Fishing vs. Phishing
Roleplaying Log: Fishing vs. Phishing
IC Details

Featuring: a promotion! Coming clean! Ulysses learning new skills! And terrible Dad puns!

Other Characters Referenced: Daisy Johnson
IC Date: July 07, 2019
IC Location: Lake Canadaigua
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 08 Jul 2019 03:37
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It is a day where Ulysses has been tapped by the boss to go somewhere else again. But where Phil takes him, ultimately, with no electronics at all allowed, is in the middle of a fishing boat on the Canadaigua Lake, a lake surrounded by scenery so pristine and breathtaking that it seems to block out all the problems of the world just by existing.

If Ulysses didn't know how to fish but wanted to know, Phil would have gamely shown him. If he did, Phil had gear for him. And if he didn't want to know, Phil didn't seem too concerned, casting his line out into the still waters. The bobber lands with a soft plop. The wind rustles over the surface of the water. And finally he says:

"That promotion's yours if you want it."

Just out of the blue, after all sorts of talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of bait, lines, rods, and ice chests.

"And if you do want it, I will fill in the missing pieces for you."

* * *

He's pretty sure the last time he was on a boat that wasn't a ferry was back when JAWS was still a boat ride at Universal Studios Orlando. If that counts, anyway.

Out on a real lake with no rails making the boat go in a particular direction and staying out in the middle of the water on purpose? Ulysses might seem a bit anxious, trying his best not to fidget as he's caught smack dab in the middle of nature. Sure, it's one thing leaving phones and things behind. It's another thing leaving the city.

To his credit, at least Ulysses seems willing to try his hand at fishing, granted Phil would have to walk him through everything. He's seen people do this in YouTube videos, how hard can it be?

As the time eases on and their lines lie slack, angled into the water from their poles, he realizes that it might not be so much difficult as boring just waiting for something to happen. He finds himself staring at the bobbing float as though he can will it to dip down with the promise of a nibbling fish.

Despite knowing that Agent Phil Coulson doesn't invite you on a random fishing outing without reason, when he finally does slip into business, it takes Ulysses a moment to rewind to what he could be talking about. There's silence to follow even as he looks over at his fishing partner, mouth working in that particular way of preparing to speak even though no full sentences have completed loading in his brain.

"Oh," he says, most eloquently, mentally smacking himself as he fishes for better words. At least he has better results than with the pole. "Yeah. That. Um. So on a scale of one to potentially-die-horribly-as-a-traitor-again, what's the risk level?" The corner of his lips twitch in what might be an attempted smile to alleviate whatever nervousness he tends to hold by default.

* * *

That makes Phil smile, a quick flash of it. "Five to seven, depending on the day. But then, SHIELD itself is five to seven. No, I'm not doing anything questionable at the moment. You already know the full story with Emma. The one you really probably need to know about right now is Daisy. And perhaps one or two other things."

It is the first time he's even mentioned Daisy's name since Ulysses first came to him about the DPS hack. He has not commented on the lack of her presence at the office or in field teams. For all extents and purposes he's acted as if she doesn't exist at all, effectively shutting down any and all lines of inquiry about her should they arise. Out of sight, out of mind; people aren't around headquarters all the time for a whole host of reasons, and as long as he stayed silent about her people who were inclined to wonder also knew better than to ask. Need to know basis, and clearly Coulson thought they did not need to know.

But of course, while he can shut the rank and file down easily enough, Ulysses is a different breed. A man of incredible talent, who would make a dangerous enemy to anyone he aligned himself against, for all that he might not see himself that way.

* * *

"Okay, that makes me feel better." Sort of. The stress levels shouldn't be anything new to him, at least.

When Phil namedrops Daisy, brows go up but briefly, perhaps hint enough that he'd already had suspicions. Well, more than suspicions. There were enough little things here and there that pieced together just too conveniently to lead to anyone else, and Ulysses only figures he'd connected the dots due to his own involvement in certain things. That Daisy'd gone conveniently missing in the aftermath of Everything just added a bit of perspective.

Of course, when the one person at work you ultimately trusted with crazy-dangerous-secrets told you to further cover things up and refused to say anything more, it kind of left one to their own devices as to working things out. What can he say? Ulysses is ultimately a problem-solver, even if the application can be a bit skewed. Getting around high security systems? Problem. How to make sure you didn't get yourself killed trying to make sure you didn't get yourself killed? Also a problem. An important problem. One that's constantly being reconfigured and retackled as situations present themselves.

Right now? He's not sure that planting his feet both firmly on Phil Coulson's side will really alleviate anything to that problem but neither is it really going to change too much by way of his own priorities. Again, a working assumption.

