Asp 1318

January 03, 2018:

This log begins on December 30, 2017 and ends on January 03, 2018. Agent Bobby Morse has been deep undercover for months, running an angle on Phil Coulson's molehunt that only the two of them know anything about. Now it's time for all that hard work to pay off.

New York City

Let it snow, let it snow, let it oh holy crap when will this snow stop already?


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Some months ago it became evident to Agent Phil Coulson that several Hydra agents had managed to work their way into SHIELD's organization. He doesn't think the infection of moles is large, precisely, but he has traced it up to the highest ranks of the organization, and he does think they have more than one mole on their hands. It's a sticky situation, because anyone who could pull that off is a highly skilled operative who knows how to cover their tracks. They've ruled out a few people, and Phil has been on a slow campaign of vetting various agents.

Months ago, he also sent Agent Bobbi Morse on a very quiet undercover mission to Paskerton IT, a cutting edge software development company that he managed to identify as a front for Hydra activities right here in New York City. The Paskerton cell is small, consisting of only ten individuals. But if he's right, it's the hub of contact for the double agents at the Triskelion, the place where their handler will be tucked away.

This, of course, opens up an opportunity. While Phil very much doubts that anyone will be able to get the specific names of the double agents, they might pin down a number and some code names at the least, and perhaps some correspondences and locations.

Bobbi, as an infiltration expert of the highest order, is of course the only sensible choice. Of course. This is slow going. He sent her in back in July, and told her in no uncertain terms that she wasn't to rush it. Spend time proving loyalty, work whatever they send you on, standard undercover stuff.

But now, seven months later, an opportunity may be opening up. The trouble with front companies is they have to act like companies from time to time. Seven of Hydra agents stationed here are stuck in a long presentation meeting with a client. The client may be an unsavory business owner in his own right, the type who just loves feasting on the profits generated from human misery, but he's still a client who has no idea who or what he's dealing with. This also represents a sea change in Bobbi's own place in the organization. Up until November or so they'd have found a way to keep her closely watched, just like any 'new' member of a cell. They'd have found a way to make do with, say, three of their people in that meeting instead of seven, no matter how big the client. But this one is huge, the type that pumps a lot of shadow money into political campaigns, and whatever cover Bobbi has dreamed up for herself in this set-up has at this point been accepted without question, leaving her with damn near the run of the entire squat, 1-story, cross-shaped building where these operations are taking place.

Bobbi knew the rolls at this point, knew faces and names. Surface level considerations had been easy, as it always was. The daily flirtations of getting to know one another without giving way why she wanted to know people had been the usual song and dance. That wasn't to say that the setting encouraged socialization or after work outtings, far from it. But Bobbi had managed, in the months she'd been there, to find at least a realatively 'chattier' member of the group that she usually spent her time with.

The usually blonde agent, now brunette, had figured the friendlier of the lot was likely the one meant to keep close contact and to monitor her closely. Which, she figured, was just as well.

But for the moment, she was free of the presence, giving her the much needed chance to walk where she wilt. Bobbi strode down the hall, having grouped a clipboard and several papers to hold as she made her way toward the a room where she knew paperwork was being kept. Hacking computers was not her expertise, though she did come prepared with various preloaded, micro-USBs to do the dirty work for her.

The File Room is like any file room in existence ever. It's a giant, stuffy closet at the back end of the building, well away from where any clients might ever tread. Past the bathrooms, past the breakroom, past the ridiculously named "huddle room" with its tiny table and single conference-capable phone (a room, it must be noted, that gets precisely zero use). It's at the north end of the cross. The south end holds the lobby and the conference rooms where clients are entertained. The east and west wings hold the offices where the work gets done, be it the company work or the Hydra work. And with one of the employees left to monitor the front desk and Chatty Cathy (her real name, or least the name she used to introduce herself, being Chelsea Brightwater) hard at work debugging a piece of software meant to launch serious cyberattacks against military-level encryption, that's not a bad place to be. There is a fire exit on each 'arm' of the cross besides the front, putting Bobbi near an escape route should she find she needs one.

What she's looking at are stack after stack of white file boxes. By now she's had time to suss out the entire system, as she's likely been sent back here to file this or that. 99% of the files back here are front files and have sensible labels for the course of business. The difference marking the other 1% is very subtle, in that they are assigned to a department that doesn't actually exist in this building: Real Estate. Paskerton doesn't scout or open new locations, and Bobbi already knows that files related to the lease of this building, the only legitimate 'real estate' function that ought to need any sort of markers at all, are tucked safely away into "Accounts Payable" boxes.

Furthermore, her instincts here are probably more than correct. An outfit that specializes in hack attacks is going to be paranoid about putting their own data on any kind of server.

