Site #H87

July 13, 2018:

Rami is interrupted by Simon, Jane, and Bucky while analyzing the files on the New Mexico SHIELD facility known as Site #H87.

Tech Suites, SHIELD HQ

See opening pose.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Peggy Carter


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Despite her Junior Agent status with just a month at SHIELD after her defection from MI-6, Parambir Ghai is occupying one of the tech suites like she belongs there — particularly without her younger, and yet more senior partner Agent Antimony Sparks ("Do not call me 'Sparky.'"). Like many of the suites on this floor, the interior wall is almost entirely floor-to-ceiling windows with the glass door almost blending into the transparent stretch. The high gloss floors just barely reflect the lighting in the room, which is purposefully arranged to not distract from the luminous glow of the high-end technology used by SHIELD.

Rami is seated on a stool before the sizable table that occupies the center of the room, data floating in three-dimensional holo-projections before her. She has a tablet in her lap, fingers swiping past files until she finds one that she needs, flicking it onto the table with a precise gesture. She appears to be focusing on blueprint files as flat archetechnical images litter the holo-table.

There's a dull thrumming vibrating against the glass, and the moment the door is opened, the pulsing music almost deafens the interloper; she's listening to some techno mix that has become background music based on the intensity of her focus.


Simon walked into the glass doors at HQ twice in his first week. He's gotten better in the four years since then. Apparently, he doesn't go in for the suit-and-tie look around HQ, instead sticking with a black t-shirt, black cargo pants, and black combat boots — STRIKE default outfit, even if he isn't actually a member of a STRIKE team. He stops outside the door, hesitating a long moment as he braces himself for the clear hearing-damage volume level inside. Still, he opens the door, letting the music wash over him and chuckling faintly. Glancing about, his eyes focus in on the holographic files, studying them as they scud past, "When was the last time you ate, Rami?"


In the smoke and ash of the gutted Hell's Kitchen, Jane Foster has a problem.

Not a problem in the conventional sense — and surely not a problem on par with the victims made homeless and broken by the bombings — but a problem in the Dr. Foster sense. A sort of problem that made her sit upright in bed, 3:25 a.m., possessed with an idea that she is such an idiot not to have thought of sooner.

She felt so helpless during the bombing — helpless because she was. Just human. Small, fallible, offering nothing but more confusion and horror, and she could have done more. She has done more, tapped into ability far beyond the flesh, was able to calculate a transcendence of possibility and reach into that primordial aether that bridges both magic and science. Before, she had to pay the price of its use by sacrificing bits of her soul — minutes off her lifespan. But now?

All Jane knows is she needs resources. She can't turn to Stark, not after what she did to him — and she knows what she did to him, so why is she doing this at all? not to use it, just to solve a problem, just to find a solution — and can't hurt him that way a second time. SHIELD allocates quite a bit to its consultant researcher, and patiently so, considering a year on, and she's still not given them their accessible wormhole technology.

No wormholes today. Only Jane, in the back dead-ends of R&D, reading SHIELD's recent advancements on plasma etching — that is, until some distant THOOM THOOM THOOM is like a pneumatic hammer on her cerebral matter. Ever the Type A scientist used to her workspace being in particular (anal) order — that is, either silent or possibly blues music only — her attention schisms off her work. She frowns. Her eyebrow tics.

James Barnes, who has been in passive accompaniment the entire time, suggests she do what people used to do in the 40s when they had a problem: they get off their Apple Fruitbooks and talk like people do, in a face-to-face civil conversation.

"You're weird," is her comment to that.

Absolutely convinced she's going to righteously chew out the instigator, because she's rehearsed her rant five times on the way here, Jane instead finds herself — intercepted, noticing Simon enter through the doors with a quick ventilation of that UNBEARABLE NOISE. She nearly loses her nerve, because she's odd like that, but soldiers on, rapping her knuckles against the door. It may or may not even be heard over the sick beat.


"It's your goddamn Fruitbooks that are weird," James Barnes had said in reply, severely. "Why is it even named after a fruit?"

James has long since learned not to ask Jane any questions he does not actually want answered.

This results in the fact that he's got a bit of a glazed expression already from the explanation, by the time they reach the point Jane's knocking on that door. He does perk up a little when he detects sound thrumming from beyond the door, however, his enhanced senses easily picking out the details of the beat even from this distance and through the wall.

And then he frowns. "What people listen to these days, I just don't know…"

Please let Jane in quickly, before he really gets started.


