S1E18: Redtape, Rescues &Restrictions
<a holographic teleconference already in progress, Tony and Pepper arguing with General Ross>
Ross: <focused on Tony, points in Pepper’s direction, but doesn’t look at her> When you decided it would be ‘fun’ to put your girlfriend in a suit, you put her in the jurisdiction of the Accords. If you don’t get her to sign, she’s in violation.
<Tony leans back in his chair, sipping a cup of coffee, his eyes grinning, says nothing>
Pepper: <her face in a stone scowl, her tone firm and assertive> His girlfriend is over here, General. Tony didn’t ‘put me in the suit’. It was my idea. After the bomb at Columbus Circle, I think I’ve proven I can handle both the suit and a crisis.
Ross: <finally turns from Tony to Pepper, still pointing, his voice raising> I see why you two get along so well. You’re just another loose cannon, like him. You shouldn’t have BEEN at Columbus Circle. Non-signatories aren’t allowed to take action even on home soil. I could lock you up right now.
Pepper: <eyes narrowing> For saving thousands of lives?
Ross: <inhales, his moustache twitching as he hesitates> As Secretary of State, I ‘could’ overlook that incident. IF you were to sign immediately.
<Tony turns his attention to an alert on his phone as the argument continues>
Pepper: <places her hands on the desk, leaning in, staring down the Ross’s hologram> I don’t think so, MISTER Secretary. I’ve read the fine print, and so have our lawyers. I’m not one for signing away my rights and liberties. The US may have signed the Accords, but Congress still hasn’t ratified them. In fact, most of the regulations in the Accords are unconstitutional. Every Enhanced individual that has been forced to sign them, incarcerated over actions in regards to them, or, <pauses> been declared a fugitive because of them, would have quite the civil liberties lawsuit against the Dept of Defense. Right now, the only loose cannon in this conversation is the one threatening to lock people up for using their abilities to help others.
Ross: <coughs, face turning red> Young lady are you threatening the Dept of Defense? Do you think your high priced lawyers can protect you? The US government has lawyers too. My orders come straight from the White House. Ratified yet or not, the Accords are the law of the land, and you WILL abide by them or face prosecution.
Tony: <taps his phone on the desk, getting both their attention> Sorry to break up this entertaining discussion, but there’s something you both should see. <his phone casts to the monitor on the wall>
<a live news feed shows Queen Elizabeth in the midst of a public address>
Queen: We do not make this request lightly. With the explosion at the Roxxon drilling platform off the coast of Edinburgh and the flooding in Cardiff caused by Storm Oisín, Our own heroes are unable to assist the rescue of those trapped in Oakenfell Towers.
We call for aid from the Avengers, Alpha Flight, and any other Heroes on Earth who may answer. There are nearly eight hundred souls trapped in those burning towers, and We implore you to help them.
<the feed loops back to the beginning of the message>
Ross: No. Out of the question. You need UN clearance and Parliament’s permission to even enter UK airspace.
Tony: <raises a finger, interjecting> Actually, I think a request from the Queen of England pretty much covers the clearance. At the rate Parliament or the UN would take to agree on anything, those buildings will be rubble and hundreds will be dead. We’re going.
Ross: <points at Pepper, snarling> SHE doesn’t go. No signature, no clearance.
Pepper: <defiant> These people need help. I go where I choose.
Ross: You fly one shiny toe out of US airspace and I’ll…
Pepper: <folds arms, staring him down> You’ll what? Unleash your pet Abomination to come after me? Or just waste millions of taxpayer dollars and time on a useless manhunt like you did Bruce? <Ross’s face grows redder at the mention of Dr Banner, a vein pulsing in his forehead>
Tony: Sorry Ross, no time to waste. We’ve got an invitation from the Queen and I’ve got to decide what to wear. We’ll bring you back a souvenir golf tee or something. <terminates the video conference before Ross responds, turning to Pepper> You ready for this, babe?
Pepper: Of course. We’re needed. But we could use a little help.
Tony: I’ve already messaged Rhodey. He’s on his way here and the three of us can fly out together. We can make it in about half an hour at top speed.
Pepper: What about…
Tony: <interrupts> Vision is MIA, <sighs> again. <thinks, snaps his fingers> I know someone. <dials phone> Happy? Yeah. I need you to pick up the kid. We’ve got an emergency Stark Retreat. <listens> Uhhuh, tell him he’ll still be a friendly neighbourhood helper, it’s just a neighbourhood in a different time zone. I’ll send you the coordinates in London. Take the upgraded Quinjet. See you in an hour. Oh, and tell Parker to pack his sunscreen, it’s going to get warm.
Pepper: <gives him a look> I thought maybe you’d finally call Steve.
