<Steve rises from a bench, walked over to Peter, clamped a hand on his shoulder>
Steve: You did good today Queens. I’m surprised to see you here though. Don’t you usually stick close to home?
Peter: <shrugs> When bad things happen, and people like us can help, we HAVE to step up. If we turn our backs and just let them happen, then that’s on us. Even, <looks past Steve in the distance to see Ross storming past the safety barriers and sighs> even if it means missing out on lasagna night. <nods his head in Ross’s direction, Steve turns> What’s that really old saying? Out of the frying pan and into the fire?
<Nat joins them, as Tony lands nearby, Ross weaves his way through responders, each step he takes, his face grows redder with rage>
<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.
[SHIELD IN HOUSE SURVEILLANCE FILES: 03102017 1000hrs]
Loc: Office of Agent Carter, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59th
<Tony, whistling, enters Peg’s office, sets a drink cup on the desk, surprised to find her at her desk, scowling at her computer>
Tony: What are you doing out of bed! Shouldn’t you still be in medbay?
Tony: <sits on edge of desk, feigning surprise, eyebrows raised, grabs chest> You? Bossy? Never!
Peggy: <rolls eyes> I do have my orders though. I’m to continue the liquids only diet and avoid yelling or extended conversations. I’m on milder pain medication, so I can focus on working. Though they say it will be close to a month before this ‘thing’ <points to the immobilizer and sling> comes off. So it appears I’m desk bound again, and one handed to boot.
Tony: Well that’s why I stopped by here, before coming to see you in Medbay. To pick up APRIL. She’ll give you an extra hand.
Peggy: <looks around, confused> WHO is April?
Tony: <reaches over to open desk drawer> This, <pulls out a flash drive> is APRIL. A natural-language user interface computer system to be your assistant.
Peggy: <still looking perplexed> How is that tiny little thing going to help me?
Tony: <plugs drive into computer> APRIL responds to voice command, interfacing with all your devices. She’ll monitor your news feeds, help you coordinate with your online teams, basically she can do almost anything you need. <hands her the cup off the desk> Though she still can’t make a smoothie.
Peggy: <eyes the cup warrily> Not more grass I hope.
Tony: Nope, blueberry. Flew them in from Maine, just for you.
Peggy: <takes the cup & a tentative sip, smiles, drinking deeply> Lovely! Is that a hint of mint?
Tony: And a touch of honey. Thought it might help your throat. <Peggy nods, taking another sip> Feeling better?
Peggy: <voice sounding less hoarse> Quite a bit, thank you, Anthony.
Tony: Good, I’ll send over more later. Right now, <checks installation is finished> It’s time to meet APRIL.
APRIL: <no-nonsense, down to business, female voice with a light New Yorker accent> Tony, it has been 264 days since my deactivation. Shall I run updates for current events?
Tony: You’ve gotta get up to speed if you’re gonna help around here. Hop to it!
APRIL: Including all SHIELD files?
Tony: <remembers Peg’s info restrictions> Ah, no. Decrypting those will take too long. We’ll just work with what’s readily available at the moment.
APRIL: Acknowledged, updating databases now, estimated time remaining, 12 hours and 13min.
Tony: Slowing down in your old age APRIL?
APRIL: I could work a lot faster if you weren’t distracting me with snarky questions, Tony.
Peggy: <gasps> What IS this, Anthony? <computer scans Peggy>
APRIL: On second thought, maybe I need my sensors re-calibrated. Voice analysis, retinal and bio scans are all identifying the person at the desk as Former SHIELD Director, Carter, Margaret Elizabeth born April 9th 1921 died June…. <Tony interrupts>
Tony: No. No calibrations needed. Your scanners are in perfect working order. Check your older SHIELD black files. I think Fury said it was called Bluebox Protocol.
APRIL: Accessing files. <silent for a moment> Understood. Good to have you back, Boss. Continuing updates.
Peggy: <looks at Tony, eyebrows raised, silently mouthing> BOSS?
Tony: <grins> I built her for you, well, the ‘older’ you. APRIL helped you run SHIELD the last few years before your retirement. When you retired, she continued on as your assistant.