"Hmm?" Rami barely hears Simon over the din. When she turns toward him, her hand lifts and fingers look to spin an invisible dial that immediately drops the music several decibels. She pivots more fully in her seat, brushing her hands down her thighs to stop just above her knees. "Is it eight?" She checks her watch — the piece set on the table beside her instead of on her wrist. "No, it's only seven."

Then she slips off the stool, setting down the tablet as she lands lightly on her soft-soled shoes. She glances slightly up toward her files, but makes no abrupt motion to dismiss them. They are all tagged with the location associated with the blueprints: Project #R03 - Site #H87 - Ablution, NM.

With the noise knocked down a few notches, she easily hears Jane at the door. She gestures her on in with a typical 'get on in' gesture. She catches both hands along her neck and shoulders, pulling at the tight muscles that hold her head up. She speaks to Simon after her invite to Jane. "Taken me a good four hours, but I've finally sieved out the 1937 files… just got to assemble them now. There's something a bit arsed about them though. Can't quite put my finger on it yet though."


The lowering of volume elicits a little sigh of relief from Simon, "That's a nice mix, but I'm not sure how you can think with it up that high, Rami." A little chuckle lifts under the words, and he glances up at the knock. He starts to nod just a moment, then blinks at the man following behind the diminutive scientist outside. Despite the results of the trials, despite the relatively long-term alliance, the man can't help shifting his feet slightly as The Winter Soldier appears outside. It's probably a reaction that Bucky is used to from fighting men — even if Jane is more dangerous in many ways. Rami's info-dump causes him to frown slightly, "1937? We found an old base in the Rocky's infested, is that what happened here?"


Jane gives Bucky's last, fitful question such a look.

"I don't know," she answers it with a question of her own: "Why are all your weird guns named after birds? Hawk this. Eagle that. And your what's-it-called, M16 Super Budgie." She probably is just making that one up.

Of course, her banter doesn't last long, somewhere between Bucky beginning an old man grouse about Music These Days, and Jane experiencing her own introverted stage fright over how to politely ask SHIELD agents to please stop dropping the base. Of course, perhaps due to luck or something else, her entry seems to have Rami turn the music down —

— and then, soon enough, Jane's not really thinking much of what brought her here, with her prying dark eyes immediately on the screens. And mention of 1937.

And Simon's reaction to Bucky. Trying to discourage attention off that, Jane makes pains to interrupt. "Uh, hi," she says, without much preamble. And straight to the point: "Sorry, what's that you're looking at?"


"They are not named after birds," Bucky says with more patience than Jane frankly deserves right now, "and none of them is called Super Budgie."

As they arrive on the scene and one of the agents shifts slightly, defensive-ready. Bucky seems accustomed to the reaction, even if Jane still tries to defend him from it. His features tighten up a little bit, the amiable gloss of James Barnes sharing a little space with the mask of the Winter Soldier. For all that's happened in the past two years, it's still hard to shake the fact he was one of SHIELD's specters for many decades, and he hasn't nearly atoned enough of the blood. Not yet.

At least mention of 1937 distracts him handily. He frowns, but hangs in the background for the time being, long since accustomed to gathering information before any sort of action.


"Practice," is all the woman quips back with at the slight jab at her music choices.

With a quick tightening of her large, bouncy bun of dark hair, Rami takes on a wider stance — relaxed stance from a military perspective. She crosses her arms lightly at her chest, gesturing with one hand in a motion that the table responds to. The files quickly order themselves according to Rami's parameters. "Not an old base, by definition. Recently defunct is more accurate."

Then she's interrupted — but only just — by Jane, and the Sikh woman smiles warmly to her. "Hiya. You're Foster, yeah? Come on in, if you like."

Then she looks back toward Simon, and a slight amusement shades her expression. "They are the files I pulled from your Agent Lancer in the loo — SHIELD likes physical hand-offs of top secret information, even if they are now digitized. This information has traveled cross-country to get here." She knows he knows this, but she says it regardless… for context.

"I think these are part of the files that Warhorse is interested in." She glances beyond Jane toward Bucky, then back to the files. Parambir is shit at being subtle, but she does look fairly hesitant when she realizes she's about to be talking about someone like they aren't standing in the same room. "This was an early SSR research facility with a pretty lovely military-sponsored budget. Sounds like some pre-Erskine serum research… alpha testing."


