Confidential Matters
Roleplaying Log: Confidential Matters
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Michael, after his attack on the Triskelion, is debriefed by Peggy.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 07, 2018
IC Location: The Triskelion
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 09 Dec 2018 22:22
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's been an ordeal.

That is, in fact, a very British understatement. Two SHIELD officers dead. Three others wounded. And an enemy made it further into the Triskelion than should have ever been possible, even for someone who had clearance. There should have been measures that stopped Michael Carter's rampage, but the weakened defenses made for the perfect target.

After Courtier and Peggy took him down, SHIELD doctors were able to check his systems, helped by Courtier's knowledge of his cybernetics. What they found was essentially malicious code squeezed into a back door that from the looks of it, MI-6.5 built in but never made use of. He was, essentially, hacked. The perpetrators were able to not only dial his empathy way back, but plug a directive right into his mind that forced him on a particular course of action.

Why his government never used that is quite obvious. Rule Britannia is a scalpel, and that programming turned him into a hammer. It would have been, frankly, a waste of his talents to ever use him that way. Besides, why force his compliance when Michael had always given it willingly? So several questions remain: why was this done, and how was it done? And is the programming completely gone from his system?

To answer that last question, Peggy Carter seemed the best candidate. Michael is somewhat recovered, though he is looking haggard and raw, and there's a bandage at the base of his neck. It's definitely all healed over by now, but for whatever reason, he hasn't removed the bandage. He's seated, bent over, holding a styrofoam cup of water. He's in gray sweatpants and a t-shirt - standard issue.

* * *

They're in a doubly secured room. The room itself is secure, and then Michale himself is in a containment module that is meant to ensure that people with multiple kinds of powers are neutralized. Even if he gets out of the first one, there is still the second they will give SHIELD the time to prepare the proper lockdowns.

There can be no doubt that they are both being watched right now. Michael Carter, after his inclusion in SHIELD, went rogue. And so Peggy Carter is here in multiple roles. She is the one that insisted Michael be accepted as a SHIELD agent. She is also his sister. It's a strange thing. Though she certainly knows him incredibly well, the one who may arguably know this man better - Rami - is also not yet a fully trusted member. Who know sif this is a multi-pronged attack. After all, Nick Fury is quite a paranoid man.

And so, Peggy Carter is not dressed in an outfit the Michael of the forties would remember. She is here in her modern dress. Her hair is straight, her outfit is a no-nonsense pantsuit. The only thing that may harken to her old persona is the bright red lipstick she generally is not without.

The door opens and the click of Peggy's heels are loud in the silent room. A chair has already been set for her and she moves toward it, though she does not sit down. Instead, she looks trough the window of the containment module to see her brother for the first time since they took him in. "Hello," she says, neutrally. "I am Agent Carter. I'll be here to talk to you for the next hour or so."

* * *

"You know, all of this is rather flattering," says Michael as he looks around his cage. But then, Peggy's introducing herself like they've never met. His lips pull into a sharp line. "I was hacked. I'm not bloody brain-damaged." He stands up, visibly wincing at the toll taking down his skin mesh had on him. It's a bit like being covered entirely in a bruise, for all he has healing abilities. His mesh needed to go down, after all, for the surgery and de-programming to take place.
He sets the little cup of water on the floor and approaches the window. "If you're going to ask me how this happened, I don't know. I remember the attack, but the three weeks between my disappearance and me walking through the door are a complete blur."

* * *

Peggy looks at Michael through the small window. She has a tablet tucked into her arm, but she does not feel the need to look at it just yet Instead, she watches Michael has he drinks from his small cup. He seems to realize what may have happened to him, but there is a lot to consider.

"I"m not here to talk to you about what happened, Michael…unless you want to talk about it, of course. I'm also not a therapist or a case worker. I think you know who I am." There's more information given, but she keeps everything neutral.

"Do you know who I am, then?"

* * *

"Again, I was compromised, not bloody brain damaged." The sharp raise in Michael's voice provokes an icepick of a headache behind his cybernetic eye. He clutches the side of his head and winces. "You are Margaret Elizabeth Carter, born April 9th, 1921. Was a colicky baby. A bit too fond of peas in the early years. Educated at St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls. Nearly married a dullard named Fred Wells. Broke codes and hearts at Bletchley Park. Finally took my advice and got into the field with SSR. Founded SHIELD with Howard Stark. Should I go on, Firecracker?"

