Chasing Tails

June 26, 2018:

Two spies and one soldier regroup after nearly a month of lying low.



NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Undisclosed Location #66.
It's not a nice place. It's not a safe place. Well, at least it doesn't look like a safe place. It's a rundown location that only a certain type of person would be able to find or spot. It takes a certain class of surveillance to be able to follow the likes of Erik Killmonger into the dark and shadowy corners of this location.

Even the cobwebs have been left here to make it look even less inviting.

At the moment, Erik is standing over a table in the center of the room. His back towards the only door in and out of this place. And all across the table are various guns of all shapes and sizes. There's also a duffle bag and a few passports and other traveling papers.

Erik's not doing anything but standing there and staring at all the stuff. But it definitely looks like he's trying to figure out if he should stay or go.


It has not been the best few weeks of Michael Carter's life. He smelled the tail on him early. It took a few days and a few close calls before he realized the tail was plural. Some of the people coming at him were sloppy, amateurish. Others were like wolves - well-organized and well-coordinated. It's tested his not-inconsiderable skills to keep ahead of them. It's meant moving, staying away from familiar places and staying away from allies. Now and then, he tried to locate where Erik would have gone, but it's hard to chase quarry that's gone to ground when you've gone to ground yourself.

It's been a few days now since he took out the last of his immediate problems. He gathered enough info to go on the offensive. Six bodies in a warehouse later, and he's finally clear enough that he can reach out to allies - and try to find where a contact might have gone.

Erik was not easy to find. He doesn't try to sneak up on the other man. His footfalls are the normal amount of heavy. There's a gun in his hand. His left eye is full of burst blood vessels, but mostly his clothes are dappled in other peoples' blood. The plain suit and white dress shirt were neat and sharp once, but it's more than a little worse for wear. "Thinking of leaving town? Just when we were getting to know one another?"


The less said about the last few weeks, the better. Nobody's been having fun. Nobody's been working on their tan or catching up on their favorite book. Sharon has been sleeping… somehow, less than usual, and not always in the usual places. Is she truly on the run? She's still showing up to work, but even when she's at the Triskelion, she's been… elusive. Perfectly legitimately so, of course.

But she, too, has the modern and digital equivalent of a heart monitor. Still alive, still working, still raising her own special degree of hell when and where she can. And though Michael has had to stay away from her, that doesn't mean she hasn't been keeping an eye out. Oh, she hasn't been tracking him. Anything she did could have been followed by someone else. But. Well. Even dolphins have to surface once in a while to breathe, and a bad hunter chases—a good hunter waits.

Specifically, this good hunter is waiting somewhat distantly with an eye flicking against a rifle scope. It's entirely possible that Michael Carter doesn't know he has a guardian angel. Six bodies in a warehouse don't make the full total, and while Michael's clothes are stained red, Sharon's suit is pristine.

Carters. Good people. Not NICE people.



Erik's response is about as normal and plain as day, as they say. He doesn't reach for any of the weapons or even seem to be bothered by the presence that has shown up. He knew he'd be found eventually. Probably why he's been standing here and not actually leaving town. He's either been in mental limbo or he's been waiting.

Money's probably on waiting.

"I think it'd be better for you if I did skip town." Erik turns around and leans back against the table, arms crossing over his chest as he does so. He even crosses his legs at the ankles. Comfortability because he's not worried about what Michael may be here to do. Or who he may be here to kill.

"Cuz I think I might've brought down a whole different kind of hell on all of us. And you don't need my shit on top of your shit."


"I have quite enough fertilizer, it's true," drawls Michael. He's not putting the gun away, but his trigger discipline is in full force and the safety's on. Not that he couldn't remedy both those things in the space of a blink. But it's the principle of the thing. "I counted no fewer than five separate assassins and their posses. One gave up and the others were…dealt with." He works his jaw to the side. "Some contract killers. A few ex-military. A few active intelligence agents." He cocks his head. "How about you, Stevens? How's your June been going?"

If he's aware of his guardian angel with the same last name, he's not going to tip any of that to the other man.


Typically, Sharon doesn't use laser sights. That sort of thing is for people who aren't worried about people knowing when they need to duck. (They also just don't work over long distances. Bullets have to travel through the physical environment like anything else. The tough part of being a sniper is knowing what your bullet is going to do when it's 78 degrees with 40 percent humidity and a windspeed of 15mph NNW and figuring out just how much away from your target you're going to have to aim because bullets don't fire in straight lines over a mile.)

Today, though, is one exception. It's just that the little red dot that appears on Erik's forehead is flickering. Specifically, it's going on and off, on and off, in short and long bursts.

…. .. / ..- -. -.-. .-.. .

Message sent, the light goes off. Seconds later, Sharon's little nest is getting used to being empty.


Erik doesn't let on if he knows about any lights on his head or anything. He's too busy feeling sorry for himself and looking like he's torn between running, fighting or just telling the truth. It doesn't look good for the soldier.

He's not as good at this spy stuff as Michael is. He can't really hide his emotions.

"Yeah? Well. The good news is that the people I pissed off that night by savin' our asses? They ain't after you yet. Cuz you'd be dead. And shorty'd be dead. And I'd be dead. We'd all be dead." Erik shrugs and readjusts his semi-comfortable stance.

"And since we're all still breathin', I say we cut our losses and just leave this shit alone. Or…" Erik nods over his shoulder towards the table of guns. "… we take the fight to them. Shoot first, ask no questions."

/Killmonger/'s solution for everything.


A particular old school flavour of British spy has an immaculate poker face, and Michael is definitely one of those breed. His HUD may be busted and not connected to a database, but it can still track morse code. Not that he really needs it. He was, after all, a spy in the analogue age. But it does confirm it and assemble the message in his field of view for review. There's a little smirk, but that could seem to be in reaction to Erik's words.

