Secret Decoder Rings
Roleplaying Log: Secret Decoder Rings
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Quake makes contact with Coulson to tell him how she's positioned herself.

Other Characters Referenced: Frenzy, Eddie Morales, Peggy Carter, Sloane Albright, Quicksilver, The Scarlet Witch, Nick Fury
IC Date: May 13, 2019
IC Location: One of Coulson's Rural Safehouses
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 May 2019 02:45
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

This had been a long time coming. Honestly Quake still didn't want to be doing it. She tried to hold it off for as long as possible. But, the truth is that things are getting ever complicated and a time might come around where she -needs- to have some support on the inside. Assuming Coulson is willing to offer that assistance.

Just like the last time with the jump drive she parks a ways out then covers the rest on foot. The key still fits the lock, no need to force entry. Though this time she doesn't drop off some baggage and make a run for the door. Today she means to lure Phil out, which comes down to a lot of finger-crossing that he'll 'get the message' that someone is camping out at his safe house.

Also living inside of a van doesn't provide nearly enough opportunities to freshen up. Sometimes it's the little things in life, such as being able to stand under a hot shower for a while, that make all of the difference. It kills some time. As does finding something for dinner. Then she's sitting, facing the front door. Watching it like a hawk while working away at a smartpad.

She has no idea how long to wait. 'Long enough' seems to be the popular answer. The envelope isn't on the counter so -someone- came through here before…

* * *

There are quite a few methods that Phil has at his disposal to know when someone is lurking around his safe houses. Indeed, Quake gets sighted through the scope of a sniper rifle long before he comes close. When he realizes it's her he sighs in relief, and then puts the rifle away. He stashes it in a locked storage shed six miles into the woods of the property. His safehouses are mostly rural, places with woods he's learned like the back of his hands, places to lure a pursuer or trip up a target. A dozen places to hide cameras and motion sensors and all sorts of other things.

Then he's changing into a different jacket and a hat, and a pair of jeans. The Coulson who raps twice on the window and then slides into the passenger side door is a different Coulson than the one that got up in that tree. Not that she'd be aware, not unless she already spotted him.

"If you're bringing me the presidential nuclear armament codes," he says with mild humor, "I might have to take a pass."

* * *

It's a whole new side of Coulson which Quake never gets to see. That she's spending time in the crosshairs of his rifle goes completely unnoticed. Probably for the better, too.

Out in the woods without many leaves on the tree that rusty powder blue GMC van is easy to spot. It's a trade-off in her mind. Now Phil will know she's operating out of this vehicle but at the same time she's much better assured that their conversation remains between them. Who knows what kind of surveillance his place has? How much of it might potentially get hacked into? Hey, it could happen.

The door is unlocked. Large dark eyes jump up from the screen toward Phil when he steps inside. If he looks in the back he'd see what looks like a mobile hacker's paradise. There's a lot of kit back there. It looks expensive, too.

However, if he looks at the woman hunched up sideways behind the wheel with a foot hooked onto the edge of the seat then he'd see a lot less scared doofy hacker chick from before and a lot more 'no really, I'm totally serious now' charcoal blacked out eyes. At least she's finally embraced the traditional SHIELD 'black on black' guidelines for dress.

Inside, though? Still a scared little hacker girl.

And immediately Coulson starts with a joke. Quake had been playing out this meeting in her head for -weeks- and at no point did it involve dipping her head and laughing. Not once. Not ever. Damn you, Coulson.

"Well, you've just -completely- derailed this whole speech that I had figured out, so..hang in there. This is another one of those whole 'you trust me, I trust you' things," she motions back and forth with her hands.

Hands that are wearing some sort of long gloves which are decidedly -not- SHIELD tech.

Her mouth hangs open slightly as she draws in a breath, pauses, closes her mouth, then forces a smile. "I've been working an angle. Trying to dig up some dirt on some people we'd all like to see pay for what they've done. But you need to come clean with me about something first."

Back to Coulson she looks. Back to 'I'm totally so serious' she goes. "What's really going on with this mutant 'cure' that SHIELD had at the Triskelion, AC?"