"Okay. Yes," he says, after flicking a quick glance from his motionless line to Phil. "Please enlighten me. I mean, I've wondered, but I figured with her previous situation, asking around and drawing attention back on her was the last thing she might've appreciated."

* * *

"And I appreciate your instincts there. Daisy is working undercover."

He pauses, and lets that hang for a moment, before adding: "In the Brotherhood."

And he lets that hang too. His bobber dips under the water for a moment, but pops right back up, so he doesn't even twitch towards the reel. He keeps his eyes on that distant line, and adds:

"Nobody assigned her to this. She saw an opportunity, she took it, and she reached out to me to let me know, and to ask me to keep it confidential from anyone at SHIELD, since we know the Brotherhood has plants and sympathizers there. I didn't like it, but as it stands, she's already brought back some actionable intelligence."

* * *


Okay, that he hadn't expected. Ulysses stares at Phil, simply waiting for him to continue. If he tried to fill in the space between with commentary it'd probably consist of stuttered failed attempts at stitching together complete sentences.

Once Phil does continue, he nods slowly, even as he frowns. That was a gutsy move on Daisy's part. It made sense, but it was definitely risky business. "So good news is she hasn't gotten caught," he says, hoping the automatic thought of 'so far' doesn't transmit with his already typically pessimistic tone.

* * *

"Indeed," Coulson says quietly. "She has not. They don't trust her yet though. To the end of building trust, and perhaps making her too valuable an asset for them to run on fieldwork, she's going to be doing a hack on Amon Bell. With luck, you'll be the one manuevered in to investigate it. She's setting up a…I don't remember what she called it. I called it a back door. She called it something else. But she's giving one to you so we can continue spying on Bell. She also says she has some sort of unimpeachable way to stay in contact with you electronically."

A pause, and a poke of humor at his expense. "I am still new to the Interwebs," he says solemnly, as if it hasn't been a thing for over 20 years now. But that hacking and network and systems are 100% not his area isn't exactly new.

"Obviously if we do get you in to investigate the Bell hack, if he even finds it, your goal will be to clean up after her if necessary, as well as to take advantage of whatever resources she leaves for you."

* * *

For the moment, the hacker forgets his own fishing line, his thoughts now having something more up his alley to turn towards as Phil continues to explain about Daisy and future plans. "Piggybacking," he says with a nod, fingering his chin. "Amon Bell, huh? Guess he's had it coming. Is she meaning to purposely have someone catch whiff of someone's hacking when she pulls it off? Otherwise, we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope Bell doesn't have his own guys to shovel that problem to."

He smiles crookedly. "I'll try to find you a 'Hacking for Dummies' book. Actual printed copy."

Moving on, Ulysses nods again. "That's a lot of if's, but I guess we can only wait and see how things play out and tackle things from there. So long as she can set things up for me, I'm sure between the two of us we can do some serious damage. Or…un…damage, if I have to clean up after her. It'll be like…like digital ninja."

* * *

"Well, she knows the plan, so it's possible she can do something blatant that only you could fix. Let him run through all the other experts first before I step in and say, let me bring on one of my guys, he's one of the best. SHIELD and the DPS are so heavily involved with each other that I suspect I'll be told about it legitimately. And if she does shake out information about Bell and those Sentinels, we're going to quietly pass that along to the X-men. Both because they can keep the Brotherhood in check on some of the targets, and because I've reached an understanding with them. I've already given them an avenue to get to the DPS data. Which Daisy, in fact, turned over to me. I didn't keep it, but I did sit on it for nearly a month trying to figure out how to handle it."

* * *

"Ohhh, okay, yeah. That makes sense," Ulysses grins. "Although I hope they don't think any less of me for failing to work anything out from the DPS database hack." Granted he's pretty sure the only way you'd be able to really spot any traces like he had would only be if you'd been staring at similar codework for a few weeks prior, and he'd made sure to sweep any neglible fragments to make sure even that wouldn't be detected.

"I don't see why we couldn't just delete that data altogether. It's a risk just having it available, isn't it?"

* * *

"Which data? The DPS data? Well, the DPS probably has it rebuilt by now, but yes, it's a risk. But the answer is…you can't unring the bell. Once we destroy it, we use any ability to use it. And my gut tells me it was important to hold on to it. And that it still might be important when we least expect it to be. Though I thought about destroying it more than once. It's not been completely useless as it is…I believe it will strengthen our ties with the X-Men when it ultimately gets into their hands, and we might need that."

Coulson reels in the line only to cast it out again in some different direction, musing: "Destruction is sometimes a very good option, but not always. That said, I'm not omnipotent, and it's possible I made a terrible mistake. It would not be the first time."

