The Devil's in the Details

July 21, 2014:

After successfully extracting Paul Manning from Turkey, Maria Hill and Melinda May have a brief sit-down to talk about what happened with him.

The Triskelion


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

A long flight out means a long flight back, now with even more awkwardness since the man they all came to rescue proved to be more than just himself. In the long run of playing 'what the hell is happening around here' Maria Hill went so far as to call ahead to the Triskelion and reserve a room for the inevitable round of questioning. Because she really has no idea what the heck is going on here, and she -likes- to know what's going on. Everywhere.

At least she didn't reserve one of the interrogation rooms, so the atmosphere is notably less hostile. Still cold and with that 'hospital sterile' kinda vibe, though.

She takes a seat at the smartglass meeting table, white gloved fingers lacing together as she stares at the New York Detective long enough to get her thoughts together.

"Mind telling me what the hell happened to you?"

Eloquent, as always.


Paul spent most of the trip back eating and sleeping, in that order. So by the time they all arrive back in Manhattan, he's in a much better frame of mind. There's no place like home. The request to fill in the blanks comes as no surprise given how quickly they mobilized to come get him, judging by how fast they arrived after he talked to Sara. "That's the wrong question." he tells Hill from his spot on the other side of the table. "The answer is 'I died, I went to Hell, I escaped with help.' And now you're no wiser than you were before."


"I'm really not," Hill admits with the slightest hint of a scowl. "Which is why we are here, so that -you- can fill in the blanks and not restate all that is vague. Start from the beginning, how did you die? Were you already in Turkey at the time?" Because that would be another question right there if he had been. "You must remember -something- of what happened, so let's hear it."


"I remember everything." Too well, in fact. Paul just shakes his head. "Forget the questions. Here's the Cliff Notes version. For the most part, demons are stuck in Hell unless someone or something brings them out. One of them, a very powerful demon, set things up so that he would no longer be stuck there. Hell is not a fun place not even for powerful demons. More powerful ones like to torment them as much as they like tormenting ones weaker than them. Anyway, he set in motion a chain of events all for the purpose of getting his hands on this." Unbuttoning the top couple buttons of his shirt, he displays the Rapture. "It lets whoever wears it come and go from Hell as they please. And a very powerful demon who can come to Earth whenever he wants and stay as long as he wants is a very bad thing. So, to summarize, it killed me and I ended up in Hell because that's one of the things the demon does. But Sara and her pet wizard not only made sure it couldn't get its hands on the Rapture but also got it to me so I could escape Hell. The gate I used happened to come out in Turkey."


Well, that does help Hill to understand a fair amount of what's going on. It doesn't answer everything, though. "So this demon comes back to Earth, kills you somewhere within the three cities, drags you back to -Hell,- and somehow your pal Pezzini and some wizard already had access to the place themselves? I'm hearing an awful lot of loopholes here, Manning, and I'd like to think that the borders between our world and Hell aren't built out of Swiss cheese."

"Now that you've been there and back, -three- of you from what I'm gathering, then answer this. Just how big of a threat does this pose to us? Do we need to lock down a whole section of another country due to a potential risk of demonic invasion? And if this 'Rapture' thing of yours acts as a gateway between the here and there then how did it also manage to transform you without any warning to the rest of us? I put my entire team on the line just to bring your ass back in one piece, Manning, and I -don't- like surprises."


Paul shakes his head. "No. Sara's never been there and hopefully never will be. The wizard… Well, that's his thing in a way and is a special case. Demons can normally only get out if they're summoned from what I understand. That's why they all want the Rapture. You're not likely to see a mass demonic invasion unless it's quite literally the end of the world. And there are more gates to hell in a twenty block radius here than that part of Turkey so you don't need to worry about a blockade." Though he's sure she now has a lot more to worry about. "As for the rest, I don't know how it does what it does. But it doesn't like demons and I was tired and hungry and didn't know what to expect."


"Well -that's- a relief," Hill mutters with a drawn-out breath. It's a short lived relief as soon as she hears about the number of gateways currently existing in this corner of the globe. "You realize that you being in possession of that artifact places you at the very top of our list should we ever have any demon problem anywhere," she states with that hardened stare still in place.

"If I were you I wouldn't want to be responsible for keeping it safe from, oh, everything. Look at the facts here, Manning. You're a cop. This is way outside of your league, and all of our comfort zones. I wouldn't trust that thing under absolute containment. I sure don't want it here in my home. I don't like the idea that it's going to attract all sorts of attention from beings potentially much more powerful than us, and I just know that when someone, or some-thing,- happens to come looking for it? We're going to be getting a call about it."


"If you have any demon problems anywhere, you're welcome to give me a call for help." Paul offers evenly. "After all, I'm a cop. It's my job to do what I can to keep people safe. You'll even get two for the price of one since Sara has just as much reason as I to want all the damn things as dead as it's possible for them to get." He does though nod at Maria's second point. "I don't want the responsibility either. But I got it. And frankly, I trust me a lot more than I trust SHIELD as an organization. It's not unheard of for large, bureaucratic organizations to decide that the so-called greater good can be served by making use of dangerous objects. Or people. So long as their desired outcome is achieved, regardless of the means."


