Just One Spark (Backdated Scene)

June 21, 2016:

Following the events in Trine Calling Thomas, Jemma, May and others follow the lead they found.

Canada

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

'As far north as north goes'. That was how the location of the server that 'Trine' was running off of was described.

Jemma told Thomas, the US Marshal she's been working with and who is at least indirectly responsible for her survival. It's a far bet that she may have mentioned the rogue program's threatening messages to someone else. Possibly Melinda May, possibly one of her other many contacts. As for a course of action?

Well a rogue computer program stalked a SHIELD Agent and issued death threats. Jemma has a location. Thomas is already on the way. There's only one course of action, isn't there?


Jemma had already 'scrambled' a SHIELD quinjet and TAC unit as soon as she got the trace off. As scared as she was, she'd kept her wits mostly. She'd also sent a message to May.

The two women were enroute in the very same quinjet, which is just landing, some distance from the identified location.

"I've given you all the specs I could find on the 'hulkbusters', Agent May." Jemmas been babbling for most of the flight, causing the other agents to roll their eyes and become very interested in checking the munitions and weapons. "There were one or two flaws I identified, but if 'Trine' has modified them, well…" she's sure she doesn't have to say more.

"Thomas, errr Marshal Nashoba, will be meeting us there."

The update concludes just as the doors open and Jemma looks to May, barely stopping herself wringing her hands. "Well… he should be here soon, I hope." She's not sure in May remembers the Marshal. Apart from her, only those who have an interesting relationship with time seem to.


BY this point, May has had a special note added to Jemma's SHIELD file that says: "Temporal anomalies likely". So when she names Marshal Nashoba, May simply nods. Not so much because the name is familiar, though she's made a point of making records of the man to remind herself, but because of that special note. "That's fine," She tells the biochemist, taking the time to make one last check of the armor she insisted Jemma wear that was borrowed through Partisan. She didn't ask too many questions. Just like she didn't ask too closely about her own weaponry. Just the name 'hulkbuster' put her on high alert, and she called in favors. As much as she'd been hoping to get her hands on something made by Lunair, some of Partisan's more … inventive weapons are on deck this time.


As far north as north gets is pretty damn cold. It is Canada after all and even in the summer winter isn't far off. The location is an old Air Force base (US type) from the DEW line of the 1950's. It's a bunker with an attached radar station hardened to survive a nuclear strike. As May and Simmons pass over they can see an RCMP cordon line about a mile out and inside that line, a US Marshals service helicopter.

Thomas must have done some fast talking. He's waiting for them on the ground.

The gauntleted man waves to them. As soon as they're on the ground he indicates the door. "It's sealed. We haven't tried opening it yet but the regular locks are definitely not working."


As well as the armour, Jemma is rugged up a thick coat and gloves as she makes her way to the Marshal's side, offering a faint smile as she does "Thomas. Thank you. You remember Agent May, don't you?" she rests her hand on his arm for a moment.

"How do you think you might open it?" Jemma looks across to the bunker and frowns. "From what Trine said, its not overly impressed with the technology of this time. That bunker would have what even we would class as a 'rudimentary' computer system but that doesn't mean it hasn't adapted it to control the ingress and egress." beat "That's assuming this is even where it is and wasn't simply used as a relay."

Pursing her lips, the frown deepens some more "Have there been any indications of the 'hulkbusters'?"


Melinda May studies the bunker from where she stands next to Jemma, similarly attired for the weather and for the anticipated upcoming skirmish. She knows the basic layout of this type of base, but can't predict what sort of modifications would have been made since it was first built. "So this Trine person is very heavily technology-dependent." She seems to have an idea of some sort. "What if we go medieval on his heiney?"

Yes, she just said that with a completely straight face.


"To the best of our knowledge this 'person' is actually a rogue computer program of some kind. Artificial General Intelligence. It's…" Yeah. It's from the future. He doesn't say that.

