<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>
[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 2000hrs]
Loc: Medbay, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59th
<Nick and Dr Helen Cho in Maria’s recovery room, Nick still in his undercover street clothes>
Dr Cho: It’s lucky they made it back here. Agent Hill almost didn’t. We managed to resuscitate her and she’s stable now.
Nick: <looks at Maria with visible concern> Can you tell what happened?
Dr. Cho: There’s currently not enough information to form a hypothesis on the events leading to their injuries. Agent Hill showed numerous microfractures, electrical burns, and was suffering from arrhythmia when she was brought in. Agent Carter also showed microfractures, as well as a severely bruised larynx, and a dislocated shoulder.
Nick: <sighs, sitting in a chair beside Maria’s bed> So we won’t know any more until they’re awake and can be debriefed. How soon will that be?
Dr. Cho: They were both sedated for treatment, Agent Carter should come around soon. Agent Hill will be under for a few more hours at least.
Nick: I’m not going anywhere.
***************Meanwhile Next Door**************
<Coulson and Simmons watching over Peggy>
Phil: I remember last year when I read in the papers that she had died. She and Cap were my heroes growing up.
Simmons: She’s still one of mine. She’s too strong to let whatever happened slow her down for long.
Phil: <clenches his fist> Damn it! This was supposed to be a simple mission. We expected the deplorables to pull a trick or two, maybe some counter protesters or something. We weren’t prepared for alien interference!
Peggy:<eyes flutter open, croaking softly> HYDRA was there too. <coughs and grimaces in pain>
Simmons: <begins checking Peg’s vitals> You need to take it easy. We were able to mend the microfractures and we did a reduction to the shoulder you dislocated, but your larynx is severely bruised as well, and will take some time to heal. Talking will be difficult and uncomfortable for a bit.
Peggy: <shakes her head, her voice still scratched and cracking, wincing in pain with every word> Debrief. You need intel. <looks at her right arm in the immobilizer> Can’t write. <brow furrows, thinking, snaps fingers of her good hand, points at Phil> Laptop?
<Phil scrambles from the room, Simmons still checking and adjusting medical equipment>
Simmons: <nervously fawning> It’s an honor to meet you Agent Carter, I’ve studied your history all the way back to your codebreaker days at Bletchley Park. You’ve been a hero and an inspiration of mine since I was a young girl. <starts to reach to shake Peg’s hand, remembers the injury> Ah, yes, well, I’m afraid you’ll be stuck in the immobilizer sling for a while. We’ve managed to reduce the healing time from months to weeks. Combined with physical therapy, we should have you back in action in no time.
Peggy: <visibly frustrated, tries to sit up, falls back, jarring her shoulder in the process, groans> No. Work to do. Am needed.
Simmons: <adjusts the bed so Peg is sitting, shakes her head> Neither you or Agent Hill are in any condition to be thinking about anything but recovery right now.
Peggy: <remembering the sight of Maria frozen in Brock’s grip> Maria? How is she?
Simmons: We mended her microfractures same as yours, and the electrical burns were repaired by Dr. Cho’s cradle. Before we could take care of any of that though, we had to do compressions because her heart stopped after Rescue flew her in.
Peggy: She’ll be alright? <coughs, rubbing her neck with her good hand> Feels like I swallowed broken glass.
<Phil re-enters the room, setting up Peg’s laptop on the table over her bed>
Simmons: <nods, handing Peg a cup of water with a straw> You’ll both be fine in time. You NEED to stop talking though, because you’re only aggravating your throat more. I’ve got something here to help manage your pain. It won’t sedate you, but it will relax your muscles and ease the pain. It WILL however make you a bit loopy, so I’ll wait until you and Coulson can talk.
Peg: <nods, starts pecking one-handed at the keys describing the encounter with Brock> METAL MAN, LOOKED HUMAN, HYDRA, KNEW MARIA, SHE CALLED HIM BROCK, SAID HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD, ELECTROCUTED MARIA, CAME AFTER ME, MADE STRANGE CLAIMS TO KNOW CAP. ROGERS THAT MADE NO SENSE, CHOKING ME, WAS GOING TO CRUSH MY CHEST, FIRED TONY’S WATCH IN HIS FACE, LOST CONSCIOUSNESS
Phil: <reads report, tries to hide concern> Ok, we’ll get more details from Maria when she wakes. For now, your only orders are to rest, understood? <Peg sighs, nodding, Phil looks at Simmons>
Simmons: Ready? <Peg nods again, Simmons injects Peg and sets the laptop, drink, and call button all within easy reach, before heading towards the door with Phil>
Phil: <leans over to Simmons, whispering> Just promise me you didn’t tell her you were watching her while she slept. It sounds a lot creepier when you say it out loud, trust me.