Tony: <looks down, rubbing his ear> Ah, uh, too public. Even if he did answer and show, it would put him back in Ross’s crosshairs. You know how much he loves a manhunt.
Pepper: <sighs, disappointed> Alright, I guess we’d better suit up.
<the team has just watched the video from the Queen>
Steve: We have to go.
Sam: <hesitant> This is a lot different than sneaking around busting up supertech arms deals. We won’t be able to stay in the shadows.
Wanda: <visibly upset, remembering her own childhood trauma> We can’t just abandon them!
Nat: <holds up a hand> Calm down, Wanda. Nobody’s abandoning them. But if we go, we must be careful.
Sam: We’re still on the UN’s most wanted list. We get spotted, they’ll have us in cuffs before you can ask for tea.
Steve: I’d rather go to jail for doing the right thing and saving lives than hide and let people die.
Nat: <pondering, shakes her head> No. They’re not going to throw us in jail. Technically, since this is a request from the Queen, we have permission to be there. If nothing else, it would be bad PR for them to arrest people answering a call for aid.
Sam: <thinks, eyebrows raised, nods> True. So when do we head out?
Nat: Quinjet can be ready in 10 min. It will take us about an hour to get there.
Steve: <looks round the table before rising> Then what are we waiting for? Suit up.
<Happy finds Peter outside Delmar’s Grocery, hurriedly munching on a doughnut as he rushes toward school>
Happy: Hey, kid, we gotta go.
Peter: <through a mouthful of doughnut, a cloud of powdered sugar puffing from his lips> Wha? Now? I can’t! I’m late for school, I got a math test this morning.
Happy: Mr Stark specifically asked me to come get you. Have you seen the news about the fire in London?
Peter: Well, yeah, but I thought we agreed I’d stay a friendly neighbourhood, ah <looks around at passers-by, drops his voice to a whisper> you-know-who. If I go, then I’ll have to sign the Accords. <visibly shaken at the idea> They’ll make me reveal my secret identity. I can’t put Aunt May and my friends in that kind of danger.
Happy: Mr Stark and Ms Potts have lawyers already working on the Accords. <places his hand reassuringly on Peter’s shoulder> I swear to you, Peter, I’ll do everything I can to protect May, <pauses> and you.
Peter: <pondering> It must be pretty bad. I mean if they need my help, yeah, I want to help people. It’s why I put on the suit in the first place.
Happy: <squeezing his shoulder> Yeah, they need you, kiddo. C’mon, the jet’s waiting. <begins to lead him towards his car, stops> Do you need to stop and pick up your suit?
Peter: <opens the car door, tossing his backpack inside> Nah, I keep it in my bag in case of emergencies. <hops in as Happy makes his way around to the driver’s side> Man, Ned is not going to believe this.
Happy: You can tell him all about it when we get back, we’re on the clock. <starts the car, pulling out into traffic, scowling at a cab that cuts him off>
Peter: <jumps up in his seat> I gotta call May! She’ll freak if the school calls and says I’m not there!
Happy: <cringes> Well, she’s not going to be too thrilled about you flying to London on an Avengers mission, either.
Peter: She knows I’m Spiderman, and- she’s… surprisingly ok about it. I mean, she wasn’t at first, but she’s cool now. I just don’t want her to worry.
Happy: <sighs> Fine. <turns a corner, avoiding a bike messenger, Peter already dialing>
Peter: Hey! Aunt May! <pauses, listening> Yeah, I know, I know. Listen, that fire in London on the news this morning. Mr Stark asked me to come help. There are a lot of people trapped in those buildings. Helicopters can’t get through the smoke and the fire to get them, but I can. <listens> I’m with Happy, we’re on our way to a jet. <Happy groans, Peter puts his hand over the phone, eyes Happy oddly> She says you’d better make sure we’re BOTH back for dinner because she’s making lasagna. Why would she want both of us there? <tightlipped, Happy just nods, giving a thumb up, Peter uncovers the phone, listening> She also says avoid the tunnel, there’s a breakdown snarling up traffic. <Happy nods again, Peter goes back to the phone> Yes, Aunt May, I promise to be careful. <blushes, cupping his hand over his mouth and the phone, whispering> I larb you too. <Happy smiles, but pretends not to overhear>
<a cloaked Quinjet lands in an empty park near the blaze, the two towers of the apartment complex engulfed in flame, heavy smoke billowing into the sky, as the hatch opens, Sam takes to the sky, while Steve, Nat and Wanda rush out, they look up, through the smoke they see flashes of red, silver and blue dashing around the buildings>
Steve: <to the others> Switch your com frequency to A1. <across the radio> Need a hand or eight? <the red flash halts in the sky for a moment before zooming back into the smoke>
Tony: <bursts through a livingroom window, scooping up a shocked and frightened elderly woman, flying her down to medical teams triaged nearby> I didn’t want to put you on Ross’s radar, but I gotta admit, I hoped you’d show up at the party. We need all the help we can get. Right now it’s just me, Rhodey and Pepper. The kid should be here any minute. We have our hands full just trying to evacuate residents. If you guys can help with that, some of us can work on containing the fire before it spreads to any other buildings.