"So far it hasn't evinced any kind of hacking abilities beyond stalking Doctor Simmons to talk to her but that doesn't mean it won't. We have to get in the front door first though and I'm fresh out of C-4. There's an electronic lock… or we might just be able to kick it in if you brought something. Ideas?"


"Artificial Intelligence, Agent May." Jemma murmurs as she works through the possibilities in her head. "It did say it was the consciousness that was directing the 'hulkbusters' though." She considers May as they talk.

"Two pronged approach, perhaps? I could try to hack the lock and have a small group looking like they will go in. Distract Trine, hopefully for you to do whatever you're thinking, May… " Jemma's not the expert here, she normally comes in to investigate once access has been gained.


"Well, I was thinking about just kicking in the front door, but a two-prong attack could work." May looks at the tac team that came with them and nods to two of them. "Rodriguez, Hamilton. With me. Leave behind everything that uses electricity." Yes, that means comms too. There's a maintenance hatch associated with that radar station, likely closed off when this place was originally decommissioned. But it's not impossible to break through and I am almost willing to bet that it's not been electronically secured." Since, you know, it was probably sealed before electronic security systems became a thing.


Thomas pulls his pistol and goes with them. It's only a metaphorical two pronged attack since there's only one way down into the bunker. The door is a big, heavy steel affair. After all, this place was hardened against a nuclear assault.

It looks like it'll be farily easy to break into physically. Looks is the operative word there but there's nothing else to go on. The lock is… well hacking it might be difficult. Jemma's gonna have a time of it.

As the team approaches the speakers turn on. "There is an eighty six percent chance that you are here to try to kill me. You will fail." An androgynous mechanical voice says.


"Well that answers part of the question." Jemma mutters as she gets to work, taking a 'dongle' of some sort from her bag and attaching it to her laptop. "Ready when you are…" she's already tapping at the keys on her keyboard trying to override the digital lock. "I would have suggested we just EMP it, but it's protected against that from the outside. Once you're in, I can try that … "

"Hello Trine." she says a bit more loudly "I'm just doing my job."


Melinda May leads her half of the team around to the radar emplacement, taking a moment to unearth the maintenance access hatch. She can't help but hope that the fact that it's covered in no less than a decade's worth of leaf litter, erosion, and rust means that Trine overlooked it. With a glance at the others, she pulls the hatch open. It's lead lined, and heavy as sin. But she manages it.


The lock takes about four minutes to overcomes but the door does eventually unlock. Thomas helps Jemma push it open. May gets the hatch open in much less time than that. Both find themselves in dank, dark tunnels. This place doesn't have any power. Which makes how Trine is running power to the speakers interesting. It's like those and those only turned themselves on.

Or maybe there's other speakers or…

"You will not succeed in finding me." Trine says matter of factly.

There's not many places to hide though. This was a small station. The main room is just about thirty feet away from both parties.


"No power…" Jemma murmurs as she glances up to Thomas. "… how…" she'll let the question die. They'll find out soon enough.

"We got this far, Trine and I wasn't even trying." is the biochem baiting the AI? Yes, yes she is. That might not be a very good thing but it might keep it focussed on them.

Hefting her kit bag, she walks beside Thomas "You know, Thomas. I once saw this TV Show episode where an AI entity had taken over some tech and wired itself into the building…" she's babbling again. A habit when she's nervous. Thomas might not remember but she'd done that a lot when they were trapped on the other side of the portal.


Relying on chemical glowsticks for light and carrying simple weaponry — still lethal though, bless Partisan and her old world soul — May and her two tac agents make their way through the maintenance tunnel as quickly and quietly as possible. They get to the hatch on the other side that looks like it belongs on a Hunt for Red October era submarine and this time Hamilton is the one to muscle the door open while the other to prepare for any possibility on the other side.


Thomas accompanies Jemma as she babbles. As they move in deeper he shushes her. If there is danger in here, he'd rather not it hear them coming.

All roads lead to the control room though. There's still equipment here. It's from the 50's. The only thing modern here is a desktop computer with one message written on the screen 'Game over.'