<as they leave, Peg looks at the laptop and notices a new message waiting for her>
[SHIELD IN HOUSE SURVEILLANCE FILES: 03082017 2100hrs]
Loc: Medbay, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59th
<As the pain meds from Simmons slowly start to work their way through Peg’s system, she opens her messages, finding one from Grant earlier in the day>
Grant: Hi Maggie, you probably won’t see this until later, but be safe today, let me know how the milk run went when you get back! (THIS MESSAGE RECEIVED 10HRS AGO)
Peggy: <brow furrows, she growls which sends her into a painful coughing fit, takes a drink& starts typing one handed> I SWEAR, Grant, if I ever hear the term ‘milk run’ again, I’ll shoot someone! TWICE!
Steve: <answers immediately> OUCH! Sorry Maggie! That bad?
Peggy: A man of metal nearly killed Maria and I! We’re stuck in medbay recovering. If it hadn’t been for the watch Anthony gave me, we’d most likely both be dead.
Steve: <thinking first of Ultron> Metal Man?! What did it look like?!
Peggy: Apparently before I blasted half his face off, he looked much like he did before HYDRA robotomized him. Maria recognized him. Mid-height, dark hair, rude, crude, and I’m sure he was altogether unpleasant BEFORE he became he became HYDRA’s killing machine.
Steve:<breathes a sigh of relief, whispering to himself> Ok, so NOT Ultron.<replying> HYDRA is bad enough, every time I think we’ve wiped them off the map, they just worm their way back. You said Maria recognized him? Did she say a name?
Peggy:<the effects of the medication starting to fog her brain just a bit> Ah, Brick? Rick? I’m sorry Grant, it seems the meds that lovely doctor gave me are making details fuzzy.
Steve: <seriously concerned> Just HOW BAD were you hurt, Maggie?!
Peggy: <trying to downplay> Microfractures are already healed. Larynx is bruised, not crushed, so I’ll be singing off-key again in no time. The dislocated shoulder is my own fault for not practicing with that watch from Anthony before firing it. I didn’t realize the repulsor would have such a kickback!
Steve: <surprised> If you’re not used to firing them, I guess they would. I didn’t realize Stark had started handing those out to SHIELD agents as standard issue!
Peggy: Oh, no, no, mine was a gift. I guess you could say I’m ah, um, a friend of the family.
Steve: <feeling a twinge of jealousy> So, wait…. you and Stark….. do you two….. ah are you two….. together?
Peggy: <laugh hysterically, tears running down her cheeks, sending her into another coughing fit> Oh heavens no! That would be quite awkward, and disturbing to say the least!
Steve: <relaxes>Sorry, just curious, I know he can be a real playboy.
Peggy: Yes, it tends to run in his family. But once a Stark man finds his right partner, he seems to settle down.
Steve: So does that mean he and Pepper are working things out?
Peggy: It seems so, he was very concerned when she was disposing of the nitramine bomb today.
Steve: Nitramine! That’s nasty stuff. HYDRA gets worse every time they pop their heads up.
Peggy: <the meds relaxing her more> Yes, extreme measures, advanced technology, and a complete disregard for human life seems to be part of their methodology in any time period. You’re right about them always resurfacing, it’s immensely frustrating to have to keep taking them out, only to find they’ve slithered out from another bloody damn rock.
Steve: <looks at the screen, confused> time period? Maggie….. if you’re not from around here, how do you know so much about HYDRA?
Peggy:<saddened> When I said I was an ‘out of towner’ what I really meant was that I’m a time traveler. I’ve fought them before, and we thought we had won. Which made our sacrifices and loses bearable despite the pain. Until they came back, they always come back. When I was given an opportunity to join this fight, there was no hesitation.
Steve: <stares at the screen> A TIME traveler? Every time I think this world can’t get any weirder.<typing> How far back did you travel?