Nat: Copy that, good to see you too, Tony. <turns to the team> Grab the rebreathers off the jet, none of us will last five minutes in the smoke. Sam, take a spare and start helping with the evacuation. The fire’s mostly in the center between the two buildings, let the suits take those, they have heat shielding. Work your way up best you can. <Sam nods, zipping back into the jet quickly to grab the gear before launching himself into the air> Wanda, do you think you can clear things out and douse the flames?
Wanda: I can only do one or the other. I can funnel the smoke up and out of the building, but more will pour in. Or, I can try to contain the flames running up the side of the buildings, a force field may starve it out.
Nat: Ok, focus on the fire then. Steve and I will help on the ground with the responders.
<the team splits up, suddenly a large television crashes through a window fifteen stories up- a man jumps out, smoke pouring through the open window behind him, Sam rockets up, catching the man by his arm, lowering him to safety, Rhodey locks in on the tv hurtling toward responders below, firing, the TV explodes into tiny pieces before it can hit a medic checking on a firefighter>
Sam: Nice shot. Good to see you back in the air, Rhodey.
Rhodey: Thanks, Sam. Nice catch. Keep an eye out. He’s the fourth jumper so far. <dashes back towards the center of the two buildings where the fire is most intense, Sam scans the side of the building, looking for windows with sheets hanging out them, a signal of residents in distress>
<a red glow envelops the largest stream of fire as it licks it way up the side of the eastern tower, the flames halting their progress, Tony looks down, impressed, he smiles as a small red figure swings into view>
Tony: Ok, Parker, you help Pepper and Sam with the evac. Try not to swing too close to the flames. Your webbing is strong, but at these temperatures, they’ll still burn through. Rhodey, there’s an upgrade in your suit, switch to ‘Elsa’ and we’ll work on actually trying to put this thing out.
Rhodey: <makes the change, his flame thrower switching to a cryo mode, steam mixes with the smoke as jets of liquid nitrogen begin to ice over the flames, he groans> Elsa? Really?
Steve: <overhearing the exchange as he makes his way through the smoke into the lobby of the eastern tower, laughs> I got that reference!
Nat: <shakes her head, following him> Let it go, boys, we’ve got work to do.
<hours pass as the teams work tirelessly through the smoke and heat, rescuing hundreds, and suppressing the worst of the fire despite strong winds rising, Peter and Sam take alternating breaks to rest and rehydrate, suddenly a loud cracking, crumbling sound can be heard from the eastern tower, suffering the bulk of the damage, the structure starts bowing, crumbling at one corner>
Sam: <tossing his drink aside> Shit! Guys! We’re losing East tower! Nat, Steve, where are you?
Nat: I’m in West. Thirty-first floor, west side. Got a family here. They can’t make it to the roof through the smoke. Heading for nearest window.
Sam: <already airborne> On my way, how many?
Nat: A dad and two kids.
Sam: <reaching the open window, Nat hands him the smaller of the two children, he cradles the infant, looking at the other child reaching out for him, crying> I’d take them both in one run, but if they get scared and start to squirm, I could drop them both.
Nat: <gently pulls the boy away from the window> I know, just get back quick. I think this tower is almost empty. After we get this apartment cleared, I’ll sweep the last two floors and meet you on the roof.
Sam: Ok, but where’s Steve?
Nat: <a worried look in her eyes> We split up. He’s working East with that Spiderkid. <shoos him off, trying to sound confident> He’ll be ok, we have to get these people to safety.
Sam: <flying the infant to the medics and zipping back up toward Nat, calls across his radio> ANYBODY GOT EYES ON CAP? He’s in East and it’s about to come down!
Peter: I haven’t seen him in a couple minutes, but I’m working on keeping the tower up. <to his suit AI> Karen, give me the safest structural points to web up and support the building. <an overlay appears showing him targets, he begins furiously swinging webs>
Tony: <pulls back from fire suppression> Cap? C’mon old man. You can play hide and seek later when Ross comes back after you. <no response> Friday, scan East for lifesigns.
FRIDAY: <two dots appear in the heart of the building> Just these two, Tony. They appear to be trapped in the only stairwell. It’s too unstable for you to blast through a wall. You’ll have to take a window and work your way to them.
Tony: Ok, let’s do it.
