The Aspect Question

Summary:
July 28 2014: Paul Manning and Steve Rogers have some serious questions for Melinda May about her hacker ally.

The Triskelion

A bastion of order and secrecy. With conference rooms.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


The day after they all went to talk to Trent about those chemicals, Paul decides he needs some more information on the man. And who better to supply it than his de facto handler. Giving Agent May a call, they arrange for a meeting at the Triskelion. He should just keep the damn security badge instead of turning it in every time. Damn thing is probably GPS chipped though and they'll come get it in the middle of the night.

*

The particulars on the relationship between Jericho and May has never occurred to Steve Rogers, but it surely is peculiar. He calls, she comes. The thought is fleeting to him as he sits in his seat and turns it to one side for a moment before coming back to the other once again. "You know any good Thai places in Brooklyn? I tried Thai last week in Manhattan, and I think I'd like to try it again," he says to Paul.

*

The visitor badges are indeed GPS chipped, to make sure that visitors don't go wandering off where they don't belong. But, that's beside the point. May receives the call from Manning and arranges for them to meet in one of the conference rooms in the Triskelion. And, because of the subject matter of the meeting, she asks the Captain if he wants to be there as well. After all, the super soldier likely has similar questions and concerns about Trent.

When the meeting time rolls around, May is there in the conference room along with Rogers. "Lotus, off of Coney Island and Avenue P."

*

"You only just tried Thai?" Paul asks Steve. The poor guy. "I bet you've never had Ethiopian either. Have you at last had Indian? I know at least twenty great Thai places within ten miles of her. Some are in Brooklyn." Anyway.

"So, Agent May. It seems I run into Trent more often than I run into my Captain. Which is, unfortunately, saying a lot. And you seem to be his handler whether he's working for SHIELD officially or not."

Or they're lovers, a theory he's keeping in reserve. "I'd like to know more about him since he seems to be in the middle of a lot of things going on now and getting my precincts shot up. Not to mention the increasing taint of demon which has no possibility of anything good."

*

"Oh," Steve says as Melinda comes up with the answer. "Thanks." He nods vigorously to Paul.

"Ethiopian?" His nose wrinkles as he tries to imagine what an Ethiopian dish might entail. "Yeah," Steve says with a chuckle and a smile. "Demon thing? A little weird."

*

Melinda May quirks an eyebrow at Paul briefly. If he wants to help educate the Captain on international foods, he's doing so on HIS dime, not SHIELD's. "What specifically do you want to know?" No, May isn't hedging around explanations. She really does want to know Paul's specific questions. The demon thing she's as clueless about as anyone else, and she honestly is going to ask Trent about next time she has a chance. The last explanation he gave her was too vague for her taste.

*

"Who is he? Really." Paul starts. "He said that circuitry thing was US military so how did he get involved with Hydra since it's not theirs? Was he also working for them at some point which is why they are trying to kill him? He's a criminal and a deserter but not one of your agents or operatives, or so I've been told many times. What do you have on him that SHIELD is willing to trust him? And who's this so-called friend of his who's corrupting his essence? That's a good start."

*

If there's anything SHIELD needs to worry about, it's certainly not dimes. How about HYDRA and demons for starters, and pinching pennies for later?

"Why is he still in New York? The assassination attempt nearly killed scores of civilians. Why hasn't SHIELD gotten him somewhere more secluded?"

*

Melinda May figured that that was going to be one of the questions, and honestly, it's something that Rogers should know as well. "This does not leave this room." Mostly because she knows that Trent is still VERY nervous about the possibility of Hydra moles within SHIELD's walls. She taps at the conference table's surface, and displays in front of each man light up with SHIELD's 'file' about Trent.

"Retired Army E6 Staff Sergeant Jericho Trent. One four-year tour as infantry, Special Ops for a second four-year tour. That's when he was part of the research trials for the experimental tech that's still embedded under his skin. The tech being at least part of why Hydra is trying to capture or kill him."

Turning her gaze to Cap, she answers his question. "Trent isn't sure that Hydra hasn't placed moles inside of SHIELD, and your op in Kush kind of drove that point home to him. He doesn't trust SHIELD as far as he can throw this building, not yet. And I can't say I entirely blame him." Hill can be the devil sometimes.

*

"I'll make sure no one is in earshot when I tell Pezzini." Paul assures May. Which is the limit of his 'it doesn't leve this room' but one she should be fine with all things considered.

"Okay, so that's how he is. And 'part of' why Hydra wants him. And the rest?"

