Phil, Eat a Snickers

March 09, 2018:

A SHIELD team evaluates the evidence surrounding the threats against Peggy Carter-the-Elder's life.

The Triskelion

Characters

NPCs: Jemma Simmons, NPC'd by agent_carter

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

There is a really good lab at SHIELD. One with top computer equipment, top biological equipment, and top engineering equipment known rather in a tongue-in-cheek way as Lab 51.

Usually it is the domain of the irrepressible FitzSimmons, but today Phil Coulson has called Rin down there as well.

"Priority critical", he'd called it, and his grim tone said he's not joking around here.

He sets several items down.

"I've called you here today because we've got a suspicious personage issuing death threats against a former SHIELD Agent. We've also got him issuing threats against this organization in general. He may have ties to SHIELD, MI6, or both. He might once have been a friend of this Agent, or her family. We need to move fast. I have some evidence here we've got to wring every last scrap out of."

"There's every possibility," Sharon continues, "that we're dealing with some kind of enhanced individual. That, or simply a very skilled impersonator and infiltrator. Ridiculous ideas need to be considered along with sensible ones. We don't have much, but you have access to it all. Sign-in logs. Cameras. Extremely creepy roses."

Rin is good at her job, but normally she's running her mouth while she does it. However when Phil uses the Dad voice, she knows better than to push his buttons. Lab 51 is great, she sneaks down here when she needs more power than her own equipment can provide. "I wasn't sure how dire of a problem this is, so I brought a case." She says, setting down the latest fad energy drink. "Well it seems he's an idiot if he starts spewing out death threats. Let me start with the cameras and see what I can do."
Phil pushes over the thumb drive with the footage and says, "Someone erased about an hour of it. I'm hoping you'll be able to reconstruct it for me. The roses I need to get Dr. Simmons down here to look at."

But he nods his thanks to her, it's hardly Rin, or her case of energy drinks, that he's upset with. He paces a few steps here and there, hands in pockets; he's already summoned the doctor in question, and her counterpart, but there are certainly experiments which can't just be dropped even for antsy Agents.

"I'm not willing to assume he's an idiot just yet," Sharon replies, her face thoroughly grim. "Evidently the flowers are a 'gentleman's warning' of assassination. I suspect the threats and the very visible evidence are to distract us or taunt us into overplaying our hands." She glances back over at Phil, letting out a slow hiss of a sigh. She's racing around to do something. Everyone is. And it's a shame she doesn't have a lot of faith that there's any point.

"I'll see what I can do without diving into a clean room. Is this just a copy from the server? If it is, knowing it's original location will help." Rin settles herself in at one of the terminals and pulls out her screen implant and fixes it to it's base. Once she has everything sync'd she starts sifting through the data. "What is the exact timestamp I'm looking for?" At this ponit her eyes are fixed on the screens but she does continue to respond. "Who is making these threats? It might help me find what I'm looking for."

"We don't know who. He's going under the alias of George Carter," Phil replies grimly. He names off the time stamp. Is this just a copy from the server?

"It's a copy, yes," he says, not sure about the from the server bit. He isn't a luddite, he can certainly use the technology they outfit him with, but sometimes when one starts wandering deep into the weeds the man just sort of blanks out. Where else to people pull copies from if not the server? Does it matter?

"Whoever he is, he was good enough to loop the footage for an hour."

"Or he's working with very clever people," Sharon puts in. "We have no reason to think more than one unauthorized person is visiting her. By the way," she adds, looking to Coulson. "I ran down that lead you suggested. No dice. The only extra person who was authorized to visit was Michael. I'm not thinking he's behind this."

"I can explain all of that later." Rin figures that this isn't the time to go into how some cameras are linked to servers to store their data. Starts sifting through the video, and has it up on several screens at this point. She fast forwards and rewinds multiple times, trying to find what might be hidden there. "I'm assuming he got someone to layer this in, I don't think he looped the camera, at least not in the way you're thinking. It was also done onsite, which knowing how shitty hosptial computers are it's likely that they did it on the fly."
She frowns as she finds the data that was laid over and attempts to remove it, seeing what was there. "I thought we were supposed to think of every possibility? Why are you ruling out this Michael?"

