The Age of Metahumanity
Roleplaying Log: The Age of Metahumanity
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Captain Marvel calls for a meeting with Director Fury and Agent Coulson to discuss the Registration Act. Heated words are exchanged and cracks begin to form.

Other Characters Referenced: A Lot
IC Date: January 22, 2019
IC Location: Triskelion, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 25 Jan 2019 04:52
Rating & Warnings: R-Rated Language
NPC & GM Credits: Nick Fury played by Peggy Carter
Associated Plots

Agent Danvers stands mutely beside her chair at the far end of the table. Her eyes fixed on the finished surface of the meeting table emblazoned with the symbol of SHIELD beneath the lacquered surface. Her thoughts range into the distance as she tries to organize the topics she wants to bring to the head of the organization. So many observations and objectives in open conflict in her mind, any one of them potentially leading the entire organization off a cliff of no return if they go wrong.
Not the smallest issue among those thoughts, she has no real idea where Director Fury himself is coming down in this equation. SHIELD moves where the Director wills it, regardless of what the people of the United States have voted for. No small number of SHIELD personnel have quietly, or in some cases very blatantly, stated this Law is immoral. As the March date approaches apprehension and dread grow within her little by little. Fear of what she may end up being forced to do.
Captain Marvel came early to the meeting to give herself time to think and center. Wearing her usual jumpsuit costume with a fur-trimmed bomber jacket, which is relatively formal wear for most SHIELD functions at least.


In some ways, this meeting is a testament to the fact that Phil Coulson is slowly but surely reintegrating into the organization. Once, high-level meetings like this were a weekly, even a daily occurence. This is his first since his return to the land of the living.

But those who knew Phil know that he's not entirely himself. He still hasn't worn a tie or a suit since his return. He arrives in pressed navy blue slacks and a lighter blue t-shirt, with a brown leather jacket hanging over that. He's been spending hours down at the firing range, just putting bullet after bullet into targets.

And yes, he's been blunt.

He's also been having quiet meetings here and there, a man on a mission for all he may be giving the impression he's a man off the rails.

"Captain Danvers," he greets, as he comes into the room. He offers her a hand to shake. "It's been some time."


Carol has been aware of Coulson's return for a little while now. She's honestly considered it one of the best damned miracles that's happened to SHIELD in awhile now and a great testament to how far their people have come technologically. Captain Marvel is no stranger to the impossible and surreal. She's personally set foot on the Moon wearing little more than she is now, having written 'LETS GO RED SOX' in the Lunar Mare in bold text for powerful telescopes to see until cosmic erosion strips it away. Her opinion of what's impossible has diminished over the last ten years to be a very, very short list.
For all the concern some have had over Agent Coulson's behavior over the last week or two, Agent Danvers is sincerely pleased to see him. "Agent Coulson." Stepping over and accepting his hand firmly, "It's damned good to see you, Sir. Seeing you up and running does our hearts good."
She knows they don't agree with each other on this matter but at the end of the day seeing one of SHIELD's finest Agents at work is a ray of light she and others craves right about now.


Disagreement is just disagreement. Coulson's not the type to let stances diminish respect for a person, or even his ability to like them. He offers a Cheshire Cat smile with a hint of something genuine about it, hazel eyes flickering with warmth. "I feel fortunate swapping out my carburateur worked," he quips. "An old model like me, sometimes it's easier to replace than to repair. Cheaper, too."

He steps back, taking a seat, ready to be attentive to what Carol has to say, knowing Fury's on the way and not pushing to start any conversation till he gets here.


Those who wait on Director Fury tend to wait. He's on time when he needs to be and late when it suits him. Danvers and Coulson wait for a little while as they settle into the conference room.

There are windows, but they are more like the illusion of windows. There is no actual view to the outside, but it does seem as if there is. The view is almost flush against another building. There are windows and people moving and going about their day there. Where does this feed come from? It's hard to imagine.

As they settle in and discuss, the doors do not open in a dramatic fashion, nor do they slowly creep open like in a horror story. Instead, Fury pushes the door open and then shuts it behind him in a hurried manner.

Rather than take a chair he stands at the head of the table and crosses his arms, one eye taking in both Coulson and Danvers. "I have far more important meetings to go to, let's get this started. We're here to talk about SHIELD's stance on registration, so go. Yay or nay, each of you have seventy words."


