After Hours

May 17, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert is visited by Melinda May, and the two discuss an upcoming raid on a private corporation's facilities arranged by Phil Coulson. Takes place before "5803: Exhaustion."

New York City - The Triskelion

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed hear, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Although night has already fallen over New York, the Triskelion is as restive as the city that surrounds it. In the hangar where SHIELD's quinjets and others are kept, bright flood lamps casting harsh shadows behind the silent aircraft.

Most of the day flight crews have already clocked out and left for the day, but there are still a few people left here. One of the quinjets has its cockpit glass raised, passenger door open and thick cables running from the consoles and panels in its cockpit.

A single figure is seated in a SHIELD flight suit seated there, face illuminated in blue as displays scroll past. Her appearance is a little unsettling for its unexpectedness; right half of her face a ruin of burn scarring, eyepatch covering her right eye. Her left is narrowed in concentration, eerily blue for the colour reflecting the light, locked on the things scrolling past.

Every so often she twists, apparently jotting something on a clipboard.

There's overtime, and then there's dedication. Isa Reichert is a relentless perfectionst, and she is not satisfied until she's inspected every last square inch of the aircraft she uses – in exacting detail.

Burning the midnight oil is by no means a foreign concept to May, but even she takes some downtime from the quinjets occasionally. She watches Isa from nearby for a moment, then approaches in that near-silent way that is her habit.

"This is why I eventually had specific jets assigned to me only." Like the Bus. "So that I wouldn't have to spend every waking moment making sure some other pilot hadn't mucked something up."

She's already had a chat with Coulson, but hasn't had a chance to catch up with Reichert for several weeks now. And that's not something she usually allows to happen.

Lights flickering on the display cast blue light and black shadows over the cockpit. Isa's head tilts from one side to the other, flicking through data with her mouth compressed into a thin line. Apparently she's satisfied with what she's seeing, though; she doesn't move to alter anything, aside from taking down the occasional note.

At the sound of May's voice, Reichert startles so badly she almost drops her clipboard. Odd that she's using a clipboard when she could be using any number of electronic devices. Maybe she prefers analog devices because they're a little harder to track than electronics. Maybe she never used equipment like that in her country of origin; that kind of thing wouldn't be affordable among the rank and file.

"Agent May, da?" Isa glances warily over her shoulder, to the left, even though she's looking more at the wall than the aisle that way. She doesn't have much choice. Her right side is completely blind. "Sound tempting, but I figure, as informant, would not have much choice in matter. Would not blame your superior if they do not trust a traitor."

In other words, she never knew she had the option to claim just one aircraft. Coulson never told her that detail, and she assumed that she couldn't use dedicated resources.

There comes a mutter in Russian as Isa jots another note down, before glancing over her shoulder to May again. Is the woman still there? It's hard to tell with how silent she is, but yes, it looks like May's here to stay. Is there a reason someone as highly-ranked as May is standing there watching her, though? No, there might not be, but it'll still make Isa nervous.

"Have seat, if you want, I guess." She waves a hand at the co-pilot's seat. Her English is oddly laconic; almost broken, in a seemingly permanently odd configuration. There's no questioning that she understands everything May says perfectly, though. "Have nothing better to do while waiting on diagnostic. Am sure this will not find anything, but will run it anyway. Something I can do for you…?"

Watching the woman try to locate her, she decides to have mercy on the Russian by audibly scuffing her shoes on the floor and stepping to the side where she's no longer in the woman's blind spot.

"Yes," she answers Isa's first question. "I spoke with Coulson recently. He said you were looking for volunteers to go on a mission."

At the invitation, May moves to climb into the quinjet and settles into the copilot's seat. With a glance, she can see the settings and configurations that Isa has been tweaking for herself, but she doesn't so much as reach for a control panel herself.

"Not really. I was passing through and saw the diagnostic glow." She does make a mental note to sign off on having the flight deck reserve this bird solely for Reichert's use.

Something shifts in the redhead's expression, like a cloud passing over the sun, when May mentions volunteers for a mission. That's right. Coulson is preparing a strike against a corporate base of operations, one that has some manner of ties to her husband.