*

Cap does his best to keep his calm. "My operation? Funny, May, I think all three of us in this room were there. If you're going to start throwing around accusations, I'd stop and consider if I were you. One Quinjet suffered heavy fire. One did not. The pilot of the one who did not just happens to be buddy-buddy with a guy green to the gills with Hydra equipment. And a whole lot of bad things started once her friend showed up."

*

Melinda May looks at Paul. "He won't share the details with me, but I'm pretty sure it's because he's been hacking into things and making their jobs a lot more difficult. If he were doing that to SHIELD, that would be more than reason enough to send Barton after him."

At Rogers' comments, she shakes her head no. "Not my words. His. I don't believe there are Hydra moles in SHIELD, but I can't convince him of that." She glances to one side with a displeased expression.

"Hill hasn't disabused him much of that notion, either. And I'll be honest with you. I didn't know him beyond a suspect pulled in for questioning before that mission. I was in the middle of transporting him when the call came in and I didn't think he'd stay if I left him with regular agents. That Kush op might have actually gone worse if he hadn't been there." It goes unsaid: you didn't see how he stepped up to help when he had zero obligation to, and followed her instructions unquestioningly.

*

"Yes, I can see why they'd want him dead for that. So the question is, why did he decide to go after Hydra?" Though it's really a rhetorical question - Paul's assuming May doesn't know - he does look to her to see if she does.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Hydra did have agents here though, especially after that infiltration the other day. Someone had to get that guy the access codes and ID to get in here and to get into your computers. Low level, maybe mid, probably not high. If not Hydra, then some other group." And some unknown, unidentified group is worse news than if it were Hydra.

*

Captain America nearly scoffs as Melinda declares she'll be honest with them. The more time he spends in this building, the less he thinks he knows. Probably why he's always around the cops. "You don't know anything about him, yet you trust everything he says? That sounds peculiar to me, May."

*

May's phone indicates that there's a text waiting for it. The text itself is rather simple, just three numbers: 217. It's possible that any or all three may know that 217 is the police 'hundred code' for 'Assualt with intent to murder.' Someone took another swing at Trent.

Melinda May ignores her phone for the moment as she answers Paul. "He told me they went after him first." She indicates the file. "He was working for NorCom after being discharged for the Army, doing counter-hacking. Police reports show there was some kind of altercation, and then he fell off the grid. Since then his status in various databases, including ViCAP, has bounced back and forth between non-existent and the top of the most wanted list. Repeatedly. Clear signs of hacker work in both directions."

She turns to Rogers again. "I trust him because I've seen him risk his life for various people, myself, Pezzini, and Manning here included. Not just risk his life, intentionally take injuries to protect others. There are several SHIELD agents I could name that have not and would not do the same." If anyone should know about earning another's trust under fire, the Captain should. "That, and he could very easily have disappeared again. He hasn't."

*

"Discharged? With dangerous, experimental and expensive tech implanted in him?" Paul doesn't quite scoff but he has a bridge to sell May. "If that's what the file says, I'd contact the Army directly and verify it." He'd put money down it's been rewritten. "He might mean well at the moment but I wouldn't assume that's going to last with him associating with demons and their summoner."

*

Steve looks to May, looking for her reaction to the demon bit. Something doesn't add up to him and his frustration continues to build.

*

Melinda May huffs in actually discernible annoyance. "That's where his discharge papers don't add up. It took serious digging, but our Intel group found the orders to have the implants removed, and documents saying the removal was completed successfully. But clearly, it didn't happen, and cross-referencing his documents with the other program participants found that his orders and confirmations were very cleverly duplicated from pieces of every other participant's documents. Not something that could have been done without direct access to the paper originals."

At the repeated mentions of demons, she rubs at one temple, clearly aggravated by it as much as Paul is. "I have no idea what's with those demons. And I haven't been able to get a straight answer out of him, much less a name. But they REALLY make me uneasy."

*

"You might want to see if anyone who was supposed to be involved with the removal of the implants is still alive." Or if they had 'accidents'. "You should be uneasy." he says about the demons. "There's no such thing as a good demon and none of them are harmless. The small ones only want to become large, more powerful demons and will sacrifice anyone to get it." Watching a swarm of them attack Etrigan is always going to be fresh in his memory.

*

Steve looks down to his own cell phone and then back up at Paul. "Pardon me," he says, needing to take the call. "I'll catch up with you in a bit." He exits the room and heads down the hall, bringing the cell to his ear.

*

May doesn't seem inclined to stop Rogers from leaving, knowing he's got a LOT more going on than just the worries about Trent. She gives him a nod as he goes to leave the room, a silent promise to catch him up on anything else she and Paul talk about. And then she looks back at Paul.