Carol offers Coulson a sly, amused smile but that is when Hurricane Fury arrives. At the sound of the door, Captain Marvel turns. She straightens to full military attention out of pure reflex. It took her a few years to learn not to salute, it was awfully embarrassing the first few months. Catching a glimpse of the man in her peripheral vision while at attention, she can tell the man is run about as ragged over recent events as she imagined. As he belts out the humorless order, her gaze threatens to shift to him in full but she does not speak up. Agent Coulson is the ranking member in the room, he has first dibbs in response. Thankfully that gives her time to count words..
Seventy? Argh.. Well the opener has ten then.. Or is that seven words? Damnit.


"Very funny, Sir," Coulson says dryly. "That's not even enough words to fill up a tweet. And I'm not here to argue any point of my own. Captain Danvers has things she wants to say, I'm here to listen. I might weigh in when I've heard, but this one isn't my agenda."

He spreads his hands. He's used 70 words already. He does not seem to be obeying the character limit. "I do have a request to make of you, Director, when this meeting is over. Granted, if 70 words really is your stance then it's going to be a short one."


"And you think this thing is being fought in a world with more than seventy words?" Fury gives Coulson a look with his one eye. "Ideas are difficult. Pitches are not." Coulson's ask for a request is met with a nod though he doesn't elaborate on when this request will be granted.

Carol's immediate attempt to move into military attention almost pulls a raised eyebrow from him. "At ease soldier."

Fury's arm uncross and he puts his hands on the chair in front of him. "Alright, let's hear it Captain."


Captain Danver's eyes shift to Coulson as he belts out his opinion without regard for the allotted word count. Her eyebrows lift as she begins to realize just how much the man has changed. She heard rumors about this but it's a whole different ball game to see it in person and directed at Director Nick Fury of all people.
But the man does have rank. She's just a soldier with questions, she doesn't make top-end decisions - she carries them out. Which is why Fury's direction confuses her more than Coulson's rebuke.
At Fury's direction Carol's stance shifts, folding her arms behind the small of her back but not yet taking a seat. "Sir. That's not for us to decide here. The American people have spoken and the Law is in the books. We carry out the Law, not invent new ones if we disagree with them. We need to figure out how we're going to enforce this thing and frankly we need to deal with the fact that a lot our own Agents are against it."
That's.. Fifty? Something? She's under. Yeah. She.. thinks?


Phil lifts his eyebrows and gives an avuncular, amused smile. It's the way Carol almost sounds like she is capitalizing the word law every time she says it. Not everyone could manage that, but Danvers does.

But he does opine, "I'm surprised you asked me up to this meeting, to be honest, knowing I'm one of those Agents."

He hasn't gone so far as to openly suggest SHIELD should violate the law, mind. Changed or not, illusions and patience stripped away or not, there are some lines he won't cross. Of course. The not so openly bit maybe kind of a thing, but his smiling face reveals little, just as it has all his life.


"It's not the American people so much as the people of New York State. We are an national agency that needs to think internationally." Fury gives Carol a bit of a grin. "However, you are right. Laws have been passed and we must follow them. In fact, we have been instructed to do just that. We are to help the DEO and the newly formed Office of Public Safety to ensure dangerous metas and mutants do not escape the borders of New York."

Tilting his head to Carol, he nods. "Yes, that is certainly a problem. Is that why you brought Agent Coulson to this meeting?" This is certainly something with which SHIELD must deal.

"However, we have strict orders while operating out of New York and we must follow them. I can't change how people feel about orders and I don't care. This is a job and one that we have the privilege to do. As Director, I can fire people if they cross the line and I will do so the minute I see people doing so."


"I asked you here because I thought you have a different point of view." Captain Marvel states to Coulson without taking her eyes off Fury. "I don't want an echo chamber. I want to hit this thing hard and fast before it has a chance to tear the Agency apart and that means looking at it from every angle."
She then listens to Fury's instructions carefully. Her eyes seem to flinch a moment at the mention of Office of Public Safety but she otherwise leaves that alone.
"If I may offer a suggestion, Sir?"
Agent Danvers does not fool herself into thinking this is a conversation. The Leaders of the Free World are likely on Sound-Only screens on the other side of the door Fury walked in from ready to scream at the man, and that's on a good day. She can hear the silent clock ticking away the few moments she has of Director Fury's time and she doesn't waste a single one of them.