<FRIDAY guides him through the floorplan, leading him to the signals, Steve is sitting on a step, coughing furiously, his mask covering the face of an unconscious elderly man>
Steve: <gasping> He was trying to get down the stairs, looks like he tripped over some rubble and fell. <blinks, his eyes burning from the smoke>
Tony: This smoke is too much for even your enhanced lungs. Friday, we need an emergency exit, NOW.
FRIDAY: If you hit any of the support beams, the whole thing will come down!
Tony: You said we were the only ones alive in here, right?
Tony: <on radio> Found Cap, but East is about to go down when we clear out. Wanda! Can you contain the building so that it collapses in on itself without damaging any other buildings?
Wanda: Fire is under control out here, I can do it, but you’ll have to be quick!
Tony: <raises a hand, taking aim at the nearest wall> NOW!
<Tony fires a repulsor beam, a hole blasting through multiple walls, making an opening to the outside, grabbing Steve and the elderly man, one under each arm, flying out, as the building crumbles around them, they pass through a red glow, landing in the courtyard, setting them both down and returning to the fire, Steve carries the man to the medics before collapsing on a bench, hacking and wheezing, paying no mind to the news cameras that have been covering the rescue effort the entire day, one zooms in on him>
<Peg tries to work, while keeping one eye on the news monitor of the situation in London>
APRIL: Boss, he’s still throwing a fit.
Peg: <waves a hand in disdain, her voice begins to rise as she spins into a rant of her own> Mute his tweets. He hasn’t said one word about the victims of the fire, or the lives potentially lost, or the first responders or anything that isn’t about him. Selfish, thoughtless, arrogant, prat!
APRIL: Muted. You seem distracted and anxious about this fire. You haven’t been able to focus on anything since it hit the news.
Peg: It’s a horrible tragedy and I worry about the residents of the buildings. Also, I’m concerned for Anthony and Pepper being there in the midst of the whole thing.
<the news coverage continues>
Christine Everhart: Sources at the scene confirm that amongst the responders, not only have Tony Stark, Pepper Potts and Col James Rhodes been identified, but also the NYC vigilante Spiderman, and the fugitive former Avengers Sam Wilson, Wanda Maximoff, Natasha Romanoff and ringleader St- <the news feed cuts out, only a SHIELD logo appearing on the screen>
Peg: What happened? April! Put it back on!
<the screen flickers as APRIL scans numerous news sites trying to establish a connection>
APRIL: Trying Boss. Something going on over there tripped your security restrictions.
<a popup message appears on the screen>
ACCESS DENIED PER DIRECTOR FURY
Peg: <scowling in a mix of confusion and frustration> What the bloody hell? April, isn’t there some way to get around it?
APRIL: With your Director Level Clearance, I could override the restriction, however you still do not have the code.
Peg: Get me Fury. NOW.
APRIL: Sorry Boss, he’s not responding.
Peg: <growing more irritated by the second> Fine, I’ll go to him. <heads down the hall toward the command center, but her path is blocked by Agent Klein.
Klein: <nervous but firm> I’m sorry Agent Carter, but Command is off limits at the moment. We’re monitoring a situation and it’s restricted to level 7 or higher. I can’t let you through.
Peg: <eyes narrowing> Well this ‘situation’ is locking me out of all news feeds. I can’t get any work done!
Klein: <stammering slightly> I- I’m sorry ma’am, Director Fury’s orders. <turns, looking at the door, then back to Peg> I really have to go, I’m needed inside. <he places his hand on the bioscanner and ducks inside, making sure to quickly close the door behind him>
Peg: <growls, turning back to her office> If I can’t get my news directly, maybe I can get it second hand. <closes her door> April, open a message to Grant, he’s usually around about this time of day.
APRIL: User Stars and Stripes has been inactive for the past ten hours.
Peg: <sinks into her chair, staring at the lockout screen> This is ridiculous. What could possibly be going on that would be part of my restricted content?
Peg: I need to figure out that blasted code!
APRIL: Perhaps some tea will help you calm down and concentrate, Boss?
Peg: <growls> Bugger off, April.
Notes From Peg’s Desk
Sorry friends, it’s been a long rough week/end and I had hoped to have this episode ready much sooner! Life and mental health got in the way, but I hope you enjoyed it!
The Accords are complex. The regulations contain a lot of demands and consequences that infringe on personal rights and liberties. It was quite the insight researching the actual Constitutional legalities. If you’re curious about it, real life lawyer and You-tuber, LegalEagle breaks everything down here.
I though we’d leave things a bit in the air at the end, as we’re all left wondering what happened after the fire was contained. Will Steve’s team be taken in by the UN peacekeepers? What will Tony”s team face when they get home? Are the two of them ready to mend fences? How is Peg going to figure out her Security Code? I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see this Friday! Peggy