There's a clang at the front gate and another closer in. Heavy security doors slam shut and lock. Power dies. The room goes pitch black but for the chemical lights. And somewhere, somewhere nearby, there's a faint hissing sound. And the feel of moving air.


Jemma falls silent at Thomas' shushing with a "Right. of course." It doesn't take them long to make the control room and she peers around, eyes falling on the computer screen "Uh, that's not good…". She jumps as the security doors slam shut and the lights go off.

Staying where she is, Thomas had been beside her when that all happened, she reaches into her bag and takes out a flash light and one of her devices. The light on the screen pierces the darkness as she takes readings of the very air.


The clangs of the security doors locking down echo and May looks at the other two briefly. "Rodriguez, hold this position. If there's no contact in fifteen minutes, get out and head back to the quinjet." The agent nods and the airlock door is closed again, while May and Hamilton hastily don modern SHIELD-issue gas masks then double time it toward where the control center in this bunker should be. And May finds herself again hoping that the security doors still have working manual overrides.


There is gas leaking into the room. At first Thomas is concerned that it's some kind of poison gas but as Jemma takes readings she realizes that's not the case. It's a mixture of gases particularly high in methane. Actually it's a mixture of gas that occurs in nature, often near coal deposits. In previous ages men called it 'firedamp.'

It's, uh, explosive. Extensively, delicately so.

The grates are locked but it's not something that couldn't be overcome with a little bit of elbow grease. They're heavy, and quite solid. The bigger problem is trying to physically force them may cause a spark. "I could probably run enough current through that door to melt it, but…" Thomas sniffs at the air.

"In three minutes, the gas-air mixture will reach a concentration that the smallest electrical device could set it off. I estimate no longer than three minutes, ten seconds until you are dead." The mechanical voice informs them.

Options? Tools? That computer is connected to the internet and those doors are network controlled somehow. The walls are concrete, reinforced. There's a lot of dirt and earth above them. The ventillation system into the room still works. It's not big enough to crawl through and it's off but it's there. There's also a fire suppression system in the room, still functional and the weak call of a ley line about a quarter mile distant…


"Don't… " Jemma says as Thomas mentions frying the door. "Trines feeding a methane mix in here. It's explosive and whilst the gas is not overly harmful to us, blowing up will be. "It's a good thing May told the others to leave their electronics behind." Which makes Jemma a bit of a risk, really.

Quickly cataloguing what she can, in the dark, the biochem considers for a moment. "If you can get that door open quickly, Thomas can use the fire suppression system to keep anything from sparking. But… we're going to have to be quick." She intends to turn the supression systems on, while others lift the doors.

"That still won't deal with Trine, but it will keep up alive. If Trine is even here, anyway…." Her eyes go back to the computer "That computer is connected to the Internet … I'll see if I can override the controls." That's the best she's got.


May and Hamilton reach the door blocking their way into the control room, and she knocks on the heavy door in morse code. 'lethal gas'. While waiting for someone to reply, she studies the manual override. It's kind of rusty, but enough elbow grease and it should work. Oh, and she has some of her ever-present oil with her in case it'll take the place of WD-40 in a pinch.


'Copy' is what gets knocked back. Standard procedure is pretty clear. Withdraw to a safe distance unless otherwise directed.

Getting the fire suppression system on will make things very damp in here but it will significantly reduce the risk of sparks. All they need to do is get out of this room. Slowing the flow of gas couldn't hurt either. It'll be up to Simmons.

The overide is almost rusted solid but only almost. Some oil, a bit of applied leverage, and it gets moving. May needs to be very careful not to spark anything. Once that's done the lock will be disengaged and the door can be tackled directly.


Jemma hacks, she's more than passable just not Fitz level of competent. Taking control of the keyboard the biochem works through the process, gaining access to the computer. She's sure that Trine will attempt to block her, so one of the first things she does is sets off several false trails. Innocuous but noisy root-kits, trojans and worms that hopefully will distract Trine whilst she works. She's not expecting this to be easy.

