S1 E24 Agent of Resistance

The Crimson Garden

[Loc: Unnamed Safehouse somewhere in Minsk, Belarus, 04052017, 6:30 am MST, GMT-3]

<in the kitchen, Nat and Sonya are packing gear for the trip, while Yelena loses herself in a steaming cup of coffee, Alexi stands in the doorway, clearing his throat>

<the three women look at him in a mix of shock, annoyance and amusement>

Nat: <shakes her head> No. No. You’re not wearing that. We’re trying to keep a low profile, did you forget that?

Yelena: You look like a cosplayer from ComicCon Russia. How did you ever survive three years undercover?

Alexi: <turns, shoulders slumped, heads back upstairs to change, mumbling> What? I suit up. I thought we were going on mission. 

<the women head out to the SUV waiting outside, Alexi joins them, now dressed in cold weather hiking gear, with a shotgun at his side>

Alexi: I am calling shotgun. <the women roll their eyes, entering the vehicle, allowing him the front passenger seat, he stows the gun carefully beside him, as Yelena starts the vehicle, Alexi turns on the radio, Renegade by Styx already in progress, Alexi loudly and energetically singing along> De jig is up, de news is out, dey finally found me! De renegade who had it made- <Yelena reaches over, changing the station>

Yelena: Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole. <Alexi looks from Nat to Sonya to Yelena>

Alexi: We have cake? <the three women try not to laugh as James Taylor’s Shower the People begins to play on the radio>

Nat: <turns to Sonya beside her in the back seat, reminiscing> We used to live on the outskirts of Akron, a little township called Hinckley. Alexi used to practice our escape route to the airstrip once a month. He’d race down backroads, through the reservation and the wetlands testing out different routes, blasting that song like a challenge. 

Alexi: Oh! I loved driving in the countryside! So relaxing and exhilarating! 

Yelena: <smiles at the memory> It was like a rollercoaster. 

Alexi: <grinning> You used to squeal with pure joy as I took those turns. 

Sonya: And the police never pulled you over?

Alexi: <chuckling> Oh, no, no. It was a small town. I went bowling Thursday nights with the sheriff! Saturday mornings, Tom and I would race each other down Bellus Rd to the spillway to go fishing. He said it was the only time he got to put his truck through its paces. <musing> I wonder how he is doing. <stares out the window> He was a good friend.

<the car goes silent, the rest of the drive is quiet and peaceful as they wind their way through the countryside, the woods on either side growing thicker as they ascend into the mountainous forest, forcing them to abandon the vehicle and hike to the site>

Alexi: <walks with Nat, behind Yelena& Sonya, the shotgun in a holster on his back> Now that your mama isn’t around, there is something I wanted to talk to you about.

Yelena: <overheraing, throws up her hands in exasperation> Here we go. I was waiting for the rest of the crazy talk to begin. 

Alexi: <ignoring her> When we get settled down, here, Ohio, wherever it may be. I want to marry your mama.

Nat: <shrugs as they walk> Ok. I’m sure Mason can forge you a marriage certificate along with your other documents.

Alexi: <stops, taking her arm> No, I mean I want to MARRY her. I want to give her a real, proper wedding. The church, the dress, the priest, the flowers, the reception, the dancing. <pauses> The vows. I want to stand before my Siberian Wildflower and pledge my love to her. She is hearty and beautiful, she has survived in a life that would have made most flowers wither. We lost so much time, she deserves this, Natasha.

Nat: <shocked by Alexi’s declaration> Wait, what?

Yelena: I told you it was craazy talk!

Nat: <trying to wrap her brain around the concept> Who are you going to invite? The guy who introduced the two of you? We killed him. All your prison buddies? I don’t think they’re going to get time off to come to an escaped convict’s wedding. The dozen or so foreign spy agencies you and mom worked against? Maybe we get Ninotchka and the rest of the Winter Widows for bridesmaids? No. It’s too dangerous.

Alexi: <his shoulders slump in disappointment> Now you’re just being mean. I want to give her proper wedding, but small one. Safe. No crazy guest list. Our girls, other Widows who have been freed. <tilts his head> Mebe you bring some of your Avenger friends. <straigtens his spine> It would be an honour if the greatest adversary of my past would stand as my best man as I begin a new future with your mama.

Yelena: <smiles sadly> Natasha is right. We know how much you love her, Papa. We just want to keep you both safe.

Nat: <opens and closes her mouth trying to come up with an answer> I, ah, I’ll think about it and we can talk later. <points to the fence> We’re here.

[Loc: Abandoned Red Room training facility, Maryina Horka, Belarus, 8:00 am MST, GMT -3]

<reaching the breached wall, the group surveys the scene from the outside>

Yelena: <pops her gum, testing Sonya’s observation skills> What happened here? What do you see? 

Sonya: Crude explosive, but fitting for the time period we estimate. One soldier just abandoned at the opening, no cleanup. Were they in a rush to evacuate?  <steps through the hole in the wall> Obviously expendable. <she steps cautiously through the opening> Everything is covered in dust. One set of recent footprints. <turns to Yelena> I assume they’re from your previous visit. 

Yelena: Never assume. You can use the known evidence to come up with possibilities, but always be open to the idea that there is something you are missing. That’s how you avoid being blindsided.

Sonya: <crouches down> Women’s size 8 bootprints with a starburst tread, spacing indicates likely height of about 160-165cm, weight about 75kg.

Yelena: <indignant> Hey! I am only 60kg, such-ka!

Sonya: <looks up, grinning, holds up an empty gum wrapper> And I’ve never seen anyone in the world besides you chew BubbaDubba. Sloppy.

Yelena: Ok, fine. Yes, those are my footprints. <rips the wrapper from her hand, stuffing it in her pocket> And I left that there on purpose to see if it would be found or disturbed by anyone else sneaking around here besides us. Still here, so we’re good.

Sonya: <continuing her analysis> Ok, we’ve got two more remains here. First looks like a prisoner by the rags on the skeleton. No other identifying marks though it looks like he and the other body here were using Thompsons. <moving to the second set of remains> American soldier. Uniform looks post WW2. The skull shows a precision headshot took him out. Too good to be from the Russian soldiers. Sniper. <looks up at the others in surprise> They had at least one Widow in the fight.

Alexi: Why would they even need these soldiers if they had a Widow?

Yelena: Camouflage. They didn’t want the Widow noticed. 

Sonya: <searches the remains of the American, pulling a folded patch of leather from a pocket> Wallet here. <opens it, reading> Drivers Licence, Li, Michael. New York City address. <continues to rifle through it, finds a picture of a young lady next to a receipt for a wedding ring> Pretty girl. Guess he never got to give her the ring. <a card falls out, she holds it up for the others> SSR? Wonder what that was.

Nat: Strategic Scientific Reserve. During WW2 they were the Allies answer to HYDRA. After the war, Stalin created Leviathan to counter their science and espionage efforts. Eventually, they became SHIELD.

Alexi: So if SSR was here, they might have known it was a Red Room training ground after all. 

Yelena: <impressed> Not necessarily, but it’s a smart thought. <Alexi beams at the compliment>

Sonya: I’m seeing shotgun shell casings here, where they made an exit standoff, an empty colt mag, and some empty Thompson stick mags. <stands, moving further into the scene, examining the remains of the Russian soldiers> Shoulder rank insignias say they were all infantry privates. These guys were bottom of the barrel cannon fodder. The five here <points around the space> here, here and these two here were all killed in the firefight. These four, <indicates a group of remains all facedown at the far end of the boiler-room near the doorway> were likely shot after. Punishment for failure to stop the Americans? Tying up loose ends? That I can’t tell you. But the Widow who sniped the American used the same Mosin-Nagat to headshot each one of them as they were running back into the building.

Nat: <to Yelena> Damn she’s good. <adressing Sonya> They had you training to specialize in forensics?

Sonya: <nods> How to assess a scene, how to stage a scene to look like something else, how to make a staged scene look faked, how to clean up and remove all traces. <eyes dart to the floor>

Nat: But that’s not what you wanted to do.

Sonya: <nods, eyes still cast downward> I enjoy the analysis. The killing, the cleanup, <her head shakes almost inpercieveably> I never took to the harshest parts of the training. I did what they made me because I didn’t have a choice, but I never liked it.

Yelena: No more Red Room, no more killing. What do you do now? You have whole life waiting for you. Dream job. Tell me.

Sonya: <top of her head spits out> Indiana Jones. <everyone looks at her in confusion, embarrassed, Sonya elaborates> Not the whip & hat& Nazis. The archaeology. I want to become a forensic archaeologist. Analyse newly uncovered sites untouched by mankind for centuries and discover how people lived.

Alexi: <hand on her shoulder suportivly> You will do it. We will find way for you to live your dream.

Yelena: <smiling> You sure you don’t want the whip? Or the hat? It would look pretty cool. 

Sonya: <relieved> I’ve never spoken to anyone about that. I never thought it was possible, so why bother. <grins at Yelena> I’ll only wear a hat if you design it. With pockets. <Yelena laughs>

<the group makes their way down the hall deeper into the building, coming across a row of cells, all locked and empty except for one at the end, the lock is shot through and the door open wide, Yelena steps inside looks around>

Yelena: Natty old books on science, rotted food on prison plates, scrap blankets, nothing interesting here. <she kicks a paper on the floor out of her way, Nat sees a flash of blue and a familiar image>

Nat: Wait! Give me that. <she unfolds a schematic, the Stark Industries logo prominent in one corner> Photonic Amplifier? Howard Stark? Could he have been the prisoner the SSR was rescuing? Are there any more schematics in there like this? <Yelena searches but comes up with nothing> Hmm, this place just got even more interesting. <she tucks the schematic in a pocket> Let’s see what other mysteries we can find.

<they take a stairwell leading up into the kitchen and laundry areas, the stairs continue upward and the party decides to split, Yelena and Sonya continuing up while Nat and Alexi explore the first floor>

Alexi: Is like laundry back in prison. What I would give sometimes for machines this big now though. Twelve girls is a lot of clothing to wash. 

Nat: <smirks> You seem to be settling into the life though. <Alexi shrugs> No, I mean it. You did really good last night when the girls were fighting. 

Alexi: <muses as they walk> They are my second chance to do good. When I was young, I was so wrapped up in the Party, in glory, in what I thought was being protector of the Motherland. I follow Dreykoff, I follow Putin, I follow KGB and Leviathan, I follow orders. Every time the little voice in my head says ‘this is no good’ I tell it to shut up. I tell myself that sending you and your sister back to the Red Room was good thing for you, make you strong. I tried not to think of the stories your mama would tell me about her time there. I did not want to understand. I wanted to go back to being Red Guardian, the mighty hero. 

<they pass through the large kitchen, Alexi begins to check cupboards, Nat shakes her head> 

Nat: You know anything you find in there is going to be older than you are. 

Alexi: I’m not looking for food. I’m looking for secrets. <Nat looks at him, hands on hips> Think back to kitchen in Ohio. How many times did we ever eat cream of asparagus soup? Eh? That can was fake. Had backup coms and key to plane. Oh and the cereal cupboard? Every box sugar and bright colours and marshmallows, except one.

Nat: <catching on, making a face of disgust> Grapenuts. You made us eat a bowl of it once, to make sure we’d never touch the box again.

Alexi: <laughing> Exactly! All our papers were hidden inside there, We didn’t care if SHIELD found any of it afterwards, because by then we’d be back home in Russia. But we couldn’t have you girls or neighbours or the babysitter stumbling into our secrets.  

Nat: But I knew about the mission. I knew everything was fake. Why hide things from me?

Alexi: Mama worried you might see the full orders of the mission. That the three of you were to be returned to the program after we completed the job. <looks at her with a serious tone> If you knew. If you knew before we left Ohio, that you and your sister would be sent back to the Red Room. What would you have done?

Nat: <stunned at the question> I, I don’t know. I mean, back then I was trained and programmed to distrust law enforcement and American agencies like SHIELD. I don’t think I could have trusted anyone enough to break our cover. I suppose I could have taken Yelena and run away. But that would have been complicated on a whole different level because Yelena had no clue. She’d have hated me for taking her from mama and papa. 

Alexi: <still searching cabinets> Bah, nothing. A few SVT-40s tucked away, but otherwise, nichto.

Nat: <shrugs> Worth a look. <thinks> But if the kitchen is empty, <pauses> this wasn’t an emergency evacuation. Abandoning this site was planned. 

Alexi: Then where did they go? 

Nat: At this point, your guess is as good as mine. <they exit the kitchen into a sparse dining hall, plain wooden tables with benches, ancient paint chipping and flaking from the walls, they discover the classrooms, just as Yelena had described> Damn. She’s right. That is freaky. 

Alexi: <looking over her shoulder> Da. I suddenly feel like I’m here for a parent-teacher conference. Remember when I had to come in after you punched that boy?

Nat: <smirking> Chad Engleman. The biggest bully in school. He’d been harassing kids for weeks. I was trying to let it go, but he finally went too far. He stole Yelena’s new lunchbox and threw it out the bus window. Almost broke her arm in the process. I could have killed him. I already had the skills and training. But I pulled every punch because he wasn’t worth it. 

Alexi: That whole family was assholes. His papa comes into the conference screaming at the principal. I ever tell you he wanted you thrown out of school for fighting? 

Nat: Really? Shit. Now I’m extra glad I broke his nose.

Alexi: Ya. Principal calls busdriver in, she tells whole story. They tell father he has to replace lunchbox, and if boy causes any more trouble he get expelled. 

Nat: I remember him keeping his distance from me the rest of the year. Word was he got sent to military school the next year.

Alexi: I was so proud of you. You stood up to him but only enough to get your message across. Your sister worries about us sending the girls to public school, but I think we’ll be ok.

Nat: <closes the classroom door, they continue down the hall to the main lobby> I really think you will be, dad. 

<they cross the foyer to an unlabeled door, opening it to a large office, file cabinets line one wall, bookshelves along the opposing wall, in the centre is a plain, utilitarian metal desk, organized with precision, behind the desk on one side of the wall is a lifesize painting of a ballet dancer in a pose, a door beside it, Nat checks the door, finding a small water closet, Alexi rifles through the file cabinets>

Alexi: Bah, nothing interesting. Invoices for supplies, staff reports, student testing results. Wait! What is this? <a soft click is heard, and the painting swings slightly from the wall> A secret passage? Yay! 

<Nat swings the painting on its hinges, opening the doorway further, revealing a darkened stairway, she shines her flashlight down, the light stopping at a bend in the stairs, she turns back half exiting the room, letting out a whistle that carries and echos through the tall ceilings of the building, a minute later a responding whistle is heard, as a pair of footsteps can be heard, Yelena and Sonya descending the grand staircase in the main hall>

Yelena: You found something?

Alexi: <claping excitedly> A secret passage! 

Sonya: It’s the Red Room. I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t at least one. 

Nat: We don’t know what we’re walking into, so better to stick together. 

<she leads them back into the office and down the stairway, it opens to what looks like an armoury and workshop, common everyday items line a table; an umbrella, book, a brooch, a pair of sunglasses, Alexi picks up the umbrella and starts to open it, a grappling hook fires from the end, shooting across the room, almost hitting Yelena>

Yelena: Really!? <Alexi shrugs an apology> Ok, nobody touches anything until we know what all this junk is. <she turns to a deeper part of the room with a smaller desk than the one upstairs, wooden, worn, an old oil lantern, a book and a pen the only things upon it, beside the desk is another bookshelf, covered in dust like everything else> Just another bunch of boring old books here.