* * *

"It's the compromised I'm worried about, Michael."

Peggy's voice is firm here, though she still has not sat down. She moves closer to that window to look in on the containment unit. She's curious, she can't help herself.

"You're giving me a dossier, a tossed in nickname. Anyone could know my brother called me Firecracker." The tablet is hugged against her chest, unused. Instead, she looks into the unit and studies the man who might be her brother. "You ask about if you are brain damaged, but you attacked me. Me and Rami and you want to be so easily passed? So, tell me, would you prefer me to let you out on a cursory background check? Or would you prefer me to be thorough, hm?"

She stays where she is by the window, watching his movements now. "A recitation of facts does nothing for me."

* * *

Michael rubs the socket of his eye. "No, you're doing your job. And you keep me in here as long as you deem necessary. I was compromised. If that had happened in six-five, I would have been chucked into stasis and diagnoses run on me for weeks. Then they'd probably leave me on ice until they really needed me again, at which point it would be worth the risk." He sounds like he's been through all this before.

He sits back down again and slouches. "This isn't the first time I've gone off, you know." His voice gets quiet. "It was bloody rough the first few decades as they tried to figure out how to dose me so I wasn't a complete psychopath. Those agents…" he points at the door to his cell, "…are the latest in a long line of collateral damage I've inflicted. SHIELD's files no doubt say as much. When it comes down to it, I am the patchwork of a failed experiment. Not to be self-pitying." He can't help but smirk. Dry British wit it seems, doesn't wither even in the face of terrible circumstances. "But it is the truth. You want me to reassure you that I'm back to myself? I don't know how to do that. What happened wasn't supposed to be possible."

* * *

hese are times Peggy wouldn't know about in her current iteration. however, she listens.

This is all backround…some things that Peggy didn't already have, but she keeps watching. There's a lot that Michael says and yet she watches him. What can she know? How can she know him when the Michael she knew was so different? And yet, she does know this Michael to a certain extent. But, what is that extent? What might be fabrication? What might be true to life?

Peggy frowns. Finally, she moves to the chair. "I get that." It seems as if she is dismissing him.

Then, she adds, "Tell me a story. Tell me a story you know I'd like, Michael. The me we've gotten to know each other about. It doesn't have to be long, it doesn't have to be epic. Just a story."

* * *

Michael chuckles darkly. "A story?" His voice lilts up. "Do you want me to weave a tale about how a princess broke the nose of the arrogant prince and killed the dragon herself? Or a tale from my past that I think you'd have a laugh at?" He may seem amused on the surface, but the tension is evident through his face and body.

* * *

"That sounds familiar." Peggy stays where she is in her chair.

"Michael, what am I supposed to do? You're avoiding the questions every spy and infiltrator would. You're giving me name and rank, you're giving me things you think would effect me."

Glancing about, she tosses the tablet toward the side. At that point, there's a soft click. Peggy moves to the isolation door and opens it, then shuts it behind her.

"Michael, we have twenty minutes before this malfunction is brought online and you have to remain inside here. Convince me. Please. Please convince me. What happened. You got hacked? How? Do you know how to stop it?"

* * *

"Heh," Michael leans his head back against the capsule wall and lets his head bounce gently. "Bloody hell, I am. Do you know I wasn't even aware I was doing it? Habit. Conversation like muscle memory. I'm especially adept at talking without saying a damned thing." He quirks a dark grin.

He blinks in surprise as she enters the capsule. "Peggy…don't. Rami needs to check me over completely to make sure this trigger is out of my system. I already almost…" he looks away. "Christ. I shot at you." There's shame in his voice now. He looks away. "Near as I can figure, Six-Five built in some kind of back door so they could control me in case I went too far off the reservation. Someone who knew about that back door jumped me and activated it. From how long I was gone, it wasn't easy for them. I can only guess they knew I wouldn't be successful, and the point was to drive a wedge between us and have SHIELD mistrust me."