Simon recognizes Bucky's reaction more readily than he recognizes his own instinctive defensiveness, and nods his head with an apologetic amiability, letting himself be distracted quite readily by Jane and Rami. He scoffs in amusement at the latter's rejoinder, letting his stance loosen even further. "Yeah, the Boulder was closed back in the '60s or '70s. A whole lot newer than this," one hand gestures up to the hologram. The background of the files narrows Simon's attention on them closely, "The poor bastard, running into you in the loo," so maybe he's still teasing Rami a little, even as his brain works over the rest of the information, "Huh… so maybe whoever Warhorse is working with wants to start from the beginning again?"


Jane Foster is pretty positive she's right. There's definitely some gun called a Super Budgie. It is James Barnes who is wrong.

Unfortunately, she will have to table winning this argument for later, because far more important things are at hand.

"Ah, yes," she answers Rami, hesitation in her voice from a momentary mental catch-up. "Thank you. It's Jane. And this is James." Something of a breezy, informal introduction of the ex-Winter Soldier, but that's how she prefers it. He's had enough fame to last him ten lifetimes. "And you both are?"

This is Jane's very patient attempt of basic social etiquette. And even that's immediately out of its ass the moment she hears 'pre-Erskine.' She pauses for a beat, like the universe out and aligned its stars in the strangest of ways, a surprised glance turned back on Bucky. "Wait — am I hearing this right? This is an American installation? Messing with the serum? Trying to create more — how recently defunct?"


There WILL be a gun called a Super Budgie someday soon. It will be a uselessly miniscule derringer and it will be the gun Bucky gives Jane for her birthday, citing its size as 'appropriate for her.'

But that is retribution for a different time. For now, there are introductions — and a slight 'ah' expression crosses Bucky's features as talk of Warhorse and Agent Lancer comes up. This is about the outcome of the sting op against the rogue MI-6 agent. He hadn't been requisitioned as an asset for that, but then he isn't frequently requisitioned by SHIELD for a number of reasons, many of them likely classified.

He stiffens visibly as conversation turns to early SSR research, however. Pre-Erskine. Serum research. Again. His gaze unfocuses briefly, the way most soldiers' do when memory is pulled too close to the surface too fast. The kind of memory that makes a man want to fight-or-flight.

"You'd think they would've learned their lesson by now," he says.


The teasing from Simon incites a baneful snort from Rami. "Yes. Quite deadly in the loo… all that ceramic and mirror glass. Really shouldn't try me." Then she turns her smile toward Jane, and she gestures to herself and Simon in exchange. "I'm Rami and this is Simon. Pleasure to meet you both."

Then the ex-MI-6 Agent looks back toward the floating files. She steps toward them, giving him a critical look as she speaks more directly to Simon's actual contribution. "Could be, but even what little I can read from the case notes — even at full clearance, there's much of it that's been redacted — their attempts nearly block the frontal lobe, and the physical alterations were noted as erratic mutations." She starts to shake her head, gesturing dismissively. "But — " Wherever her thoughts were going next are lost to the questions by Jane. "Based on what I've gathered, was SSR research facility before it was converted into your typical archive for the New Mexico region in the early 50s. Was officially decommissioned last October, and top secret data was transferred to HQ in late May."

Rami rubs at her shoulders and neck again, breathing out a slow exhale as she regards the blueprints once more, speaking now to all three of her companions. "Warhorse isn't talking, yet. I don't know what he wants from the information, but the major point is the gaps… securing the case files isn't worth the bytes they're written on. So, I'm to the blueprints… there's four sets… one for the original layout built in the 30s, then the renovations from the 50s and minor updates again in the 80s. These show the exact layout of what the scientific team would have used during Project R03. Labs, dormitories… the whole bit."


"Sorry," Simon puts in as Jane introduces herself and her companion. He adds to Rami's own introduction of him, "Green, Simon Green." He offers out a hand first to Jane, and then readily enough, to James, the second motion slow and careful as he recognizes the look in the other man's eyes. He has a few of those moments as well, although certainly not as world-shaking as Bucky's. "I think the examples we have make that a hard lesson to learn." Dragging his attention back to the data being displayed, his own eyes lose their focus a little as he lets the images wash over him. After a long moment, he notes, "What about differences in the blueprints? Hidden rooms that may have stuck through the updates or been revealed by them?"


That moment of understanding on Barnes' face — linking this intel back to the rogue agent — is somewhat lost on Jane. She's heard talk through SHIELD's channels, but her attention span — fractured so many ways these days — favoured her work, Hell's Kitchen's deterorating situation, among other things, over SHIELD's situation.

Not that SHIELD couldn't use the help. Thought of Coulson brings back a fresh surge of guilt.

But now, with this — there's little doubt about holding Jane Foster's attention. Not with her eyes wide and locked on the proffered data, promising another sordid attempt at assembly lining supersoldiers. A particular interest that beelines straight to her heart, care of James Barnes at her side.