Sonya: <looks closer at the books on the shelf, dusting off the spines> Just dates, no titles. <she pulls one down from the very top shelf, blowing more dust from it, the spine creeks and cracks, the pages ancient and brittle, the ink so faded that it’s barely legible in the glow of the flashlight, she begins scanning the first page and gasps, pulls another carefully from the shelf, taking a quick peek, then checking a third, she looks up at the others> They’re journals. <picks up the first book again> Each one of these is from a Red Room headmistress. This is the very start of our history. Listen. <she begins to read excerpts aloud>

Madame B’s journal

May 23, 1764

My Lady Catherine has commanded me to create a secret garden hidden in Smolny Institute. Within this garden will grow only the strongest and most cunning blossoms, using their beauty to serve the Motherland. No man shall leave a footprint upon its grounds. When a blossom has tired, it shall be granted a place of honour within my Lady’s court. She shall have her choice of worthy breeding suitors with the Crown’s blessing but must pledge to send new growth to the garden upon a girlchild’s fifth spring. We are Catherine’s Guard, the Crimson Garden.

November 14, 1776

My Lady is constantly pleased with the blossoms in my garden. I’ve found the youngest ones easiest to cultivate. They have an open mind for the lessons of subtlety and subterfuge. Their bodies are fluid and lithe whether dancing or fighting. The young also absorb the languages of outsiders more easily than their elders. Soon we will be able to export our blossoms to foreign soils without fear of suspicion. My Lady has already reaped many benefits from the information smuggled from the Ottoman Empire and Novorossiya. 

April 3, 1783

A gardener should not hold favourites amongst her blossoms. Yet I cannot help myself. Sedona was one of the first of the young ones to blossom in my garden, and one of the finest. Yesterday, my little Dona left the service of my Lady, joining in union with one of my Lady’s most favoured Admirals. My Lady had already given her blessing upon Sedona, yet before the announcement, my little Dona came to ask for my blessing as well. As much as it broke my heart to let her go, I showed her no signs, wishing her happiness, prosperity, and many daughters. She vowed that every one of them would return to train with her beloved Madam Bogdanova. 

November 18 1796

Last night, my Great Lady, Catherine expired. I am inconsolable. Her son Paul is to assume the throne, but he will never rule my garden. I may not survive to see another Lady ascend to her brilliance, but I shall tend my blossoms in secret until I join my Lady in Heaven. We will serve the best interests of the Motherland despite Paul, may his rule be short and soon forgotten. My only solace is the return of my little Dona. Not so little anymore, with blossoms of her own, she joins my side in tending the garden. 

Madame Sedona’s journal

March 6 1801

Madam B passed into the arms of the Lord early morning, but not before knowing that she outlived the reign of Paul, and Our Lady’s wishes that her grandson Alexander take the throne have come to pass through our work here in the garden. WE poured the wine, WE whispered in the ears of  Bennigsen and Yashvil, WE put the sword in Zubov’s hand before they confronted Paul. WE sent the Empress Consort Elizabeth to Alexander’s side, keeping him entertained and distracted as his father drew his last breath. But Alexander shall never know of our aid. Only Elizabeth has any inkling of our existence, and so it shall remain. We reveal ourselves only to the women behind the throne, welcoming them into the secrecy of the Crimson Garden. Perhaps one day through our breeding lines, one of our own will even wear the Crown.

Madame Feodora’s Journal

December 3 1894

I have been called to return to the Garden. No longer as a student, but as the gardener. We have a newly crowned Lady in Alexandra and I have great hopes for the future of the Motherland. 

February 17 1906

I do not trust this holy healer Rasputin. My lady swears by his power, but I find his presence unsettling. I have spoken to Anna, her dearest confidant, to no avail. I am told to tend to my garden and worry not about Rasputin. 

The newest blossoms are thriving under our tutelage. One pair especially. Rebecca and Winnefred are twins and matched in every aspect of skill and study. Winnefred seems to be the leader, with Rebecca shyly following her every step like a puppy. I see great things in their future.

July 23, 1910

My Lady has done the unthinkable! She is so enthralled by the charlatan Rasputin that she has broken the oath of the Great Lady Catherine. She has introduced a snake into our sacred garden. I am ordered to consult with Rasputin on all matters. He wishes to meet with my blossoms and judge their skills in service to the crown. I have heard the rumours. I know what that svo-lach’ is after. So will my blossoms. Their training will ward off any unwanted advances from this so-called holy man.

July 17, 1914

My garden is in disarray and discord, just as I feared. My blossoms are divided. Rasputin has sown his dark seeds in their bodies as well as their minds. They speak of a rapture that overwhelms them when they listen to his voice. There are some blossoms that seem immune to his spells. They mention a ring he spins on his finger as he weaves his spell and a wave of nausea that overtakes them, drawing their focus away from his words. The twins seem to be least affected by his manipulations. However even they are divided in their reactions. Winnefred reacts with visible fear and dread, emotions I’ve never seen in her in even the most challenging training exercises. Rebecca hides her revulsion well, but not well enough. If she thought she could succeed, his head would leave his body before he knew she was there. I have counselled her against action at this time. Chionya has already failed in her attempt. I will not lose Rebecca as well.

August 5, 1914

War has broken out with the upstart Germans. My Lady is losing favour with the people due to her ties to Germany. Would that they knew she hates her cousin Wilhelm II more than most Russians do. Rasputin helps none of this, whispering in her ear at every turn. Nicholas is oblivious to it all. Now with the distraction of war, his throne seems ever closer to Rasputin’s oily grasp.

September 9 1915

Nicholas has gone to the front lines, leaving my Lady and by extension her dark wizard to rule as Regent. They change ministers on a whim. I see them appointed and dismissed so rapidly at times, I’ve forgotten half their names. It is chaos. How it distresses me to say this, but I fear the end of the Empire if left in my Lady’s hands so long as she is guided by Rasputin. Even the garden has become corrupted. Has it withered beyond redemption? No. So long as there is breath in my chest, the garden shall serve the Motherland. Rasputin must be stopped. 

There was an accident during training yesterday. Rebecca and Kaya were sparing. Rebecca executed a spinning kick that connected too hard with the side of Kaya’s head. The girl is in the infirmary, but has not woken since. The doctor fears she will not survive the night. Rebecca swears through her tears that it was an accident. I do not want to doubt her, but some of the other girls have told me that Kaya had been teasing Rebecca a few days earlier, calling her weak. If Kaya does not waken, this will be the first death in the garden in all of my memory.

June 7 1916 

Winnefred is gone. Something happened between her and Rasputin. She would not speak of it but would take a blind man to not see the way he looks at the twins. She sobbed in my arms, begging me to forgive her for leaving. I stroked her head and consoled her, reminding her that our blossoms have taken root in many different soils. Perhaps she will thrive in another climate. ‘Madam Fe, the other side of the world would not be far enough, but it will have to do.’ 

Rebecca is beside herself, she feels Winnefred has abandoned her. She has grown colder and more prone to anger as she ages. Her rage now divided between both Rasputin and her sister. I do not know how long I can keep her under control. 

December 31 1916

Rasputin is dead, but he would not go quietly. Yusupov was so incompetent it took multiple tries. But the deed is done. I saw Rebecca smiling today for the first time in months. Still, his stench lingers over the country like a miasma. There is unrest in the streets and most of it is pointed at my Lady and the throne. With even the garden in disarray, I know not what I can do.

Winnefred has sent word. She settled in New York City quickly. To my shock, not only has she wed but is already expecting a child. Rebecca took no joy in her sister’s news. 

Madame Rebecca’s Journal

March 17 1917

The ides of March blow a cold wind. Madame Fe died foolishly defending a crumbling monarchy that had cast her aside long ago. She saw the changes in the wind but clung to the old ways. I kept my true feelings to myself until it was time to strike. I let them think that Rasputin was the only enemy of the Motherland that I cared about. The throne grew fat and lazy. They are as much an enemy as Germany, as Rasputin was, as the traitors in the garden who still supported the throne were before I dispatched them. Now that the old growth has been culled, I will bring a new era to the garden. 

Speaking of traitors, my sister bore her rotten fruit a week ago. They tell me the boy child has the look of his father rather than the man, she duped into vows. Curse them all. The Motherland shall have her revenge upon my sister one day.

January 30 1924

Lenin is dead, and Joseph Stalin takes his place. We serve the state as ever. With the monarchy destroyed, the garden has suffered a drought of new blood these past few years. Next week I journey to Moscow to petition Stalin with a solution. The Great War left many orphans. No one will miss them. While their breeding may be poor, we will weed out the weak. One of those weaknesses is motherhood. My girls will not be distracted by mewling infants at their teat when there is an assignment to complete. I have talked to the doctors on a way to ensure none of my girls will be seeded by a man. There will be no retiring to wed and bear children. They will serve until they can serve no longer. They will be Widows with no husband.

Winnefred knows I still keep watch on her but cares not. Her third girl child was born ten days ago. I pity her daughters, their birthright denied them. I dream one day of taking them back in the name of the garden and the Motherland.

November 14 1932

The latest famine culls the weak from our nation. We in the garden suffer none of it. My girls are hearty stock despite cuts in bread rations. A new batch of orphans arrived last week, I see promise in two of them. Anya and Dorotheya. They have a hunger for more than bread. Not all are worth it, however. After a series of attempted runaways, I’ve ordered the instructors to handcuff the girls to their beds at lights out. The first girls have undergone the doctor’s surgery to prevent pregnancy. I wanted him to start with the youngest, but he refused, saying such a procedure on girls so young would be fatal. Instead, we started with the eldest. Those ready to graduate and take their place. All of the nine suffered sickness after, fever and bleeding, three fell to their infections. Acceptable losses. 

August 5 1937

Dorotheya and Anya faced each other in training today. I wanted to see how far they would go for victory. Dorotheya gave no hesitation when given the order. Anya’s bed will be filed next week. We have little time to waste, as our women are in high demand to aid the NKVD in executing Order 00447.

February 1 1945

My sister’s boychild was found frozen in the Danube below the Austrian Alps. He should be dead but he is as stubborn as his father. I have sent word to Stalin’s new secret science cabal within the NKVD, Leviathan. He is to be taken to them for study. They will discover the secret of how he could survive such a fall. The Americans will declare him missing and presumed dead. Oh to see the look on my sister’s face! The Motherland shall have its pound of flesh. While I detest the thought of Rasputin’s spawn in my halls, he shall serve us in her place.

May 2 1946

Fennhoff’s plan is risky. If it succeeds, not only will he have his revenge for the Battle of Finnow, but together we will strike a massive blow to the SSR, to Howard Stark, and to the heart of capitalist America. If it fails, none of us will be safe from Stalin’s wrath.

I have brokered an arrangement with the Baron of Sokovia, Heinrich Zemo. In exchange for access to the science knowledge of Leviathan and the loan of my Widows when needed to maintain his power, he will provide a new training facility for my girls. I have begun the process of moving the girls and staff to our new Red Room.

Sonya: <looks up from the last journal, dissapointed> That’s the final entry. 

Yelena: <looks to Nat> Sokovia. Well, I guess we’ve reached a dead end, thanks to your friends.

Nat: What? I didn’t tell them to create a crazy murderbot.

Yelena: <considers> They do seem to get into a lot of trouble when you’re not around to mother them.

Alexi: <looks at his watch> We’ve been exploring all day, we should probably head back to the safehouse.

Sonya: Wait. I want to take as much of this back as possible. Help me bag these journals. Be careful though, the older ones are very fragile.

Nat: Do me a favor? When you go through them, let me know if you find anything more about the last headmistress and her sister. Especially the son. 

Alexi: <looks at Nat with suspicion> You know something about this family.

Nat: I have an idea, but I want to know more.

<like magic, Yelena produces a tightly folded dufflebag from one of her many pockets, they pack the books with care, making their way back up the stairs and retracing their steps out of the building, returning to the car and heading home>


Notes From Peg’s Desk

Whew! That took longer than I expected it to. I did a lot (A Whole Freakin Lot) of research on Russian history for those journal entries. Plus, characters kept adding and revealing things even I didn’t know. Alexi used to bowl with the local sheriff back in Ohio? Huh. Ok. Sonya was just supposed to tag along because I wanted Melina out of the way when Alexi brought up the idea of a wedding. She gave herself a spotlight with her whole ‘CSI: Belaruse’ thing. But that turned out well IMO. The journals were fun to write despite constantly tabbing back and forth to check dates, names& facts on Wikipedia. For the record, the entire origin story of the RR is pure headcannon with no basis in either MCU or comics lore, as is the idea that Bucky Barnes mother was a RR graduate who was raped by Rasputin. As you can guess by the teaser at the end, we’ll be going back to Wakanda to check up on our White Wolf and the rest of our friends still hiding out there. Hopefully, our next episode will take less research time, though I’m always open to the characters adding extra details. (even if it means an episode that was expected to be about 3.5k words almost doubles in size, lol)

Until next time, Enjoy!


S1 E23 Agent of Resistance

Family Meeting


<SIte of the Red Room HQ destruction, location [REDACTED]>

<Nat is taken into custody and loaded into a van with Ross and a driver>

Nat: Dreykoff is dead, but there’s still more we need to do. 

Ross: We? So now you’re willing to cooperate with authorities? After making me chase you halfway around the world?

Nat: I had to be the one to take Dreykoff down. He was a big red mark I didn’t even know was still in my ledger.

Ross: <amazed> The Red Room. Under the radar all these years. I can’t imagine how much damage they’ve done. <sceptical> And you took them down, all on your own.

Nat: I had some help.

Ross: Who? 

Nat: I’m just being humble. It was all me. But now, I need your help to dismantle the rest of it. There’s still a network of human traffickers that Dreykoff used to steal young girls. If they’re not bringing them to him, they’ll sell them elsewhere. <the phone in his breast pocket chirps, distracting Ross, as Nat pulls a handcuff key from her belt> I sent you everything you need to take them down. <Ross opens his phone, begins scanning files, he stops at a picture of one young girl, she reminds him of Betty at that age, he inhales, realising the scope of the damage Dreykoff has done measured not in politics and spycraft, but in human lives>

Ross: What about all the other Widows out there in the wild? They’ve been Dreykoff’s eyes, ears, and weapons all these years. They have to be brought in to face responsibility.

Nat: They were his victims, and now they’re free. You’ll have your hands’ full hunting down the real villains.

Ross: Don’t think this is going to make me go easy on you and your friends. <long pause> You go and save the world when the world wants to lock you up. It’s simply impossible to know whose side you’re on.

Nat: You and I have that in common.

Ross: What is that old saying? You can’t go home again. <sighs as he realises Nat has given him the slip once more, looks down at the picture on the phone again, closes the file, takes a deep breath as he dials Betty’s number, exhaling slowly, he has second thoughts, hanging up before his daughter has a chance to answer>

[Loc: Unnamed safehouse, somewhere in Minsk, Belaruse, 04042017 10pm, MST, GMT-3]

<Melina and Nat exiting a tiny kitchen into a dining-living room, observing a conversation between Alexei and Yelena>

Alexei: <slightly annoyed> Again with the ‘what was real, what was fake’! It was our life. Yes, some things were made up, some things were pretend, but looking back, those three years, with you, Natasha, and your mama, they were the happiest of my life.

Yelena: <turns, looking over the back of the couch at Nat, snarking> Hey! Look at that! We beat out a Siberian prison! <rolls her eyes, turns back to Alexei> What about our trip to Disneyworld for my fifth birthday? That had to be real. Even you had fun. You stood in line for almost an hour just to get Goofy’s autograph. <Nat behind her makes a slashing motion, her eyes wide, shaking her head at Alexei>

Alexei:<totaly oblivious to Nat’s attempts to get him to be quiet> The guy in the Goofy suit was KGB. He was giving me written instructions for the new hidden camera that was in your mouse ears hat.