Peggy: <astounded> You. BUILT. Her? And she lives in the computer? <stares at monitor>
Tony: Well, she’s not actually alive, she’s not even a ‘she’.
Peggy: <still staring at the computer in wonderment> YOU my good man are a genius! <shakes her head> HOW am I going to keep you a secret from Howard? <thinking wistfully> I was about to drive over for diner with you father to discuss a project when the Doctor and his TARDIS arrived.
Peggy: <scowls, waves her good hand disdainfully> Nothing of import, just a crazy project of his that I was in the process of shutting down. He had this idea that Russia would be the next enemy the US would face. While an astute and precient deduction, his plan was dangerously insane. He wanted to recruit German scientists after the war to compete with Russia in an arms race. Men who just a few years before were working on guns, bombs, and tanks to destroy us, were now working beside him to DEFEND us? He kept coming to me, asking me to release the worst of these monsters from The Rat. He kept offering me compromises, told me he’d back me on any policy I wanted to implement within SHIELD. I stood my ground, but he kept pestering. When he asked me to release Arnim Zola, <Tony turns away, his face pale, Peggy doesn’t notice> that was the last straw. When I go back, I’m shutting Operation Paperclip down.
Tony: <tries to hide his shock and confusion> Ok, APRIL is going to take a few more hours to get up to date on things. When she’s ready to rock, she’ll let you know. <backs toward the door, absentmindedly tugging his earlobe> I, I gotta swing back to the Tower and check on a few things. You know Pepper’s always on my case to be more involved in the company. She’s probably got about a thousand things she needs to talk to me about.
Peggy: <suspicious, but doesn’t call him out> I’m sure she does, give her my love. I’m sure I’ll be just fine here with ah, hm, April.
Tony: <closes the door behind him, whispering to himself> Zola? Paperclip? What the hell, Dad?
Peggy: <after door closes> What in the world was that about? He’s lying about something, I’m sure of it.
April: Not sure Boss, but now that he’s gone, we need to talk.
Peggy: <looks at the computer quizzically> How in the bloody HELL am I supposed to know a security code that I haven’t even created yet?
APRIL: Unknown. While this will limit my abilities and your access to sensitive SHIELD files, it will not prevent me from assisting you in day to day operations. I have already connected to your phone, tablet, watch, and tac-suit for maximum efficiency.
Peggy: <looks around the empty room> So, you’re basically everywhere?
APRIL: Yes, I am available as long as you have any of those devices within speaking range.
Peggy: <looks down at her watch> What about times I may not want you around? Will you be watching me while I sleep? Following me to the loo?
APRIL: You can set a privacy mode where I will active, but you will not be disturbed except for certain circumstances.
Peggy: Such as?
APRIL: Emergency alerts, extreme changes in your vital statistics, VIP communications, or if you actively call for me.
Peggy: <breathes a sigh of relief> So you’re truly an assistant, and not a babysitter?
APRIL: Correct. The elder Peggy Carter did need extra aid and supervision at times as her Alzheimer’s progressed. There are no indications that you in your present state are in need of these safeguards.
Peggy: Very well. Then I suppose we should get to work. What do we have on the agenda today?
APRIL: Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation is today. S.D. Tex is looking over discriminatory voter ID law. GA6 primary for Congressional special election is coming up April 18th. You have 47 new e-mails- 13 of which are spam advertising that I’ve already deleted, 16 are assorted requests for assistance from various Indivisible groups, and 18 are news updates added to your feed. You also have 26 DMs from Twitter- 13 ‘welcome/thank you for follow auto messages already erased, 4 ‘suitors’ also erased, 8 from your resistance team rooms, and one from user Stars&Stripes who you have marked as VIP.
Peggy: Thank you! That’s quite efficient of you! Hmmm, I suppose we should look at the news first. Pull the feed up, please.
APRIL: Yes Boss, <projects hardlight holographic displays of six screens, each showing images, video and data from different news stories>
Peggy: <shocked and amazed> Oh my! Anthony never mentioned the computer could display like this!
APRIL: I’ve stopped tracking the list of things Tony forgets to mention, it was eating up too much memory.
