Magical Reconnaissance

May 04, 2015:

Peggy talks to Sara and Paul about what magical influences might be affecting Shift




NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

There have been quite a few things going on with SHIELD and the world in the past few weeks. The zombies in France leading to the President's assassination. A mission in Indonesia causing the capture of a dangerous rogue named Shift. An attack on HYDRA to stem a possible attack. Quite a few things have been going on that would keep anyone busy.

It could be a multitude of reasons why Peggy Carter has went on the lookout for Sara Pezzini and Paul Manning. However, instead of wandering the Triskelion for them, a page has been sent out for Agent Pezzini and Agent Manning to see Agent Carter in one of the conference rooms. It seemed the most diplomatic to not ambush either of them with her presence and to show that this is under actual SHIELD business.

When they enter, Peggy is already seated at the conference table, impeccably dressed as always. There are no folders or slides projecting. It seems this is a face to face.

Poor Peggy. She tried to be polite. That's not exactly how Sara took it. To be fair, anything Peggy did was probably not going to get the best response from Sara at the moment. But when she shows up, it's with her hands in her pockets - an old habit from before she had enough control over the Witchblade to keep it from responding to her emotions. Her features are mostly composed, but she's definitely closed off.

"Agent Carter," she greets as she steps inside, making room for Paul to follow. "What can we help you with?"

"Is she still even an agent any more?" Paul asks Sara when they get the summons. But whatever. He's just enjoying not having any Hydra fires to deal with today. Hydra? They should have called themselves roaches. Wadding up the wrapper to the Milky Way bar he takes the last bite of, he tosses it into a garbage as they head to the conference room. He nods a greeting when they arrive and waits.

Agent Carter will be an Agent until her last breath. Or her second last breath, depending on whether she is the Peggy Carter that resides in a retirement home or the one sitting at the conference table. To pretend she does not feel awkward about this would be a farce, but she is also a professional and believes others to be so as well. When the two enter, she stands and nods at each of them.

"Thank you both for coming," she tells them, her precise British accent perhaps adding to the formality to the meeting and ignoring the undercurrents of the personal that are happening here. "I believe that you both have information that might help with the file on Mr. Odame."

Sara quirks a brow at the topic, settling into one of the chairs. "I'm not sure how much help I'm going to be with that," she says slowly. "I met the guy once, on the Kush mission. Steve was there. Guy was a first class ass, wasn't exactly showing a lot of regard for human life. Anything in particular we're looking for?"

Paul shakes his head at the mention of Odame and looks vaguely puzzled. He's just a cadet agent and for some reason Director Fury doesn't fill him in on everything going on. Someone should talk to Nick about fixing that. He looks to Sara to see if the name is familiar to her. It's the mention of Kush that tells him what Peggy's talking about. "Oh, that guy Shift. Criminal and cold blooded murderer."

"He was recently apprehended by SHIELD exhibiting signs of…" Peggy's forehead creases, attempting to figure out the best way to approach this word. "Possession?"

Only once Sara and Paul have taken a seat does she as well. "I've read some of his file and have heard from others that he has had a violent past." She was not in Kush and only really has hearsay as to what happened there. "In fact, there are eyewitness accounts that he was involved in the assassination of Congressman Burbridge. And the violence in Cincinnati." In fact, she is the eyewitness to the Congressman's attack and she and Steve were there calling in SHIELD in Ohio.

"Once in custody he had no memory of much of his previous actions, which I would consider very convincing lies other than the fact that there seems to be some sort of scientific evidence that there is something else at play here. He spoke with a discordant voice about summoning and harvesting souls." Her words are matter of fact, it would be very hard to tell that some of the events there unnerved Peggy, but the underlying stillness of her movements might belay that.

"When I questioned him further, he mentioned another world. Someone named Estacado drawing demons. I was told that you both might have answers to what he meant."

Sara turns to look at Paul, grimacing. "Fuck."

She doesn't even apologize for her language as she turns back to Peggy, pulling her hands out of her pockets and setting her elbows on the table. "A few months before Paul and I joined SHIELD, we were dealing with a rash of missing persons cases. Kids. Who went missing after their parents were pretty horrifically murdered. Turns out, something was cleaning out their souls so it could move in. On the kids. The kids were killing the parents, then joining this group of…cultists, you could say. We thought we got them. Eventually."