Yellena: <arms folded, sinking into the couch, scowling> So you letting me wear them the week after for ‘Take Your Daughter to Work Day’ was all just part of the ruse?

Alexi: < realising too late his mistake in telling her the truth, grimaces sheepishly> We did have fun that day, though, da? You were SO excited to see where your papa worked. I remember you had just lost your first tooth. You did the little song and dance you made up about the Tooth Fairy for every person we saw in the Institute! <smiles nostalgically at her> It was adorable, and it was real.

Melina: <moves to the sofa, snuggling up to Alexei, changing the subject> I’ve contacted some of the other Widow groups in hiding and warned them to be on alert for those from Ninotchka’s generation.

Nat: <sitting on the arm of the plush chair Yelena occupies> Why specifically her generation?

Melina: The Red Room was always experimenting with different ways to keep control over the Widows. About ten years before me, there was a class that was referred to in whispers only. They were called the ‘Winter Widows’. From the very start, they were put through extreme mental conditioning around age three or four, not like anything you’ve ever seen. Brainwashing, electroconvulsive therapy, trigger commands. They were hyperaware, highly suggestible, wholly loyal and controllable -except when they weren’t. 

Yelena: <shudders> What happened? Why did they stop?

Melina: Exposing still evolving adolescent brains to such procedures caused too many adverse effects. Some subjects cognitive functions regressed; others became catatonic and died. Those that survived the procedures developed severe mental instability as they reached puberty. Schizophrenia, heightened aggression, lack of impulse control. The handful that survived to Graduation were reserved for short term assignments. Primarily wetwork. They couldn’t handle infiltration and deep cover. They were precise tools that had to be carefully managed. Eventually, most were put down. The last I knew, there were only four or five of them left. 

Nat: Ninotchka seemed to be stable enough to carry out her mission. <shrugs> At least until I confronted her.

Melina: She was the oldest of that class and had the most minor side effects. But make no mistake, she’s still volatile and dangerous. 

<a crash and scream is heard from down the hall, all four rise, rushing toward the sound, a bedroom door opens to reveal two young girls about four or five years old in combat with four more girls of approximately the same age observing silently, a ragged, well worn stuffed rabbit with one leg torn off lies on the floor, the girls are vicious and precise in their attacks, one with a bloody nose, the other with a deep scratch above her eye, the one with the bloody nose grabs a pencil from a nightstand, charging her opponent, Yelena’s hand snaps out grabbing the attacker’s wrist in a vicegrip>

Alexei: <roaring> Maja! Adisa! Cease combat! <the girls ignore him, the unrestrained girl lunging for her target, Alexei scoops a bear arm around her waist, picking her up, holding her to his chest> Maja, I said STOP!

Melina: <shoos the other girls out of the crowded room, calling behind them> Ask one of the older sestras to make some popcorn and we’ll all watch Sing together shortly. <turns back to the combatants, hands on her hips> We do not attack our sisters. If there is a problem, we use our words. <squats down to pick up the bunny, looking up at the girls> I see Adisa’s friend here got hurt. Tell me what happened? <the girls stare defiantly for a moment before one speaks>

Maja: Is this a test?

Alexei: <sits down on one of the beds, setting Maja across his lap, closes his eyes, breaths deeply, opens his eyes again, hugging the girl tight> No. No tests, little one. No more tests, no more training, no more fighting. 

Yelena: <sits on the other bed, pulling Adisa into a hug> What happened to Bunbu?

Adisa: <staring down at the remnants of the toy in Melina’s hands, her bottom lip quivering> Maja took her away. She wouldn’t give her back and, and <the girl trembles, fighting with every fibre of her being not to cry> She killed her!

Maja: <tears welling in her eyes> I keep dreaming that the bad people are coming to take me again. Maja said that Bunbu keeps them away. <burries her head in Alexei’s chest, stuttering> I, I just wanted a friend like she has.

Alexi: Oh, little one. <cradles Maja, rocking her slowly> You are one of my girls. You are strong and fierce and brave. You can face anything. <looks overtop her head to lock eyes with Nat, who’s leaning quietly against the doorframe, observing> But the bad people are never coming back. Ever.

Melina: <carefuly examines the remains of the stuffed bunny, looks to Adisa, smiling softly> You know, Bunbu isn’t dead. She’s lost a lot of stuffing, and she’ll need surgery to re-attach her leg, but I think she’ll pull through. She’ll need a lot of love while she’s recovering. More than one girl can give. Do you think you and your sister can work together to care for her? 

<Adisa looks across the room to Maja, sniffling through her bloody nose, the girls lock eyes, and an unspoken truce is formed, both girls nod, sliding from the adults’ laps to stand facing each other>

Maja: <head hung down> I’m sorry I hurt Bunbu. I just wanted a friend.

Adisa: <hugs her> Bunbu can chase away the bad people for both of us.

Melina: <smiles, rising> Ok, you two, go with Papa and get cleaned up. <she motions Nat and Yelena to follow her into the kitchen, concern wrinkling her forehead> That’s the third fight this week. The girls are restless. They’ve been cooped up in this tiny safe house for six months. We have to find a bigger space. The girls are living two and three to a bed and have nothing to do but watch movies all day.

Yelena: <throws her hands up, rolling her eyes> And, here it comes. The crazy talk.

Melina: <ignoring her, looks at Nat> Papa and I want to go home. Take the girls and go back to Ohio. Give them a normal life. <Nat says nothing>

Yelena: <turning to her sister> THIS is what I needed your help for. They’ve lost their minds. 

Melina: We fought so they could be free. So they could live the life denied us. 

Yelena: It’s too dangerous. Even if Ninotcha and the other Winter Widows weren’t intent on taking them back. You saw what just happened. What happens when some kindergartener steals their crayons or pushes them on the playground. How will they react when the teacher tries to put them in time out? Eh? 

Melina: It won’t be easy, but we will help them adjust. 

Yelena: <her voice raising slightly> And Ohio?! You just want to move into our old house in Akron and hope the neighbours don’t recognise you? 

Melina: I’m not saying we move back to Akron; maybe we find a small town on the other side of the state, or perhaps another midwest state like Michigan or Indiana. It was a very homey, comfortable place. 

Yelena: What would you and papa even do there? Raise your pigs? It’s not like there are many career opportunities for former assassins and spies.

Melina: <hesitates> Maybe, maybe I could become a teacher. Work at the school and keep an eye on the girls. <looks off, wistfully> I always wanted to be an educator in the Red Room, but my research knowledge was more important to Dreykoff. I wanted to share my knowledge and my love of science. 

Yelena <softens> I remember we’d catch Lampyridae and Rhopalocera in the backyard. We made wishes on Taraxacum seeds as we blew them off into the wind.

Melina: <crosses to Yelena, rubbing her hands on her arms, letting them slide down to take Yelena’s hands in hers, smiles> You were an excellent student. 

Yelena: <turns to a still silent Nat> Well? Come on, poser, what do you think of all this crazy talk? 

Nat: <sits down at the table, folding her hands> You’re both right. We can’t keep the girls locked away in a tiny safehouse all their lives. They need an education and a chance to experience the world. They also need to be kept safe. Either way, this place isn’t a long term option. 

Melina: We have the access codes to all of Dreykoff’s funds. You have contacts that could facilitate us slipping into the States. 

Nat: That’s going to take time, and most of the contacts I haven’t burned are wrapped up in other projects. But I can send out some feelers to a couple, see what it would take. This is bigger than just one group though. Every Widow group sheltering girls will need to have the same opportunities to blend into wherever they choose to settle. 

Yelena: <scoffing> So, what, we just going to start up an international organization to rehabilitate Widows?

Nat: <ponders> Actually, <punches her sister affectionately in the arm> that’s not a bad idea. A ‘charity’ for displaced and abused girls.

Melina: <nods> If you could find a way to legitimize it, we could funnel funds to every Widow group. Set them up as orphanages and foster homes. 

<in the background girls can be heard in the next room giggling and happily singing along to their movie>  

Nat: I’ll make some calls tomorrow. In the meantime, <points to Yelena> tell me about the facility you found.

Yelena: Old, dusty, abandoned. What do you want? There wasn’t a realtor handy to answer questions. <Nat glares impatiently> Ok, ok. It’s about an hour drive from here. Surrounded by crappy rusted metal fencing that’s not gonna keep anyone out if they want in. I checked the perimeter for any surveillance equipment just in case it wasn’t as abandoned as it’s meant to look. 

Melina: And?

Yelena: Nothing. Entrances are all crappy ancient locks. There’s a breach in the lower west wall of the boiler room. Evidence of a firefight there. I counted the remains of one American, one prisoner, and seven Russian soldiers. 

Nat: <shakes her head> Only one American? Those numbers seem off. Especially if it was a Red Room training facility. 

Yelena: I didn’t see any signs of Widows involved in the fight. They may have had some notice beforehand. Evacuate the school and leave expendable soldiers to lie in wait for the Americans.

Nat: Eh, plausible, but still feels like there’s a missing piece to the story. What about the rest of the building?

Yelena: The school rooms looked more like American classrooms than the ones we were trained in. Quaint but old like everything else. The maps only had 48 states, the presidents pictured on the walls only went up to Truman, and they had an old school movie projector with the film reels. <reminiscing> Like Mrs Peterman’s room, but without the fun touches like the helper board and the Show & Tell calendar. <slumps in her chair, arms crossed, scowls slightly> It was supposed to be my turn for show and tell the day after we left Ohio.

Melina: <ignoring her pout> Hm. That sets a time range of 1945-53. After WW2, the early Cold War. Did you explore the entire compound?

Yelena: <sits back up> I checked out all the buildings, but focused on the main one. <grabs a piece of paper and pen, beginning to sketch the layout as she talks> Past the boiler room there was a corridor with cells. All empty and sealed except one with the lock shot through -that one had a bunch of books and papers scattered on the floor. 

Nat: Sounds like the Americans were there to rescue someone. They might not even have known they had stumbled into a Red Room training facility. 

Melina: Unlucky for them. <Nat nods>

Yelena: <continues sketching> The ground floor layout was basically like any old money private school. There were multiple classrooms, a bland dining area of plain tables with benches, an old fashion industrial kitchen, what looked like maybe a staff lounge, and what I figure must have been the headmistresses office. Upstairs there was a very basic dorm, just footlockers and beds. I found the remains of another American in the dorm. The creepy part was the handcuffs on each bed. 

Nat: <unsurprised> It was the Red Room. Would you expect any less? Probably easier to maintain dominance over the girls back then. 

Yelena: Still, <shudders> ugh. There was a communal shower/toilet area, staff sleeping rooms, and of course, a dance studio. Looks like the studio might also have been used for gymnastics too. 

Melina: They probably had the girls up before sunrise doing plies and sautes. In my day, it was three hours of practice before breakfast. 

Nat: We had two-hour sessions, and then another two of hand to hand combat.

Yelena: <turns to Melina> That’s why I make a point of sleeping in now. <grins at Nat> Wake me before 7am, there had better be blood, fire, or coffee.

Nat: <laughs wholeheartedly, rocking in her chair> I’ll try to remember that.

Adisa: <from the other room> Papa! Mama says we share the popcorn on movie night! <Alexi can be heard grudgingly agreeing with a crunchy mumble>

Yelena: <returning to her sketch> There was a courtyard in the centre of the building, overgrown of course, but still very pretty in the snow. I’m not sure what it was used for. Did they allow the girls downtime back then maybe? 

Melina: <shakes her head> Unlikely. Ridgid scheduling of all waking hours has always been a part of the program. The open space was probably used for basic callisthenics and combat training. 

Yelena: Makes sense, I guess. <taps the pen on the table a few times, recalling> That’s all of the main building. There were some support buildings on the perimeter. A large garage with some rusted out military jeeps. A warehouse with what I assume were supplies. I didn’t open any crates. They could be anything from rotted food to antique weapons. The creepiest building was on the far edge of the compound. It looked like a medical lab or an infirmary, but it had a crematorium furnace. I didn’t look inside. <shaking slightly> I couldn’t.

Nat: <inhales deeply, her lips pressed tight together, her eyes full of sadness, exhales> Girls who didn’t pass their training.

Melina: <trying to stay clinical and detached, despite her watering eyes> Easier to just burn the bodies than dig a grave for each one.

<the three women sit around the table in silence, when suddenly Maja comes bouncing into the room, tugging on Nat’s arm>

Maja: You’re missing the concert! It’s the best part! <the three of them smile, setting aside their conversating for the moment, joining the girls in the packed living room, Alexi at the centre of the couch, two little ones on either side of him, snaking popcorn from the bowl in his lap, the older girls in chairs or on the floor Yelena and Nat softly singing along with them>

Yelena: Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did? Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. I’m still standing after all this time.

Nat: <watching the simple family moment with a lightness in her heart, sings along as well> This is my big hello, I’m here and never letting go. I can finally see, it’s not just a dream when you set it all free. 

<the movie concludes, and Alexi ushers the girls to get ready for bed despite loud protests, the older girls help him to scoot them off, while Melina, Nat and Yelena return to the kitchen to resume their planning>

Nat: Four of us can head out early tomorrow to check out the facility. <Yelena groans> AFTER coffee. <Yelena nods> If there’s still no sign of any surveillance there, we’ll split up into pairs and explore the facility. I don’t know if we’ll be able to convert it into a safe space, but I definitely want to check it out.

Melina: Someone should stay here with the girls. I trust them, and the older ones can handle themselves, but with Ninotchka out there, I just don’t want to leave them alone.

Yelena: <puts a hand upon Melina’s> It’s ok, Mama. We understand. Sonya can come with us. She’s good. <looks Nat in the eye> She was almost ready for Graduation if we hadn’t stopped Dreykoff. 

Nat: <whispers> Jesus. 

Yelena: Yeah. <pauses> I really want this place to work out. We need to establish a stable base. The sooner we do that, the sooner Mom can work on more of the cure, and I can find and free more of our sisters. Then, after we save the day, maybe you take me to NYC, show me the sights?

Nat: <grins, laughing> You are such a tourist.

Yelena: <grinning back, her eyes teasing> And you’re still a poser.

<at the top of the stairs, Alexi can be heard talking to the girls>

Alexi: All my girls, you get good night’s sleep and dream big dreams! <he thumps his way down the stairs and into the kitchen, points at Nat and Yelena> That goes for you two, too. Natasha, you’re going to have to share a room with Yelena. <smiles at them> Will be just like when you were little, ya?

Nat: <still in a teasing mood, looks at her sister> Depends, does she still wet the bed and cry at thunderstorms? 

Yelena: <rises in a mock huff, throwing an oven mitt at her sister> That’s it! No leftovers for you! <grabs a pot off the stove, shovelling forkfuls of mac and cheese into her mouth, mumbling> Mmm! So good! <shaking the pot, holding it out toward Nat before pulling it back to grab another forkful> Too bad Natasha doesn’t get any! 

Nat: <sticks her tongue out, making a raspberry noise> Love you too, brat. Let’s get some sleep.

Notes from Peg’s Desk

Wow, I didn’t expect this side story to be as large as it’s turning out to be, so we’re going to break it into two parts. The opening is part of a deleted scene from the Black Widow movie, though sending Ross after the human traffickers and the bit about Betty are my own. Next episode we’ll dive into some Red Room history as we explore the old training facility in Maryina Horka. After that, we’ll swing back and reconnect with what the rest of our friends(and foes) are up to. Hope everyone is safe and healthy and enjoying their holiday season! Until next time,


S1 E22 Agent of Resistance

New Homes and New Problems


Loc: AVENGERS TOWER, Broadway & W 58th St, New York, NY

avengers tower landing.gif

Tony: < in the lounge area, sitting across the table from Peg, a small basket of muffins between them, relaxing, with coffee> So the renovations for the lower floors will be done in about a week, but your quarters are ready any time you are.