Phil Coulson hesitates for a moment. Why are they ruling out her brother?

He doesn't answer right away. His face takes on that unreadable look that he takes on sometimes. He nods as she explains layering, not really getting it, but getting that she gets it and so answers are going to happen. Meanwhile, he runs down his thoughts about Michael Carter.

A former member of MI6. Recently burned. MI6 controlled or controls the chip that controlled or controls his empathy. He remembers all too well talking him down out of psycopath mode, on a punishing hot hillside. Peggy is his sister, but he remained dead to her for decades. His brain is not his own, not entirely. If MI6 is also compromised anyone could get at the man's brain. If MI6 is compromised, having him disavowed so he'd have few other places to run except the other organization which seems to be a target is a maneuver that's frankly child's play, and not one that they'd see immediately.

"A good point, Rin," he says at last. He holds up his hand to Sharon, knowing she might object. "I wouldn't call him our prime suspect, but I agree…this is not a good time to get tunnel vision. Let's just keep following the evidence and see where it takes us. I would say I would not think Michael would have anything to do with this if given a choice."

And, playing cards to his chest as he ever does, he leaves it at that, asking only, "Sharon, can you check on Dr. Simmons' ETA?"

Sharon's eyes flick back over to Phil. It's a reasonable question, especially given that she ruled him out without even thinking about it.

"We're not," she says. "He's not our likeliest candidate, though, and we have no real evidence. I'll see about a security detail for him." Though setting up a sufficiently subtle security detail for Michael Carter is going to be… amusingly tricky.

"Whoever it is, we want to see if this will turn anything up. Let me see if I can get Simmons on the phone." And she turns away, pulling out her phone and trying not to focus on the inevitable ways she's going to have to surveil her great-uncle.

Unknowing to all of this, said Simmons' phone rings. They can actually hear it in the hallway before a slight British woman with light brown hair and a lab coat enters. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail and she is holding quite a bit of equipment as well as a tablet. "Sorry! Sorry!" she apologizes in a crisp accent.

As she enters, she doesn't attempt to juggle things, but she quickly moves to try and set everything down on a counter so she can pick up her phone. That's the ring she uses for SHIELD members and she wishes to answer it. Once all her items are scattered, but safely, settled, she picks up the phone. Then, she sees that it is Sharon's name on the screen and she blinks, looking up at her and then back down at her phone. "You'll forgive me for not answering?" she asks with a bit of a sheepish smile.

"I was told you had something biological for me to evaluate?" Reaching a hand out to Sharon and Rin, she smiles. "Jemma Simmons, biochem. Pleasure!"

While Phil is doing his little mind stew thing that he does, Rin continues working trying to pick apart the video and take out what is not supposed to be there. "That's why you hired me." She says dryly to Phil as she continues to type away at the keyboard. While she's curious about these roses, she still trying to pull apart the video, so when the hand is offered to her she looks up. "My hands are full." She says automatically, than remembers her manors. "I'm Agent Nakano."

"Afternoon, Jemma. I need to know everything you can tell me about those black roses."

Phil is as ever an island of calm, even in whirlwinds of momentary chaos. Jemma makes a typical entrance, and he graces her with a quick, avuncular smile that does little to erase the depth of lines that are starting to sink in around the edges of his mouth. The scuttlebutt says his terrible mood is only getting worse, that he's starting to do something that is, for him, quite rare. His temper has begun slipping, here and there, shown mostly in an edge of impatience that creeps into his words, his tone, his word choices, which make him more blunt than ever.

But he at least tries to keep it under control, if he is walking a vibrating tightrope of slowly spiralling stress others around him are doing the same, witness Sharon, who now gets to contemplate her own relative as a murder suspect.