Pushing up her sleeves, she holds out her right arm to show the bracelet there. "As for Estacado? They give you my file, or should I lay out the cliff's notes version?"

Paul's eyes narrow at the mention of Estacado and he looks to Sara. "The kids weren't Estacado's doing though. Can he do that? Possess someone? Make no mistake, Agent Carter." Paul continues now to Peggy. "Shift shot an innocent woman in cold blood. He's a murderer and I have no doubt he's killed more people than anyone knows. But he didn't come across as a religious fanatic nor insane. It's also my understanding that he's a mutant and not a mystic. I only met him the once but talk about harvesting souls seems outside his normal modus operandi unless he's been converted since."

The mention of kids killing their parents under possession is met with what might be something akin to passive. Instead of a horrified look or anything of the sort, Peggy only looks downward, unable to meet either of their eyes for a moment as she contemplates what a horrible thing that is. She blinks once and then her eyes flick upward again, looking between Sara and Paul.

"I have not read your file, no, Agent Pezzini. As I am assuming cliff's notes is the quick brief of the situation from context, that would be much appreciated." Unfortunately, Peggy missed good old Cliff Hillegrass by ten years.

There is no change in expression when her attention shifts to Paul. "I witnessed him kick in a man's head at point blank range, Agent Manning. From what I have read from his file and what I have seen from my own eyes, I have no doubts that he is a killer. However, I also believe that some of his actions of late may not be his own. Before the discordant voice appears, his eyes change from silver to black. I believe the harvesting of souls comes from…whatever it is that may be controlling him. He is not an innocent, but he is far more dangerous right now and we need to find out how to stop what is happening to him before it happens to others."

Sara grimaces at the mention of black eyes, but she leaves that for the moment. "All right. Short version. This," she says, raising her wrist to shake the bracelet there. "Is the Witchblade. Also known as the Balance." As she holds up her hand, the bracelet seems to come to life, tendrils of silver, steel, and gold branching out and weaving together around red and blue cabochons until she wears a heavy, spiked gauntlet on her right hand.

"The Witchblade is called the Balance because it's the…offspring of two primal forces. There's the Angelus, which is light, order, those sorts of things. And there's the Darkness, which is dark, chaos, creation. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's a good and evil thing. They're pretty much both assholes. The same way fascists and nazis are opposites, and both assholes. All of them have a…host. Sort of. The Witchblade takes a bearer. Right now, that's me."

Sara lowers her hand, and the gauntlet fades away until it's only a bracelet again. "The Angelus has a host, which is basically its puppet. The Darkness, on the other hand, has a host that follows a bloodline. The Estacados. Jackie's the latest. He's old school mob. He's a criminal, but…" She pauses, considering her words. "He's got a code, and he's not evil. And no, while the darklings are creepy and a pain in the ass, they're not demons, per se. To my knowledge, he can't possess anyone."

"They're not demons." Paul agrees. "Not in the same way the demons of the various hells are. And like I said, he wasn't behind the kids. That was… Well, we never did entirely find out what was going on there. Except maybe it tied in - some how - to freeing the Elder Gods. Don't ask." he tells Peggy. "Just accept it's really, really bad. I don't remember any of their eyes going black though." he says to Sara. "Or did the minister's? It's been a while and it died down." Plus he got distracted by Etrigan killing him.

As a sponge of information, Peggy does not interrupt Sara as she speaks about the Witchblade and its heritage. While she certainly may have questions for her later, there is a singular raise of her eyebrows at the sudden tendrils that emit from the bracelet that could either be interpreted as surprise or awe. However, some of the information does not seem to come as a surprise to the former head of SHIELD, even nodding once or twice at something Sara says.

Peggy remains silent as she digests both Sara and Paul's information. "Then, perhaps Estacado is a diversion." She frowns. "The—voice that spoke through Mr. Odame mentioned an ancient evil that made him susceptible to his powers. When I questioned him about it later, he mentioned going with Estacado to another world."