Peggy: I’m still not comfortable with the idea of leaving the safe house. What if I’m needed in an emergency?

Tony: <rises, motioning her to join him, still limping awkwardly from the ankle monitor> Just lemme give you the grand tour at least. APRIL and I have both told you that you’re connected to everything through her if anything happens. The safe house is just a few blocks away if you NEED to be there.

Peggy: <sets her coffee down on the table before following> I wouldn’t want to intrude on you and Pepper; this is your home. Especially with the two of you on house arrest right now.

Tony: Pepper and I WANT you to move in, and it’s not like you’ll be the only one. Besides, she’s usually so busy running the company that I’m left rattling around this place all by myself. <tilts his head, looking around with a bit of nostalgia> It used to be a lot noisier around here. <leads her down a set of stairs to the residential floor>

Peggy: You miss your friends. 

Tony:<smiles wistfully> It was kind of almost like having a family. <frowns> But, nothing lasts forever.

Peggy: <looks down the hall> Yet you’ve kept their rooms, waiting for them to come home. 

Tony: <shrugs, unconsciously rubbing his earlobe, blusters> I just haven’t decided if I want to turn this floor into an art gallery, another workshop, or an exotic petting zoo.

Peggy: <recognizing the gesture, unconvinced> Mhmm. <continues down the hall, a row of doors on either side, looking at the small nameplates above the palmprint lock beside each suite’s door, reading them off, trailing her fingers along the wall as she walks> R Rhodes. C Barton. N Romanov.  B Banner. T Odinson. Vision. W Maximov. S Wilson.  <she stops at the next to last door, its nameplate is dented & scratched, only the first two letters legible> S R? 

Tony: <tugging at his earlobe again> Ah, Storage Room. 

Peggy: <eyebrow raised> Oh. Of course. <tries handle, finds the door locked, a red light flashes on the palm pad beside the door> Quite the lock for a simple closet. 

Tony: <opens his mouth, then closes it again, rubs the earlobe a third time, catches himself, folds his arms over his chest> Well, I, ah, it’s just a bunch of old antiques& junk leftover from um, one of dad’s old experiments. I probably should just clean the whole space out. 

Peggy: <cocks her head to the side, smirking> You know, you picked that tell up from Edwin. 

Tony: <grins sheepishly, shakes his head> Every time Jarvis tried to cover for dad, he’d rub his ear.

Peggy: <frowns, brows furrowed> Howard was still leaving him to make excuses after all those years?

Tony: <shrugs> He was always busy with work, but I had a family. I had Mom, the Jarvis’s, and you. <smiles sadly> You kept me from drinking myself to death after Mom& Dad died.

Peggy: <puts a hand on his arm> You mentioned that before. I know I shouldn’t ask, but how did they die?

Tony: <starts to reach for the ear one more time, runs his hand through his hair trying to cover the gesture> Car crash, a tire blew out, and they hit a tree. Totally out of the blue, nobody, <looks away> ah, nobody could have expected or prevented it. <takes a deep breath> That was a rough Christmas. 

Peggy: <bites her lip, eyes watering, nods> I can only imagine. 

Tony: <sniffs> Yeah. <waves a hand around> This area’s been unused for most of a year. I think the air filtration system needs to be checked. <sniffs again> Lotta dust in the air messes with my allergies.

Peggy: <smiles softly, allowing him the lie> Yes, I noticed, quite dusty indeed.

Tony: I’ll have maintenance get right on that. I wouldn’t want you to go into sneezing fits while you’re trying to relax in your new rooms. <points to the door across from the ‘storage room’, the nameplate above the palm lock is blank> We’ll put your name on there & encode your palmprint once you decide you’re ready to move in. <opens the door, encouraging her to enter first>

Peggy: <steps inside the suite, looks around, eyes wide> Why I could fit my old flat in here three times and still have room! What would I ever need with so much space? <looks around approvingly at the classic but straightforward furnishings> At least the couch seems more comfortable for sleeping than the one in my office.

Tony: <brightens, laughing> No! Aunt Peg, this is just your living room! These are entire apartments. <grabs her hand, leading her through> Kitchenette. <she grimaces, as he continues to laugh> Yes, I remember. There’s a microwave, coffeemaker, and the numbers for twenty different restaurant delivery services are on the fridge. 

Peggy: <face squints in laughter, giggles sarcastically> ONLY twenty?

Tony: <smiles, still laughing, shrugs> That’s the quick reference list. I’ll have FRIDAY send APRIL a more comprehensive one with menus.

Peggy: <turns back around> Is there an office space for me to work from home if anything happens?

Tony: <still grinning, enjoying the chance to show off> Would you even think about moving in if there wasn’t? <doesn’t wait for an answer, leading her into another room, a marble-top desk at the centre monitors covering the walls to the left and right, an expansive view of the city displayed by the glass wall behind the desk> You’ll be able to do everything here that you could do at the safe house. With a way better view. Fury and Coulson are just a vid conference away if you need to consult them. 

Peggy: <sits down in the chair, swivels around to take in the view> It certainly is a magnificent sight! The city has grown so much! We’re so high up! I swear I can almost see Brooklyn! 

Tony: Your office is already set up for you and APRIL. I even made sure <opens a drawer of the desk> to stock everything you could need. <pulls out a bag of potato chips, tosses them to her>

Peggy: <catches the bag, beaming and chuckling> Crisps! Oh, you do know me so well! <considers opening the bag right away, then puts it back in the desk> I suppose I’ll just save these for later when I’m up working late.

Tony: <eyebrows raised in happiness> Sounds like you’ve already decided, and you haven’t even seen the whole place yet.

Peggy: Well, I suppose I should let you finish the tour before I agree to anything. <spins again> Though this chair IS rather comfy. <rises>

Tony: <leads her down the hall> You’ve got a full bathroom with jacuzzi tub, no sauna, but there’s one by the locker rooms off the gym upstairs. <Peggy shakes her head at the excessive luxuries but lets him continue> And this is your bedroom.

Peggy: <taken aback by the great open space, explores, opening the walk-in closet, peeking into the bathroom, nodding in approval once more at the furnishings, sits down on the edge of the massive bed, giving it a light bounce> Oh good! I was afraid it would be one of those dreadful mattresses one sinks into, like trying to sleep in quicksand or marshmallows. <looks to the glass wall on one side of the room> Please, please, tell me I can pull some drapes across that! I’ve no wish to put on a show for any planes, helicopters, or enhanced peeping toms flying past!

Tony: Better, it’s two-way adjustable glass. No one can see in, and APRIL will adjust the level of light that comes through. So if you have one of those late work nights and don’t get to bed until five am, you can still have it pitch black in here if you like. Also, <knocks on the nearest window> while we’ve never needed it, bullet-proof.

Peggy: Splendid! <shakes her head> I admit, I had already decided I was going to remain at the safe house before I even arrived here today. <Tony’s moustache droops> However, after seeing how much thought and work you put into creating a space where I can be not only productive, but comfortable as well, I suppose I really can’t say no, now can I? <thinks to herself> Plus, you’ve given me another mystery or two to unravel.

Tony: <brightens immediately> Great! How about we move you on Saturday, and then you can wake up in your new place for your birthday?

Peggy: <smiles> You’re enjoying this way too much, Anthony. I never really celebrate my birthday. There’s always work to be done—some sort of emergency or crisis.

Tony: <holds up a hand> Not this year, I swear, Aunt Peg. You’re going to enjoy your birthday for once. NO WORK!

Peggy: Well, to be honest, there was one thing I had hoped for, <Tony’s ears perk up> but it doesn’t seem that will come to pass by then.

Tony: <reaching for his phone> Something I can help make happen?

Peggy: <sighs, shaking her head> No, Anthony, I was just hoping a friend I had made would make it home in time to celebrate with me.

Tony: <squirms slightly, rubbing the back of his neck> That, ah, Grant guy you’ve been talking to? The one who sends you music? 

Peggy: <blushes> Yes, Grant. He promised to take me dancing. <looks downcast, shrugs> However it doesn’t seem he’ll make it back to New York before then after all.

Tony: <scowling> Let me guess, he’s a workaholic like you and can’t take the time away.

Peggy: <looks up at the ceiling, biting her lip, stretching her words out slowly> Nottt Exaaactlllly. You’re not going to like it. <Tony tilts his head to the side, eyebrows raised, waiting for her to explain, she answered hesitantly> He may, just slightly, technically, be, well, <pauses> a fugitive.

Tony: <eyes widen, stares at her for a minute before going off>  Jezus Aunt Peg! What the hell are you thinking? 

Peggy: <hackles up> I KNEW you’d be upset. Don’t even THINK you’re going to give me a lecture. I’m not some empty-headed fluttering teenager making poor decisions. The only reason he’s a fugitive is those bloody damned Accords. He’s been waiting for them to be rescinded. Then he wants to come back to the States and join the Resistance fully. He already does as much as he can right now from wherever he’s hiding. Don’t bother asking; I have no idea where he is.

Tony: <puts his hands up defensively> Ok, ok. Let’s not ruin a good day with an argument. From what you’ve told me before, he seems like a decent guy, but the Accords were put into place to protect people from the types of dangers enhanced individuals can cause. If he refuses to sign, that makes him either stubborn, dangerous or most likely both. Do you know what powers or abilities he has that make him qualify for the Accords?

Peggy: <stops to think> We haven’t discussed that. All I know is that he’s not that fireman, John Storm? I think his name was?

Tony: <nods> Johnny Storm and the rest of the Fantastic Four did sign. Though I heard it was a real Yancy Street slobber knocker of a family squabble over the decision. So you have NO idea who this guy is? 

Peggy: None. I wouldn’t even recognise him if I saw him on the street. I don’t even know if Grant is his real name; I admit I didn’t give him mine.

Tony: <sighs> Just, just promise me you’ll be careful, Aunt Peg.

Peggy: I can handle myself, Anthony. <her phone pings with alerts, she checks it, looks back at the kitchenette area and then to Tony quizzically> So, those microwave machines, can they actually be used to spy on someone?

Tony: <raises an eyebrow, shakes his head, trying not to laugh> NO. Do I even want to know what’s going on?

Peggy: <looks around the apartment> I have to get back to the office, can we discuss the details of moving day later?

Tony: Sure, I’ve got some things I’ve got to check out with FRIDAY, so you take care of whatever mess that is and call me when you have time tonight. <walks her to the elevator>

Peggy: It may be late. Apparently, GOP Barbie is yammering away about some sort of wiretapping conspiracy. <steps inside>

Tony: I’d tell you to have fun, but <rolls his eyes, laughing>

<the elevator doors close, Tony awkwardly hops and skips up the nearby stairs to the upper lever workshop/office>


FRIDAY: <lilting Irish brogue fills the room> Yeah, Boss?

Tony: Got some detective work to do. I need a list of all known male enhanced individuals affected by the accords. Remove any that have signed or been incarcerated.

FRIDAY: Do you want me to include those killed in anti-Inhuman terrorist attacks by the Watchdogs?

Tony: Ah, no, exclude them as well, strike any deceased from the list. 

FRIDAY: Even with those parameters, this list is going to take a wee bit of time. I hope you didn’t have any other plans for me for a while. 

Tony: This is your main focus right now. I need to know more about this guy and make sure he’s not putting Aunt Peg in danger. 

FRIDAY: It seems your godmother is quite capable of both putting herself into and extracting herself from danger without any help, Boss.

ezgif.com-add-text (67).gif

[Loc: Small non-descript hotel room, Atlanta, Georgia,  04042017 0900hrs(EST)]

Esme: I don’t see what the big deal is. We shouldn’t even have to get jobs. I could just get into the managers head and make him think he’s getting paid for the room. <spins around the dingy room with a look of disgust> Hell, I could get us better accommodations than this in a heartbeat.

Thunderbird: No. You’ve been using your powers too much as it is lately. Someone is going to notice.

Esme: You said yourself that we don’t know how long it will take to find Clarice and the others, much less a way home. We need a place to lay low and gather information.

Thunderbird: Yeah, I said to lay low. We need to blend in. Using your powers to peek into peoples minds, pick their pockets and make them forget things ISN’T keeping a low profile.

Esme: <matter of factly> If I make them forget, then it’s not an issue, right? I got you that construction job at the new Alchemax distribution centre, and you didn’t even need an ID. You should be thanking me!

Thunderbird: The boss hired me, yes, but what happens when payroll doesn’t have any record of me? Remember the migrant family down the hall that got taken away by ICE last week? 

Esme: <stiffens at the memory of a small child crying out> They’re as bad as Sentinel Services. We should have helped them. 

Thunderbird: <looks down, inhales> I know. But it was a risk we couldn’t take. We need to find a way to get papers and blend in around here. We can’t go looking for the others if we’re constantly looking over our shoulders.

Esme: Fine. How’s this? We go to the county offices, and I do one last mind push to get us what we need. We’ll have official driver’s licenses and social security cards. Then I promise, <fingers crossed behind her back> to behave and not use my powers unless it’s an emergency. 

Thunderbird: <sighs, knowing it’s their best option> You swear? <Esme nods, fingers still crossed> Ok, that gets me a job and keeps a roof over our heads. What are you going to do?

Esme: <looks down at a newspaper on the table, an article stands out about a local political campaign needing volunteers, she smiles> You get money, I’m going to get information. <Thunderbird glares at her> What? It’s not the first time I’ve gotten involved in politics. Politicians tend to know things, and canvassing neighbourhoods gives me a chance to talk to all kinds of people without looking suspicious. I can learn more about this world and find out what may have happened to our friends.

Thunderbird: <considers> Ok. See if you can find anything out about SHIELD and these Inhumans too. < points the finger at her> But be careful. NO powers!

[An apartment overlooking Sennaya Ploshchad Subway station, Corner of Nevsky & Ligovsky Aves, St Petersburg, Russia 04042017 (10 am MST, GMT-3)]

[Dressed casually in jeans, a hoodie, and a knit cap over her short blond hair, Nat creeps through an open window, gun drawn at her side, stealthy exploring the apartment, noticing a pile of mail by the door, dirty dishes piled in the sink, the apartment’s resident dead at the kitchen table, a middle-aged dark-haired woman at the kitchen window, looking out at the mourners and rubble below, ignoring Nat’s presence, her dark blue jacket has the word ‘фельдшер’ on the back]

Nat: <shakes her head> Sloppy.

Ninotchka: <turns, the first aid cross and hospital insignia visible beneath a large amount of blood on the front of her jacket, rolls her eyes sarcastically> Oh, I’m so sorry. Should I have cleaned the house and baked marlenka? I’ve been a bit busy working—no time to make friendly for uninvited guests.

Nat: <both hands on her gun, but keeping it lowered> So I noticed. Still, a subway bomb? 

Ninotchka: <casually shrugs off the bloody paramedic jacket, setting it on the back of an unoccupied chair> Another political dissident ‘accidentally’ falls out of a high story open window or succumbs to a mysterious poisoning; it looks suspicious. A random college student dies of a terrorist bombing along with others, not so much. Bonus, it scares the protestors from gathering without making them look like a direct target.

Nat: <drawing slowly closer, still tense> Smart, but how could you be sure to kill the right target?

Ninotchka: <grins satisfactorily, placing her hands on the back of the chair, brushing off a bit of debris from the jacket> A first responder found him still breathing with a nasty head wound and jagged pieces of shrapnel in his chest; one had stopped just short of a major artery. <tilts her head, still grinning> Unfortunate for him, the responder must have nudged it while putting pressure on his other wounds. Dead at the scene. 

Nat: And what about all the other people who died?