"Whenever, you're ready Thomas." her voice shakes just a little, she might be a touch upset about all this. Hopefully she's quick enough to gain access and disable the ventilation before the fire suppression system renders the computer unusuable.


The manual override is FINALLY dealt with and … May wants to cuss. The door has to be opened manually as well. Okay, fine. Here goes. She and Hamilton both have to put their backs into it, and even so it's abysmally slow going. At least that should reduce the chance of throwing sparks. And, since they're both still wearing their hazmat gear, she doesn't pick up on the methane smell instantly.


Thomas does too. He can be, and indeed at the moment is, considerably stronger than a normal human being and May is going to get a look at just how much stronger. The fire suppression system begins to soak the room and the servos and gears that are supposed to keep the gate shut whine and grind but it goes up and up and… stops at about three feet.

"Okay… we're going to have to roll people out. Jemma you first. Then Hamilton. Then May."

The fans start to reverse…

"You will not escape." A voice says. Then all the power turns back on. All the ancient, rusty, hasn't been maintained in 50 years power.


Jemma moves quickly as the fans start to reverse, joining May, Thomas and Hamilton as they get the door open, wincing as the androgynous voice sounds through the speakers. That wince soon turns to a look of alarm as the power comes back up. "We have to get out here and now … " she nearly sounds panicked. She's used old and rusty power systems to her advantage and now someone is turning those tables.

"That system will cause a few sparks at the least, if it doesn't explode that is." Even though she might sound panicked, she doesn't run yet, preferring to stay with the 'pack'. If they separate, Trine might find it easier to pick her, and them, off.


Melinda May pulls the hazmat mask off and as she's one of the smaller people here is the first under the door, and then she's helping pull others through. Oh, and she takes one of the weapons from Partisan and wedges it into the doorframe to keep the door from getting overridden and closed on them. It won't hold forever, but hopefully it'll buy them enough time to get out. Her trump card is Rodriguez back at the old manual airlock leading up to the radar dish.


In a movie, in a book, Thomas would be left behind. The last one to hold the door, there because he's the only one who can keep it open by himself. In reality, of course, someone can just hold it from the other side so once the rest are out he slides under.

"I estimate two minutes before I reestablish control. You're making this much more difficult than you need to. This outcome is at variance with calculated parameters. One of you is affecting the timeline calculations negatively. This is being noted. Remain where you are. What's the phrase? You can run, but you'll just die tired."

Thomas looks up in annoyance. "I'd pay real money for him to shut up. Where now?"


"Shut up, Trine." Jemma's temper finally frays as she slides out under the door with the rest. Glancing at Thomas, knowing who is affecting the timelines "Well that's one thing to be grateful for." she mutters. "Now, let's go … " she tugs on his arm to get moving. "That power system is dangerous and there's methane in the air. I've no reason to suspect that Trine would have stopped that pumping in, this entire building is going to become a powder keg."

Yes, Jemma wants to run.


"This way." May helps pull Thomas out from under the door, the directs them the way she and Hamilton came in. And yes, they run. And she hopes again that going analog is what's helping confound that annoying computer voice.


"Error. Outcome increasingly at variance with projections." The voice announces. "Initiating containment proceedure."

As Thomas, Jemma, May and Hamilton start to run the cieling explodes behind them and buckles. Trine, it seems, has mined the whole place and is collapsing it in on them. A second charge goes off, closer and that bit of tunnel collapses too.

"Crap. RUN!"


Jemma squeaks as the ceiling explodes and starts running, she doesn't need to be told twice. It's fairly interesting that she runs very well - like she's had a lot of practice and it's ingrained. "Come on, Thomas…" May and Hamilton are ahead of her. All she has to do is not think about what's happening and the muscle memory will help her.

A piece of ceiling lands behind with a crash, breaking that wonderful sychronicity she has and she stumbles causing her to crash into the wall and slowing her progress.