* * *

"You're you now. You don't think I don't understand how this might happen? You've got triggers. If you want them out of you, you're going to have to let us help you. And because of what's happening right now, you'll have to register. That's the cost of help from SHIELD right now."

Peggy steps the side. Leaving the containment module open for Michael to leave. "We're in a mini black out right now. After the attack of the demons, we've had them every now and again. You can leave, Michael. You can go. You have things in your head. I get that. I don't think the person who attacked me is you. I have to act like it may be, but I don't believe it. Everything we've been through lately? Not just…not just her, but me. With me. I trust you."

Peggy takes a breath and looks at Michael. "But I get it. IF you want out, go. I'll tell people you went offline again and overpowered me. I can get you out of here." She shakes her head. "I want to help you with that. And I know you want to help. And I want it. But, this is something that will be what he fight against. If you work with us I have to register you. That will build a thread of trust."

* * *

"Darling…" Michael lifts his head, smiles a tight smile. "If you think I'd resist registration, then you haven't been paying attention to my career of government compliance. The world's governments already have dossiers on me. SHIELD and Six-Five know more about what I can do than I do. Why would I resist being registered? The only reservation I have with that is I'm a bundle of classified technology and if the details of how I am what I am get out, I risk getting hacked again."

He pulls fingers back through his hair. It's normally neatly combed, but it's quite bed-head at the moment. "I've tried running," his voice gets quiet. "I can't not work, Peg. I need the job. That's all I've known for decades. I am fundamentally incapable of just going off quietly somewhere to retire."

* * *

"This is more than that." Peggy frowns. "Someone used you to get into here. I'm laying groundwork and parameters. I want you to know that I am giving you a choice, I am not dictating terms. I was sure what you would wish, but I want to hear you say you agree to it. This is big and this goes very deep into SHIELD itself. I know you agreed to help me, but this is more than that now. That very reason of hacking you again may be why the state wants people like you to be registered. I will protect you as best I can, but some things may start to be taken out of my hands. I promise I will tell you if I think that is happening."

Much like Michael, she runs her hands through her hair - it must be a Carter trait - as she thinks. "I know how you're like. Or I think I do now. This is more than just giving you work. This is putting you on the radar. Once you register, Six-Five will know exactly where you are. I think I can protect you with the SHIELD banner, but this goes deeper than that."

* * *

Michael looks at her. There are not many moments in his life at all where he's looked vulnerable. Because frankly, there have been very few moments where he genuinely WAS vulnerable. He either had it all in hand, or he had resolved himself to die. There hasn't been a lot of middle ground.

But that was before he found family again, and was reminded of the man he was before he signed his life away. "I believe Six-Five knows precisely where I am. They have too many friends in SHIELD and are too good at what they do. And if they wanted to pressure me to register by hacking my brain, they needn't bother. It's rather a tempest over nothing. If people think…" he looks towards the door, "…that governments, intelligence agencies and even corporations aren't already tracking abilities, they're kidding themselves. Hell, I collected that information on people as far back as the fifties. This is just a sanctioned way to do it."

He picks up his little styrofoam cup and drinks what's left in it. "If Six-Five truly wanted me dead, I would be." Those words are spoken quietly. "I am confident the only reason they've allowed this defection is they know I'd still never compromise British security or sovereignty. That, and I still have allies there. No matter the rot."

* * *

"I understand, Michael, but this will be different. There will be public record of you now, which there wasn't before. It means we may not be able to use you for covert operations. Or, if we do, we have to be very careful about it as there is no longer any room for deniability. It's one thing to shrug our shoulders while everyone knows you are here and another to then prove we do have you. Norway may try and extricate you." There is a lot of things to consider as far as Peggy is concerned. "I want to you to fully be aware of what you're signing up for when you register. It will be work, but it may not be work like you are used to."

Peggy crosses her arms and glances toward the door and then at her watch. She only has so much time. "There's a difference between being a ghost and being a living agent. I know you know that intellectually, but I need you to think about that."