Ninotchka: <tilts her head, glaring> Collateral damage. Unimportant. There was a time you understood that—a time before you betrayed your heritage. The Red Room made you who you are, yet you turned your back, then tried to destroy us.

Nat: <calmly, holstering her gun> I was given a choice. A chance to be something more. You could have that too. 

Ninotchka: <growing more agitated, her voice rising in sarcasm and anger> Oh, yes! Become a SHIELD agent, <pauses> or an Avenger? And how did that work out for you? 

Nat: <sighs, looking her in the eyes> I’m not saying it’s been perfect, but I’ve worked to make the world a better place, not throw it deeper into chaos and bloodshed. To make a world where little girls can have real childhoods, not be raised as weapons.

Ninotchka: <her eyes full of rage> I’m sure the little ones you stole away call you a hero. Those of us who remained loyal call you a traitor! <with lightning speed, she whips a knife from her belt, slashing at Nat> You took them from the only home they ever knew!

Nat: <rolls to the side, across the table, dishes crashing to the floor> That wasn’t a home; we just didn’t know any better. It was a prison. It was a factory. Children went in, and killing machines came out. Too many didn’t make it out at all.

Ninotchka: Those that came out were survivors! The elite! The malen’kiye sestry you kidnapped will grow fat, lazy, and undisciplined without the training and order of the Red Room!

Nat: They will grow up with the choice to become whatever they choose to be.

Ninotchka: NO! Destiny chose them! This is their birthright! 

Nat: <backs up a step, raising her arm, palm up in a stop motion> This isn’t you, it’s the programming talking. 

Ninotchka: NO! I was given your little ‘cure’<spits on the floor> and it changed nothing. Ironic that it was sprung upon me against my will in order to ‘free’ me. 

Nat: We may disagree, but at least now, your choices are your own. You can choose to remain in this life, hurting, killing, and sowing chaos to protect the power of evil men. <reaches her hand out in a gesture of friendship> Or, you can walk away. Create your own life. Find the things that make you happy and make your path in the world. 

Ninotchka: Structure and order are what makes me happy. You’re the one sowing chaos, disrupting the natural rule of our world. <lunges at Nat again, screaming> You’re no hero! You’ve destroyed everything!

<a calm, steady male voice comes across Ninotchka’s earbud> 

Control: Stand down. Disengage and return.

Ninotchka: <enraged> NO! I have the traitor! I can end her!

Control: <repeating in the same calm, unemotional voice> Stand Down. The traitor is not your assignment. Disengage and return.

Ninotchka: <shakes her head> If I eliminate her now, she won’t interfere when we reclaim the lost ones. 

Control: <recites a list of seemingly meaningless words> Twenty-Three. Empress. Garden. Ballroom. Swan. Crimson. Graduation. 

Ninotchka: <blinks multiple times, her face contorting from one of rage to calm, a serene blank slate broken by a faint smile of happiness as Nat watches only one side of the encounter in confusion> Ready to comply. 

Control: Compliance will be rewarded. Cleanup, disengage and return. 

<before Nat can react, Ninotchka grabs the gas line jutting from behind the stove, ripping it loose from the wall, the broken line emitting an angry hiss as natural gas rushes from it, Nat jumps out the kitchen exit as Ninotchka crashes through the window, firing a widow bite as she dives, the electrical spark igniting the gas, causing an explosion that rocks the apartment, fire spreading quickly, Nat makes it out the door, slamming it behind her, running down the halls, banging on doors>

Nat: Огонь! Убирайся! Огонь! 

<doors begin to open in confusion, some closest to the apartment see smoke curling up from under the door and join in raising the alarm as they evacuate the building, Nat pulls up her hood and blends into the crowd spilling out into the street, making her way towards a motorcycle parked in an alley, straddling the bike, a faint whistling tone comes from her pocket, she checks her phone, one text message, the sender name is nothing but an emoji>

🙃​: You need to come back. I have an emergency.

Nat: Yeah, so do I. They may be related. 

🙃​: I doubt it. You’re not dealing with stupid old people. Or stupid young people.

Nat: You love it, and you know it. But they may be in danger. How goes the history research? You may have some of the answers I need.

🙃: Not much other than what I could find out from elders in other safe houses.​ I did find an abandoned training facility in the Maryina Horka Forest. Actually, it’s only about 50 miles from our safe house. It looks like it was evacuated in a rush. They didn’t even take the time to set fire to the place. I found a wall breach in one of the lower levels and evidence of a firefight. Skeletons of soldiers -primarily Russian, but a couple of Americans.

Nat: Wow, that’s not normal. Anything good?

🙃​: Lot of ancient history. Most of the files and books are like, I don’t know, a hundred years old or more, maybe? I can’t tell; it all just looks old. I doubt they’ll have anything you need.

Nat: It was worth a look. I can be there in 12hrs. Meanwhile, I need you to contact all the sanctuaries and put them on high alert. 

🙃​: That kind of emergency? Shit. Ok, just get here soon. And DON’T ruin my jacket!

Nat: Love you too, sis. Be careful.

<Nat tucks the phone away, putting on a helmet, revving the bike and speeding off>

[Belorusneft Petrol station on M5 just north of Minsk, Belarus, (9 pm MST, GMT-3)]

<Nat parks her bike next to one of the pumps, pulling off her helmet, and begins to fill the tank, her phone gives another whistle from her pocket, this time the text sender is identified by an eye>

👁️​: Thad is out of our hair. Spring break is over in a week. I’ll need you kids to come home then. I’ve got a lot of work for you to catch up on.

Nat: <sighs, mumbling to herself> Jeezus, Fury. Great news, lousy timing. <tucks the phone back in her pocket, replacing the pump and walking toward the cashier booth, paying without a word, hopping back on the bike> Sorry, Nick, I can only help one family at a time. 

Notes From Peg’s Desk

I know I’ve been away for a while. I could shrug it off as oh, waiting for Black Widow so I can fit it in the story or I couldn’t get that fight scene with Nat & Ninotchka down the way I wanted it. Or life& work& health got in the way. Or I could be bluntly honest& say I’ve been lethargically, numbly, depressed more on than off for most of the past year. Stuck between 2 voices arguing.

“You NEED to write something. Why aren’t you writing? Why is this page so empty when the story is all in your head? You’re letting your readers down. You suck, you’re a horrible person. Who cares if you’re tired? You’re not allowed to sleep! Stop doing fun stuff, it’s distracting you, not recharging you. I don’t understand, WHY AREN”T YOU WRITING!?”

“Your stuff sucks& no one want’s to read it. I’m protecting you by giving you writer’s block. You’re just going to embarrass yourself if you post anything. Besides, there’s more important stuff than your silly stupid story going on in the world, in the country, and on Democracy Town. Don’t bother. Just curl up with the cat & play video games, or sleep, or binge-watch something written by someone WAAAAY better than you. Just give up.”

So yeah, that’s been fun. berated by both sides of my brain at the same time. Not looking for sympathy or anything, just, idk, maybe if I put it out there, the two of them will FINALLY STGDFU. I’ve got about three more episodes almost ready -just need some edits& polish. They’ll be a bit gif light, but I’m hoping to drop them over the next few weeks. We have to follow up with Nat& her family, get Peg moved in at the Tower, see what some of our other heroes are up to, oh& a not so great birthday surprise! Till then, happy reading!


S1 E21 Agent of Resistance

Only More Questions

[Loc: Atlanta, Georgia, 03222017 1000hrs(EST)]

<a news conference plays on a small television in a non-descript low budget motel room>

“There’s an old friend back in town, here to deal with this threat and any other threat that comes our way. And last night, that old friend turned all the lights back on, saving countless lives. And that old friend…..”

<Director Mace continues>

“We’re back, and we’re here to protect you. All of you. Human and Inhuman alike. When others try to tear us apart, it only brings us together. We’re all on the same team. Because a team that trusts, is a team that-” <Thunderbird turns off the television in the dingy motel room they’re hiding out in, shakes his head>

TB: Sounds like the same propaganda bullshit Sentinel Services put out. We need to stay clear of this SHIELD. <turns to Esme, sitting in a chair, her eyes closed, a pained look on her face, he walks over to her, offering a glass of water> How are you holding up?

Esme: <looking up weakly, cupping the glass in both hands, but not drinking, her head hanging down once more> All my life, I’ve had my sisters with me. In my head. Even with the Sentinel inhibitor collars, I could still feel their presence. Now, there’s nothing. I feel, <pauses, searching for the word> empty. <looks up at TB> Is this what it’s like for normal people to be alone?

TB: <hunches down beside her, places a reassuring hand on her knee> You’re not alone. We’ll figure this out. We’ll find the others and get back home. 

Esme: <looks up, a single tear slowly rolling down her face> Will we?

Loc: Palace of King T’Challa, Wakanda

[Palace Security Footage 03222017 1600hrs(GMT+3)]

<a heated discussion is already in progress, between T’Challa &Rogers, as Ael& Okoye stand on either side of the King>

T’Challa: You forget yourself, Captain. You stand here accusing a member of my clan of being responsible for these ‘anomalies’? The White Owl has always been a protector, a healer, and an ally of Wakanda. Yet she is also a Mystic and has a duty to use her gifts when and where she feels most needed. 

Steve: No disrespect was intended, Your Majesty. <turns to Ael> I’ve seen plenty of strangeness in my time, and it rarely ends well. When I saw your portal in London, I presumed the worst. <bows slightly> My apologies, White Owl.

Ael: <raises a hand, palm facing Steve> I suppose under the circumstances, the misunderstanding was understandable, Captain. I’ve been conducting my own investigation into these portals, as my other duties have permitted. How much do any of you know about the Multiverse? <the rest of them shake their heads, clueless>

<The mystic brings her hands together in front of her, elbows bent out to her sides, left palm facing up, right palm facing down, her hands pressed together, fingers extended along the opposing wrists. Slowly her right-hand rises, a stack of blue glowing maps appear between her hands, the stack growing as her hands move further and further apart. She removes her hand from the top and the stack continues to rise beyond sight. Exhaling a soft breath, the stack of flat maps round themselves into globes, each slightly larger than a billiard ball, floating in the air above the group, each dot spinning in its own orbit. T’Challa and Okoye, familiar with her magic, watch on in interest, waiting for Ael to elaborate. Steve, totally mesmerized by the display, reaches out toward one of the orbs, his fingers stopping just short of touching it. A second passes and the orb glows brighter, then winks out of existence.>

Steve: <pulls his hand back in shock> Did I do that?

Ael: <shakes her head sadly> No. Most likely, they did. <As she speaks, some of the other orbs blink out as well, and more pop into existence> This universe is only one of an infinite number. Worlds without end. Some benevolent and life-giving. Others filled with malice and hunger. Within this Multiverse lie countless Earths as well. Each with its own history and development. Some, <she reaches a hand out, as one orb draws closer to them, they can see images flash of familiar faces and events flashing across it> are very similar to the one we know. Some, <she pauses again, drawing a different orb closer, it shows Captain America fighting against the King of Wakanda -Eric Killmonger> are changed by one event or a series of events. <A third orb shows Captain America dressed in Centurion garb, leading a Roman battalion into war, still a fourth shows a dusty, crumbling wasteland of Wakanda in ruins> Sometimes even a single individual’s choice can spawn new Earths, or lead them to destruction. 

Steve: So, you’re saying by choosing toast or oatmeal for breakfast, I could destroy the universe?

Ael: <laughing> Rarely is it something that simple or mundane, Captain. Granted, if you were late for a mission because you took the time to cook a full breakfast, or if you skipped the meal entirely and went into a fight weak and hungry, I suppose those could be defining moments. But oftentimes it’s a bigger choice than that. Suppose Wakanda had sought to expand their Empire and colonize the globe, or Dr Erskine hadn’t been rescued from Castle Schmidt? <the three nod in understanding>

Okoye: While all this is fascinating, what does it have to do with these portals Captain Rogers has told us of?

<Raises her arms, her fingers making flickering motions as the orbs draw closer together, they begin an intricate dance, weaving around each other, until they form a layered sphere, with one orb at the centre, faint lines connect the orbs to each other and then to the centre one> 

Ael: All of these worlds are connected, some closer than others, with one Earth at the crossroads, a ‘Prime Earth’ if you will. 

T’Challa: You believe our world is this ‘Prime Earth’ then, sister?

Ael: Perhaps not the Prime, but very close to it. The closer to Prime, the more chance for forces to cause interactions like these portals. On rare occasions, portals will open naturally, but it’s been centuries since the last natural one. More often a being whether through science or magic, intentional or accidental, will open one. It takes an enormous amount of power to do so, and the mystic shields created by Agamotto, the first Sorcerer Supreme are usually enough to protect our world from outside influences. <Steve once again looks lost, but says nothing>

Okoye: Your Sanctums in Hong Kong, New York and London. 

Ael: <nods> With the Sanctums intact, an experienced Sorcerer Supreme in charge, and the mystics across the globe working together, this would have been a non-issue. We’d have quietly handled it as always, with the world none the wiser. Unfortunately, we’ve had a series of events that disabled that safety net around the world. <turns to Steve> When you saw me in London, I was helping with the reconstruction of our Sanctum there. The brick and mortar are a simpler repair than the wards, sigils and protections that need to be woven into place before the three Sanctums can be linked back together in their network. Plus the matter of bringing the new Sorcerer Supreme up to speed. I’m told he’s highly skilled, but green and scoffs at traditions that have safely guided our actions for millennia. <mumbles under her breath> I’ve also heard he’s a pompous ass.

Steve: <trying to wrap his brain around everything> How dangerous are these portals then?

Ael: Depending on the world and what comes out of it? Catastrophic. The thing is, even without our normal safeguards in place, these portals are opening at an unnatural rate. My investigation so far has left me with more questions than I started with.

Steve: Is there anything we can do to help?

Ael: <shakes her head> Other than trying to convince anything that comes out of one to go back before it closes? Not much right now. I’m still gathering information through the mystic network, though a few of the higher-ups feel that it’s not worth looking into and that repairing the Sanctums will fix everything. It’s rarely that simple, but, what do I know? <grumbles softly out of the other’s hearing> It’s not like I’ve been studying the tomes of Agamotto since I was a child or anything.

Steve: In regard to magic, you know more than most of the people I know. 

<T’Challa’s kimoyo beads chirp, as an image of his mother projects from it>

Queen Ramonda: My son, your sister will be arriving soon. As you were so insistent upon her return, you should be there to greet her. She was quite vocal in her displeasure with your demand, and I refuse to be the only one to face the wrath of an angry teen dragged home by her overprotective sibling.

T’Challa: <sighs, rising from his throne> I will be there shortly, Mama. <to Steve & Ael> Forgive me, friends, but I have other matters to attend to.  <he and Okoye exit a side door of the throne room as Steve & Ael turn and leave through the main doors>

<Steve walks quietly beside Ael, unsure of how to approach her with a question, she senses his unease, slowing her pace until they stop at a balcony overlooking the vast fields of the Border tribe off to the south-east>

Ael: What else is on your mind, Captain?

Steve: <arms folded, gaze fixed out the window, watching herds of white rhinos running in the distance, exhales, turning to Ael, sadness and pain behind his eyes> You’re the healer that’s been working with Bucky. 

Ael: <nods slightly> I am.

Steve: Is he getting better? I’ve tried reaching out to him, but he doesn’t answer the letters I’ve sent. 

Ael: <sighs> ‘Better’ is a subjective term. I prefer not to use it as a metric for judging a person recovering from mental and emotional trauma any more than I would a physical injury. What may seem ‘better’ or ‘worse’ to an observer may only be a snapshot. A single high or low point on their journey. Caring for someone who’s recovering from trauma is a long road.