* * *

Coulson answers without hesitation. "Fury's playing his cards close to his chest on this one, but it turns out we found the stuff years ago, Terrigen. Learned what it did to mutants years ago. We were running experiments on low, concentrated, safe doses to try to figure out how to protect mutants from the terrigen gas. Now I don't doubt Hydra snapped some of it up for its own purposes, and I don't doubt that some of the darker undercurrents we caught came from those sources. But SHIELD, the real SHIELD, was on the up-and-up. Director Fury wouldn't let me issue a statement. He says he's not in the business of sharing information that doesn't need to be shared even if it would make us look more sympathetic."

Coulson spreads his hands. "I've taken the time to verify what Fury had to say about it and his story checks out. You'd just need some back channels I didn't have until very recently to check them. He'd have saved me some…unnecessary plotting…had he just trusted me with that information in the first place, and with that information I might have…well. Done is done. The point is, there is still a SHIELD inside the mess Hydra has made of the organization."

* * *

It's a much more thorough and forthcoming response than Quake had been expecting, and it shows on her expression. "Okay, that's..like..everything I could have possibly wanted to know and then some. It'd seem that you're still investing some confidence in me, so…" She tucks the pad between raised leg and stomach then holds two thumbs up. "Go team."

"As for your earlier present, I guess..I only have to things to say there. I didn't know what else to do with that data, and don't tell me what you did with it. I don't wanna know. I promise I wasn't just trying to flex my cyber muscles for bragging rights in getting that info."

Now the pad is gently relocated onto the dashboard. "I was on the helicarrier the day that it fell. Your little back door trick on the trackers gave me a way in to deactivate the inhibitors. I tried to do -something- to help but..it kinda..backfired. Bigtime."

She shakes her head. "Anyway, one of the Brotherhood attackers came across me. She actually offered to let me -join- them. That was before I blasted her ass out of the control room," she sheepishly says while rubbing the back of her neck.

"I tracked her down, Coulson. I had to prove myself before they'd let me in. That's why I did the hack. Well… It worked. I'm inside. They're keeping everything on super lockdown but..I'm doing what I can. That's why I disappeared and started going by 'Quake.' SHIELD can't know about this."

Her tone suggests a demand that they not know, though it's again her eyes which are more asking, maybe pleading, that her cover not be blown.

* * *

Coulson's eyes grow wider and wider throughout this recitation. He whistles low and leans back to think about this. "I can cover you. I can put certain phrases in the file that will let Fury know I have you undercover somewhere, but not where. I run a lot of undercover assets and he doesn't bother asking about most of them. But it means I'll get a call if you get arrested while working for the Brotherhood, and not someone who will hang you out to dry."

If he thought for one moment she was just flexing her muscles it doesn't show on his face, in regards to the data. But really, as big a bomb as the data was…this is the bigger one.

"I assume SHIELD not knowing a thing is your way of covering yourself to make sure they don't begin to suspect you're acting as a double agent? A good plan, given there are Brotherhood plants inside of SHIELD."

* * *

A long, calming breath is claimed when Coulson straight up embraces the idea. Quake nods softly, first to his offer about covering her and then about the double agent play.

"I saw a window and ran with it. I'm not … I'm still with SHIELD." Just to make it perfectly clear. "I nearly died the day of the attacks. A lot of good people -did- die. We can't let them get away with that. I'm not going to let them. And I want Agent Carter to see that I'm more than some 'metahuman asset' probie. A while ago at the Triskelion some gal with blue hair told me that I had to work my ass off to become a field agent."

She dips her head and gives a little 'and here we are' gesture with hands.

"They've been helping me to learn how to use my powers. If SHIELD corners me then I have the power to push back without doing serious damage. The Brotherhood's still watching my every move like a hawk, they've got people -everywhere.- I can't slip up."

Of course, there's more. Isn't there always?