James Barnes… who isn't taking all this well.

His reactions are few, but Jane is studied in them. After returning Simon's handshake, she lingers not too far away, letting her hand touch Bucky's right arm, briefly and anchoring. Even as talk of cerebral modification turns her own stomach.

"Block the frontal lobe?" she echoes, appalled. Seat of decision-making. Seat of empathy. Seat of free will. "That's not making soldiers. That's lobotomizing slaves. If you can actually get into the place, it's not dificult to develop a quantum GPR. It'll open up any kind of on-site secrets."


Shaking away whatever thoughts temporarily crossed his mind — Jane's near presence, her hand on his arm, both help — James accepts the shake normally enough when Simon offers it, glancing the other man up and down in that automatic way lifelong fighters have of instinctively taking one another's measure. It's not necessarily always antagonistic, but at the least always assessing. "Nice to meet you both," he offers in his turn — clearly, eighty years of a harrowing brainwashed POW experience have not managed to kill off the raised-right '30s man at the core.

He lingers near Jane even as she and Rami get into a discussion that is a little beyond him. His chief familiarity with this kind of talk lies in 'being the unwilling subject of such,' and it's unpleasant memories all around. He gets a little quiet — no surprise — though his eyes sharpen at 'Warhorse isn't talking yet.'

"That can be changed," he says, with weighty meaning.

He folds his arms, head lowering, looking at the blueprints through his lashes. "What is our ultimate purpose with this information?" James asks.


Rami's own expression is a bit hard to read, though Jane's commentary does cause a brief touch of disquiet to pass her features. She glances between Bucky and Jane, and then to Simon before her gaze cuts back to the blueprints. "Did some overlays between the three, nothing stands out." Then she pivots back to Jane. "I've hit a bit of a hump, but with Jane here… could you get this holo system to convert two-dimensional into three? There's something that sits odd about the floors of the installation, but I can't see it."

It also gives Jane something to do that distracts her — Rami is a fellow gearhead. She gets that. The handler steps away from the table, offering out the control tablet to Foster. Her gaze cuts to Bucky as she's close, and there's a quiet, thoughtful pause to his question. After all, a person very close to Parambir is also a result of the super soldier serum programs.

"Warhorse pulled two very well-organized operations, both conducted outside of MI-6's actual knowledge… all for this information. I suppose our purpose is to find out why, since he isn't divulging that information yet." She puffs out her cheeks, turning back to the holo-table. "He demands speaking to a Carter… any of them." Which is not the same as saying 'either of them.' There are three to choose from, afterall.


Simon isn't going to get upset by being assessed. That would just be hypocritical, considering that he's doing the same to Bucky. "You too. I'm a fan of your work during The War." Jane's description of the results of frontal-whatever (beyond him too) draw up his eyebrows sharply. He nods to Rami's response, unconsciously putting a hand on her shoulder for a moment as he crosses behind her to let the two gearheads focus on the genius-talk, addressing James directly instead, "Even if you can get SHIELD approval, enhanced interrogation," someone has a CIA background, "is a dangerous technique. I wouldn't want to try it myself, I don't have enough experience to get the subject to talk without making them say anything to make the interrogation stop." Not because it's torture… just because he doesn't have the experience to make it work. Glancing to Rami again, he notes, "I'm sure there's some tech we could use to make him think he's talking to a Carter… but have any of them be asked if they're interested?"


With a lingering look to James Barnes — Jane is keeping a closer watch on him, considering the subject matter — she pulls from her own dark thoughts, brown eyes turned on Rami's request.

She tilts her head, gaze on the two-dimensional map, a flicker to her eyes like she's spatially mapping it to life by thought alone. A handy talent possessed by many engineers.

"Shouldn't be too different from astronomical charts," Jane says, her way of a 'yes', and accepts the tablet. She seems an old hand with holo-tech — thank Stark for that — and it doesn't take her long to have the software pared down to its core code. From that, she begins to write a script.

She programs rapidly and without pause, proofing and solving the math as she goes along — vector values for range, depth, illumination, orientation, albedo — like mapping the stars microscopically.

Within a couple minutes, Jane hits execute and the map unfolds with its extra dimension of detail. "Hope this helps," she offers to Rami, whose plan has worked — Foster is calmer now than before, centered, offering the woman a brief smile, before her attention lapses back — as the men shop talk interrogations. And Carters.

"Carters don't take well to demands, usually," Jane intones dryly. But whether they'd be interested? She passes a long look to Bucky.