Licking her lips, the Russian pilot busies herself with jotting another series of notes. They're in Cyrillic; her handwriting beautifully precise, looking as though it came out of a laserjet printer instead of a pen. Most of them are technical notes to do with the propulsion systems. Her engineering is spot-on.

That single eye flicks sidelong to study May again, appraising. "Are also pilot, too. Hear you are good. Very good. Am hoping what Agent Coulson say about you is true, then. Volunteering, then? Am not sure if Coulson has told you situation…"

May shrugs noncommitally at the comment about her piloting, apparently not one for boasting, even if it's potentially justified. "He told me enough. You need people on this mission who are skilled in several disciplines, and I was told that you don't really get along with Romanoff." She hesitates to mention Barnes, mostly because she's annoyed at him right now for gallivanting off to Germany to stir up who knows what kind of trouble.

Glancing at the clipboard and Cyrillic written there, she can only really appreciate the consistency of the script, as she sure as hell can't read it. Mandarin, sure. Kanji, easy peasy. Cyrillic, screw that. That's Romanoff's job.

"I've also recommended an outside asset to accompany us. Somewhat of a … wetwork specialist. Blades."

The red-headed pilot's expression sours notably at mention of the Black Widow, although she doesn't quite scowl. Isa shakes her head. "Romanova? No. Will not fly for her, not unless is direct order. Am not bending on that."

Recently she had the pleasure of being trapped on a quinjet with the woman for a twenty-five hour flight. It had not been a pleasant experience in the least. She had been ready to chew her own leg off by the end of the proceedings. Coulson had no doubt felt much the same – if only because he'd been caught between the crossfire of the two disagreeable redheads.

Her eye flicks back to the readouts for a moment, but it's clear that she's still listening by the way she periodically glances back to May.

Isa's answer to a wetworks specialist is to blink, very slowly, in an expression almost exasperated. "Am not sure how much ground operation will be. Have not been briefed yet by Agent Coulson." Her head tilts, eyeing May almost warily. "Am listening."

Hm. How much to reveal to Isa. She'd better keep it simple for now. "I learned about him through WAND." The division that May's in charge of, that specializes in sorcery, witchcraft, Fae, and other weird-ass nastiness.

"He's … not human. And he's a covert operations specialist." There's really no easy way to describe 'he travels via shadows' to someone who hasn't seen it first hand. Darkedge is really only in the running because Coulson trusts May's judgement on such matters.

Although Isa turns her attention back to the aircraft, her head shakes slowly as she listens to the other's explanation. She herself hasn't had much to do with the Weird-Ass Nasty Division, except for that one time that one cat got onto the tarmac. It wasn't really a cat. She's fairly certain of that by now.

It's also someone else's problem. Isa would rather limit her problems to things like hostiles on radar and the occasional mechanical problem. Problems that has a perfectly logical explanation. Those are the sorts of things she prefers dealing with.

…Which means she's tilting her head a little at May when the latter reveals her agent isn't human. "Hunh. Not familiar. Will trust your judgement if Agent Coulson trust it." Her head shakes, and she goes back to her display. "Am not sure how much of situation you know. Might need information. Have question, just ask me. Will try to answer what I know."

Fair enough. And May does want Coulson to speak with Darkedge before they greenlight him for this mission. Just in case doing so gives the other senior agent reservations.

"Well, I figured Coulson would go over the necessary intel in the pre-mission briefing. I'm used to working with only the need to know. Beyond that, it's often none of my business."

She can't help it, by this point, she turns to toggle a few switches on the console in front of her, doing so seemingly without reading which is which. Also a bit notably, the console seems to be placed at the exact distance for her arm's reach, meaning she doesn't have to stretch to reach anything or hit the panel sooner than expected.

"I do have one question: How personal is this for you?"

That single blue eye immediately drops to track May's hand as the other woman reaches over to flip a few toggles. Isa almost starts to bristle, but catches herself, brow furrowing a little. Maybe it's true that she hasn't expected to be assigned to a single machine. She tends to be possessive of the machines she's assigned to, though, and treats them with the appropriate care and responsibility reserved for Someone Else's Stuff.