Bobbi wasted little time with the files she knew were useless, after all, what was the point of months long undercover ops if not to do exactly that. The 'reading' glasses she popped out of her shirt front were settled firmly on her nose as she set the files she'd been holding aside. Carefully, she made her way to the folders and files she knew to be the ones she wanted, and with meticulous care, started going through the folders.

The glasses, of course, were anything but simple reading glasses. Though she'd made a point of wearing the regular versions enough that it wouldn't be cause for concern if she were caught wearing these. Rather, they were the 'standard' SHIELD camera glasses this time.

Why steal files when you can snap a picture and not alert Hydra what you did or did not know?

The process was slow, but Bobbi figured it was worth it. Snatch and grabs were faster, but messy.

At first a lot of what she's snapping pictures of makes very little sense, at least not as it relates to her current mission. But she comes across a file labeled "Berrypatch." They all have names like that, of course. "Graveyard." "Obelisk Farm." Real-estatesque names that are also coded. Most of the correspondences and bits of information within are coded; it will take SHIELD codebreakers time to mess with them.

But Berrypatch is where the heart of her mission lies. Activation codes, status codes, long lists of numbers and a few encoded statements about individuals bearing the following names:


The file is slim, and won't take an inordinate amount of time to photograph, but finding it, even with her ability to narrow the playing field down to the Real Estate boxes, takes a good twenty minutes.

By the time she gets there and gets those pictures snapped she'll know she's been here too long. If Chelsea or the secretary haven't noticed yet? It's going to be pure, dumb luck.

Bobbi knew she was running a risk in the file room, taking so many pictures. But she had a few backup plans just for such a problem. Coffee spills, wet floors, gash on her arm.. But she figured the tried and true method of pulling the fire alarm and topped off with the usual broken coffee mug would work just as well. Mix everyone up, upset the cilents, and give her a clean way out without allowing people to get too comfortable.

Besides, its hard to launch an attack on someone you suspect is stealing intel from you, if you've got clients that you want to impress.

Satisfied that the glasses had taken what pictures she needed, Bobby popped out the tiny little memory chip, pocketed it safely, and stowed away her glasses.

Then she was moving to pick up her forgotten files. A quick glance outside the hall followed as she slipped out the door to start said plan.
Sure enough, Chelsea is walking quickly towards the file room, a frown on her face. "Where the Hell have you been?" she demands. "I've been looking all over for you."

Chelsea's hand hovers near her blazer pocket. She's packing, that's where she keeps her gun, and clients or no clients she might just whip it out if she doesn't like Bobbi's answer. For one thing, like SHIELD, Hydra has some pretty fantastic tech, including guns which are nearly silent.

Bobbi will have one chance to spin a lie Chelsea likes. If the burly redhead doesn't like what she hears then the Mockingbird may indeed have to resort to chaos to make her escape, burning this cover for good. Not necessarily a hardship in that she's got what she came for, but it definitely closes off an avenue for using this hub for information ever again.

It could also start triggering a clean-up operation, one that will spread to the very agents Bobbi's mission was meant to help identify.

Bobbi grinned as she spied Cathy, brows shooting upwards as she hefted the files in her arms. "Do you have any idea how badly disorganized someone put back the files from '09? It's like a pissed off kid just dumped them back there. Seriously, I just finished reorganizing them. All for one silly reference that has one example about our tax-deductions from that year." She exhaled a great gust of a breath and held the thick folder up and out toward Chelsea, stamped and sighed and stickered over with the exact date she'd mentioned.

Then her smile trembled and with a great, pitiful sound of great put upon, Bobbi bit her lower lip.

"It's just one more thing to throw off my day. First the coffee spills all over my car, and I have to change my shirt, and then Tyler, just made the worst comment about my sweater—" She heaved another breath, and flapped a hand at her face.

"God, I am so sorry to unload on you like this, Chelsea. I'm usually better than that."

Chelsea's reddened face doesn't exactly soften. It simply shifts; from angry alarm to patient neutrality, and finally to a quick burst of a grin. Brightwater was probably never a conventionally beautiful woman even when she was young. She's not without good features— high cheekbones, expressive eyes— but coupled with a slight overbite, severely frizzy curls, and a nose that wouldn't look out of place drawn on the face of a cartoon reindeer she probably learned early looks weren't going to be her currency. But her smile is something else again. When that comes over her face one might be forgiven for forgetting that somewhere along the way she made a decision to actively and willingly serve an organization as divorced from human decency as Hydra. She looks motherly, ready to bake an apple pie.