"Well, one angle I'd suggest is we just pull out of New York, and any state that wants us to do this thing," Coulson says. "We are an International agency, and registration is a waste of money and time. While we're chasing down teenagers who are scared of having their biometric data on file we could be dealing with real problems elsewhere. The Index was enough, it always has been enough, and if states want to pass ridiculous laws we could say, great, you do that, but we're not going to be your enforcers."

He lifts his eyebrows at the both of them. "And I'm not sure why we aren't. Doing that. If SHIELD is just saying 'well, the law is the law, and sure it's a bad law, but it's the capital-L law.' We can easily say enforcing local laws is not in our purview. It never has been before. It maybe doesn't suddenly become our purview just because metas are involved."

But then Danvers has a suggestion to offer to Fury, and Coulson quells to allow them both to have their say.


Fury pushes the wheeled chair further toward the table. Then he stands straighter again. His tone is neutral, but forceful. "Pull out of New York."

Now that he is standing, he puts the full force into his words. "We are national and international, Agent Coulson. Is New York not a part of the United States of America or a part of this world? Are we to leave this random patch of land to bedlam and whatever the fuck they may come up with simply because they have one bullshit idea? This is a state that thought that a rat that ate pizza was worth national attention. They thought that a frigid waterfall was a national landmark. Do you leave these people in charge of their own shit? Really? The think the Buffalo Bills have a chance of winning the Super Bowl. Continually."

Crossing his arms again, he looks to Coulson and Carol. "You really want to leave this state to a newly formed government agency that has no fucking clue what they're doing?"

To Carol, he raises an eyebrow, "You didn't offer your suggestion."


Only as Coulson gives his opinion, as requested, does Carol take her gaze from Fury to affix upon the resurrected man. The incredulity etched into her expression reveals the gist of her opinion on that entire suggestion.
She did ask for it but Holy @#$% she didn't think the man would go so far against Registration.
As he is her superior officer she isn't about to blurt out her thoughts on the matter without being asked for it, but it's very clear from her disaster of a poker face that she has them. As Fury lives up to his name, Carol seems to agree with much of the sentiment as she does not look to question the Director once while dressing the unkilled Agent down.
Snapping out of her moment of disbelief she hesitates only a fraction of a second as Fury reminds her to speak.

"I'm saying this. The big concern people involved seem to have is choice. My biggest concern is the potential of sabotage." She states bluntly. Perhaps not with the same level of bluntness that Coulson earned from his vacation in the afterlife but without much coaching of expression.
She leans forward then, resting a knuckles on the table surface as she furthers, "Anyone in the organization who doesn't want to Enforce this law can walk. No questions asked. We put together a solid severance package for each Agent, have HR follow up to make sure they get placed somewhere. It may hurt operations until we recruit up but I'd rather be short staffed than second guessing every Agent I'm in the field with."


"The organization," Coulson points out, "was formed to fight Nazis. Creepier-than-usual Nazis, to be sure, but Nazis. So yeah. Maybe we pull out when the State of New York, or its 33 counterparts, start acting like them. Our own Agents are being lined up like lambs to the slaughter here. Maybe we say we have a real problem with that. And frankly, without us to help out? They can't enforce Registration. The law collapses de facto because they won't have the manpower to chase anyone who isn't already breaking the law and hurting people. Hell, at that point, maybe they've given more than they've got, given the incentives."

If he's perturbed by Fury's rant (when has he ever been perturbed by a Fury rant)? Coulson gives no sign. He speaks in measured, even tones, laying it out as he sees it.

But then Carol makes her suggestion, and he can't help himself. The angry scoffing sound he makes is answer enough. He gives Fury a pointed look, hazel eyes sharp.


"If people wish to resign, I will not stop them." Fury looks to Carol. "However, I want to hear opposite sides. People who do disagree with our main thesis will certainly not be fired. I wish to know their thoughts. We are more than New York State, Captain Danvers."

A head turns to Phil. "Are you saying New York is being run by Nazis, Coulson?" There's a shake of his head. "They already have a office to look after this. And it is, I can assure you, a cluserfuck. They are reaching out to private consultation. We serve where we are needed." It is not always wanted or a thing they want to do, but they still must serve.

Looking between Coulson and Danvers, he shakes his head. "If you think this is where you must draw your divides, then you should figure out what that means between the two of you. I'll talk to each of you when you've gotten through it. This is a law in New York State and we will find a way to work within it. That is all."