* * *

"What, is SHIELD not invoking special privilege? If you're not, you're a damned fool." For a moment, it's like Michael isn't even locked in a little box, recovering from being compromised, and he's just ribbing his little sister. "And you should be fighting for it. It's obviously a risk to security and a hindrance to spy work to be on public record about the nature of abilities. Granted, I didn't read the legislation but I just assumed that there would be an exemption for matters of bloody national security. Why would SHIELD even stay based in New York? You'd be completely hamstrung. Not to mention the security concerns."

* * *

"We're not based in New York, we're based in DC. However, we have a base here and this base is complying with the laws of the land. This has come down from Headquarters. We're strictly coming down on the pro-registration side." Peggy looks to Michael. "That is what I'm talking about. I am sure Fury is figuring things out. I can imagine he sees benefits to registration and perhaps he will make exceptions, but examples must be made. I imagine he thinks that if he shows some of our hand, no one will be looking deeper."

Peggy shakes her head and then starts to move out of the containment module. Their time is starting to run out. However, she doesn't close the door just yet. Instead, she stays where she is.

* * *

"If you're suggesting I become the sacrificial lamb, then no, I'm not about to accept that, Peggy. Not for myself, but because it would be a stupid fucking move. I've got far too much baggage, far too many skeletons in my closet to expose for good PR. Let some young field agent who can shoot rainbows out his arse who has a perfect record be the poster child for registration and a sign of SHIELD's compliance."

Michael leans back against the bulkhead of the containment unit and bounces his head off the back. "I will gladly detail every one of my abilities to SHIELD to the best of my knowledge. I will even carry a card around that indicates I'm metahuman. But if you want to publicize me and my past, bring my history into the light? Keep me locked up instead. Because I'd just end up back here again after a public hearing of my various sins committed in the name of global security."

* * *

"I don't want to publicize you, Michael. But once you're registered, you're public. That is what I'm trying to say. I'm not about to put you in a newsletter or in a New York Times editorial to prove that registration works. That's not SHIELD and that's not me. However, once your name is out there that means people can start to dig and start to point if they know where to look. That is the possibility for which I would like you to be prepared. Once you're on a New York State registry, people may start asking questions about you. And those people may wonder what Michael Carter is doing alive and with SHIELD."

Peggy frowns and shakes her head. "This is not SHIELD. This law is from New York State. And you attacking the base happened in New York State."

* * *

"And you're saying because my mind and body were violated, I have no room to negotiate with this law. No case can be made to give me a cover identity to protect me from past actions made in the public good? Actions that, without context, would damage or destroy my credibility?" Michael chuckles roughly. "Mhmm. Perhaps I should run, then. Because I do not see how this option is viable. And I see no reason to support an organization that sees fit to throw me to the wolves so easily. Six-Five may have turned their back on me lately, but it took corruption at their highest levels for it to happen."

* * *

"And that's what I'm saying here. I don't think this is SHIELD. This is certainly not the SHIELD that I founded. However, Michael…in your state you nearly killed me. You shot at me with no abandon. You could have easily killed me and we would not even be having this conversation. I don't agree entirely with registration, but you have the ability to become dangerous and hurt people. I think registering is an imperfect importance, but I want you to know exactly what registration is. You can be used to hurt other people. I'm going to tell James Barnes the exact same thing that I am telling you right now. I don't want this to be a fact and I don't think it is fair, however you can be used in a way that will kill people. You killed multiple agents during your break, Michael. I know that is not what you wished, but you still did and until we find a way to stop that? You still can be used that way."

Peggy sighs. "If you register, there is no big hurrah. It will be done in a way that is in the midst of a large batch of registers. However the registry is not a SHIELD file. It is a New York State law. I just want you to be aware of that."

* * *

"And what if Rami confirms that the backdoor they used to exploit me has been closed? That it's impossible for this to happen again?" Michael looks her in the eye, then huffs softly. "You do realize that you and SHIELD mistrusting me is exactly what the people who did this to me wanted, don't you? They've driven a wedge between us, and between me and SHIELD. Likely because they know I'm well-positioned to help you ferret out this rot."

He stands up then, and looks towards the door. "I don't want to be a fugitive because we'd certainly never see each other again. But if I am given no protection from SHIELD as to my identity? I have to give serious consideration to whether this organization is worth saving. Because you can't tell me the law in this case is absolute. Spy organizations have always been able to bend the rules because if we operated completely above-board, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs. And people would die."