* * *

Returning his attention to his own line, Ulysses scowls at the idle float before he decides to copy Phil's example. It's a giant lake; did it really make that much of a difference where you cast? Maybe the fish were asleep or something. He has a couple of misfires with the line before the float lands a more respectable distance from the boat than a handspan in front of him.

"Right. That's true." His nose wrinkles again, if for purely different reasons than uncooperative fish. "Just one of those things, but I guess it would only really be effective if it was the only data accessible. At least if it's in good hands then it serves as a reference point for…if things happen." And much as he'd rather hope that things didn't happen, he knows that probably won't be the case, especially with matters as these.

* * *

"Exactly," Phil says with a grim nod. "It's now incomplete intel at best. But it's still intel we might need."

He leans back and briefly outlines the rest of the planning he and Daisy did, vis a vis cultivating meta assets to visit a certain nightclub, and his hope to get someone watching her new Metropolis safehouse from a distance.

"If you know anyone who might be suitable for the first," he adds, "please let me know. Cultivating assets is a lot less nervewracking when you've got a bit of a recommendation to work from."

* * *

Ulysses levels his pale-eyed gaze at the still waters in front of him, trying not to frown too much as he can't help but start thinking about how things could go horribly wrong if people were still trying to figure out what became of that missing data. The float dips into the water briefly, enough to distract him and subsequently prompt him to give the line a tug that results in absolutely nothing.

"I think I prefer dealing with phishing of the 'p-h-ish' sort," he mutters.

Trying to make himself comfortable or at least relax, as much as one can when stuck floating on water in the middle of nowhere, he drops his chin into a hand as he hums in thought. "I can't think of anyone off the top of my head. I mean, I have a very small list of people I know outside of work things in general. …wow, that just sounded sad. Is it sadder that it's true? I should get out more. Preferably not on a boat."

* * *

Coulson flashes a faint smile. "I can row us in," he says, taking pity on the city slicker. "It was just an easy way to get away from surveillance. And, okay, a guilty pleasure. I grew up in rural Wisconsin. I did a lot of fishing."

But suddenly Ulysses' line starts to jerk and tug. He will definitely feel the fighting weight at the end of the pole. Coulson sees the bobber yank down and says, "Quick! Reel him in!"

Because even though he's going to head back, he doesn't want Uly to miss out on getting his fish! "It can get away if you leave it too long, so reel fast."

* * *

"Ah!!" The sudden yank of the line and Phil's exclamation startle him enough that Ulysses nearly fumbles the pole into the water, hands flailing about to get a good grasp on it before he tugs back and starts to reel.

"Ohwow, okay okay here it c— wait no why's it going the other way, aaaah! It can do that? Is that fair??"

Can fish pull people into lakes? He braces his feet against the boat at the thought.

* * *

"Well, it's panicking a little bit, so it's going to struggle," Coulson says. "It's trying to work the hook out of its mouth.

He watches to see if Uly will actually get the fish onto the boat, and if it will be big enough to legally keep if he does. But by his Cheshire Cat smile it's clear he's getting amused at the hacker's panic over the sudden appearance of an almost-caught fish. Doing better with phishing, indeed.

* * *

"Fair," he grunts as he continues the fight. "I guess I'd be grumpy about having a trap in my free meal too."

Ulysses obviously has no previous experience with landing a fish, but yanking the pole back and reeling seems to at least be a natural enough reaction. But it seems he's at least got the determination. He got dragged into a fishing trip so he is going to catch a fish, dammit!

Worst case, he leans back too far and the line snaps, and he goes into the water. With his luck he might just end up getting hit in the face with a flying fish.

* * *

He does get sprayed with fish struggle when it comes in, but the line holds. Coulson swiftly grabs the fish in its mouth, firmly, to avoid any fish slap mishaps. "This one's a keeper," he announces. "Big fellow. Nice work, Ulysses! This will make you a fantastic meal tonight. I'll even clean it for you."

His lips twitch again; he suspects asking Uly to clean the thing is definitely going to count as a bridge too far.

In the meantime, he deftly removes the hook from the fish's mouth and then tosses it into the ice chest with a satisfying thunk.

"We'll get you hooked on fishing yet!"


It wouldn't be a trip with Coulson if he didn't work in at least one terrible Dad pun.

* * *

"Yaaaay..?" Meal? He's too tired to eat. It was exhausting enough just getting the thing up into the boat! This is what happens when you skip arm day, kids.

At the very least Ulysses probably should be thankful that Phil's not offering lessons on how to gut your catch. He sits back, watching Phil toss the fish into the ice chest while he shakes out his hands. And then he gives the man the flatest look ever for the pun made.

"…please no."

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