When the Nazi comparison comes out Carol shuts her eyes and bites down the groan-like grunt before it can make it out of her throat. Instead she straightens with a mighty exhale as she turns to Coulson in full. "I'm going to pretend real hard you did not just equate the State of New York with the Third Reich."

To the rest of Coulsons' argument she does not refute nor endorse. Matters of what they have the manpower to do or not do, that's above her pay grade. Besides, she wants his opinions known. Though, this talk awakens a new ember of anxiety she did not expect. She knew some of the newer recruits would likely take up her suggestion of walking, she honestly had not suspected Coulson could be one of them until now.
Sure, he disagreed with the Law. He had reservations, as should they all. But Coulson is career. The man literally gave his life for the cause and came back for more by the grace of God and Miracle.

When Fury offers his rebuttal she flusters but straightens, returning to attention as he speaks the magic words 'That Is All'.
"Sir." She responds simply, acknowledging the order and goes quiet. She will not budge an inch until the Director has left the room, as per decorum.


"Acting like isn't the same as 'is,'" Coulson points out, to what both of them have to say. "Just like legal isn't really the same thing as right. They are taking an action that is similar to actions taken by that historical group. But pretend all you want, Captain. That is, after all, what everyone else is trying to do. Pretend this is okay."

By grace of God. By grace of Miracle. By grace of metas. It was a meta who plucked his soul from the cold clutches of death. Two metas who hunted him down and anchored his wandering spirit. A meta who fixed his brain when the reanimation process drove him mad. Even if he didn't have certain individuals he's highly protective of, like Sloane Albright, Coulson has some reasons to be angrier about this law post-reanimation than pre-reanimation, though the historical context would have severely bothered him either way.

But Fury lays down his will, and his will amounts to: work it out, kids.

He nods, sharply, and says, "Well, before you go. I have a data mining request I need your authorization to forward. Benjamin Palmer. He was obsessed with Item 444. We have to have picked up other pieces of technology from the same alien civilization over the years. I destroyed his primary prize, but that doesn't mean he won't turn to others. If we pinpoint where the others are then we develop a list of potential targets, places where he might show up. It would probably be good to get that problem dealt with sooner rather than later."


"We're not letting good agents walk because of personal ideals." Fury gives Carol a very firm look on that. "If they don't wish to be involved in registration, there's a lot of the rest of the world to deal with."

Fury turns to go at that. It's Coulson's ask about Palmer that makes him pause. "I'll look into those files, but Palmer died years ago, Coulson."

Others may wait for a response. Nick Fury? He pushes through the doors in front of him and lets Coulson and Danvers leave everything else to each other.


As Director Fury gives that last offering of facts before storming out, Captain Marvel then slumps into the chair she's been looming over the entire time. An exhausted breath escapes her as she slumps her forehead into her propped hand. Fingers combed through her short golden bangs as she silently mumbles to herself.

The questions on this Palmer and Item 444 is overlooked. To be honest in SHIELD there's any one of a hundred secret ops being run and she has enough professional courtesy not to look into investigations of other Agents, especially higher ranking Agents, without good cause.
Though that might change very soon.

"So." Carol's voice breaches into the audible range, "It looks like neither of us got what we wanted."
Coulson's words echo in her mind 'Pretend this is okay'. "I have to admit I did not peg you for the insubordinate type. And I'm the hotshot fighter pilot."


Fury's statement about Palmer causes such a 'what the Hell?' look to cross Phil Coulson's face. Because it's wrong, it's all wrong, and he knows Fury knows it's wrong. He knows Fury knows Palmer killed him. So why—

But Carol is speaking.

His expression is closed down. Inscrutable when he turns to face her. "And I did not peg you for the type to blindly do anything as long as it's the law. Starting with trying to throw a good portion of your fellow Agents right under the bus. And is it? Insubordinate? I was asked for my opinion. I expressed it. If you didn't want to hear it you could have called Fury in for a private meeting."

His voice is as neutral as his face now.

The truth is, the major change in Phil isn't a change in personality, or ethics, or drive. Those are all the same. His integrity remains in tact. His values remain in tact. What is missing is his patience. What is new is the disillusionment he feels towards a fair bit of things he devoted his life to. And a complete inability to give a damn over what anyone thinks or does about what he thinks or does. And either way, when he is angry, as he is now, it starts in a controlled fashion. Like packing C4. Extra tight.