She frowns. "He mentioned the masters Hydra had summoned him and I thought that Estacado was a member of these masters. If it is not him, then perhaps there is someone else able to summon…whatever it is? Whatever it is, they have been around for quite awhile and he called Dr. Simmons a mortal, threatening her with quite a brutal end if she did not reconnect him with his masters."

At Manning's explanation, she gives a tired smirk, unable to stop herself from saying, "I can only imagine freeing Elder Gods would not be marked well in the debriefing report. I believe SHIELD has a rather firm 'no end of days' policy that I instituted with Howard back in the day."

"The Witchblade, the Angelus, and the Darkness have their own agendas," Sara says slowly. "I know as much as I try, I always have to be careful that the Witchblade isn't acting on its own. It's possible Estacado may have a similar experience with the Darkness. It could be acting through him, or around him, or even without him. We're talking very ancient, very…hard to understand, powerful forces. I wouldn't rule it out."

She sets her hands back on the table, one finger tapping on the surface as she thinks. "Paul's artifact seems to be a different branch of the family, but in the family. It lets him move between worlds. Maybe the Darkness allows for something similar. Estacado could've opened a door he doesn't know how to close, or even realize he left open."

"Only certain worlds." Paul corrects but he's thinking about what Sara said. "There's another possibility." He's talking slowly as if he's thinking out loud and still working it out. "The Darkness might not be involved at all. We both know there's lots of dark, dangerous dimensions. We just closed some gates to one that Hydra was involved in. And while that one doesn't really fit the description of this, there's a shitload more out there. If it was Shift himself who mentioned Estacado, he might be mistaken since he doesn't, probably, have a lot of experience with abyssal dimensions. If it was while he was possessed, it could be trying to mislead us. Or even eliminate Estacado for it."

All of this magic and other worlds is rather new to Peggy. While she is quite used to strange experiments that seem to bend space and time - they were all confined to the world that she knew. This all seems to be rather outside of it.

As Sara taps on the table, her own remain folded on the surface, though they remain somewhat gripped together.

"I must admit that I know nothing of either. Is it possible for the Darkness to be broken apart and placed in another human being? Separated from the main source?" She looks downward. "It was very keen on regaining a connection with its masters - plural. If the it cannot, then perhaps the Darkness that Mr. Odame saw with Estacado merely weakened it for whatever this is."

"Not…that I'm aware of," Sara says slowly. "I don't know everything about these things. But every bearer who's ever faced the Darkness has been facing someone of the Estacado line. The Angelus is always looking to break the Darkness up, take things over. But I don't think you'd get that sort of thing from the Angelus. It prefers to work with women, anyhow." She rubs a hand at her head, trying to smooth out the frown lines on her brow. "I was really hoping this was done with."

"I think we need to talk to the possessed Shift ourselves." Paul tells Peggy. "We might be able to figure out what's going on. Also, we should probably ask our wizards to see if they can do anything about exorcising whatever it is inside of him." Between Zatanna, Constantine and Blood, one might be able to do something about it. "Though it might take a priest." he adds. "But not till we talk to it."

The more Sara talks of it, the more Peggy nods, realizing this may not be the Darkness. But, at least that is something to possibly rule out. "Perhaps it is finished," she tells Sara. "It can be hoped that this has nothing to do with either and is merely another magical gambit of Hydra. They were known for their belief and fanaticism of magic and the occult before. Perhaps they learned of the Angelus and the Darkness and attempted to emulate it for themselves. It would not be the first time they attempted to meddle in powers that they should never have handled." The tesseract, the super serum, the list goes on.

"Of course, studying Mr. Odame is not exactly up to me." Shift is in his own secure bunker somewhere out of reach of many SHIELD agents. "I believe that is next, however. Captain Rogers is speaking with a few other specialists." Specialist wizards perhaps? She's not sure if it is the same ones that they are thinking of, but it bears mentioning. "Gathering everyone together seems like the next most logical step."

"Cautiously." Sara looks up. "The more of these things you pull together, the more attention comes to them. When we were dealing with whatever was taking the kids? For a few minutes, I had the Witchblade, the Rapture, and the Spear of Destiny. It was a hell of a rush, Agent Carter. But while I was holding them, I could feel things turning their eyes my way. Coming for it all. Worse, I wanted them to. Because I could take them. Magic is a delicate thing. Not everything plays nice together."