Yeah. Running is something May knows very well. When Jemma's actual competent pace finally fails her, May is there grabbing her by an arm and pulling her along. It might be less efficient, but damnit, they ARE getting out of here. See, just ahead, there's the airlock.


As they reach the last bend of the tunnels Thomas turns and puts his hands on the wall. A section of them shifts into something that isn't concrete. It's smoother. Denser. Tougher. A small section, enough for a six maybe seven foot door transforms. "Get that hatch open. I'm going to try to keep this last bit from collapsing in on us."

They have, maybe, ten seconds. Let's hope May's people are on it.


Jemma trips again as May grabs her again finally shaking her arm free as she regains her balance. Feeling Thomas turn, Jemma does too and her eyes widen slightly as the wall transforms - she really has to remember that he can do that type of thing and find out the extent of it.

Waiting for May to get the door open, she holds her breath without realising it. Anticipation fed by fear, it's not a nice thing. Finally she turns to help get that door open, she might be stronger than she looks.


The moment they reach the airlock, May bangs on it once and pushes on it. Thank goodness ROdriguez had the presence of mind to NOT seal the door again. "Everyone out. Go!" She gestures for Hamilton and the other Tac agents to go ahead, ROdriguez leading them to the maintenance hatch exit. "Simmons, go!" She's gonna yank Nashoba after Jemma. Ten seconds should be enough. Maybe. Hopefully.


May finds rather than yanking something blue-white and fast blurs past her and grabs her along for the ride. Good thing too as there's now dust rising from the hatch… and no way down. The tunnel has entirely collapsed.

Thomas quickly yanks his hand off May's waist. One does not keep a hand there when one does not need it. "So… I hate your skynet knockoff."


Jemma hesitates for just a moment before darting through the opening. Too well trained to really disobey the order May has given. Once she's through, she turns to watch Thomas dart through. "So do I." she responds to the Marshal.

Peering into the hatch at the collapsed tunnel, she hugs herself tightly. "Maybe I should consider its proposal. Get another job. At least then, you all wouldn't be in danger."

"At least there were no 'hulkbusters' today." She might be tempting fate by saying that but she means it. And she has no idea how to combat Trine at the moment.


Melinda May frowns ever so faintly. "How much open space was there left on the other side of that airlock?" She starts digging things out of the pockets of the armored gear she's wearing and assembling the pieces. Another little gift from Partisan: a shaped explosive charge. It might be enough to blast through the tunnel and make an opening to the outside near or under the radar dish. But if they're too close it's guaranteed to kill them all.


Thomas backs up a bit and looks over at May. "There wasn't that much room. A small charge should do it." If the place starts to collapse he's got one gambit left.

"Honestly Jemma we've got no gaurentee that this thing will keep it's word. It's tried to kill you four times already before it decided to try and talk you down."


Jemma stands back as May takes that charge out, unconsciously sheltering near Thomas. "Maybe. It did say that every attempt at my removal increases the statistical improbability though." She glances up at the Marshal and shrugs "I think it's just going to escalate its attempts till it succeeds, though."

Hopefully she's given May enough room to explode that charge and get them out of there.


The blast does cause another mini-collapse, but it also makes a make-shift tunnel. It probably won't last long but it doesn't need to. The entire party scrambles to freedom just as the rubble fills itself in behind them. Thomas stands there panting and huffing. He may be fit but he doesn't like these kinds of 'games'.

"Right. Let's get out of the worst place, shall we?"


Jemma scrambles free, staying close to the group only turning to look back when she's sure it's safe. She's dirty and sweaty, hair askew … "Yes, do let's get out here and regroup. Maybe one of those scripts I employed today will give us something more to go on than just this."

Trine, she well knows, is still out there in the wind and it has her in its targets.


Once everyone is clear, May makes sure that there aren't any injuries needing immediate attention. And then… "Simmons, I think we need to talk about this Trine thing." The fact that she's not heard about it before is clearly not a good thing.

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