"As for Governor's Island, where the registration database was. I came across something weird out there, I..I can't quite explain it. I had the data, I was trying to leave but the alarm had sounded. Some kinda machine was flying around overhead, I couldn't tell if it was one of the Sentinels, but… At one point it just LOOKED at me and..I blanked out. I don't remember anything after that point. If not for some help I wouldn't have made it off of the island."

* * *

Coulson actually cracks a grin about the blue haired girl. "I wouldn't worry too much about Morales," he says mildly. "She is a mess wrapped inside an enigma wrapped inside a forest fire." All of his adorable little problem protoges, running off to become double and triple agents. He ought to feel prouder than a Papa at prom. Instead, flickers of worry live deep in those hazel eyes.

But the news about Governor's Island makes him frown, and he leans back as he thinks that over. "If we can find the answer with the data you already got to us, then we will." If Tony and JARVIS can't find it, then it can't be found.

He looks over to Quake and says, "My main concern is you might run afoul of one of their telepaths. And lately I don't know enough for sure about who has ties to whom or who is talking to whom to send you to one of the two people I know of who can help you with that. Like you said. People everywhere. Well…actually I know of two more, but I don't know if I have a close enough relationship with either one of them to ask. And the Scarlet Witch might detect their work anyway. When you're with them, you need to be convinced you are one of them. Though it's possible they're recruiting so hard and fast these days that they won't go looking so long as you don't give them a reason to look."

* * *

Oh hey, so 'Blue' does have a name! "I kinda got the impression," Quake admits with a thin smile. "But the point remains. If I'm going to be a part of the team then I want to be -a part of the team.- No more kid gloves and training wheels. That doesn't work for me."

It doesn't much help that Phil always has a somewhat troubled look about him. If he's more worried now than before she really can't tell.

"All I can say is good luck. I made sure to only take the registry files. Which..admittedly..wasn't easy, natural curiosity and all, but..I was behaving myself while I was misbehaving," is suggested with a smile.

Telepaths are certainly a concern. Perhaps ironically, the thought had run through her mind more than once. That Phil might know some people who could 'help' with the matter earns him a look of surprise, a clear expression of 'they can -do that??-' Telepathy is scary business, yo.

"They seem to be," she confirms about the recruitment drive. "There's a nightclub in Metropolis where one of the gals from the helicarrier has been luring metas in. Her name's 'Frenzy.' Dark skin, built like a tank inside of a tank. She's …" Quake gently sighs.

"Coulson, I don't know how much you know about the Brotherhood, but… Once I had proven myself? Frenzy took me in like family. I mean these people all genuinely -care- for one another. If they didn't attack us I could have easily joined their cause without a second thought. It's… It's been kinda tough."

After all, finding the truth about her missing and nameless parents had been a huge driving force in her life.

* * *

Coulson glances over at her, waiting for her to finish without prompting her this time. Letting her gather her own thoughts. The truth is, whatever she has to say is nothing he'll be able to act on any time soon. But such is the nature of having someone undercover. Information that has to be very carefully used, if at all. No raids on this nightclub, for example. Indeed, Coulson won't want to use a thing until they're busy promoting her to the next level.

And to this end, he says quietly, "You realize this isn't an in-and-out in a month thing. You could be in there for years. You are definitely not playing in the kiddie pool any longer. You've cast yourself into something which we usually provide psychological counseling and training for. Both before the assignment, and after. Telepaths aside, the question is really if you're going to be able to do the things they'll want you to do for them, with no hesitation. On an assignment like this, you have to be one of them. There is no other way. Not until the moment comes, essentially, to use your position as the lynchpin to take down this entire organization. Daisy, I support you in this, and I know you can do it. But I also want you to think long and hard. If you need out, if you want out, tell me now, and let me extract you and hide you while it's good and early. While you're still just another recruit who fell away and chickened out. If you want to move forward I support you, but you need, you need…to really understand what you're about to put yourself through. It will not be pleasant."