In the moment of silence, Carol assumes that Phil is simply disgusted with the situation in general. Only when the silence becomes pronounced does she lift an eye to Coulson's reaction, only catching the faintest hint of.. Something.. Before he returns to his otherwise perfect poker face, and then lets her have it. Again.

She sits up slowly, arms slumping on the table as she takes the admonishment in stride. Once he's finished his sentence she gestures with a red-gloved hand to a chair on the opposite side of the very long meeting table, "Feel like making yourself comfortable or are you going to storm out in protest now?"
She then adds immediately after to possibly head off that very thing, "I did ask for your opinion. It isn't easy to hear but I did ask. Thank you for that." Her expression is clearly irate but she's maintaining civility. She's committed to talking this out because the alternative isn't something she wants to imagine. At all.


There's a twitch of a smile. An honest one, despite his anger. "No. No storming out. That's what would have happened had Fury taken your suggestion. I would have been the first. Effective immediately. But as he did not, here I remain."

He spreads his hands.

And chuffs a little. "You know, if anyone were to lay guesses on who would be on what side of this debate I'm willing to bet they'd have cast our roles flip-flopped."

But he studies her with a keen gaze, and asks, "What do you want from me, Carol? You're pissed off. Why? Because I don't share your opinion? Because I defended my own vigorously?"


Carol takes a moment to collect herself, avoiding blowing up in anger further as she works out her jaw. Tongue running along the inside of her lower lip then taking an audible breath once more.
It's pretty clear why she's never been on the espionage side of SHIELD. A Spy she is not.
"I think you misunderstood my request, Coulson." She offers firmly, fingers lacing together as she furthers, "I know people are going to resign in protest over this. Thinking we're going into Mutant Town like the Warsaw Ghetto in '43, which you've already accused us of before boots even hit the ground. If people don't believe in what they're doing then I want to give them a golden parachute. They're good people and they deserve good careers somewhere if it isn't going to be with us. Let them walk away from this thing without forcing anyone to do anything against their conscience."

She lets that clarification sit before she then moves on to the next suggestion about their roles being reversed, "Then they don't know us very well if they did that? I suppose you could say I'm pissed off at myself. I didn't want to believe you were so completely against this thing that you were willing to abandon our charges and responsibility. Look.."

She places the flat of her hand on the table and leans towards him, looking up slightly as her simmering anger gives way to genuine sympathy, "I will never question your devotion to your duty. #$%^ Man you literally died in the line of duty and came back for more. No one can expect more out of you. You sure you don't want to just go on sabbatical for awhile? Take some time for yourself?"


He is a spy, and a negotiator. So instead of answering directly, right away, each of her points (though he does look incredibly weary at the last), he says softly, "You know, the last time some of my agents went after a Hydra hole-up one of the Hydra agents who wound up dead was a Senator. That was a Hell of a cover-up job. Couple of business magnates too, but it's the Senator who really struck me. Asking myself how many other people in our government are Hydra that we don't know about. How they might be influencing certain decisions, one way or the other. The way people came out of open war, slid softly into America, and began massaging their ideas, and their ideals, into the national narrative."

He stands, goes to the fake window, presses one palm against the artificial landscape, watches it shimmer.

"And I also think how good people aren't the only students of history. There's the old saw about people who forget their history being doomed to repeat it, but evil people learn from it too. So no, it won't be exactly like that. It may well be worse, in the end, but it will sell well. Soundbite well. It'll look very legitimate. Feel very legitimate. And it won't be all metas in the crosshairs. Some of them will be left alone. Lifted up. Exalted even. Those who film well. Those who believe in the system. Those who are willing to enforce the laws, saying, well, if they had nothing to hide they shouldn't have anything to worry about. They will point to those icons and say: well, see, we're not bigoted, because we just love these guys."


Captain Danvers follows Coulson with her attention as he roams to the false window. Her anger waning as he describes the op that rooted Hydra out of high office. "That is why we are here. That is why we need men like you and Fury. To root out our enemies and destroy them." She soundlessly slides her chair to an angle to better turn her head, looping an arm over the backrest. As his narrative begins to take a very specific turn her expression begins to darken once more.
"I see. So you're saying evil people are going to use me and Rogers to push their agenda? Are.. using?" Placing emphasis on the changed tense, just repeating her interpretation of his words back to him. Then waving her hand before her, "Do you have proof? Any leads on who could be playing me?"
She knows what she is. An Icon, one of the golden children of the new normal. Her face is on more than one poster and billboard, along with Captain America, Superman and others. She doesn't think she's particularly vain but it's a conscious effort to establish the image. She knows how powerful it is to motivate people. She took it for granted once and she does not any more.