Also easy to forget, in the curves of her generous hips and beefy arms, that she is almost certainly an operative, adept with more than that gun. She looks like anyone could kick her ass, and certainly she won't be doing any high kicks. But Bobbi's expert eyes can pick out the signs of a trained fighter shifting out of something that was edging towards a stance. Some of what Chelsea Brightwater carries is fat, but it's fat layered over muscles, and that extra weight could have been an advantage if this had gone to hand to hand. To say nothing of the fact that her gun sure doesn't care that she wears a size 3XL shirt. No operative has ever been accused of being a shitty shot, especially not at point blank range.

The smile alone isn't necessarily confirmation that Bobbi's ruse is working, of course. That 10,000 watt maternal expression could have absolutely been the prelude to sudden violence.

But not this time. Her hand eases away from her blazer pocket. The set of her shoulders eases, she assumes a more natural position. "I'm sorry honey, sounds like a rough day," she soothes. "I'm sorry I got in your face. This program's kicking my butt. Look, I love your initiative. I've got a courier detail I need you to take care of, and then you can go home for the day. In this traffic you probably wouldn't be able to get back here before we close up for the evening anyway."

Because just because they all murmur 'Hail Hydra' to one another over the water cooler does not mean that they can't act civilly towards each other every now and then. Indeed, in an office full of trigger-happy psychopaths looking to advance in said organization, courtesy, even consideration, can be survival skills in their own right.

Bobbi didn't break off the act of a frazzled looking young woman for a second, not even for the breath, the heart beat when the smile pulled at Chelsea's face and the woman eased back the gun ready stance. Instead she blinked those blue eyes of her's as if fighting back tears, one hand curved around the file folders tightly while the other waved seemingly uselessly at her face.

She didn't have to fight the look of relief off her face, however as the older woman relaxed and eased her hand away from her blazer. Her arms fell back, away from the stance she'd been working into, a defensive one to fling files and folder at Chelsea's face and to make a go for her gun.

Rather a smile warmed on Bobbi's features and she exhaled another greatful sigh. "It's alright, just one of those days, you know?" She tucked the files under her arm. "I'll get right on that detail."

"Great. There's a drop location on 31st street. Back of the 556th building, the brick with the Mr. Yuck face grafitti. Just get it there no later than six, and I'll see you tomorrow." Bobbi has never been put on this kind of courier duty before; trust is slowly being extended. But it could also be one of many, many tests. Bobbi's been subjected to them before, choice opportunities to commit an indiscretion. It's a judgment call: whether or not this is the real deal or an opportunity to get very badly burned.

Chelsea reaches into her blazer, but this time it's for the inner pocket. There's a knife there, but there's also an envelope. The latter is what she produced. Slim, white, unmarked, it offers no exterior clues. It's been thoroughly sealed, and whatever is inside can't amount to more than a single folded piece of paper. Once Bobby takes it she's already turning away.

Bobbi was quick to pull a pen out of her hair and clicked it once, scribbling away the address onto one of the notepads she had tucked in along with the folders. While her memory was more than enough to get her through, it was better to hold onto the charade of an over stressed, over worked young woman having an off day. And people having off days tended to scramble more. A nod, the pen clicked and Bobbi tucked it back and into a loop of brunette waves that were held back in a bun.

"Gotcha, 31st stret, back of 556th. Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow." She smiled, and took the envelope before tucking it too away with the folders and notepad at her side.

Test or burn, Bobbi still felt confident that she could handle it. Though she hoped it wasn't a case of carrying the letter that said to shoot the messenger.

Certainly getting to the drop isn't hard. There is a real Mr. Yuck tagged brick; it's loose, the drop is empty. If she chooses, she can just slide the envelope in and go home. If it's a test, that's the only action that will allow her to pass.

If she chooses, she could also try to steam the envelope open somewhere along the way, or prior to dropping it off, to see whatever bit of intel might be inside. If this is a test, that's going to get her burned, but it might get her the intel.

If she's feeling really ballsy she could sit around to see who shows up to claim it. That would yield even more info, but if she is being watched? Well, that will be game over then and there. She will be attacked, she will be pursued, and they won't dick around sending just one person. If it's a test, she'll be facing three to four at least, all equal to her in skill, all ready to quickly end her, ready to take advantage of the nearly 8-foot snow-and-garbage drifts currently collecting in various back alley locations around New York City, any one of which could ensure the information she just risked her life to get will be lost and that her own frozen corpse probably wouldn't be found before the spring at the latest. And she won't have too long to decide, if she takes too long about any detour or decision and is being watched that, too, would raise questions.

Nervous Hydra agents don't tend to wait to collect evidence; if they think they have a mole they just shoot first and apologize to the body later. After all, if they made a mistake the hapless agent merely died for the Cause, something every member of Hydra surely signs on for.

