Inside Government Connections

December 23, 2015:

Jericho has information for May … Jemma fills in some connections

New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Jericho has a habit of not wanting to meet at the Triskelion. The place makes him uncomfortable even after working with May for over a year. Something about the people there, and the secrets and the number of faceless agents. The ultimate expression of Big Brother. But sometimes he has things to pass on to people who work there. On those occasions he likes Ruby's. It's a diner. With good coffee and better pies that's not far from the Tri. More importantly it's often busy enough to give cover to a conversation, but not so busy that folks can easily listen in.

The hacker is waiting at a table near the window, watching on cameras for comings and goings. He's got bandages peeking out from under his collar and sleeve. Clearly, he hasn't been idle.

Melinda May arrives at the precise time promised, stepping in to the cafe and crossing toward Jericho's table once she's spotted him. And yes, she's wearing the scarf that Howard Stark made for her.

Following along with May is Jemma Simmons. The biochemist is without her labcoat and wearing a short jacket over a bright sweater…

As they reach the table, she gives the hacker a once over, eyeing the bandages that peek from his collar and sleeve "I would have met you in the Gotham location and helped you with those …" she chides lightly "How bad are they this time?"

"They're healing." Jericho shrugs. Delicately. Which may be an indication of how hurt he is. And also doesn't answer the question. "Hello May. Nice threads." He's seen that scarf before and knows what it does.

"So I've been picking at our friends in SIGMA since they seem to have worked for HYDRA a couple of times recently. On a contract basis if I had to guess. Tell me, what do either of you know about Executive Directive 51?"

Jemma looks stunned as she sits at the table. "Executive Directive 51?" Clearly she's heard of it before. "Funny you should mention that, Mr Trent. An … acquaintance did some looking into things related to Bio-E and came up with that name. It seems to be associated with an organisation known as The Section." A glance to May, this is a side project that Jemma has been running, investigating Bio-E "and my source indicates it was linked with or part of HYDRA and SIGMA. They weren't clear on which or how."

Melinda May sits as well, but shakes her head no at the question about Executive Directive 51. "Not anything SHIELD based." And then Jemma shares what she's learned, and her eyebrows quirk. That's … too close of a coincidence.

Jericho leans back and sips his coffee. "Executive Directive 51 was signed in 2007 by then president George Bush. It's supposed to contain the continuity plan for the U.S. Government in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Something that might end the country. Text is classified for the most part, which isn't unusual. What is unusual is that even Congress has been denied the ability to read it. There's conspiracy theory rumors about sleeper cells and covert agencies dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make sure that the U.S. government survives. Mostly they're just that. Crackpot theories. When I was investigating SIGMA's activities I ran into something… a bit worrisome though. I haven't been able to completely verify it yet, but it looks like someone routed three of the Polymorpher implant sets out of the Army. Poof, gone. They've just vanished. That was right around the time foriegn intelligence agencies start reporting run ins with agents from a group calling themselves 'SIGMA'. They've been operating on foriegn and US soil for several years now, so far as I can tell."

He sighs and leans forward, lowering his voice. "And my sources and digging indicate that they may have been engaging in some kind of… shadow war."

Seeing Mays eyebrows quirk, Jemma ducks her head. It's not usual for May to show that much … emotion. "Polymorph suits… that, according to Illyana, use a metal found only in Limbo to conduct Bio-E. I found that out the other day." Another coincidence.

When Jericho mentions three suits being routed, Jemma frowns "I can likely name two of the current wearers of those suits … Anya Varikova and Sgt Kevin Rennault." and then Jericho drops that last bit "Shadow war? With who…."

Melinda May takes a breath and sits back when Jericho leans forward. She glances at Jemma, then looks at the hacker. "Does Illyana know of a way to track this metal?" If they can track it, they can find these three other Polymorphers, and maybe shut down this SIGMA group once and for all.

"She can probably track at least one of the sets of implants with the shard she has." Yeah, Jericho knows about that. Poor Jemma. At least he's not going to needle her about it. "That's not the worst of it. I've found a number of routines embedded in the government systems I've looked through. Very subtle things to gather information and track traffic. They look like hacks but they seem to be part of the base code of the systems they're embedded in. Some of that traffic is related to SIGMA but a lot of it belongs to someone else. Someone that is, at least my current theory says, operating deep within the Federal government."

Which is a bit of a bombshell. Jericho just claimed that SIGMA is getting at least some of its marching orders from the Federal government. This is an organization that has been, among other things, known to go after 084 groups in competition with SHIELD and murder european finance officials.

Jemma isn't sure May knows the whole story with that Shard. Things had got a bit hinky about that time. "I really wanted to keep that shard. It could have proven useful in future research." It's perhaps the first time that anyone will see Jemma look disgruntled and her lips press together in a tight line. She might also like back the other thing that was on the shard - that tiny piece of her soul.