"Institutionalism is playing you," Coulson says, wearily. "No specific person is needed. It is a trick that has been thoroughly worked out and used in other cases. When the system does the work for the people in power, they get to keep their hands clean. They even get to lie to themselves and keep their consciences clean. I don't even understand how you can be for this. Why you're at all comfortable with it. You're not the kind of person who knows she's safe so doesn't care if others are or not. And Hell, maybe I'm an old man who needs to throw in the towel. Maybe I'm being alarmist. I just know…I've defended a set of values all my life."

He turns, slides his hands into his pockets. "And to fail to question whether this organization continues to uphold those values is in itself, to me, a failure of that code."

He shakes his head and says, "What do you see in this thing, Carol? What is it about it that makes you think it's a good, reasonable thing to do?"


"I am a soldier."
Carol underscores with intensity. Her gaze never wavering from Coulson as he hovers at the window.
"People seem to look at my colorful costume and forget the fact that I flew missions in Afghanistan. I put munitions in caves full of combatants and I know damned well not everyone in those places deserved what they got. I had a career fighting against insurgents, flying in a half billion dollar war machine against people who had soviet era gun placements at absolute best and not a chance in Hell against me."
A pause.
"And that's before I bumbled into enough firepower to go toe to toe with a Kryptonian."

She tries not to boast about how destructively powerful she is. It's unseemly in the meta community in general and her career change has been focused on making people less afraid of her. As opposed to how afraid they likely should be.

"I did this because I believe in my Country. I took an Oath with a capital Goddamned O to defend the Constitution. Sometimes I wonder how many innocent kids were in the buildings I blew straight to Mars but I did my duty."

She takes a breath to cool down, her tone rose as the words flew but she reigns herself back to continue.
"We don't always agree with our leaders. We might question our orders but at the end of the day we either do the job or we quit. In the Air Force we do not quit. Not ever. And SHIELD is the same way."

With that she shifts the narrative, "SHIELD isn't just about destroying enemies foreign and domestic. It's about putting eyes on them. Your right that institution can be abused but I have faith in us. I have faith in you. If there is someone pulling the strings on this, if this is part of some grand conspiracy to grab power I know you will find them and put a stop to it. Or someone in SHIELD will. But until that time we find proof.."

She holds up her arms, perhaps helplessly before confirming, "We cannot jump at every shadow. If we disobey every Law that we THINK could be used for evil then we devolve into complete anarchy really damned fast. Can this be abused? Yes. But we can keep it from being so if we stay focused and alert."


"Isn't it already evil? Already, people's privacy is being completely violated with an invasive series of medical tests. Their biometrics and genetics are being stored. I can't even begin to tell you how many ways that could be used for incredible harm. I'm not saying there's a grand conspiracy. I'm saying institutionalized oppression is a thing. I'm saying this isn't at all Constitutional. It flies directly in the face of everything America promises. Everything this Country is supposed to be. You are a soldier. I am an intelligence specialist. In my world, you question everything. You question everyone. Because sometimes the person issuing the orders is secretly working for the other side."

He rubs a hand over his balding head and says, "I'm glad one of us has faith in us. Or in me. I don't think it's a grand conspiracy. I think some people will benefit from it nevertheless, and will seek to strengthen the system that benefits them. I think it's fear, prejudice, and jealousy running some very old scripts. There's an awful lot I haven't managed to stop. And it's one thing to go toe-to-toe with a Kryptonian or anyone. That's straightforward. Easy. It's another to try to go toe-to-toe with a whole system. A whole society. There's no target to strike at."