Steve: <opens his mouth to speak, closes it again, trying to process her words, Ael places a hand on his arm, he chokes back a sob> He’s, he’s been through so much. I want to help him, but I don’t know how. I made a promise to always be with him.

Ael: ‘Til the end of the line’. Yes, he’s talked about that at times. The two of you have a deep bond, and it’s been both a comfort and a fear to James.

Steve: <confused shock> Fear?

Ael: He’s never going to be the same man you knew. He’s growing, changing, rebuilding himself. Coming to terms with what happened to him. What was done to him, what he was made to do. James is a phoenix slowly rising from the ashes of his past. But even a young phoenix is weak and vulnerable at the start. He’s still unsure of who he’s becoming, or how you’ll see him. Will you see the ghost of your childhood friend, the shade of the monster they made him, or the man who’s evolved beyond his past?

Steve: <turns to her, his eyes determined, his face compassionate> Whoever he chooses to become, I’ll always be there for him. 

Ael: And he will need you. He’ll need your friendship and support, but right now he needs time. Baby steps, Captain. Once he becomes comfortable with himself, then he’ll be able to reach out to others.

Steve: <breathes deep, exhales> Okay. <places his hand over hers on his arm> Just swear to me that you’ll take care of him, and remind him that he doesn’t have to go through it alone.

Ael: <smiles softly> By Athena and Hygieia, you have my word.

<the two look back out over the landscape, in the distance, a small one-armed figure crouches to tend to an injured rhino>

[Heart of the Cosmos, a Gathering of the Elders of the Universe]

<The Elders watch a projection of events unfolding on Earth, the large blue muscular one throws a goblet>

Tryco: What is this drek? You promised great warriors battling for their planet! I see a pack of snivelling worms, not even worthy of the title warrior, much less Champions! If this is the best your pawns can do, perhaps it’s time to end the Game. <he reaches toward the gameboard below the projection, intending to upend it>

En-Dwi & Tivar: <both reaching forward to protect the board> NO!

Corto: <raises a hand, interrupting Tryco> We spent millennia once watching the evolution of Xenia. It took them fifty generations to reach the epic battles we witnessed but was it not worth it? Perhaps these Terrans are slow starters, but they do show promise. How did you discover this planet again, En-Dwi?

En-Dwi: It’s the birthplace of my latest Champion. When he arrived on Sakkar, I just had to find out if there were more like him! While it turns out he’s one of a kind, I grew fond of the little dustball and its plucky little ants. Always striving against the odds. <giggles> Even when the biggest threat to their planet is themselves. Oh, those are my favourite! Try to solve a problem, by creating a bigger one and then these ‘heroes’ save the world. <still laughing> Job security, haha! Comedy gold!

Gilpetperdon: I don’t know about that, but it’s better than the time Ord made us sit through a century of Vogon poetry. <turns to the wizened old man, ignoring the glowing violet glare and the beard of vines writhing in agitation> You spend too much time alone in your gardens if you think that drek is good.

Kamo: <still studying the projection> That woman, very knowledgeable, almost familiar. She intrigues me. Tath, do you remember the last time we visited this planet? 

Tath: <floating in a lotus position, eyes closed, his face scrunches in contemplation as he searches his vast memory, he responds without opening his eyes> Twenty thousand solar revolutions ago? <tilts his head to one side and then back as he corrects himself> No. Thirty. We were trading knowledge with a shortlifer there. One of the <pauses, trying to remember> ah, the Vishanti.

Kamo: Yes! He held one of the stones, did he not? 

Tath: The stones have passed through many hands through the aeons. I was less concerned with what he ‘possessed’ than with what he knew. That is more your purview, is it not, brother?

Kamo: True. Still, I will be watching this one with great interest.

Corto: <unimpressed> What of the other side? We’ve been watching only one side of this brewing conflict. 

Tivar: <motioning his hand at the projection> Then let us have a look. 

[Alchemax Security footage, Alchemax HQ, Fairfax, Virginia, Office of Randal Krieg, CEO 03222017 1100hrs(EST)]

<two men sit across each other in a lavishly decorated office, the logo of the company on one wall, a disk with a giant stylized ‘A’ at the centre, the Earth sitting in the legs of the ‘A’, the words ‘Alchemax, Uniting The World One Customer At A Time’ around the border of the disk, the gentleman behind the desk reading aloud from a tablet held in one hand>

Randal Kreig: Our methods have changed, our allies and foes as well, but the one thing that remains constant, is our goal. World Peace. It sounds so simple, yet there have always been those who misunderstood, who resisted change. As far back as the original cabal. Who worshipped a creature whose existence, its very purpose was to unite the Inhumans, and the world. To the scientists and soldiers who turned against Hitler, knowing he was insane and unfit to be the Unifier. To the spies and undercover operatives, some who spent their entire lives hiding their true objective, even from friends and compatriots. Sowing dissent and chaos as a NECESSITY, in order to bring mankind to the point where they were finally ready to accept the gift we offer them. This millenias long quest has not been without cost, without setbacks. Still, we persevere. Our work goes on. YOU are the next generation, with new tools and new methods. NEVER underestimate our enemies. Never waver in your loyalty. Sacrifices will always be necessary in this war but know that you are part of the grand vision. If one of you falls, two more shall rise in your place! You WILL be the ones to bring about the New World. A world of no flags, no countries. A world united at last under one symbol, one banner. Hail Hydra!

Gerald Nolan: <looks to Kreig hopefully, head cocked to one side, one eyebrow raised> I know it still needs a bit of polish but?

Kreig: You’ve outdone yourself, Gerald. I appreciate that you emphasized the history and legacy of our organization. <sets the tablet down> I’ll be proud to give that speech at this year’s Academy graduation. Your nephew is one of our new stars, isn’t he?

Gerald: <excited pride> Yes! He’s been assigned to the legal branch. He’ll be pushed through Yale in the accelerated three-year JD-MBA program and his advisors are already pre-selecting his judicial clerkship appointment, but he’s hoping to clerk for Judge Gorsuch.

Kreig: <nods approvingly> Ambitious. We haven’t even finalized installing Neil on the Supreme Court yet. 

Gerald; <waves a dismissive hand> Bah, we all know it’s just a formality. Gorsuch will be the first step in building a bench we can sway toward our goals. 

Kreig: Yes. First Gorsuch, then I’m thinking Kavanaugh will fill Kennedy’s seat. He’ll be a bit more controversial than Gorsuch, but he’s easier to manipulate. We’ll wait a year or so on him -we don’t want any suspicion of court-packing. Now if only we could find an angle to force Ginsburg to retire. <growls> That woman is insufferably resilient. 

Gerald: <eyeroll, face squinted up in disgust> That hag won’t leave the bench until she’s cold.

Kreig: Unfortunate but true. We haven’t been able to insert anyone close enough to her to make that an option. She’s surrounded by a wall of loyal fools who are too blinded by their optimism to see they’re backing the wrong side. <sighs in disappointment> I’m afraid we’ll just have to wait until nature takes its course before weeding them out. 

Gerald: We have another more pressing problem, sir. Pierce. She’s been pressing for more active measures against the re-emergence of SHIELD.

Kreig:<slams his hand on the desk, pointing at Nolan> No! No actions will be taken against SHIELD until we can be assured of wiping them out completely this time. We underestimated Fury, Rogers and their people last time and it cost us YEARS of planning, work and resources. I refuse to make the same mistakes her father did.

Gerald: She’s worked relentlessly to overcome the stigma of her father’s involvement with the Insight Incident. Even so far as to publicly denounce him. Still, her loyalties remain with HYDRA. Her position in the State Department is a significant asset for us at this time.

Kreig: <shakes his head> Tanis may be loyal, but she took her father’s death personally. That type of emotional entanglement cannot be allowed to interfere. Just look at what happened when Rumlow went off book at the march, so intent on getting back at SHIELD that he abandoned his post guarding our bombers. <closes his eyes, scowling, shakes his head, exhales as he opens his eyes again> Keep an eye on her, and have a suitable replacement ready in the wings. If she can’t curb her desire for vengeance, she’ll be removed.

Gerald: From the State Department?

Kreig: <slaps the desk, his creepy smile turning more jovial> Now, let’s have some good news, eh?

Gerald: <nods, checking his tablet> R&D over at the pharmaceutical end has cleared the new soap line for mass production. Marketing already has advertising ready for rollout. <pulls up an animated image of a cartoon octopus struggling to juggle numerous everyday objects> “When life gets overwhelming, let Oblivion wash all your worries away.”

Kreig: Cute octopus. What’s our projected susceptibility level?

Gerald: Combined with our Sublimax targeted influence marketing, users showed a 47% increase in suggestibility.  We’ve been using QAnon and anti-vax conspiracy theories as test material, and subjects are eating it like candy.

Krieg: <grins> Excellent. <his watch beeps> Ah! My lunch date with Mr D’Angelo from Roxxon. <rises, buttoning his jacket> After their latest disasters in New Orleans and Great Britain, I think they’re just about ready to cave on our offer. When I return, have that Grizzly Steppes project proposal on my desk. I don’t approve of the direct attacks Tanis has been calling for, but I’m not ruling out a subtle bit of sabotage and intelligence gathering. 

Loc: Office of Agent Carter, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st



<Peggy sits, staring at the holographic screens hovering over her desk, monitoring as news feeds, conference rooms and data scroll along most of them, one in a corner, however, shows a blank scrabble board>

APRIL: He’s been tweeting a storm over the injunction on the travel ban.

Peggy: Yes, good, let the little toddler have his tantrum. Unless he’s posting more than his usual pouty sulking, just leave him muted, would you, April?

APRIL: Understood, Boss.

Peggy: Also, keep an alert on anything involving healthcare! We blocked their ACA replacement, but I have a feeling that was just one battle. GOP is determined to take healthcare away, and they’re not going to just give up that easily. Then again, neither are we. <holds up her arm, now free of brace and sling> Never know when accidents will happen. Everyone deserves health care.

APRIL: I’ll add it to the alert list. Director Fury has approved the use of local agents in the Georgia area to join the volunteer carpool team for Ossoff.

Peggy: Excellent! Send all the necessary info to our people out there. I know the Rebel Alliance folks are also helping out in GA, they’re quite fond of him. 

APRIL: Director Fury was very enthusiastic about sending the Rebels to Georgia to help.

Peggy: Oh, I’m certain he was. His go-rounds with that Dameron boy about his late-night flying shenanigans were close to boiling over. I thought I had a temper. What other notifications do we have in the queue, April?

APRIL: We’ve completed the daily briefings for all teams, and there is no currently breaking news at the moment. Your emails and DM’s are cleared except for Stars & Stripes. You have physical therapy for your shoulder scheduled this afternoon at one pm. You have a two-thirty pm meeting with Directors Fury and Coulson. Then you have dinner plans with Tony and Pepper at the Tower at seven pm.

Peggy: Remind me to swing by Medbay after my meeting, I want to visit Maria. When I stopped by over the weekend, she said she should be released to light-duty soon. Seems I have a bit of free time. Pull up the DM screen to Grant and place the game board next to it. 

APRIL: <holographic screens rearrange to orders> Done. A new game is ready to start. You have the first move because you lost the previous game. Stars & Stripes is currently winning, 4 matches to your 2.

Peggy: <growls> I still say he cheated. What kind of word is ‘vaping’?! I swear he made it up!

APRIL: I defined vaping yesterday after you lost the game. Are you having memory lapses, Boss? 

Peggy: <rises from her chair, arms folded across her chest> I remember perfectly well what you said yesterday! I just think it’s a ridiculous word and a nasty habit. Makes me think of Dugan and those smelly cigars of his. As if he didn’t stink enough after a week in the trenches.

APRIL: Just checking, Boss. You know I’m supposed to keep an eye on your health in addition to everything else.

Peggy: <rolls her eyes> I’m a bit young for Alzheimer’s to be starting, aren’t I?

APRIL: Your elder-self didn’t show signs until she had reached an advanced age, however, we don’t know what kind of effects time travel might have on that.

Peggy: <irritated> I’m FINE April, just pull up the damn game board. <shaking her head, mumbling to herself> I’ve got a disembodied voice nurse maiding me. Edwin would have a field day with this.

APRIL: Heard that, Boss. From what you’ve told me of Edwin Jarvis, he would most likely approve of you having someone to watch over you.

Peggy: <a touch nostalgic> I’m sure he would at that. It’s a shame I won’t be able to tell him about you or any of this when I return. I admit I do miss my friends. It’s rather tempting to look up their lives, but at the same time, I don’t want to know when they, < pause> well, when they die.

APRIL: That information would certainly be unwise to research. The temptation to make changes to the timeline upon your return could lead to severe consequences.

Peggy: <sighs> Yes, I’m very aware. <thinks about the forbidden information she already knows> That’s a Pandora’s Box I’ll be staying away from, thank you. Back to the game shall we?

APRIL: You have the first move, available letters are E, K, L, N, O, P, and R. Are you CERTAIN you do not want my assistance?

Peggy: <shakes her head> I DESPISE losing, but I won’t use an unfair advantage to win. What’s the point in playing if you have to cheat? <studies the letters> AH! <taps the air in front of the holographic screen> With a start like this, I won’t have to cheat anyway!

APRIL: Well done, 13pt word, 35pt bonus for using all your tiles, and you hit a double word space.

Peggy: <turns to the DM screen, typing out a taunt> So, still think you can use fancy slang to win, Grant? I can beat a PLONKER any day. 96 pts!

<almost five minutes pass, then another word appears on the board>

Steve: <smiles, thinking aloud> She always knows how to take my mind off of things. <typing> Wow, ok, Maggie. A strong start, I give you credit for that. But MONKEYS will fly before I let you beat me. 98 pts.

Peggy: ugh, flying monkeys, I always hated that movie. 

Steve: Really? But it’s a classic! <teasing> I dunno, Mags. That might be a dealbreaker. 😆

Peggy: <rolls eyes, puts another word on the screen, types a reply> You’re not weaselling out of our date that easy, SOLDIER. 14pts. How goes the Accords? I admit the details of it are on my ‘forbidden intel’ list, but general knowledge of it is not. The sooner it’s repealed, the sooner you can come home& I can hold you to that date.

Steve: Nat’s been keeping me updated because the debate has been kept mostly out of the news. I’m hoping they’ll come to an agreement in the next week or so. I’d love to take you out to DANCE for your birthday. 28 pts.

Peggy: <face scrunches, eyes squinting in a glare, stares at the letters a moment, putting a single tile on the board> That would certainly be nice. I hope you’re the type of man who DANCES as well as he plays games. 30 pts.

Steve: Ok, ok, nice move. I’m afraid I’ve got to confess a SECRET, I never actually learned to dance. 27 pts.

Peggy: So you’re telling me, that when the time comes, you’ll be FROZEN on the dance floor? 56 pts!

Steve: I’m literally groaning over here, that was bad, Mags. Good word, but, really?

Peggy: What? I’m sorry Grant, did I say something wrong? 

Steve: <remembering she knows nothing about him or his time in the ice> Oh, yeah, I’m just not a fan of the cold. 

Peggy <thinking> You’ve said you’re enhanced, that’s why the Accords are keeping you in hiding. You’re not that young man who lights himself on fire, are you?

Steve: <shakes his head, sighs, eyes rolling> She’s never even seen me, and I’m still getting mistaken for that Johnny Storm kid. No, Mags, that’s not me. Though I guess some people see a passing resemblance. 

Peggy: Oh I’ve never seen him, Grant. I’ve only heard stories. Unlike you, he sounds like quite the hot head and rule-breaker, but my curiosity made me ask. You understand, don’t you?

