP.
Nick: <points at Nat’s side of the screen> That’s ‘need to know’ Romanoff. <Nat looks past Nick to a computer screen behind him that’s scanning facial recognition against a picture of Peggy, quickly shifts her gaze back to Nick>
Nat: <nods> Sorry, Nick. Just thought you’d want to know about Cap.
Nick: You know where he’s located?
Nat: No, but I can find out. I’d rather have you bringing him in than Everett Ross.
Nick: Get on it. <Nat’s side of the screen winks out, Tony’s expands to take it’s place>
Tony: <eyeroll> Perfect, just what we need. I’m more than tempted to suit up and go looking for her.
Nick: Hill’s out there, she’ll bring Peg in.
Tony: <eyebrows raise, punctuating his question> And Rogers?
Nick: You really think I want you out there, suited up, ready for a fight? <shakes his head> Last thing I need right now, Stark. I’ll keep you updated. <Tony tries to argue, Nick makes a throat slashing motion to Klein, video screen winks out> He’s not going to listen. As soon as we get a location from Romanoff, I want to be there. Rogers isn’t going to turn himself in to standard agents, and he sure as hell isn’t going to turn himself in to Stark.
*****Meanwhile at Avenger’s Tower*****