"Do NOT go that route with me, Coulson. SHIELD's mission charter since Agent Carter put pen to paper was to violate privacy to see if they're up to no damned good. We've been paranoid about abso-God-Damned-Lutely everyone since someone put a bird on this circle." Knuckles rapping the icon of SHIELD on the table, "Don't lecture me about the sanctity of privacy since we've both made it our life's work to strip it from everyone we've ever looked at. Like you just said, 'Question everyone and everything'. Guess what. That applies to people too."
She speaks up now, eyes hardening, "The Game Has Changed. This isn't about some Soviet Spook sneaking an envelope of Anthrax through a port of entry anymore. New York was literally invaded by actual Demons from Hell. Hell's Kitchen was demolished in the worst case of Domestic Terrorism we've ever seen. We were invaded by Aliens from another planet before that. This isn't the good ol' days where we're angry about being called a communist or back when I was blowing up buildings in Afghanistan. Thousands of people are dying from these events and they are NOT slowing down."
She rises from her chair, leaning onto her hands while maintaining intensity, "Prejudice and Jealousy are luxuries. Fear is the coin of the realm now. You are damned right that fear has driven people to write this Law and they are not wrong to be very, very afraid."
She throws a hand to the fake window in the general direction of Metropolis, "Superman could kill every human being in a hundred mile radius within a matter of minutes if he had a really bad day. I trust him but people have a right to know how dangerous he could be. People have a right to know how dangerous I can be. People have a Right to know."
She stabs her finger at the table, thumping into the lacquered finish with worrying impact, "People have a Right to know how much danger they are in if they are in a room with a Mutant. Our own intelligence suggests some Mutants could fight Superman one-on-one and possibly even beat him. Do we just ignore the fact that a scared teenager could kill everyone in their school on sheer accident? No. We do not. I feel for these kids but at the very least we have a responsibility to the other children. Some Mutants are walking weapons of mass destruction and we need to identify them. The ones who aren't, which is most of them? We can leave them in peace. Hell, we can keep an eye on them to make sure bastards like the Purifiers don't pull their racist bullshit on them."

She sinks back into her chair, much of her tirade spent as she furthers with less enthusiasm, "The next War won't be between Nations or Ethnicities. It will be between individuals. People with the power of entire armies. The existence of the Free World rests on identifying every last one of them wherever and whomever they might be. If we do not put eyes on them the only ones that will are bad actors who do not intend to give them a chance at Liberty."
Only then does she finally crack a single laugh, processing one of the last items that Coulson mentioned, "Ever try armwrestling Superman? It isn't as easy as you think.."


"We never performed medical procedures on people en masse without their consent, at basic gunpoint."

Coulson's eyes are now blazing, which of course means his tone has gotten quieter than ever.

He's a little touchy. Lately. About medical procedures happening without someone's consent.

"There's a goddamn difference. And how exactly does registering metas stop Demons from Hell? Hell's Kitchen was destroyed by a guy with no more powers than me. He made five phone calls and it was done."

He steps closer to her, jabbing a finger in the air. "We had the Index for dangerous powered people. We tracked them when it was necessary. And we still didn't go stealing their genetic data. We made agreements and gave training to the people who were accidentally dangerous. We put the ones who were malicious in the goddamn Raft. The system worked just fine, and it wasn't a broad, sweeping bit of nonsense that puts some F-level 12-year old mutant with say, a telepathic gift he barely knows about in the sights of people who can and probably will misuse it. There's reasonable precaution and then there's just overstepping. And you do realize none of the truly malicious ones are going to register, right? They're not going to line up for this. The only ones we're catching in this dragnet are law-abiding citizens who deserve to live their lives in peace."


"Medical procedures.." Carol breathes quietly as Coulson then enters his own chilling fury. She meets the man's outrage with a level, unshaken look.
After his firestorm has a moment of pause, Carol pounces to her feet yet again. Looming over the table once more in fierce regard as her tone gains strength.

"That twelve year old mutant is ALREADY in the sights of people who can and will misuse him! The Brotherhood is actively recruiting and Xavier's crew is busy creating a paranormal Playboy Mansion filled with their own paramilitary group of kids!"
"Before we worked quiet and small but this isn't a quiet problem anymore! The Age of Metahumanity has begun and we need work FAST to ensure common people are SAFE! The Index worked fine at the time but the problem is spilling out and it is NOT just about the Mutants!"
Captain Marvel pounds her fist a fraction too hard on the table surface, causing no damage but the thunderous echo from the impact is louder than intended.
"ALIENS and DEMONS are real, Coulson. They are in the meta category as well and we are comically in the dark about most of them. We have extraterrestrial immigrants coming out of the woodwork and that isn't if they're coming in on an attack vector in warships or out of magic portals. We need to identify them and we can NOT be subtle about it anymore! You accused me of 'pretending' then let me tell you we have all got to stop pretending this is the same status quo anymore. It hasn't been since Rogers stepped out of that experimental tube and I think it took all of sixty years for us to catch up to that fact!"
She calms only a fraction as she then answers the latter point, "The fact that most of the real bastards won't willingly register is why we're here. We are going to find them wherever they are before they have a chance to do something truly awful. At least the ones that DO Register we do not have to worry about! We can keep them safe and not worry about any surprises about what they can and cannot do. We narrow it down to JUST the bad guys."


