Welcome to Shield

August 21, 2017:

Dani is looking into Genosha within SHIELD databases when she trips a protocol and Agent Coulson is alerted This is before the X-Men hit Genosha.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

There's a new agent in town. Agent Dani Moonstar.

She's both mutant and magic based. With the young woman being completely upfront about her Asagrdian roots, her mutant self and the winged horse she's paired with. Because, really, there's not a good way to hide a pegasus. Truly.

Either way, the dark-haired woman has been sent out on some easy-peasy missions and baby-sat like all new agents are. And while the woman chaffs at all of that she also knows she has to prove herself. Which is fine by Dani. She's good at proving herself. Call it one of her number one skills.

That, however, doesn't mean she's sitting idly by. No, she's sticking her nose in everything she can and watching the people and agents around her.

Along with steeping herself into the procedures of SHIELD, Dani has likewise stepped back more fully into the lives of those that live at Xavier's Mansion. And with that reappearance at the Mansion, Moonstar has likewise promised to see what intel SHIELD has on Genosha. Perhaps a promise made hastily, but it was made nonetheless. Dani will always be there for friends and family. Always.

That promise causes the woman to poke around in SHIELD's database and while she was able to access generalities about Genosha, everything else was past her clearance level. Which isn't necessarily odd. She is a fresh new agent. That, however, doesn't seem to stop the woman from trying to work around the system; to see if she can locate any other data peripherally. Not that it works. Nope. She just keeps getting ACCESS DENIED and unlike Doug Ramsey, Dani is not a hacker.

Even if her keystrokes set off a subroutine sending a vague alert up the chain of command, notifying some higher ups that there's suspicious activity in Lab Room 1 under username DMOON4598.

Well, perhaps not /suspicious/ activity, but a user definitely trying to access data above their clearance level.

Which is why Agent Phil Coulson walks into Lab Room 1.

He arrives as silent as a ghost, leans against the wall, and watches DMOON run into brick wall after brick wall. He sips on a cup of coffee (or rather, sugar and milk with a splash of coffee in it) and just takes in his newest agent persist in the face of obstacle after obstacle, warning after warning.

At last, he puts his coffee cup aside, and adopts his habitual and tolerant Cheshire Cat smile. It’s a fine way to settle his face into pleasant lines without giving away anything at all. His hazel eyes are where people really have to look for clues about what he’s thinking or feeling; for the moment they reflect amusement…though someone who is skilled at picking up on cues might note an undercurrent of hardness in there all the same.

His voice is mild, and, as ever, he looks a bit like he’s from the accounting division. Navy blue suit, lighter blue dress shirt, a few buttons unbuttoned, no tie. A man who is imminently forgettable in every way, who projects no overt authority whatsoever, who could be lost because he looks just that unimpressive.

He pulls up a chair and allows that smile to tick up a notch. “You know, Agent Moonstar, trying to break into files that are above your clearance level isn’t the best way to get off on the right foot as a new agent. You wanna tell me what you’re after, precisely? Or are you going to try to sell me on the idea that you’re just to find your missing Minesweeper save?”


Red handed even.

Surprise flickers across Moonstar's features now. Not 'oh no you caught me' surprise, but more like ‘someone just sat next to me’ surprise.

When he pulls that chair next to her and sits down it causes the Cheyenne to straighten from the vague slouch she adopted. Her fingers, which were diligently tapping away, pause in their keystrokes as she turns within her chair. That surprise of hers can still be seen within her brown-eyes and something else as well; deference. There's a senior agent here and as such that seniority is something that automatically earns some respect from the dark-haired woman.

That respect, however, doesn't mean she won't give Coulson the once over. It's an automatic assessment; drilled in from her training as an X-Man and doubly so by SHIELD.

That suit of his, his expression, the lack of tie, his rather unassuming air. It's all taken in with two quick looks and when her gaze returns to his face she begins with a greeting. "Sir -"

And then doesn't get much beyond that, not when Agent Coulson speaks. Whether she sees the undercurrent of hardness beneath that amusement is hard to say, but possibly she does.