Steve: Hahaha! You know, Mags, I think that investigative curiosity to dig for answers must be built into the DNA of every SHIELD agent. That and keeping secrets of their own. If she were still around, Peggy wouldn’t have it any other way.

Peggy: <curiosity in overdrive now> Peggy… Carter? You knew her?

APRIL: <interrupts as Peg stares at the screen, waiting for a response> Boss, physical therapy appointment in the workout room in ten minutes. You’ll want time to change.

Peggy: Drat, I’m sorry Grant, I’ve got therapy shortly, then meetings and a late dinner with Tony and Pepper. Continue our game tomorrow? <dashes out of the office without waiting for a reply>

<Steve sits silently staring at the screen, whispering to himself>

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Notes From Peg’s Desk

I am SOOOOO very sorry it’s been so long since an update. Like many, the past year has been a crazy mess for me. I’m still trying to get back into a writing headspace while fighting seasonal depression & recovering from COVID. I do have the next episode half written already& hope to get myself on a 2x/month posting schedule. I hope all of you are safe& healthy& look forward to getting back to entertaining you all!


S1E20 Agent of Resistance

Lock-downs and Blackouts

New York


Loc: Office of Pepper Potts, AVENGERS TOWER, Broadway & W 58th St, New York, NY

<Tony walks into Pepper’s office with an exaggerated limp, grumbling as he flops into a chair, sighing loudly, Pepper, on the phone, ignoring his theatrics>

Pepper: Thank you for acting so swiftly on our behalf, Mr Nelson. I know civil rights law isn’t normally your field, but Everett Ross highly recommended inviting your firm to join the team for our legal defence. <pauses, listening> No, following the terms of the house arrest shouldn’t be a problem. <Tony rests one foot on the edge of her desk, fiddling with something around his ankle. Pepper rises, swatting his foot, mouthing at him> Knock it off!

Tony: I could have these off of us in ten minutes. Just say the word.

Pepper: <ignoring his theatrics> Yes, Mr Stark is FULLY COMMITTED to this. There will be NO ATTEMPTS to circumvent the monitoring devices. <nods> No, aside from having to arrange a number of teleconferences in place of face to face meetings I scheduled for this week, no inconveniences.

Tony: <sits up in the chair> What about date night Saturday? We were finally going to go see Hamilton. <slumps back down, sulking, mumbles> I call that an inconvenience. 

Pepper: Yes, thank you, Mr Nelson. Please keep us up to date before the hearing. <hangs up, steps around the desk, sitting on the edge facing him> Tony, this was our best option for the time being. It took a lot of legal wrangling to keep Ross from just locking us up. If I hadn’t had our lawyers waiting to meet us, he’d have ignored due process completely. 

Tony: <sighs> I know, I know. I half expected him to try and shoot us out of the sky when we flew back. 

Pepper: <looking concerned> So did I. He’s unhinged when it comes to the Avengers. We need to be careful. Which meant these <swings her leg out to show an ankle monitor of her own> stay put. No tampering. Please?

Tony: <frowns, more upset about hers than his own> Not what I had in mind for matching his and her jewellery. You don’t deserve this.

Pepper: I knew there would be consequences. I also knew it was the right thing to do. <leans down to give him a kiss> As for date night, I’m sure we can find some way to make a night at home special. Until then, I have to keep this company running. Why don’t you spend a few hours tinkering around in the workshop? You’ll get some work done, I’ll get some work done, and after that, what if we make dinner together?

Tony: <still miserable> Fine. Maybe I’ll go over the list of potential houseguests from Fury. <limps out, shaking the leg with the ankle monitor, complaining as he exits> I feel off balance! It’s like wearing a leg weight on only one leg!


Loc: Office of Agent Carter, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st

<Peggy paces her office restlessly, preoccupied with her thoughts, as her news feed scrolls, many articles and videos still marked ‘blocked for content restrictions’>

Peg: APRIL, re-open that last message from Grant, will you?

<a corner of one screen enlarges>

‘Sorry, Maggie, I got called away on an emergency. Everything is ok now, but I’m exhausted. I’m going to catch some kip for a while, then there are a few things I have to take care of. I’ll try to check in soon. I hope you’re doing well. I miss our talks.’

Peg: <checks her watch> It’s midnight for him, so I don’t expect I’ll hear from him until morning if he’s worn out. <sighs> I hoped he could shed some light on whatever Fury is trying to hide from me. I must admit, I do miss him when we can’t talk.

APRIL: As I have observed in the past, your stress levels decrease significantly when interacting with him. However, your heart rate does rise slightly upon notification of a new message.

Peg: <blushes> That’s ridiculous and unrelated I’m sure. <notices a news clip, points at the screen> What’s going on here? Unmute please, April.

<outside a courthouse, protestors are waving signs amidst shouts of ‘Justice for Acosa!’ a reporter on scene off camera> 

Reporter: We’re outside the Miami courthouse where the verdict has just been handed down in the Robert Goss murder trial. Despite evidence exposing Goss as a high ranking member of the anti-Inhuman hate group, Watchdogs, the jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Inhuman, Orlando Acosa. The crowd here is peaceful but vocal in decrying what they call a miscarriage of justice. Acosa, an EMT, was shot and killed last summer when flying over Goss’s property on the way home from responding to a multiple car accident. Goss claimed self-defence under Florida’s Stand Your<the screen suddenly goes dark>

Peg: Flipping hell! Another content restriction?

APRIL: <scans other news outlets> No Boss. Miami just lost power. The entire city has blacked-out.

<the screen suddenly goes live again>


Loc: Operations Hub, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st

Fury: What do we know about this Inhuman Resistance? 

Agent Klein: <looks up, shaking his head> We’ve got no record of it, sir. None of our contacts in the Inhuman community has ever mentioned it. <his monitor blips> Sir, incoming message from Coulson.

Fury: Put it up.

Coulson: We lost contact with her when the power went out. Mace is sending Mack and Fitz with me to investigate.

Fury: <scowls> How much of his concern is for safety and how much is for bad PR?

Coulson: I’d say it’s actually pretty evenly split right now. We’re literally in the dark on this one. There’s no Inhuman we know of who can blackout an entire city. <thinks> Well, there’s one in Hawaii who could possibly, but there’d have been a noticeable lightning storm if Crystal had been involved. So far, the Royals from Atitlan have kept out of all this.

Fury: What about other Enhanced who might be sympathetic to the Inhumans?

Coulson: <shakes his head> Nah. Stark &Miss Potts could possibly overload a power grid if they wanted to, but Ross has them on house arrest. Same for Colonel Rhodes, he’s at the compound so he can continue his physical therapy, but he’s not going anywhere either.

Fury: <sceptical> That’s only going to stop Stark if he lets it. Get to Miami and find out what’s going on. Keep Mace in the loop as much as necessary, but if you need backup, let US know.

Coulson: Will do. <connection ends>

Fury: <to Klein> We’ll keep monitoring the situation here. I want everyone on alert. <Klein’s computer beeps again>

Klein: Sir? They’ve hit DC. The Pentagon& White House are outside the blackout radius, but the Capitol Building is dark.

Fury: Shit.


Loc: Workshop, Avengers Tower, Broadway &W 58th St, New York, NY

<Tony leans against his worktable, looking through holographic schematic files of new suit concepts, his leg twitches, he reaches down to itch at his ankle, growling as his hand touches the monitor>

Tony: I need a distraction. Friday, put the news on in the background and <stands up straight, claps his hands together> let’s look at Fury’s misfits.

Friday: <the AI’s lilting Irish brogue coming from everywhere> Sure thing Boss. <holographic dossiers hover in the air before Tony> Just think of it like Enhanced Tinder.

Tony: Fury said he had a couple of talking cats, not the strangest thing we’ve seen, but Pepper’s allergies would go nuts. So, nothing that sheds. <a series of files disappear> Hmm, Diana Prince, Demigoddess. Keep her, I want to see someone besides Hulk beat Thor at arm wrestling. 

Friday: We’ve yet to hear any word on either Thor or Hulk, Boss.

Tony: Yeah, I know. They’ll show up. All the more reason to have a spare god around in the meantime.

Friday: Just so you’re aware, Boss, the Prince woman is part of a package deal. She comes from a world where they have a team similar to The Avengers. They call themselves the ‘Justice League’. One of her teammates crossed over with her.

Tony: <scoffs, picking up a smoothie, taking a drink> ‘Justice League’? Sounds like a DOJ bowling team. Still, let’s look at her partner. <a second file pops to the centre forefront>

Friday: Bruce Wayne- billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Sounds a wee bit familiar, eh Boss? <Tony rolls his eyes> Shrewd investigator, hand to hand combat expert, and inventor. They say his bank accounts, charm and toys are a match for yours, Boss.

Tony: <skeptical> Uh-huh, right. He’s the one running around dressed like a bat?

Friday: Would a shiny gold suit be less conspicuous?

Tony: <face scrunches, eyes narrow, points at nothing> He can stay, but you’re not allowed to hang out with April anymore. You’re picking up the snark she learned from Aunt Peg. Who else we got? <another pair of files pop up>

FRIDAY: Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean. They list their occupation as demon hunters. Their world is constantly overrun with demons, angels, monsters and magical creatures. 

Tony: <scoffs> No. I’m not dealing with any freaky magical woo-woo stuff. Scratch the demon hunters off our roster. We’ll send them and the vampire Slayers to the West Coast location. I hear Santa Carla might be their type of late-night party scene. <looks over the next file> That wizard too. I don’t need Dresden shorting out the entire Tower. How many more?

Friday: Shall I remove all files of magic users in general from the queue? <Tony nods, a handful of files are marked WCA before blinking off the screen> Just one last portal visitor and one who’s more local. <Tony nods, takes a sip from his drink as another file pops up>

Tony: <intrigued, pulls the file forward> What’s a Mutant?

Friday: On James Howlett’s world, a portion of the population exhibit powers similar to Inhumans. However, these powers are a result of a naturally occurring mutated X-gene in their biology as opposed to the Kree/Human DNA experiments that created this world’s Inhumans.

Tony: <studying the photo in the file, intrigued> And these claws, they’re a part of him?

FRIDAY: The underlying retractable bone claw structure beneath the adamantium is a natural part of his physiology, yes.

Tony: I’d love to get a sample of this adamantium he’s bonded with. <looks off into space, pondering> I wonder if it could be combined with vibranium to make a new alloy.

Friday: It’s doubtful you’ll be able to convince him to part with a sample, Tony. I don’t recommend you try it. He’s got a temper.

Tony: <not concerned> I’ve gone toe to toe with a pissed off Banner. I think I can handle a <looks at the full name on file> Wolverine.

Friday: Lastly, from our Earth, but new to the surface world, Lady Zartra of Atlantis. 

Tony: <chokes on his smoothie> ATLANTIS?! Shit! Fury wasn’t kidding. He found me a GODDAMN MERMAID! <comes to a realization> Friday, <sighs, hanging his head> Cancel Sushi Saturdays.

Friday: Done, Boss. Are there any other accommodations you would like me to make for these visitors?

Tony: Not that I can think of at the moment. How many floors of office space are we converting to quarters?

Friday: You originally said just the one, shall I have the work crews expand the project?

Tony: No, that should be enough for now. It gives us room for a few more. We’ll probably include Dr Cho and Eric Selvig. Let’s see the files we have left.

Friday: The rest either do not fit your criteria, or are already on file as current, former, or potential Avengers candidates. 

Tony: Hmm, what about the potential Avengers? Do we have room for them too?

Friday: If we converted another floor of office space or reassigned rooms currently unused by inactive Avengers, then yes.

Tony: Fine, add them to the mix, we can sort it out later. <pauses> On second thought then, add two more floors to the project, just to be sure. That will give us extra room incase Fury comes across any more of these portal visitors. We’re not touching anybody’s rooms.

Friday: Including Captain Rogers?

Tony: His room goes on priority lockdown. Nobody opens it but me. <pauses, exhaling> Or him.

Friday: Understood, Boss.

Tony: Good. How soon will we be ready for moving day?

Friday: With the additional floors added to the project, estimates are approximately four weeks.

Tony: If we need more workers, hire them. I want that time cut in half. Make sure Aunt Peg’s room is one of the first done, put her on the first floor of residences with the Avengers. I want her close enough to make sure she’s not working herself to death.

Friday: On it Boss.

Tony: Good! I can’t wait to get her out of that damn office.

<in the background a newscast plays, with an address by the Queen of England>

Queen Elizabeth:  Our heart is heavy with sadness, and Our prayers go out to the families of the twelve lost in the Oakenfell Towers fire. May they rest in peace. We will see due diligence in ascertaining the cause of the fire, that a tragedy like this may be prevented in the future.

We wish to extend our gratitude to the Avengers for answering Our call for aid. America has been Our ally for generations, and We hope that shall not change anytime soon. We also encourage Parliament to review the current laws in place regarding Inhumans and other Enhanced individuals. They have proven time and again that they are a boon to our society, not a danger. We <feed cuts out>

<voice continues>

The Accords will be nullified- immediately. All Inhumans incarcerated for violations of the Accords will be released. The murderer Robert Goss will be handed over to face justice for his crime. We have darkened seven of your cities. You have twelve hours to comply, or we will take seven more.


Loc: Operations Hub, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st

<Peg standing beside Fury, antsy, shifting her weight from one foot to the other> 

Peg: So, we don’t know of any Inhuman or Enhanced who could be responsible? <Klein shakes his head, Peg ponders, hand on her chin, finger tapping> Could someone have built an actual Blitzkrieg Button? 

Fury: <tilts his head quizzically, giving her a sly-eye> That’s not in any of our old SSR files. 

Peg: Well, it wouldn’t be. Howard came up with the concept, but never actually built one. <pauses> At least, not as far as I know. A way to turn off all the lights at once in a city. The problem was, he couldn’t figure out how to turn them back on again. 

Fury: <eyebrow raises, nods> Right now, we don’t have enough information to rule anything out. We know Stark used to keep hidden bunkers of notes, concepts, prototypes, but we thought they were all accounted for. Either destroyed or secured. 

Peg: <rolling her eyes> And you simply took Howard Stark at his word? 

Fury: <glaring back> No. You did. <Peg scowls, pursing her lips tight, exhaling through her nose, about to retort when Klein interrupts>

Klein: Sir? We’re receiving a high priority message. From Wakanda.

Fury: <warily looks at Peg out of the corner of his eye> From our assets there?

Klein: No, Sir. Directly from King T’Challa himself. He’s demanding to know what we’re doing about the blackout in Los Angeles. Apparently, Princess Shuri is there and they lost communication with her when the city went dark. 

Fury: Just what we need. <looks back at Peg again> I’ll take it in my office. 


[Palace Security Footage 03212017]

Loc: Palace of King T’Challa, Wakanda

One Hour Ago

<an amused T’Challa, sitting on his throne, hand extended, a beam of light emanating from his Kimoyo beads in the form of a holographic Shuri rambling excitedly>

Shuri: It was wise of our ancestors to isolate us in the past, but we missed SO much of world history! If Wakanda is going to become a part of the global tribe, cultural exchanges are vital! 

T’Challa: I don’t disagree with you, sister. While I welcome the idea, do you really think our people would be receptive to an American production company coming to Wakanda to perform a musical about an American? 

Shuri: But it is so much more! Warriors, diplomats, strategists! The history of a fledgeling nation! Oh and the music! 

T’Challa: <still entertained by her enthusiasm, teasing> Sister, shouldn’t you be enjoying the show, rather than calling me to talk about it?

Shuri: <waves a hand dismissively> It is an intermission, I have plenty of time. Besides, in addition to talking to you about bringing the show to Wakanda, Mr Miranda approached Fundiswa and me before the start of the show. He’s very intrigued by the history of Wakanda and asked if I thought the story Bashenga and the Five Tribes would translate well to a stage show!