"Agent Nakano. A pleasure. I'm Agent 13, that's Agent Coulson." She's not going to go calling herself Agent Carter right now. There's a glut of agents Carter. She's just going to keep 13. It's less confusing.

She smiles to Simmons when she arrives, adding her own greeting. "I hope those bacterial cultures of yours are coming along nicely. The recent reports were promising." Yes, Agent 13 does in fact know what most of SHIELD is doing at any particular time. Particularly if they're at all attached to Coulson.

Edging over to Coulson then, she reaches out to very briefly squeeze his shoulder. She's the one who's supposed to be fielding all of this stuff, keeping calm and in command and control, shouldering the burden so her CO isn't crushed by it. But this has become so personal that she's compromised, and she knows it, and so is he. But there's no one else to push this onto. Certainly no one they could really trust.

Rin narrows her eyes as people keep up the conversation around her and almost brings out some headphones. When she's introduced to Phil she turns around and mocks and excited face. "OMG you're Phil Coulson! It's an honor to meet you and work with you!" Her spaztic moment ends as her face falls flat and she turns back to her screen. Focusing on the data, it appears that a lot of the original fottage has been overwritten with the fake stuff. However she's finally able to get something. It's not much, but she puts the image up on a big screen. "It's not much, because the fake video is embedded pretty deep in the original footage, but there is our flowers and our guy." Theh man almost appears to be a ghost, but that's only because the fake image is still overlayed over the original one. He is in a nice suit and holding a vase of flowers, however it's only the back thre-quarters of his head.

Immediately, Simmons picks up on the read of the room. She nods in response to Rin and Sharon's own introductions. The bit about bacteria is met with an excited: "They're rather remarkable, really. An entire strain of bacteria that seems to react to a certain stimuli and we're unsure of how or why. I could spend years on them." However, her back straightens and she gets right down to business. Pulling out a set of safety glasses, she pulls on gloves as well as everything else she needs to get right down to business.

"Of course, Agent Coulson." Moving to the flower samples, she plucks one of the roses out carefully, frowning as she rubs a gloved finger over one of the petals. "Interesting. The pigment is not dyed, nor is it inked. This is literally a black rose. That should be…that should be biologically impossible. Roses aren't meant to be this color. Generally a 'black rose' is simply a very dark red one. This is…this almost an entire absence of color and it seems to have been grown this way."

Phil had opened his mouth, truly, to try to prevent this from happening, but it all happened so fast. Gently he says, "Rin Nakano is usually deep in our data, Sharon, so I haven't had a chance to introduce her yet. Rin." And now it's Dad Voice. "Agent 13 here is my new XO. She's been swamped with worked and waylaid, and it is my fault I've failed to introduce you before now. Let's try not to give her a hard time. But good work."

He pat pats the hand squeezing his shoulder, then sighs as he ends up staring at the back of the man's head. Still, there are things he can pick out. Approximate height. Approximate skin tone? Does he wear a ring? What brand is the suit, can he tell? How does he walk? He's smart enough to keep his back to any cameras, but what color is his hair? All of it matters, all of it is something that will make a difference later, and he was worried enough to do this thing to the footage. Scars or identifying marks? Any of those?

And then Jemma is talking, and while on one hand it would sound like some sort of oddity, to him it sounds like leads.

"What sorts of resources would it take to grow a rose like that, Jemma? Special…strains? Greenhouses?" In other words, do those roses point to things that can be tracked, particular regions, soil types, something unique they can use to find this man?

Deeeeeeeep breath in. Deep breath out. Sharon smiles thinly, and even manages to reply with a short sound that could very well be a laugh. Students of the Many Moods of Sharon Carter will potentially recognize this mood as A. one they've never seen before, and B. probably not a promising one.

"What a… pleasure to meet you, Agent Nakano. I look forward to working with you in the future." That. Probably wasn't a threat.