It's only when he's finished saying what he has to say that Dani responds, "Solitaire. Looking for that lost solitaire game. Minesweeper really isn't my thing." Murmurs the dark-haired woman, an echo of amusement easily heard within her voice. Thankfully, for Dani likely, she moves off of light-hearted quips to a more serious mien as she continues with, "I didn't mean to set off any security protocols." She really wasn’t, "I was just looking for some information. Seems there's a few groups that are having problems with a specific nation - Genosha. I figured I'd see what informations our databases held on it."

Points for humor. A flicker of a somewhat more genuine smile flashes ever-so-briefly over Phillip Coulson’s face. But his hazel eyes still study her every move, word, and action.

“A few groups like the X-Men?”

He folds his hands, leaning back in his seat. He doesn’t give up any information yet; that’s not his way. His way is to gather, first. His question is perhaps even a little bit pointed. He knows about her association.

But he is not a rude man, and he introduces himself. “Agent Phil Coulson.”

This is a name that may of course have no significance to her whatsoever.

It depends on how much time she spent asking around, trying to get a handle on the structure of the place and the people she’d be dealing with. It’s no secret that he’s a Level 8 Agent. It’s only somewhat of a secret that he’s considered Fury’s right hand, though there are still 4 agents who outrank him. But many people don’t take that time, and Coulson does not care either way. She’s acknowledged him as a Sir; he could be a Level 4 agent for all that it matters. He’s not one to make a big deal out of rank or clearance levels either way.

He waits for her answer with infinite patience; he could sit here all day. The Cheshire Cat smile returns, tolerant and unruffled.

Never once has Dani Moonstar mentioned the X-Men within her own background - that's one secret she kept from SHIELD.

As such, one might expect her to show some sort of surprise, or shock, when Agent Coulson brings forth that vaunted name, but Dani shows nothing. Her expression is carefully neutral; so, either she already knew SHIELD had the down-low about the group, or she has a really spectacular poker face.

Before she can respond to his mention of the X-Men he introduces himself. There's a flare of recognition within her brown-eyes at the name and for a second time the Cheyenne gives this unassuming, somewhat bland, man the once over. She's trying to reconcile what she's heard of Agent Coulson, Level 8, to the man so near. Honestly, she was expecting something slightly different. That thought might reflect briefly upon her face, but soon enough it's squirreled back and away. "Nice to meet you, Agent Coulson. I've heard your name bandied around the town."

Circling back to the mention of the X-Men, Dani says, "Yes, them. Really everyone should be worried, not just mutants or powered individuals. To have a nation so ready to subjugate people that are different." Well, does anything more need to be said? Not on that particular subject, not for Dani, but what she continues with is, "I've yet to meet Agent Lewis at Xavier's Institute, but I've heard nothing but good things about her. Capable, good in a tight spot - though perhaps a little chattery for some."

And while there's that same sound of amusement held within her voice the underlying message there is; I know what you did there. Throwing out that name to try to evoke a reaction from me.

The flash of recognition, and the reaction that seems to amount to something akin to ‘I thought you’d be taller’ (or maybe beefier?) actually produces a mischievous look from the older gentleman. His expressions, like hers, are subtle.

He listens to her full response, and he takes on Agent Lewis first. “Only a little chattery? Your intel is understated.”

He leans back in his seat then, comes to some sort of decision, and says, “SHIELD more than agrees Genosha is a problem. Unfortunately, when Scott Summers came to me and said he had a plan the conversation went something like this.”

He clears his throat.

“I intend to take my X-Men, many of whom aren’t even old enough to drink yet, into a nation that has made an art and a science out of subjugating mutants. Our plan is to get captured, and somehow that’s going to lead to us toppling the nation’s leadership. We want SHIELD to come in after us and clean up the mess. No, we’re not going to give you any more Intel than that.”

Phil spreads his hands.

“And when I pressed for more Intel than that, because I’ve got my own people to protect, Summers walked away from the table. So I withdrew our support for his operations there.”

The mention of her ‘substandard intel’ on Agent Lewis earns another one of those half grins from Dani. There's a tilt of her head even, allowing the point to go to Agent Coulson.