"You can't keep them safe," Coulson argues. "You can't. The freaking State of New York, now has, already, from the early registrants, enough data to hand over to scientists in the field of gene editing. They could create a genocide weapon for those people. Already, people who are registered, who have that on their public record, are having trouble securing homes and jobs. I know damn well what is real. I just spent five goddamn months as a ghost. That's the whole problem. We're throwing people under the bus. Good people."

His own voice drops another note.

"Do you know what Sloane Albright wanted to be when she grew up? A musician. And she was good. She was damn good. She had a life. She had friends. She had a family."

He takes another step forward. "Then one day she comes into contact with Terrigen mists, and when that's over with, she's got fish scales that will forever mark her as different. She's got a fat lot of nothing. She loses her University scholarship. Her parents abandon her. Most of her friends do, too. All of a sudden her life becomes about controlling powers she never wanted, never asked for. She did nothing wrong. And I have watched her struggle to put her life back together after that, watched her duck her head as people stared at her, tried to teach her how to hold her head high, to be proud of who she was, of what she's made of herself. The Sloane Albrights of the world are going to get ground into powder in the name of your protection."

He turns on his heel. "There's a better way," he says, and now he sounds downright cold. "This is not the answer, Captain. But unfortunately for Sloane, and for Dani Moonstar, who saved my life, and for Emma Frost, who saved my sanity, and for Rocket, Groot, and Ms. Marvel, who saved my humanity, you already have your way. It's real, it's happening, it's a freight train that cannot be stopped. History will judge which one of us is right. "

He throws open the door and shoots her a narrow-eyed glare. "And who knows. You might even get your way on my presence in this organization, too. Whatever you say about why and how it was founded? I hardly recognize it anymore. I hardly recognize any of you anymore."


"I AM just like her!"
Carol roars. She pushes the chair next to her out of the way. It slides to the far wall with a solid whack. Stepping around the table to face Coulson directly as a nerve was struck, "My God when I saw the file where you took her under your wing I was SO damned happy for her! What do you think happened to ME? I was a test pilot for NASA, I was on a short list to be an Astronaut! The Goddamned Dream Job of my generation! I wanted that so bad I could TASTE it but the Kree happened!"
She thumbs to herself, pressing the tip to her collar bone, "I didn't know what the Hell I was for months! I lost EVERYTHING. I was in a PIT until SHIELD dragged me out of it! They took a chance on me and I've been DAMNED grateful ever since!"
She takes another step, "I saw being a part of something bigger saved me and gave me back everything I ever wanted. I know, I KNOW we can give that same thing for the kid. For ALL the kids who're scared and frightened! We can only do that if we know WHO THEY ARE!"

And then Coulson turns heel and grows cold. Captain Danvers stops, her expression loses its fury as she can see his emotions slamming shut. She knows full well the conversation is now over. The names he rattles on about his salvation batter against her thoughts but her face only breaks when Ms Marvel is mentioned. Flinching as if struck but speaks nothing of the other names save one.
"Do not take away Sloane's chance to be a hero."
Of all the final words to give Coulson on the subject, those are the most heartfelt and the most real. Sure, there's other jabs about history and philosophy she could go to but when she breaks it down it's about the kids. If she begs Coulson for anything, it is that.


Something in that makes him hesitate, stop in his tracks without turning back around, and it's before the bit about Sloane. Just a little bit. Just for a moment. Maybe it's the reminder. He was there for that, after all. It's hard to remember the scared kid under the icon, even for him. But his emotions have slammed shut. He can't seem to pry them open again. His hands slide into his pockets. Everything about him has become inscrutable now, from body language, to tone, to facial expression.

"Sloane," he says, after a moment of loaded silence, "is already a hero."

And then he walks on, jamming his finger against the elevator button without even looking to see if he's asking it to go up or down. Sometimes, any direction is as good as another, so long as it's away.

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