T’Challa: <taken aback, surprised and impressed> He knows the story of Bashenga? 

Shuri: He knows what little we have shared with the outside world, but is curious to know more. He was hoping to study more of our culture and history when the production visits.

T’Challa: <hand on chin, considering> A cultural exchange of that nature would be educational to both our people. <nods> I will take it into consideration. 

Shuri: <exclaiming> I cannot wait to tell Mr Miranda! I am not sure which of us will be mo-  <the transmission cuts out mid-sentence>

Los Angeles

Loc: Pantages Hollywood Theatre

<theatre plunges into complete darkness, the audience mumbles and whispers in confusion, in the lobby, Shuri taps at her bracelet, a faint blue glow flickers from it every few seconds as it attempts to power up but is interrupted>

Shuri: <smacks the bracelet harder, whispers> What is wrong with this thing? Even an EMP burst should only knock it out for a few seconds! Reboot damn you!

Fundiswa: <checks her own bracelet, behaving similarly, scans the theatre as her eyes adjust> My Princess, I do not think this is a normal power outage. <the whispers of the audience grow louder as people realize none of their electronic devices is working> Even the emergency exit signs are dark. This place is not secure. The rest of the audience may soon begin to panic. We must get you out of here. <grabs her wrist, pulling her toward a doorway> I memorized all possible escape routes when preparing for this outing. Come. Now. 


T’Challa: Sister?! <shakes his wrist, tapping the kimoyo beads> Shuri! <the beads stay dark, T’challa rises from his throne, calling for aid> Okoye! Ael!

<Okoye and two other Dora rush in>

Okoye: My King! What is wrong?

T’Challa: Shuri’s communication was cut off. We need to find out what is going on. Where is the White Owl? She can take me to the Princess.

Okoye: <bows her head> I’m sorry, my King. There are mysterious blackouts happening all over the world. When we began checking satellite images, she noticed that even hospitals and emergency services were dark, despite having backup generators. The White Owl portaled to London. She’s organizing the mystics to bring light and aid.

T’Challa: <fuming with concern> She is needed HERE! 

Okoye: My King, she is a healer and a mystic. She goes where she can do the most good.

T’Challa: <scowling, but knowing that his general speaks the truth> Fine. Ready my plane. I will find my sister myself. 

Okoye: <firm> Sire, in this time of a global emergency, you are needed here. Your concern must be for ALL your people. If these blackouts can shut down even our technology, I dare not recommend taking a jet to Los Angeles. Fundiswa is with her. Do you not trust a member of the Dora to protect her?

 T’Challa: <still fuming> Then let us go the diplomatic route. SHIELD has people everywhere. Get me, Director Fury. <Okoye nods, giving orders into her kimoyo beads> And have all our people on high alert in case whomever or whatever is causing these blackouts attacks us. Wakanda will not go dark on our watch. <Okoye salutes>

New York


Loc: Operations Hub, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59st

<Peg and Agent Klein watch the doors close behind Fury>

Peg: <turning to Klein> Looks like it’s up to us to monitor the situation for the time being. 

Klein: <nodding as two alerts cross his consol> Ma’am, the President just tweeted. He’s threatening to call in the National Guard to deal with the situation. 

Peg: <rubbing her temples> Crikey, that’s the last thing we need. How long would it take him to call them into each affected city? 

Klein: If he calls them up, it will take longer to organize and deploy than if each state’s governor does. <looks back to his screen, typing> Looks like LA and DC are concerned with getting emergency services and communications up and running in the affected cities. Florida is the only one talking about mobilizing the Guard as a backup for law enforcement. <looks up at her, concerned> Unfortunately, not only is Miami dealing with protests over the Acosa verdict, but it’s also where our team is operating. <nervously> This is a powderkeg in the making. 

Peg: <arms folded, pacing, notices an alert blinking in a corner of Klein’s screen, points, inhaling> And what fresh bad news do we have here?

Klein: <jumps in his chair, opening the forgotten alert> Mr Stark is on the line, wanting to speak to Director Fury.

Peg: <groans> What does Anthony want? <purses her lips in a frown> I suppose he’ll just keep at it until someone answers him. <crosses her arms tighter> Pull up the video screen.

<Klein taps a few buttons and Tony appears on the monitor, he and Peg both begin talking simultaneously>

Peg: Anthony, we’ve got a situation right now, and we’ve no time for,

Tony: Goddamn it Nick, about time! I think I’ve pinpointed the blackout source in,

<both stops speaking in surprise>

Peg: My apologies, Anthony, please continue.

Tony: Oh, hi Aunt Peg, I thought I had reached Fury.

Peg: He’s otherwise engaged in another complication with this situation. What were you saying about a source? 

Tony: <speaking rapidly with excitement> I can’t determine what’s causing these blackouts, at least not from my workshop, but I can give you an epicentre for each occurrence. They look like random coverage at first, but when I eliminated areas that are dark but still have working generators, cell service and cars, I realized that their substations got knocked out, but they weren’t actually part of the full blackout zone. Each city has exactly the same five-mile radius zone. Which leads me to believe it’s mechanical, rather than any Inhuman power. 

Peg: <smiling for the first time in hours> Brilliant, my boy! So even if we don’t know what’s causing it, we at least know where it’s coming from. <places a hand on Klein’s shoulder> This is a start. <looks back to Tony> How tight can you narrow down the source? 

Tony: I can give you within a block of the epicentre in each city. Looks like mostly abandoned buildings in residential or business districts. 

Peg: Send us coordinates. <to Klein> We need to scramble teams to each city. But we have to be careful. We don’t know what we’re sending them into. They’ll be going in dark, with no coms or backup. They need to be prepared for anything. <thinking> Do we know, how high up each zone reaches?

Tony: Media has been directed to stay out of the areas, after a couple of news choppers crashed. 

Klein: Police choppers won’t risk it. They’re attempting to surveil from planes, keeping at max altitude. That’s about seven to eight miles up.

Tony: <nods on screen> Makes sense. It’s probably a bubble zone.

Peg: <frowns> Too high to skydive in.

<Fury slips quietly back into Operations, observing without interruption>

Klein: If the blackout area really is a five-mile bubble, then a HALO drop would be just high enough. Thirty-thousand feet is the max for a HALO. We’re gonna need our best pilots to hit the sweet spot.

Peg: <considers> How fast can we scramble our teams?

Klein: Faster than the National Guard. We can have teams at each epicentre within the hour.

Peg: Including the cities outside of the US? 

Klein: We can get teams to London, Athens and Buenos Aires almost as quickly as LA, Miami and DC. Moscow may be a bit trickier to get to, and they may not appreciate the help.

Peg: It will have to do. Coulson already has Miami covered, I don’t want to interfere with his team there. Send them out. <a cough sounds from off to one side, Peg and Klein turn to find Fury eyeing them>

Fury: Last I checked, I was still in charge around here.

<Klein winces, trying to shrink in his chair, Peg doesn’t even blink, shrugging with a half-apology on her face>

Peg: You were dealing with important matters when new intel was received. I apologize for jumping rank, but we all know time is of the essence. How much of the plan did you overhear?

Nick: Enough to know it’s solid and the same call I’d make. <turns to Klein> You heard Carter, send them out. <Klein adjusts his headset, assembling teams, his fingers flying over the keyboard> 

Tony: <still on screen> I wish I could help more, but I’m stuck on house arrest. <looks up at Fury> Anything you could do about that one? 

Fury: <grins> Sorry Stark, out of my jurisdiction. <Tony’s moustache droops in a pout> You’ve been a big help already, though. My sources say the blackout is even knocking out Wakandan tech, so your arc reactor wouldn’t work. You’d hit that five-mile mark and drop like a lead balloon.

Tony: <trying to argue> I could install a parachute in the suit! I think I’d do ok!

Fury: Stay. Put. Stark. <points a finger at the screen> Don’t make me tell Potts you’re thinking about sneaking out. <leans in, hitting a switch, disconnecting the conversation before Tony can respond, turns back to Peg> Nice work, Carter. 

Peg: Thank you, sir, <looks down at Klein rapidly coordinating teams to the affected cities> but it was a team effort. 

Klein: Speaking of teams, sir, we’ve just gotten word from Director Coulson. Power is coming back up in Miami. They discovered an emp pulse generator guarded by what seems to be heavily armed members of the Watchdogs.

Fury: Pass that intel to our teams in the air. Patch Coulson through. 

Phil: The Watchdogs just got bigger teeth. Advanced tech, military level weapons and armour, passports.

Fury: So they’ve got a person or group backing them. 

Phil: It’s worse than that. They had names and locations of targets. Some crossed off. Inhumans from the Registry. <Peg gasps>

Peg: How many names? 

Phil: We won’t know the extent until we take back the other cities and make contact with everyone on the Registry. Even one lost is a tragedy. We told them that registering would be for their safety as much as everyone else. If we can’t keep them safe, 

Fury: <finishing his thought> Then the next Inhuman Uprising will be actual Inhumans.

Peg: <softly> I wouldn’t blame them. They just want to live their lives like anyone else. 

Fury: SHIELD isn’t the only ones with access to the Registry. The leak could be from any number of sources.

Peg: We need to find it fast before they attack again. <to Klein> Compile a list of all persons and organizations who have access to the Registry. <turning back to Fury, giving him a side-eyed glare> Unless that’s information I’m not cleared for? <Fury glares back, arms folded, saying nothing, after a long pause, he relents, nodding to Klein>

Another Corner of the Multiverse


[Loc: back alley of a run down auto body shop, 3/22/2026 0900hrs]

<Electricity crackles as a pearlescent violet rip in the fabric of space tears open, depositing two bodies roughly upon the ground before shrinking back into nothing, the first rises, a tall muscular man, brushing dark hair from his eyes as he looks around in confusion>

Thunderbird: Where are the others? <begins shouting> Clarice? Clarice!

<noticing his companion crumpled on the ground, a petite woman with hair so blond it’s almost white, she’s curled up in a tight ball, gripping her head, sobbing, he kneels beside her, gently touching her shoulder>

Thunderbird: Esme, what’s going on?

Esme: <lifting her head, her eyes fountains, stammering in panic> I, I, can’t feel my sisters! <gripping his t-shirt in balled-up fists> Why can’t I sense them?

Thunderbird: <looking around at the alley, so similar to the one they just left, with some subtle differences> I don’t know Es, but this doesn’t look like wherever Clarice’s portal was supposed to take us. For one thing, it’s daytime. <looks up at the sky> I’d say mid-morning. <lifting her gently to her feet> C’mon. Wherever we are, we need to find a place to lay low and figure things out.

Notes From Peg’s Desk

Welcome back, readers! Sorry, it took so long! Life got in the way with all the chaos out there, but this story is nowhere near done& wouldn’t let me walk away even if I wanted to. So, shall we begin unpacking?

The bulk of this episode ties directly into Agents Of Shield s4 ep3: Uprising. With everything going on storywise, &the fact that I still try to follow the idea that #ItsAllConnected these threads wove together perfectly.

Pepper was smart to have the legal team waiting. There are a lot of problems with the Accords& their enforcement, which we discussed briefly in the Notes from the last episode. Astute eyes will recognize that the attorney Pepper is talking to is one Foggy Nelson, of Nelson& Murdock. Fun fact, CIA agent Everett Ross actually has a law degree from Oxford despite choosing a completely different career.

Most of this episode was at least loosely sketched out back in February, the fact that Hamilton just released on Disney+ has nothing to do with it being heavily featured, just a happy little coincidence. We’ll call it a ‘Bob Ross Moment’.

Peg’s still dealing with content restrictions as news about the fire in London is slowly pushed out of the news feed by the trial results and then the blackout. However, with these new events, her thoughts on trying to crack her security access have been put forgotten for the moment. But just for the moment.

Tony’s finally going over the candidates from Fury. Quite a few interesting names dropped, don’t you think? We may or may not at a future time go visit the other teams who will be tentatively stationed in LA, Chicago, Dallas, and Colorado I believe.

I really wanted to expand Shuri’s adventure, but that was one of the big writer’s blocks. No matter what angle I approached it from, it never felt like I was doing her or Fundiswa justice. So, for now, we’ll leave it at ‘there was an incident or two on the way back to Oakland, and maybe Shuri will mention it at a later date’.

One of the possible angles for the Shuri adventure would have involved Ael being sent to portal in and bring her safely home. While the Panther Clan is her adopted family, Ael would see the hospitals as a greater need for aid. With the blackout taking out emergency generators, surgery rooms would plunge into darkness, incubators in NICUs would grow cold, ventilators would stop breathing. She was quietly organizing mystics to open portals, sending others to provide heat, light, and even just extra hands to work bag valve masks(those breathing bags you see EMTs use in medical dramas)

I tried to include a second clip from the orig AoS episode of Director Mace on the phone with the President, ready to send troops into Miami. Unfortunately, my VSDC Video Screen Recorder is being a pos& I couldn’t even find a gifable clip of that scene on YT. I think the tweet worked well as a substitute.

Got to do a little google learning in regards to max altitudes on helicopters, planes, skydiving& HALO drops which was neat. We’ll hear a smidge more about that from a pair of Agent May’s STRIKE team members later.

Yes, the Watchdogs are in the big leagues now, with financial &information backing. (those that know AoS S4 will recognize elements, but as this is both a branching& woven timeline, some details and further events will be altered)

And finally the ending! I’ve been wanting to bring a few characters from The Gifted in for some time now. While I don’t have an actual timeline for the events of the Gifted(due to it being a Fox property unaffiliated with MCU), they ended the series on a perfect cliffhanger to bring members into our story. Not everyone made it here, and while I was going to originally end with the gif, I didn’t want readers to think we were bringing their whole team. (And no, we’re not going to end up with a TB/Esme ship. What would you even call that? ThunderCuckoo? Jhesme? ProudFrost? Ugh. Again, no.) Plus it gives more weight& complications to those who made it. I chose the three I find most interesting& feel will bring the most to the story. Wait, you say! ‘But you only showed us TWO characters. Who is the third and where are they?’ *evil grin*

Next episode we’ll follow the newcomers, see the aftermath of the blackouts, re-introduce an ‘old friend back in town’, and after a well-deserved nap, Steve and his team are going to track down the mysterious portaling woman from London. Oh! I almost forgot! We may just hear from some critics of our story so far…..

Until then, keep reading, keep resisting!


S1E19 Agent of Resistance

Who Rescues the Rescuers?

<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>

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S1E18 Agent Of Resistance

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. 

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S1E17 Agent Of Resistance

Self Care, ‘Hotel Avengers’, &A Return To Medbay


Loc: Office of Agent Carter, NYC SAFEHOUSE Madison/59th


Tony: <enters Peg’s office, finds her lounged back, asleep in her chair at desk, sets down smoothie, speaks softly trying not to wake her> APRIL, does she do this a lot?

APRIL: What exactly are you referring to by ‘this’ Tony?

Tony: Work herself to the point of falling asleep in her office instead of her quarters?

Continue reading

S1E16 Agent Of Resistance



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. 

Tony: <curiosity piqued> Oh? Anything interesting? 

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.

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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?

APRIL: Precisely. 

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>

APRIL: Better? 

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.

S1E15 Agent Of Resistance

Visiting Hours With Family


[Stark-Med Security Footage 12212013]

Loc: Private Nursing Facility Washington DC

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Peggy: <still scolding> All this time I thought you were frozen in fear at the thought of dancing. 

Steve: <realising she’s both serious and joking at the same time, laughs, taking her hand> You caught me. I was so afraid of stepping on your toes that I hid in an iceberg for sixty-five years.

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