That amusement, however, simply fades away when Coulson moves onto the more serious topic of Genosha and the response from Scott Summers, leader of the X-Men.

His recitation of just what Scott 'said' earns a grimace from the black-haired woman. That expression holds quite a few emotions to it; surprise, understanding that Coulson is 'paraphrasing' here and ultimately frustration. Though who she's currently frustrated at is hard to say. Perhaps her next words will shed a little bit of light upon it, "I won't make any long and involved excuses for Scott, or apologize for him." Dani begins, her voice unapologetic in its own right, "The only thing I'll say is this; we're -" Meaning mutants, "- used to doing things on our own. It's a hard habit to shake."

"It doesn't make it right, but it's a hard habit to shake." She repeats, her expression turning less hard.

"I can tell you what he said is true. They're intending to hit the place. I actually don't have much more knowledge beyond that. I haven't had a chance to talk with Scott since I returned to a more active role with them."

Almost the Cheyenne sighs, but instead she swallows that sound. "I know Agent Lewis is your liaison to the team, but I'd like to try and help too."

Coulson listens to Dani intently, watches the nuances of her expressions, and says, “You’re in an interesting position. You’re a SHIELD agent, but you have strong ties to an organization that is currently at odds with SHIELD. We’re hardly enemies, but…”

He gestures to the computer.

“Conflicting loyalties are complex. What are your thoughts on resolving that particular issue? How do you see all of this fitting together?”

Because he needs to know that before he even begins to make decisions about how she’s going to be allowed to help, or what information he will bring out from behind the wall of SHIELD’s security clearances.

There is, however, no accusation in his tone. He sounds gentle, fatherly almost, mostly just curious and even empathetic. He’s someone who understands that loyalty isn’t straightforward, that emotions do what they do.

All the same, he adds one more question.
“Why did you wish to join SHIELD?”

"But there's tension between our groups." Dani agrees, and her expression doesn't show too much surprise when he asks those next series of questions.

She expected to have to answer some form of the questions he's asked; after all she is a mutant. That alone is sometimes conflicting with everything that happens within SHIELD.

While others might answer his questions with a flippant response, Dani doesn't. Instead she takes her time considering what she wants to say. Not what she /should/ say, but what she wants to say.

Eventually she gives the faintest of nods to whatever internal thoughts are running through her head. Clearly a decision has been made and shortly after that head-bob, Dani begins to speak. "Let me say it like this - the Institute is my family. They will always have my loyalty. It doesn't mean I will /always/ agree with everything they say, or do." A pointed look with those words of hers, "SHIELD, while not necessarily family, has my loyalty as well. If something happens that SHIELD needs to investigate the Institute then the only thing I can do is recuse myself."

And she'll leave it at that, especially when he asks that last question of his.

That question earns a quirk of grin from the young woman. "Asking all the tough questions today, aren't you."

Again careful consideration can be seen upon the woman's features. It's another few minutes as she gathers her thoughts, but eventually, like before, the Cheyenne speaks. "The short answer of it - I want to help. Yes, I've helped with my time at the Institute, but I want to help more than just those few who manage to find us. I also want to be able to bring those people who are /truly/ evil to justice. Real justice too. Through the legal system. Our group wasn't necessarily 'sanctioned' and rarely did our battles ever end up sending anyone to jail." A crooked smile at that, self-deprecating humor now, "It'll be nice to slam the bars shut on some of their faces."

Then, the question is bandied back at him, because /two/ can play this question game. "Why did you join?"

She says he’s asking the tough questions, and a more genuine smile flickers briefly across his face, there and gone again. She turns it back around on him, and this produces the briefest of twinkles in his eyes.

“I was a giant dork who worshipped action heroes and got offered a chance to make a real difference in the world,” he says modestly. “SHIELD’s been my life— and my family— ever since.”

Who is he kidding though? He’s still a giant dork.

There’s a lot of the story left untold there, and much left unsaid, but he trusts in her ability to read between some of those lines.

He studies her a moment more, his mien turning wholly serious. Then he leans over the console and hits a few buttons, selectively upgrading her clearance.