"Well, you all know how to find us if you want us." Paul says dryly. "I think this is a little more in our area of expertise than most peoples' but…" He shrugs. The powers that be know best. Especially when they don't.

"And therefore not everyone who knows it plays together nicely?" Peggy can at least extrapolate certain things despite not understanding them. "Then, perhaps it will be on a rotation schedule." She's not sure quite how they will figure out what is wrong with Shift, only that they are attempting to find as much information as they can on him. "I can assume that the less eyes on us, the better."

To Paul, she smirks, her own dry tone adding, "SHIELD would be quite the poor intelligence agency if it could not find its own members when it was necessary. And as such, I can assume that you both would be first called, as you are both Agents of SHIELD and have an extensive knowledge of the area." That, of course, is only her interpretation.

She frowns, hesitating for a moment before asking, "Agent of the Light does not mean anything to you, does it?"

"That is something I'd expect to hear out of an Angelus warrior," Sara grimaces at the last. "They're dicks, to say the least. But since they look like what western religion's trained us to understand as angels, people tend to want to take them at face value, think they're the good guys. They'll play along to a point, but they're working on their own agendas. I'm not saying that's what you're dealing with, but in my experience, it'd be a place to start."

"Or any agency that regards itself as working for the greater good." Paul puts in. "Or even just a person. It doesn't ring any bells with me specifically though. Is that somehow tied in to all this?"

At Sara's sudden insistence Peggy's frown deepens for just a moment. Then, it is back to an impassive, professional mask that it was before. At Paul's question as to how it might tie into this, she answers, "It does. The voice mentioned it was seeking an Agent of the Light. Though, if it were an Angelus warrior, is it possible there would be one that you did not know?" She glances at Sara, curious as to what the answer might be.

"They're legion," Sara shrugs. "They don't tend to stand out. I will say, though, while all this was going on with the lines, there's been…unrest." She rubs a hand at her temple, remembering a cut. "Angelus warriors and force of the Darkness being pushed away from the lines. Like something else trying to make room for itself. Driving out light and dark for…something different. If it wants an agent of the light, I'd do just about anything to keep it away from them. It might need one like a component, honestly."

"If some kind of creature of the dark is talking about an Agent of Light, that doesn't mean it's what he or they call themselves." Paul points out. "It could be something as general as any priest if it's defining Light as holy or godly. Without more context, or questioning it further, it's impossible to say."

"Ah," is all Peggy tells Sara when she gains a bit more insight as to what the Agent of the Light might be and why they were searching for it. Her hands unclasp and she places them flat on the table in front of her. It's when Paul says that it may actually be nothing that she gives him a smile. "Yes, of course. That will hopefully be something that can be explored further when you both are able to take a closer look as to what may be possessing Mr. Odame." It seems as if she is confident that is something that will happen.

"Thank you for coming." She smiles at them both, honestly warm and thankful, though there is an edge of decorum there. She's not quite sure how best to act here. "I truly appreciate it."

"It's our job, Agent Carter," Sara says as she stands, smiling tightly. "We're the spook squad. Weird things happen, they call us. Though sometimes I wish there was someone else," she admits, putting her hands back in her pockets. "You all know where to find us if something else starts to go down."

"Of course." Paul answers as he stands then smirks at Sara. "You forget it's what we joined for? Just be glad there's so many others doing their own thing so we don't have to. You'd be surprised at how many magic types there are out there." he says to Peggy. "Sometimes it's like you can't swing a dead Hydra agent without hitting one."

"Yes, of course," Peggy assures Sara. It seems easiest when they are both talking about the job. That seems to be a similar theme in much of Peggy's life after arriving in the 2015. At Paul's quip, she actually laughs. It's short and soft, leaving behind only another smirk. "I'll be sure to be careful the next time I swing a dead Hydra agent, then." With her love of using objects around her as weapons, it's not the most unlikely scenario.

The smirk resolves into a more serious expression as she stands with them. "Someone will contact you shortly, I'm sure."

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