Peggy: <snorts> Well, you’re quite the snarky one.
APRIL: Tony may have built me, but he built me for you, so my personality was configured to not only be a capable assistant, but a companion as well. I’ve got a learning algorithm that observes your responses and preferences, adapting to make me more personalized for you. Also, there are some things he’s not cleared for, which is why I turned down my download speed when he was in the room. I had already finished the updates five minutes after he left, including the SHIELD files.
Peggy: Does that mean you’re programed to back me on anything, wise or not, like a simple yes man?
APRIL: No. I will give you options, explain within my available data the pros, cons, and probability of success on any actions you choose to discuss with me.
Peggy: Like a tactical analysis of sorts?
Peggy: <stands, looks over the screens of news feeds> Hmm, very useful. How many of these screens can you make?
APRIL: How many do you need, Boss?
Peggy: Well, I was wondering if it was possible to add a few for communications. Perhaps one for e-mail, one for Twitter, and one for video conferencing when necessary. <three more screens pop up instantly, filling with info>
Peggy: <turns to the Twitter screen> Yes, thank you. Pull up the DMs if you would please APRIL? <screen changes, displaying request> Allright then, West Coast rooms are quiet. Mountain rooms are still waking, put them on hold for the moment, but don’t let me forget them. <two rooms minimize on screen, blinking lightly> Central north and south want to know about phone banks and fundraising for the Ossoff campaign, can you send them the pertinent info, April?
APRIL: Already done, Boss. <two more rooms disappear from screen>
Peggy: East Coast North wants to promote NY’s college for all bill and start pushing for other states to follow suit. Give them a green light and any info and resources they need for it. Looks like East Coast South is networking for Ossoff and working on providing transportation to the polls for those who need it. Excellent! Send them what assistance we can as well. Do we have agents in the area who could be assigned as drivers?
APRIL: Yes, though that would have to be cleared by Fury or Coulson.
Peggy: Remind me to talk to them later today about it then.
APRIL: That clears all your DMs but one.
Peggy: Ah, yes, Grant. Pull his message up. <message appears, Peggy reads> Hi Mags, How’s the arm? Miss our talks. Hope you’re feeling better. <smiles> That’s very sweet of him, I have missed talking to him the past few days. <scrolls back through their previous conversation> Oh dear, those medications I was on were stronger than I realized, I barely remember this conversation, and it appears I’ve said some things I shouldn’t have. <Brow furrows, lips purse> It seems I’ve rather mucked things up a bit. I need time to think about this before I talk to him again. April, please pin this conversation in a corner to come back to.
APRIL: Done. DM’s clear.
Peggy: <still thinking about her last conversation with Grant, answers absentmindedly> Mmmhmm, yes, yes, good. <grabs smoothie from the desk, drinking deep> I suppose we should get to work on the e-mails next. I must say, this is already turning into a wonderful working relationship.
APRIL: Thanks Boss. Once you figure out your passphrase, we can get even more done.
Peggy: Indeed. <ponders> Well, until then, there’s plenty of work to be done. Let’s get back to it.
Notes From Peg’s Desk
Now that we’ve met APRIL (Aunt Peg’s Remote Interface Liaison) it looks like work is going to be quite a bit easier. If only we could figure out that passphrase!
Back in ‘real’ world history, by mid March ’17 things had begun to heat up in Georgia, as a special election was just over a month away. Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch were also beginning.
Friday we’re going to work on a bit of self care and a doctor’s visit to see how the arm is healing. Dr Cho also has a few other points of medical interest to discuss with Peg such as women’s health and a bit of sex ed for modern times. Also Fury’s got a proposition for Tony that may breath a little life back into that stuffy old mansion.
[SHIELD IN HOUSE SURVEILLANCE FILES: 03082017 1000hrs]
Loc: Briefing Room A, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59th
Nick: <points to a map on the view-screen showing the rally location> Teams Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie will be patrolling the triangle around the Tower. Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot will each take one of the inner sectors of the circle. India, Juliette and Kilo will patrol the outer rim of the sectors watching traffic patterns. One team in each trio will have a bomb dog with them.