I'm a fan of your work during the War. The capitalization is practically audible, and it's obvious Bucky appreciates it. "We did our duty," he says quietly. "But thank you, Agent. A lot of good men and women carry on our work."

But just as there's a Bucky Barnes in the skin of the man before them, there's a Winter Soldier as well. More of him now than usual, in fact, justifying Jane's concerns. It's that old Russian wolf that emerges and shows his fangs slightly on the topic of getting people to talk… and it's that old Soviet killer who can't quite disguise the hard-edged silence that is all he has in response to 'he demands speaking to a Carter.'

"Demands," repeats the Soldier, passingly amused. "Prisoners have got entitled in this day and age."

He doesn't press the issue significantly, however, especially not in the face of Simon's cautions on 'enhanced interrogation.' He regards the other man in a brief neutral silence. He knows his place in the workings of SHIELD — a card pulled when Peggy Carter thinks she needs the Winter Soldier. If she hasn't called, it's not there yet. "It's a last resort," he allows. "But I have practice."

As for whether a Carter would be interested to even acquiesced to such a demand? "Worth a shot," Bucky grumbles, the Soldier's persona slipping mercifully back away. "But I can tell you stories about Peggy's obstinacy."


The hand to her shoulder is met with a small flicker of a smile, and then Rami starts to shake her head. "No." The answer for Simon is delivered flatly. "Hell's Kitchen blew up before I could inquire, and it really isn't my place to press." Not yet, at least. "I'm sure Peggy and Sharon have both seen the briefs with Warhorse requesting their presences." There's something unspoken there, but the handler is distracted by Jane's quick work of the three-d rendering, and the entire structure comes to life.

It's a six-story structure with three above-ground levels and three basement levels. The upper levels are typical of a scientific facility with offices, shared lab spaces, and on-site dormitories for the scientists. The basement levels are even more labs, these assigned to the upper level scientists and researchers, as well as a second set of dorms that are more like barracks.

The second level is where the oddness comes in. It gives the illusion on paper of being the same size of each of the other levels, but in the rendering, it is easy to see it only actually occupies five-sixths of the areas of the floors above and below. The extra sixth is a gaping hole shaped like a Tetris corner-piece in the southwest of the floor. It shares walls with other personal laboratories. It's painfully obvious now, when it was just a small annoying inconsistency when Rami was looking at it.

Rami is answering Bucky while she is looking over the model. "Oh, I'm uniquely aware of Carter Contrariness." Her full lips pull into a tight frown as she stares at the map. She glances toward Jane. "That's not a mistake, then?" Just to be sure…


Simon nods an appreciative response to Bucky's quiet words, his attention flickering over to the coding for a moment, "Call me Simon." A smile flashes across his freckled features, "There are so many Agents around." The wolf's hackles cause Simon to shift again, but he immediately recognizes it this time, and he shrugs a little apologetically. Bucky's response to the commentary on enhanced interrogation draws a nod, "Better you than me." Jane's work gets an appreciative look as it appears in glowing form before them. "I'm sure they're busy with the Kitchen." Like many of the other Agents, himself included. "It may have slipped their attention." There's something about Bucky's commentary on Peggy that causes him to blink and then shake his head in wonder, murmuring something to himself about "…living…" the curse word that follows fades beneath audibility, "…legends." His slightly-distracted senses are a moment behind Rami's attention, and he narrows in on the extra space, "There we are." He looks to Jane for her assurance that it's not a coding error.


Jane Foster's expression goes flatter than old champagne. Her answer to that question?

"I don't make mistakes," she says. Typical and expected reaction of all consummate engineers: that familiar, haughty confidence that is not so much professional pride than it is absolute certainty in the numbers. Her numbers, that is.

Her demeanour withdraws, however, at the corners at mention of Hell's Kitchen — how things, such as potential super-soldier factories miring American history, may be overlooked at the moment, considering the here and now and suffering happening —

But with a glance back on Bucky, Jane seems to ask and answer a question, silently so, with her eyes. This is something they should look into — need to. Considering his past. Considering Hydra. There could be a terrible confluence of variables, and if all this even precedes what the American Government historically and famously bestowed onto Steve — does it even change, or make murky, the very creation of Captain America?

"It's really a pleasure to meet you both," Jane is saying, "and I mean that also in the most utilitarian way possible, because I think we're all going to be spending some time together. This, all this — the questions it asks — we need them answered. Some of us here with a right to them." She says that with a brief look on James.

As for the map? "Looks like a field trip may be in our near future."

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