* * *

There's reasons for that psychological counseling. Quake's already experienced it. It would be -entirely- too easy to fall into the trap of feeling like the Brotherhood is her real family. If Frenzy had been working out a sales pitch it was a damn good one but it goes well beyond a pitch. Their actions back up their claims. It's a terrorist organization, and yet Quake feels welcomed and almost at ease around them.

It's a complete paradox. It could break a person. It may well break her. But she's already thought about this. While Phil can see easily enough that she's truly listening to what he has to say about the matter, she also seems to have accepted her decision.

"I get it, Coulson. Look..SHIELD's on its knees right now. You guys don't have time to deal with my unstable powers and my complete lack of training. I'm in a unique position to see this through. Plus it's like a guaranteed way to not get stuck in yet another cubicle," she idly jokes.

A short pause follows, dark eyes downcast as fingertips lightly drum across that one raised knee. "I realize there's a lot riding on this, and for every one of those reasons I both want to see it through and understand what it might mean if I fail. We need a win, AC. And this is more than me wanting to prove myself to management, I promise. So..what can we do to make things run smoother." Her focus lifts up and returns to the senior agent. "A periodic check-in with you, or something? I'm real good at sending encrypted messages online. You're working with me here, so let me work with you."

* * *

Coulson nods, accepting it and letting it go. The caveat was issued, the out was given, and now they're moving forward. He rubs his fingers thoughtfully across his lips and says, "Direct contact, after this, might become too dangerous. They believe all of SHIELD is against them now."

The irony doesn't fail to escape him. He had come so close to doing exactly as they did.

Well. Not exactly. No loss of life in his plan. No exploded buildings. But plenty of erased data.

He works all angles of the problem, following that up with, "But anyone else you could get in touch with does exactly the opposite of what you want to do. We're going to have to go old school. Drops, physical drops, to set up meetings, in locations outside the state and well away from Brotherhood purviews. Small towns, Mom and Pop shops with no security cameras."

A ghost of a smile touches his lips.

"And no WiFi. Once a month, maybe once every two."

* * *

There's another little twist coming out of these interactions. Time spent in Coulson's presence might be few and far between but he's always done right by Quake. It's that whole 'family' feeling again. Her being in a unique position is quite accurate, her emotions are being pulled in two entirely opposed directions. But..it's cool. She's got this. All it takes is another nightmare of nearly drowning from the helicarrier crash to remind her what the truth is.

Good guys don't murder people. They just. Don't.

The thought of physical drops gets her mind working in a more productive direction. It starts with a smile and a showing of empty gloved hands. "No WiFi. We can make with the secret code phrases and decoder rings." He likes that oldschool stuff, right?

Hands drop back down before the first suggestion takes form. "There's always the taco place you took Uly and I to back in the day?" "Though that'd be a bit of a hike. I'm pretty well stuck in the Metropolis area for now."

* * *

"It's a good drop. It won't do for a meeting place now that we've already used it, but it's a decent drop," Coulson says with a nod. "In three days it will hold a code slip, and another location, where I'll leave the book that goes with the code slip. It's no ring, but it will make the book code work for you. The book will hold the next drop location. Each time we claim a drop we'll use the book code to set up a new one. The big advantage of doing it that way is nobody looks for that stuff anymore. Few people do. Just us oldsters. It's all data mining and hacking and bitcoin now, but the old ways worked for a reason. But don't get complacent."

Coulson gives her what can only be described as a Maximum Dad look. "The children of Magneto were no doubt trained on these techniques, and though I rather doubt they use them they might know about them. Plausible deniability, always. Your first drop will be under table 5C, under a reservation held in your name. Have lunch, don't just get it and go."

* * *

It's kind of funny that worrying about the dead drops and code books and meeting points and all is more complex than what Quake has already gone through! She might need a crash course in classic spy procedures just to keep from screwing something up. She's pretty bright, though. Quick to pick up on new ideas. Or old ideas, as the case may be. Taco Tuesday, 5C, enjoy the lunch, be careful not to mistakenly grab someone's wad of chewing gum, got it. And…

"You're giving me -that- look again," she softly observes with some clear amusement written across her features.