* * *

"I trust you, Michael. I know the person I fought in these hallways was not you, please believe me when I say that. But in your state you killed people. People I worked with, that I have known since I arrived in this time. I understand that you were not in your own mind, but do you not think that the very fact that you can be exploited in such a way give you pause in any way? Did you know this could happen before and not tell us?"

Peggy narrows her eyes. "This is an organization your sister founded with ideals, Michael. Even if you don't think of me as her all the time, I have those same memories of setting this place up. I am trying to say that I will protect you if you register. It will still put you on the public record, but I will not let anyone take you or if they attempt it, I will give you enough warning to get out."

* * *

"I know I killed people," says Michael as he slams a fist against the wall and raises his voice. The whole container vibrates for a moment and then absorbs the vibration as it's designed to do. "I have killed a lot of people. And no I did not bloody know I could be compromised like that again. I was assured that all of that had been removed and that I was even. Do you…"

Michael steps back a step. "…do you not understand I have no bloody idea the extent to which they modified me? There was a kill switch in my brain. Did you know that? When Stark patched me up after Norway, he deactivated it. At any time up until that point, Six-Five could have given me an aneurysm from anywhere in the world." He snaps his fingers. "Like that."

He paces off to the far end of the container. "I am responsible for many things, Peggy. There are things that people would consider horrors that I will step up and be counted for. I will explain and be accountable for my actions. But I'll be damned if I'm going to be blamed for an offense committed against me in the form of a bodily and mental violation."

* * *

The container vibrates and Peggy looks at it and then at Michael again. She moves forward again. This time, her expression is one of concern, of worry. Her approach is slow, one of considered movements. "I didn't know that. You never told me." The words are soft, almost hurt. The idea of his agency being able to turn a kill switch on him at a turn is met and digested as much as it can be. Anger against MI6.5 seems to be the reining emotion. "And you think registering is worse than that? Say what you will about SHIELD, they will not put a kill trigger in your brain."

I will do what I can to protect you, Michael. But what if SHIELD isn't enough? You just said you don't know what all the triggers they implanted in you are. Don't you think at the very least people should have some sort of knowledge of you for safety? Even if it isn't the full reckoning? What if we just register you as a super soldier? I don't want you to be blame for actions which are not yours, but I also do not think being silent is the proper answer at this juncture."

* * *

"All of this is academic, Peggy. Until Rami can check me over and be sure that there are no other triggers. If there's something that can be hidden from her now that she's looking for it, we have larger problems than just me turning into a weapon. Besides, you have a way to incapacitate me. I just need to hear those words and I can't do much to fight back when it takes down my mesh."

Michael slumps back onto the bench. "You should go. There's no sense pondering what I might do if I'm going to be an agent again if Rami can't convince SHIELD that this attack was something done to me, not by me."

* * *

Peggy frowns at Michael and steps forward. "Rami has been in charge of you for years. I trust her, but she didn't know of this exploit and she may not know of others. Michael, I"m trying to protect you. Are you comfortable with all of SHIELD knowing your turn off code? Right now I do not trust SHIELD entirely. I don't want it to ever be used again. What if we're not there the next time it is needed? Or what if we spread it about and someone uses it for ill?"

With a frustrated look, Peggy looks to Michael. "So, my advice means nothing? Michael, register, let me help protect you. I will do it. I'm not leaving you. You're my brother. I can just sit out here with a tablet, but I'm not leaving."

* * *

"I need to think, Peggy." Michael slumps over, hands folded together, forehead resting against his hands. "I need time. I'm a spy. I am not going to make this decision lightly. And there is no decision to make if SHIELD won't be convinced that I'm not a threat. Registering won't lessen that."

* * *

Peggy doesn't stay by the door. Instead, she moves forward and hesitantly and gently puts a hand toward Michael's shoulder. "I don't think you're a threat. And, honestly, a step like registration may show that you know what is possible. Just know I am here for you."

Then she moves back, through the door, closing it and picking up her tablet to reset things. This is the end of this interview as far as all may be concerned

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