She's leaning over the footage Rin has. At least she should be able to tell if the man is blonde. If not, it doesn't rule out Michael, but.

The man in the footage is not blonde. Through the ghosted footage, he looks to have dark hair, creased with the hospital linoleum. The suit is not exactly identifiable, but it does seem to be specifically tailored to him - the entire thing is a dark blue color. It does not have a store bought look. It's hard to tell from the angle of the footage, but he seems to be tall with either tanned skin or the darker tile of the floor has blended into his face to make it seem darker. The footage itself is not the highest of quality. To keep a month's worth of high-res footage on a server is several terabytes worth of data. These clips are smaller mp4s with an H264 codec. Blowing it up - unlike the movies - creates artifacting and blurriness. It seems as if this man knew exactly where the cameras were and in the off chance someone attempted just what they were doing, he kept his back to them.

The image is only one or two frames, unable to show his walk or gait, but his posture is confident, straight. The way he holds the vase of flowers is effortless and close to his body.

Simmons pulls a petal off of the flower and starts to make tests. She takes scrapings and dissolves parts of them into vials. "To make an entirely black rose? This would be…this is genetical engineering, Agent Coulson, nothing else. You can't achieve this through simple hybridizing different colors of dark roses. Someone tampered with the seeds of this rose, if not the rose itself. It would take…I don't know why someone would spend the money on it. It would be incredibly costly. This is not a greenhouse breakthrough, sir. It is a scientific one."

After being Dad voiced, nods her head and turns back to her screen. She really wants to say something snarky back, and it takes a lot of effort on her part not to do it. "We all get busy, it's easy for introductions to be put off." Though she has to smirk at Sharon. "I'm know I'm a charmer, I promise I'll become less annoying as my work proves useful."

Even with all of her abilities and powers, Rin still cannot preform computer wizardry. She can't make quality improve on an image like they do on TV, but perhaps she can continue to work on it and get more clues. "Obviously if this guy was prepared enough to create black roses from scratch, than evading cameras was the easy part. I might be able to get more, but that's going to take time."

"Great," Phil says, with his customary low-key snark. "Our killer is a biologist with an outstanding tailor. Or knows a biologist. But still has an outstanding tailor."

He sighs, aware this could be taken as ingratitude. "You've done good work, both of you," he says. "It's not your fault this guy's real good. Let's keep on it, whatever we can get. Let me know, Rin. Jemma, can you maybe reverse engineer it? Figure out what he did? Maybe that will tell us something new. Sharon, we at least have some physical details for our agents to pick out if they see anything on-site. It's a start."

It's not a good start. But it's a start. His sense that the clock is going to run out before they get more than a few straws to grasp at? Increasing. "Questions or suggestions, team?"

"That's not nothing." Sharon rubs the bridge of her nose and takes a deep breath. "It's a start." Assuming he's not a mind-wiping shapeshifter.

"I'm going to do some historical research. See if anyone has a vendetta against our potential victim. This smacks of a very serious personal beef."

She doesn't like saying her name. Not just now.

"We keep working. Thanks for organizing this, sir. You know where I'll be." Alternating between the hospital and the archives.

Simmons keeps a close watch on the vials and slides that she has started to prepare. Coulson's question is met with a distracted nod. "Yes, of course. It may take me awhile, sir, but I can certainly reverse engineer this. I have yet to meet a biology problem I could not solve." It seems as if for the next few days she will be focused entirely on this problem.

"You'll have a report when I have information." Rin says casually as she starts to gather her things. She's going to have to pick this apart later, and it appears that she may need to pull a few all nighters, but she'll get it done. Maybe this little something will turn into a findable something. When Phil asks for suggestions, she reaches up and removes the screen from in front of her eye. "Yes. Get something to eat, you're getting grumpy." It's not completely sarcastic, she knows how it gets in these high stress situations. "Agent 13, it was nice to meet you, you as well Simmons." See she occasionally has manners.

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