Peggy: <not noticing his misunderstanding> About 70yrs. It’s been quite an adjustment.
Steve: <amazed and sympathetic> WOW, Maggie! No wonder you seem like a fish out of water. Must be hard adjusting to all the differences from your own time. I kinda know a bit of what it’s like, walking around in a world you don’t recognize.
Peggy: The technology certainly took some getting used to. That was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was the loneliness. Not a single soul I knew exists in this time.
Steve: <thinking of all the friends he’d lost> Yeah. It’s hard being alone like that. Even when you make new friends, it’s odd, because you really can’t find anyone with similar life experiences.
Peggy: Exactly! You DO seem to understand, Grant.
Steve: Well, I’m not a time traveler like you, but I spent a long time….. asleep, and woke to a different world.
Peggy: Oh dear! You poor thing!
Steve: Yeah, I lost a lot of time, and the world moved on without me. So I can kinda relate.
Peggy: <the meds really kicking in now> We certainly are quite a pair, aren’t we?
Steve: Hahaha, I guess we are.
Peggy: Oh my! These painkillers they gave me are fabulous! I feel like I could go dancing!
Steve: <laughing and grabbing his chest> Oh no, no dancing for you Miss Maggie! You need to stay in bed and recover first!
Peggy: You can’t give me orders! I do what I bloody well please!
Steve: Fine, fine! You’re right, but don’t over do things, please?
Peggy: <pouts>Very well, though dancing sounds like such fun right now. I quite enjoy some of the music of this time. Those files you’ve been sending me are fantastic!
Steve: <still laughing> Ok, this is the deal. You promise me you’ll take it easy, rest and heal up, and I promise to take you dancing when I get home.
Peggy: <smiles> Deal! But when are you coming home?
Steve:<sighs, thinking> I guess I should explain at least a bit. <starts typing> Well, if we’re telling truths, I’m waiting for the Accords to be rescinded. I refused to sign. If I come home before that, I’ll be arrested.
Peggy: OH! No wonder you’ve been so dodgy about it! I understand. Many of the agents I’ve met here are enhanced who DID sign, and are taking great risks working for the Resistance. Nick has done his best to keep their involvement as quiet as possible.
Steve: <pondering> Really? Huh, I knew he had a few friends of mine from the list on deep cover investigations. Didn’t realize he’d mobilized others. Maybe I could come home sooner than I thought.
Peggy: It’s a big risk, Grant. I don’t want you taking chances of getting caught if you don’t have to.
Steve: I’ve got no right to stand by and hide, when others are taking risks I should be taking too.
Peggy: Just don’t make any rash decisions, please? You do more to help where you are than you would in a jail cell.
Steve: Still, it’s something to consider. If I had been there with you today, you might not have gotten hurt.
Peggy: <scowling, tired and cranky> I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself! I’m no damsel in distress needing a hero to swoop in and save me!
Steve: Woah, I, I didn’t mean it like that Maggie! I just meant that I could have helped. We always say the Resistance is Stronger Together. Every person who steps up and joins this fight brings us one step closer to our goals.
Peggy: <softens> I’m sorry, Grant, I guess I’m getting tired, it’s been a VERY long day. You’re absolutely right though. Sometimes you sound so much like my Steve.
Steve: You NEED to rest, Maggie. I’m not keeping you up any longer. Go. To. Sleep.THAT is an order.
Peggy: Fine, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. G’night, Grant. <closes laptop, closes eyes, drifts off almost instantly>
Steve: <staring at computer, wondering aloud>Her Steve? Huh, like things aren’t weird enough.<yawns, shutting down computer>
Notes From Peg’s Desk
A bit of a gif light episode, but unfortunately there were other Resistance, work, and home matters that needed my time and attention.
So, Maria and I survived our encounter, but it wasn’t an ideal ending to the mission. Now that we know Rumlow is back, you can be sure that all of SHIELD is going to be extra alert. As for Steve, I *may* have let slip a few things I shouldn’t have. How’s all that going to work out now that he thinks I’m from the future?
Next episode, we’ll continue following up the mission aftermath. Fury’s going to be watching over his best agent. Tony& Pepper will be checking up on Peg. Steve’s going to be pulling on a few threads. In between it all, we’ll catch up on the news with a few WHiH special reports from Christine Everhart. Stay tuned! Peggy
[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.