“Those are all the reports we have from our agents on the ground about Genosha right now. There are only three agents, so it’s all spotty. I want to be very clear that if you choose to enter Genosha, it cannot be as an official SHIELD Agent. Darcy took a very conveniently timed vacation. Because officially we have pulled our support.”

He points to the computer. “I haven’t had time to go through all of those,” he adds, “or enough Mylanta, to be honest. So in return for me giving them to you, you’re going to come up and give me the highlights when you’re done.”

A pause. And then:

“It might not be a bad idea to visit SHIELD medical prior to taking any vacations. Ask your doctor about subdermal panic implants.” He squeezes his thumb and forefinger together, very deliberately, thrice, to demonstrate how they might work. “They might send signals to your boss. Which might tell him that he needs to take a vacation of his own.”

Because however much Phil will withdraw support for an operation because it’s the right thing to do on one level, neither is he going to leave a bunch of baby mutants to remain enslaved on an awful island if Scott’s plan fails. And while he also has Emma Frost out there letting him know if things have gone irrevocably sideways, something could happen to her to make that impossible. Having a back-up plan that allows someone else to get word to him doesn’t hurt.

There’s also Darcy, but Darcy can be unpredictable and overconfident. He needs people with a bit more of a balanced view, and he thinks he’s found a second one of those in one Dani Moonstar.

The biggest dork?

She wasn't expecting that and it earns a similarly more natural expression upon her face. A grin.

And while his answer is brief, the Cheyenne can read in-between some of those lines. There's an understanding in her gaze even as Agent Coulson turns more serious. Studying her for those silent seconds. While she doesn't necessarily meet his gaze aggressively, she definitely doesn't shy away from any sort of eye contact, and neither does she seem discomfited by his study.

She just waits for whatever decision he comes to. And when he does make his decision and reach for the console to upgrade her clearance (this one time!) Dani can't quite stifle a faint look relief. She didn't /think/ she crossed a line, but if she were honest with herself (which she is) she was worried. Even if she hid it.

When the reports are up upon the screen Dani will automatically transfer her gaze away from Coulson to the screen, starting to skim what can be seen with a quick look. Her attention will only shift when he starts to speak again. What he says earns a nod from Moonstar, as she says, "I understand." And she does too, "When we go in there -" Because it's not an if at this point, it's a when, "- I go in as Dani Moonstar, former student at the Mansion, not SHIELD agent. I'll send a postcard."

And then at that last line, about condensing the reports into something manageable for Coulson, Moonstar grins again. "I can do that, sir. Thank you."

Of course that pause of his earns a faint look from the black-haired woman, perhaps sensing a but in there. As such, Dani waits.

His roundabout advice earns a sharp flare of humor from the woman, a sardonic sort of humor, as she understands what he is and not saying at the same time. She'll also what his pantomimed movements of how to active said sub-dermal implant. "I'll do that. I'd hate to find myself stranded on a deserted Island with no way to phone home. Once I compile the reports for you I'll go visit medical."

And once more, Dani offers her thanks, as she says seriously, "Thank you."

She hadn’t expected so much ‘help’ and it’s appreciated it.

Phil is honestly not sure if she should be thanking him, but he has learned a long time ago that a big part of his job is knowing when people are up against one of those things they can’t avoid doing if they want to sleep at night.

The key, at that point, is not to become an immovable object, forcing river to meet stone, but to simply direct the river in an advantageous way. Which means sometimes relenting, softening up, flowing like water himself. There will be a time to draw the line, to harden up, to brook no compromises, but with any agent, from the newest to the most experienced, you can’t actually do such things successfully without making some deposits in the bank account of trust.

“What can I say? I like postcards.” Phil’s response to her thanks, and the understandings they’ve come to during the course of this relatively brief and low-key conversation.

He stands and begins walking to the door, leaving with as little fanfare as he arrived with. He pauses, as if only just now remembering something.

“Next time,” he suggests, “come upstairs and ask for what you want. It generally goes over a little better.”

With that, he gives two companionable rap-raps on the doorframe as if to emphasize his point, and ducks out.

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