Bobbi knew the route, knew the way, and knew without a doubt that she was likely being watched the entire time. The agent had played similar tricks before in her time, and so while it was tempting, there was no messing around with the envelope. No attempts to steam it open or to fiddle with it were made. After all, she had her mission to collect the intel from those files. That was her job. That was her goal. Failure to be around long enough or to tip anyone off? That was dangerous and that put the mission at risk.

So Bobbi Morse did what was expected of her, and in fact, played up the part of a frustrated young woman having a bad day. It was cold, and it was wet and snowy out. What's better than not getting the intel? Making sure that whoever wanted it, had a miserable time trying to read it too.

Out of the car Bobbi came, coffe in one hand, pile of papers in the other. A carefully timed trip, fall and a sprawl on the ground and Bobbi was hurriedly picking herself up off the pavement. Her top stained with street salt, snow melt and sand. So were the papers. All of it. She brushed off what she could, cursing and pleading to what ever God ruled luck and fate for show. Then slipped the now dampened and roughed up envelop inside.

Clumsy was part of life, wrecked and frazzled as her outfit now looked, she hurried to her car, and drove away.

She is unmolested. The roads are icy; the snow is coming down hard yet again. The plows will have to be out tonight.

She finally has the information, she has shaken off whatever dangers might have been attached to that envelope. Now she has to safely pass the information along, otherwise it's all for naught. The drop they set up months ago is in the hollowed out handle of a monkey bar set in Central Park, Phil checks it on his daily jog. If he has return correspondence it will show up in the maintenance panel of the street nearby, a spot she'll have to find a way to safely and quietly check once the drop is initiated. A harrowing business, that, but the light is well-hidden from casual eyes, tucked away as it is on the least-used walking trails in Central Park. Nothing is ever truly deserted for long in New York City, but there are places that are deserted just long enough.

The weather, though, complicates everything if Bobby's klutzy frazzled persona is to hold. They'd expected another mild winter, one where one could still find an excuse to wander around outside. This one is absolutely brutal. It takes care of the 'deserted' bits, but nobody's even bothering to shovel the park paths right now. The snow just keeps barreling down, way ahead of the city's ability to keep up. They're focused, at this point, on keeping streets clear.

If she goes to the drop, and if she's still being watched? It will immediately raise the question of why a woman who can barely keep her clothes free of coffee and her footing free from fluke might choose to wade to a children's park in snow that is legitimately knee-deep.

Months of planning meant months of getting used to a cover ID and months of making friends with locals under her cover ID. Bobbi made her way to changing out of her dirty clothes, to the apartment complex she lived in. Nothing too fancy, none too questionable. But loaded up with families and retirees. One such family was dealing with four rather spastic kids and currently one parent, the other not home for work.

Her neighbor was dealing with the two younger ones while the older kids wanted to go out into the snow and play. Which, given the apartment, wasn't the nicest of places.

So Bobbi played the sympathetic neighbor card as she had on and off for the past few months, and offered to take the kids to the park. Drop point in a park? Cue kids. Once more bundled up and with the excuse from a happy mom to take the kids for a walk about in the park and back, Bobbi made her way to the drop point, now fully bundled up in an overstuffed coat. All the better to hide whatever weapons she could possibly need.

There was some hemming and hawing over how cold it is, but Frazzle Parent can only take so much. With much bundling and re-bundling the Squad is released into Bobbi's capable care to have themselves a fine time in this snow, at least until dark, which hasn't quite fallen yet. As they pack brutal ice-filled snow balls to lob at each other with thankfully terrible aim, she gets a straight shot at the monkey bars. There are few places to hide around this park, anyone who wants to watch closely enough to see what she's doing, if she's careful, would need to get out of the treeline well before they were anywhere near her.

It's a smooth move, a fantastic one. The hackles at the back of Bobby's neck that say people are paying attention to her soon ease away.

Mission success.

It will be four days before she is able to find Phil's reply, either because he was delayed in getting to his half of the drop or because of some other concern or consideration.

It's an even darker, nastier day. The rolled up piece of paper inside the light has one word on it.

'Asp. 1318'

It's the code that tells her to prepare for identity death, that will send her to another rendesvous point so they can 'kill' her assumed identity, probably in a nasty skid off the bridge using a body from SHIELD's morgue, all surgically settled to look just like her, with teams on hand to make sure nobody gets their chance to check DNA or fingerprints. A code which will call Bobbi herself in, quite literally in the face of this weather, from the cold just after the turning of the New Year.

It seems SHIELD will have other tasks for her in the days to come.

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