Jericho's last bombshell does take her by surprise until she thinks about it about it a little more. "Given that Project Prometheus, the original Bio-E / Polymorph suit project was Government funded… " Something registers for the Bio-chem and she pulls up her tablet. "Look at these documents my source found. Case Azure is from 2010 in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan." She looks a little sheepish "I don't know military stuff all that well, but I know a manifest and why you order ammunition but no weapons, Oxgen gear for Halo drops but no parachutes …" Perhaps because this was using enhanced soldiers "Could this be related?"

Melinda May is actually frowning faintly now. This is getting worse and worse. She would almost bet money that it's related. "And we don't have any legal way to request details on this." And that's what really irritates her about this whole mess. The US government is playing a game of no accountability, and that NEVER ends well.

Jericho makes a face that likely mirrors what May is thinking. If this really is the US Government there's no knowing how deep it goes and any attempt to get information through official channels will be stonewalled at best and alert whomever is behind this at worst. But if they treat this like a terrorist organization or a threat like HYDRA those official channels will likely be turned against them.

"Those names… I know one of them. Kevin Rennault. He was in the program. His implants wer e decommissioned and he did two more tours. I heard he'd been killed." That's not easy paperwork to fake either. Unless you have someone on the inside to smooth things over.

"Case Azure was the name for some of the project's early operations." The hacker's eyes narrow and he looks at May. "Okay, so we've got a group that may have been funneled advanced military equipment by a conspiracy that may or may not be operating within the Federal government…" Oy…

This got tangled. "Oh right. Sorry, one more bit. That shadow war? There weren't any names in the files, but they had been fed information by a source they called 'Kay' about an invasion of shapshifting reptiles able to control and possess government officals. Sound familair?"

All those threats? Yeah, they all lead to the same place. A horrible, tangled knot.

Melinda May looks at Jemma again. Then she practically stares Jericho down. "Do you have any guesses about where this is leading?" Something she can hunt down and punch. Because always getting someplace just a moment too late or being just a tiny bit too slow is getting tiresome VERY quickly.

"That's correct M— Jericho." Simmons confirms about Rennault "There's a death certificate. Supposedly he's buried in Arlington. But my source and I… ah" she glances at May. The report is sitting on her desk to file "saw him… kill a man outside a restaurant we were in." There'll be some report in the system, because Jemmas' SHIELD escort would have filed one. "His widow, Marie Rennault, lives in Cincinnati. I've not had the time to ask Agent May, if we may visit her." or perhaps request an exhumation.

"There's one more piece to the puzzle I shoul—" Jemma stops as the shapeshifting reptile is mentioned, her face paling "Very familiar … " She might be forgiven for feeling like she has a big target painted on her back.

"Not really, May." Jericho admits. "But I'll keep working on it. I do know that the one thing that all of this has in common are those reptiles. What did Nyx call them? Daemonites I think. Good a name as any. That seems like a good thread to tug on. Have you done the autopsy yet? Or looked into the captives associations? That's the thread I'd start pulling on to see what unravels next. Mean time I'll keep poking at this. HYDRA was involved on some level though I don't know how connected they are. Could just be SIGMA was doing some dirty work elsewhere for them. It doesn't look connected but I don't want to take anything for granted just yet."

There's a pause as Jericho thinks. "There was… maybe one other lead. The files on Source 'Kay' mentioned meeting regularly in Baghdad. Last reference I found in the databases was from eight months ago but it might be worth following up on. I'll forward you the meeting location. It was sort of out of the way, as I recall."

Baghdad. Ugh. At least Trent didn't say Bahrain. THAT would have been a deal breaker. "Do that. I'll submit the paperwork to have it checked out." She looks at Jemma to see if there's anything else the biochemist wants or needs to share with Jericho. That paperwork won't fill itself out after all.

"Not yet, Jericho. But we've seen another…" Simmons looks to May. "We were following connections to a common connection. The woman was meddling with one of those silver ashcans. When the Psyborgs appeared, a Lizardlike creature appeared, attacked them and then got away." Appeared, much like the first one did. "I've examined the woman… and have nothing conclusive yet."

"But there's something else bothering me … I think there's at least one more player." Could … it get any more twisted? Tapping on her tablet, she displays some footage that was sent by HAL.

The footage shows a horse faced being, being projected into Janet van Dynes office somehow, speaking to the two women. "He mentioned Limbo and people changing identities on a deep, deep level" Jemma summarises "which matched what I had seen on one of the suit wearers… and then offered us help." The last thing that is displayed is a card with a Pentagram on it with some unreadable characters "This is his calling card … if we wanted to take him up on it."

Jericho looks at the characters and blanches. Jemma and May will likely know that he's able to read the script. "I don't think that's related to the rest… but if it's related to SIGMA and the project I'll follow up on it. I've got a fairly good idea about where to look." The fact that he's not saying anything might say more than anything else he does.

"That's all I've got for now. Good luck in Baghdad. I'll come if I can but if not watch your backs."

Melinda May nods to Jericho. "I won't let you join us if you're not properly healed before then." Okay, so she'd mostly refrained from saying something about that. Hell, if she could get away with it, she'd make him park his backside in a safehouse to recouperate properly.

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