"They're not after me? I'd say they're sending a bloody lot of people after me. But maybe not to kill me. Maybe just to keep me off-balance. Because all except one crew seemed to know nothing of my capabilities." He cocks his head. "It's a fool who sends thugs with guns after a bulletproof man."

As for their options? "I'm afraid I can't leave this alone. We're looking at the breakdown and infiltration of the global spy community. If we let this play out, we could easily find we've no ground to go to." He looks at the table full of weapons. "A third option, of course, is to do our own information gathering and see if we can devise a play that isn't from the American action hero handbook." He lifts a hand just then, and scratches his ear with his pinky half-extended. It's for Sharon. Come down if you like, is what the little bit of body language is meant to communicate.


"Not a fool. Just someone who wants to keep you busy fighting for your life instead of seeking him out."

It's not Gotham City and Sharon's not Batman, so she didn't jump through a skylight when she said that. No, she steps in from the shadows like a reasonable human being. She probably came in through a door.

"Hello, Stevens. Carter." White jumpsuit. A sniper rifle case slung across her back. Agent Thirteen all the way. "It's good to see you two alive. And I believe you're right," she adds, nodding to Erik: "I don't think any one of us is considered a particularly credible threat. They're throwing chaff at you and surveiling me whenever they can. Luckily, I'm in yoga class for the next…" A glance at her watch. "Ooh. Hour and a half. And then we're going to get lattes. So I'm free for a while."


"… Yoga class." Erik doesn't seem too worried about the arrival of Sharon. Nope, instead he's looking her up and down in that jumpsuit and thinking about yoga and it's all just a moment of smirking that gets his mind off everything else. For just a moment.

Okay, a moment or two.

Erik brings himself back to focusing on the matter actually at hand. "Listen, I'm all for the spy shit but that's y'all's department. I'm a soldier. I want to know somethin'? I shoot people in the face until somebody starts talkin'. So unless either of you got a specific plan? I still vote for: Kill 'Em All." Erik smiles but it doesn't sound like he's actually kidding. He's more than willing to kill all these people that want them dead. Or spied on. Or whatever.


"Yes, well, trust us when we tell you that a little more finesse will get you a long way in a lot of situations." Michael looks over to Sharon and nods once. "How has the atmosphere been around SHIELD? Has the word started to get around at any clearance level?" He also checks her over for signs of injury in a cursory, unobtrusive way. A scan of concern. Erik's not doing a scan of concern, so he gets a moment of hairy eyeball. Not too much. He didn't survive growing up with Peggy by being an overprotective, paternalistic big brother.

He straightens, shifts his gun to his other hand. But he pointedly doesn't holster it. It's been a rough few weeks. "Now that we three are here, perhaps we can address the elephant in the room. Namely, how you came to be in possession of kimoyo beads. And whether you have access to other Wakandan tech."


The expression on Sharon's face becomes, very briefly, 'Slow your roll, Leisure Suit Larry'. It's mild, though, and it passes quickly. If she couldn't handle the occasional implication, she'd not get far in her career.

"Believe me," she replies, "once we have a reliable target and a means of approach, you will have your chance to measure up to your nickname." Slight smile. Level stare. Someone's been doing her research.

But that doesn't mean she knows the answer to Michael's question, and she nods when she hears it. The last thing she wants to do is antagonize a notably tetchy, hyper-advanced nation. Well. The second-to-last. The truly last thing she wants is to let the bastards she's after get away with what they've done.


They remembered.

"Say what?"

Erik looks confused but then holds up the wrist with the beads wrapped around it. "Oh. Right." It's not so much stalling as he's just not sure if he should even be giving out this information.

"Long story short because, y'know, people are tryin' to kill us. My father was from Wakanda. These beads? All I've got left of him." Erik's shoulders slump just a bit at the memory of not having a father. "When I found him in our apartment? He had these clenched in his hand. So I took 'em, put 'em on and ain't took 'em off since."

Erik tries to straighten up now that he's getting personal. "But I don't know how my rough childhood gets us any closer to the people tryin' to make us all disappear…?" And now Erik can look off to the side for another moment of missing his father.


Michael clenches his jaw and works it to the side. He's clearly not buying that as the whole story, but they've got bigger problems at the moment. He exchanges looks with Sharon that's subtle enough for Erik to miss. Mhmmmhmm. "I'd just like to know if Wakanda is in play in all of this. If they were, that would be quite the game-changer."


Is that sympathy in Sharon's face? Understanding? Empathy?

Could be. But she's a spy, so what her face says may not be what her brain is saying. Her eyes flick to Michael's. They're clearly in agreement: this isn't the whole story, but it may be enough of the story for now.

"I'd like to know that, too," she says. Gently, even. But this is a hell of a piece of news and her brain is definitely reassigning Erik to a new role. What that may be, though…

"But I also want to know what you know about who and what we're going against. Also." She reaches into one pocket of her suit and pulls out two little keyrings.

"These aren't for the Hilton, but there's private entrances, showers, clean clothes, and no questions. I have some safehouses that have nothing to do with SHIELD, at least as SHIELD is right now, so if you're reasonably careful on your way, you should be all right. I'm not saying another word to either of you until you've had a shower."

One keychain gets tossed to each man. Michael gets another quiet look, one that suggests he might get a visit when he's properly settled in. Erik gets a thoughtful gaze of his own. It could mean anything.

"I'll let you both know where and when we can meet next. I still have some resources at hand, and this little disturbance is my top priority right now. Second priority is making sure I walk out of the yoga studio looking the way I did when I walked in."

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