Blink. Hill..actually..wasn't expecting to be given this offer. She's also not expecting to hear that Paul apparently -can't- relinquish control of the artifact. She's not sure if that's at all comforting or not. Feelings of self-preservation do tend to net positive results in these kinds of situations, so if the only way to claim it is to kill the guy first…

It still means attempting to invest a little faith in both Paul and Sara's abilities to not epically fudge any of this up.

"Don't forget that SHIELD are the good guys here, and, despite overwhelmingly popular belief, I'm not the sort of person that's anxious to drop the biggest bomb on the other guy just to keep our playground from being invaded. However, if it wasn't for people willing to make this call when such a time -does- emerge then we'd all be speaking a different language around here."

If some way to harness that relic's power can be discovered, and it's the one thing that would be able to save the country? Damn right she'll try to find some way to make it happen.

"Let's get back to the present. You're here, and..congratulations on your whole undying've got it. You can't get rid of it. You're not the same as you used to be. Somehow, for better or worse, you've changed. How much of you is still -you?- Do you have this, do you have -yourself,- under control?"


"SHIELD, as an organization, tries to do mostly good things." Paul corrects. "SHIELD, as a collection of individuals, undoubtedly has its bad, corrupt or morally challenged ones just as any organization does including the NYPD. Can you honestly say you trust every single member?" He certainly can't say the same about the police. Theoreticals aside, he's happy to get back to the present and nods a thank you at the congratulations before blinking himself. Can't get rid of it? Did he imply that? He just said he'd prefer not having the responsibility, not that he couldn't give it away. But there's also no reason to correct her. "I'm fully me. I'm told the Rapture isn't sentient like some artifacts are and that feels correct. While it seems to have an agenda, I wouldn't have changed on the jet had I known about Trent, known it would want to do that and not been exhausted."


You know why the truth hurts? Because it's the truth. Several names immediately pop up in Hill's mind, there's -plenty- of people she doesn't trust. Including the Director, himself. But, she's not going to admit this. Not any portion of it. That Paul has his suspicions is more than enough. No confirmation to be had here, move along please.

While it wasn't said outright that he couldn't part with it she still chose her wording deliberately, whether it's to try and get him to slip up and admit the truth or for some other reason. Assumptions cause problems, generally for everyone involved.

The Rapture isn't sentient, oh good. "So..can't believe I'm thinking this," she mutters while reaching up to rub at her temple, "it almost sounds like it's less of a concern as a whole than this 'Witchblade' device that your partner is in possession of."


The door of the conference room opens as quietly as it's possible for the thing to open, and May slips into the room. She stays by the door waiting for Hill to finish her latest rant before approaching the table.


Paul looks much better after enough sleep and food and now wearing some of Hawkeye's clothes. The shirt though has been unbuttoned to display the Rapture. "You shouldn't really be concerned about that either. Sara has a lot more experience with it. And from what she's said, its purpose is to maintain the balance between light and dark. The ones that are trouble are the Darkness and the Angelus." He's picked up a lot from questioning Sara about her bad boyfriend. When the door opens, he turns to look over and nods a greeting to May before turning back. "I haven't run into them myself."


With the arrival of another Agent Hill glances up to the door, having placed herself in a way that she could keep an eye on it as usual (the Director's a sneaky old bastard, after all.) No offer is made for May to pull up a seat, though she doesn't do anything to suggest that May shouldn't be here at this moment in time. So, that practically is an invitation to pull up a seat on its own.

"I'm the Assistant Director of SHIELD. Everything concerns me. That you two have your special gifts, or curses, or whatever, under control is of considerable interest to me." And, unfortunately, she can't take either of them away from the two Detectives. As much as she would really, -really- like to.

Turning back to the other woman, she inquires "Do you have anything that you'd like to add, May?" She may well have questions for Paul, too.


Melinda May does have one question, actually. "Are you going to have a similar reaction to the presence of any demonc traces like you did with Trent?" She steps forward to stand behind one of the chairs at the conference table, but she doesn't sit down. Not yet.


"I was starving, exhausted, and wasn't prepared for that particular impulse." Paul repeats, giving the same answer he gave Maria when she asked something similar. "I won't know for sure until it happens but I don't think it'll be an issue. I was able to change back almost instantly even as tired as I was."


"And you had mentioned that it was still you during the change, not something else," Hill adds to the current topic. "Do you know what these limits of transformation are? I rather doubt that any of these things come with instruction manuals. If you don't know what all it can do then it might be worth the effort for us to figure it out. Under controlled circumstances, of course. Let's try to keep the list of unexpected surprises to a minimum across the board."


"That's only the second time it's happened." Paul answers after a moment. "It would be a good idea to find out more." he agrees. "I'd appreciate the help in doing so."


It's not an ideal situation, rarely are any courses of action truly ideal, but by helping Paul to learn what all he can do Hill can also make sure that all of SHIELD is properly informed on the matter. She'll also be one of the very first to see if they really do have a problem or if Paul will be okay to keep on being a cop as usual, with an eye and ear trained in his and Sara's direction.

"We'll provide a testing facility. I'm sure that a number of us are all waiting to see what happens when you turn the power on, Manning. We'll be in touch."


"Must I? Can't we stay and chat?" Paul murmurs wryly and reaches up to run a hand over his hair before standing. "Yes, I'm ready. It's time to let the Captain and IA know I'm not dead." Which is why spending quality time with Hill is such an attractive alternate option.

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