"Look. After what they did to SHIELD they've scattered. Most of them are lying real low. We can use their whole 'playing it safe' to our advantage, I'll have an easier time flying under the radar while they're spread out. Sure, this..'Scarlet Witch,'" she air-quotes "could probably make me in four seconds but I'm pretty certain that after what she did she's taking an extended vacation somewhere that isn't on this side of the planet. If you can think of a better time OR a better person to do this then I'm all ears."

Cue expectant look. Yes, she most certainly did give this a lot of thought.

* * *

Phil Coulson pat pats the air.

"We're past that. We're doing this," he says, calm as a pond on a windless day. "The look is just worry. I even agree with you, and am proud of you for seeing the opportunity and seizing it. It is just nothing I would have asked anyone to do. Not even my most seasoned agents. I'm not sure, if I had powers to pull it off, I'd have the backbone for it, and that's God's own truth. My guts are turning to water just thinking about it. Nobody is more vicious when they learn they've been betrayed than someone who takes you in like family. So you can just allow me my worry, Agent Johnson."

He rubs a slow hand over his balding head, considering. And finally says, "The moment. The second you think you might need an extraction, you find a way to get in touch with me. Even if you do have to go all hacker to do it. Make all my Netflix profiles say Help, I don't care. Just make sure you do it. Use your best judgement, but don't be afraid to pull the plug."

* * *

Alright. Maybe Quake had pushed a little harder than necessary. Phil has his chance to say it like it is. It's a surprisingly worthwhile speech, too. Once again her gaze ducks downward and she turns a few degrees away from the man. There's praise in what he has to say and it doesn't go unnoticed. Nor does the capstone to the speech. Coulson just embraced her as an agent… This brings her attention back to him, eyeing the senior agent with a whole new sort of expression.

It kinda feels like an apology might be in order but somehow she'd expect him to wave that off as well.

This here is a tougher sort of 'love.' Coulson cares and he has his own ways of showing it. She puts the jokes, the excuses, and the bravado aside and gently nods. "I will."

Moving onto a more personal note with another downward drift of dark eyes, Quake says "Sloane was right about you. It's no secret that Agent Carter and I haven't seen eye to eye on ..pretty much anything… You're what kept me here, Coulson. Not as some 'asset' or stray. You're what made me want to be here and make a difference." Shaking her head some, "That isn't something the Brotherhood can earn."

* * *

Coulson's cheeks go a little pink at that. "You shouldn't have been brought in the way you were. That's not the way. Nobody would have blamed you if you had not wanted to stay, least of all me. But…I'm glad you did."

The Cheshire Cat's smile slides back into place and he takes out his wallet, pulling out a debit card. The name on it just says K.C. Smith. He lays it on the seat between them. "In case you need funds in a hurry," he says. "And with all that done, I should get out of here. Every moment I sit here is a moment you could get very unlucky indeed. The Brotherhood definitely knows my face."

He puts his hand on the door handle, but gives her the opportunity to say more if she wishes.

* * *

Quake's face just immediately lights up as Coulson gets some color in his cheeks. "Oh my god, is that—?" The thought can't be finished, she's honestly giggling. Once more an open palm is held up. "You keep my secret safe, I'll keep yours safe."

Wait, really? More financial backing? She's not going to turn down the offer! The card is picked up and glanced over, lightly smiling at his continued support. Though now he's also ready to leave. "Yah..I suppose so."

Though as his hand lands upon the door she smiles again and motions around. "So hey, what do you think of my new home? Not bad, right? Maybe when this whole thing's over you can come over and party sometime. After all, you paid for it."

* * *

Coulson is draining emergency accounts around the world these days, but it's for good causes. Liquidating hard assets carefully gathered over the years. He owns little, spends lightly, never is home and has no family. Long story short he had little to do with his money except keep it ready to keep someone alive.

His lips twitch when she says he bought it. He says, "I can't complain about the equipment, but you could have gotten a van with a higher safety rating."

The goofiest thing in the world to worry about at this juncture, but he says it all the same.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License