Her attention turns quickly back to the readout, skimming over reams of data with the practised ease of someone who knows what they're doing.

How personal is this for you?

The question doesn't seem to take her by surprise. Maybe Isa expects someone to question the personal connections involved.

In answer, she reaches one hand down to the other, twisting something. When it comes up, she slaps something down on the console between the two seats. A glint of gold reveals a piece of jewelry instantly recognisable as a wedding band.

The piece of jewelry gleams almost accusingly atop the console.

"Khleb za khleb; khrov za khrov." Isa murmurs in Russian, leaning back in her seat, head cocked faintly to watch the readouts. "Bread for bread, blood for blood. Is very personal. But do not worry. Plan on being professional."

She glances to the side to regard May, though she doesn't quite move her head. "Am SHIELD agent, now." Her eye drifts back to the readout.

"Five year ago, this happen." She points to indicate the scarring; the eyepatch, and then gesturing toward the wedding band which, if May's done examining it, she takes back and slips back onto her finger. "When it did, he was killed. Thought he was killed. Grieved for him for five year, only to find out, is still alive." She frowns. "Is running from several groups. Have no idea what he did. But one of these groups, this Icarus, he manage to piss them off so bad, he can't rest. I think maybe he piss them off so bad, they take shot at me."

She rests her jaw in a cupped hand as she watches the data crawl past. "Am not sure what Mikhail Nikolayevich get himself into, but one thing I know. He is scared. Is more scared than I have ever seen him. Manage to get himself in something big." That eye narrows. "Plan on finding out what, Agent May. Have to know what he almost get himself killed over. Why he hide for five years, without so much as attempt to talk to me… and stop whatever this corporation is doing."

"Situation is mess." Isa sighs, raising her arms in a 'what-can-you-do?' sort of gesture, just shy of a shrug. "That much is certain."

After looking at whatever results those toggles produced, May sets them all back the way they were before. And no, that brief moment of possessiveness on Isa's face did not go unnoticed. Definitely putting in the paperwork to have this bird assigned to her exclusively.

When the gold wedding band is ste on the console, May looks at it but doesn't touch it. It seems like she knows better. Or something. She lets Isa finish her explanation without interruption, only nodding slightly at one point or another.

"I didn't think your objectivity would be compromised, and you're right, that does sound like a mess. But if anyone can help you sort this out and get the answers you've waited five years to hear, it will be Coulson." And, of course, stopping whatever this Icarus company has planned is a definite bonus.

Apparently satisfied with the explanation, May moves to disembark again.

A flick of the hand reclaims the wedding band, which Isa polishes idly on the front of her flight suit, before twisting back onto her finger. It takes her a moment to get it fitted correctly; the fault, perhaps, of the ridged scarring on her right hand.

It's the same sort of scarring that covers the right side of her face – suggestive of defensive wounds, to trained eyes. She must have reached up to try and ward the worst of the fire off, and paid for it with the skin of her right hand.

"Wouldn't be surprised if you did," Isa states mildly, flicking a hand in dismissal. She turns her eye back to the console, settling more comfortably into the pilot's chair. Her eye hoods, regarding the console without really looking at it. "Anyone else, they would. Wouldn't blame them in least."

She twists at the ring on her finger, the frown on her face etching itself in a little more deeply.

"Yes. Da. If anyone can do, is Agent Coulson. Have no doubt about that." Her gaze falls, marginally, to settle on the console again. The sound of rustling cloth catches her attention, and she glances over her shoulder. Leaving already? "Dobroy nochi—" Good night, "—Agent May. And thank you."

She even lifts her hand in tired suggestion of a salute before her eye turns back to the readouts.

May pauses before disembarking completely. "Good night, Reichert. And you should get some rest as well. This will all still be here tomorrow." She's going to see to it that that's the case.

After leaving the jet, May puts one hand to her ear to talk with Flight Control central, instructing them to mark the quinjet with the serial number she looked up on the console as solely Reichert's – not to be assigned to anyone else. They shouldn't argue with her about it.

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