"That avenue is already being pursued." Quite possibly by Romanoff. No, most definitely by Romanoff.

"SHIELD's resources regarding demons are, admittedly, a bit thin. Not really something we had on our radar until VERY recently. I think you would be our foremost source of intel now."

*

Paul shakes his head. "I don't know much. I only know what I saw and what a couple wizards told me. But everything I saw says demons are bad news. And everything I've been told is that demons are bad news. And they, along with at least one person, are doing something that could literally open the gates of… a place worse than Hell. So having a demon shadowing Trent and sensing a stronger taint on him almost every time I see him makes me a little nervous, especially when he has access to SHIELD. Have you discovered what information was stolen yet?" He might or might not be implying Trent may have been involved.

*

Melinda May narrows her eyes at Paul. Was that some sort of accusation aimed at Trent? "I don't remember Trent's name being associated with that incident." God knows, if it had been, she'd have been the one going to pick him up herself. She's even tempted to call the hacker right now and ask him point blank about it. But, at least she proves she's read up on what happened.

"Last I heard, though, his resources didn't include submarines capable of taking to the air."

*

"No but he could have been hired to open the door so someone could get in." Paul points out. "I don't know how your system is set up but I'm going to guess there are some things that are not connected to the internet in any way and can only be accessed from inside this building and not remotely." He gives a small shrug. "I don't have a reason for thinking he might be involved. On the other hand, how many people you can trust have demons as companions?" Sad thing is, he was even coming to think the guy might be trustworthy before the whole demon thing.

*

Melinda May just shakes her head. "I really can't say about the whole demon thing. But I /can/ find out about the theft." She gets her phone out finally, and frowns at the screen. "Two One Seven?" She clearly isn't picking up on that code as fast as Trent was likely hoping she would.

*

"What?" Paul asks with a frown. Unlike May, he recognizes it instantly. "You mean an area code?" Which is the more likely explanation for why it's on a phone. "I'm not sure where that is."

*

"No. Just those three numbers. Two seventeen." May turns her phone so he can see her screen, and sure enough, that's all the text reads. Oh, and she's pretty diligent about erasing texts after she's done with them, so there's nothing else on the screen to read.

*

"Two one seven is a police code." Paul explains. "Attempted murder. Who's the text from?" Does he really need to ask?

*

Who else? "Trent." May frowns as Paul explains the likely meaning of that code and hits a few buttons on the phone before setting it on the table in speaker mode. Yes, she's calling Trent right here and now. Kill ALL the birds with one really big rock.

*

"Trent." He sounds both in pain and out of breath. And there's a lot of wind… somewhere. Ordinarily he's able to cancel out ambient noises so… that he must not have a whole lot of concentration to spare.

*

"If you're smart, you're going to get your ass to the Triskelion right now." Paul says. Interrogating wounded men is always easier so bonus. "Let them declare war on SHIELD. They're a little tougher than the NYPD." And have the resources to take them on. Idly, he wonders - hopes - if the demon was killed.

*

"What Manning said. And do it now." May's voice clearly is conveying that she refuses to take no for an answer. "Or if you can't get here, tell me where to meet you."

*

"Manning what the hell are you doing on May's ph- Oh, there you are." Paul's voice was not the first thing Jericho had expected to hear over his connection. "I'm not sure that's a good move May. But I can meet you down by the waterfront, if you like. Place I've used before. Not my usual. Can get you an address once you're moving, if you really want to talk face to face."

Beat. "Not that it's any of my business, but why is Manning on your phone?"

*

"Meet at a place you've used before that they might have found just like they found your last place?" Paul asks oh so dryly. "That sounds like a fantastic idea. You can get us killed too. How many places have you run from because they've blown up in the last month? Stop being an idiot and get your damned ass over here."

*

Melinda May mutters a fairly vile curse in Cambodian, then gives Paul a look and snatches her phone up off of the table before striding out of the conference room at full speed and putting the phone to her ear. "What altitude can you reach?" Keep up, Manning, she's got an idea. "And can you get in contact with Wilson?"

*

"Okay, Manning, I've had an understandably really bad day and last I checked, you don't like me. So you'll forgive me if I think coming into a place where the deputy director has threatened to throw me down the deepest hole she can find because I annoy her, and where there isn't even a whisper of such a thing as due process isn't the my best move for protection."

Jericho seriously considers cutting the connection then and there. Ay ya. "I can get up pretty damn high. Did you have an idea? I… could. I suppose. Why?" Don't blow up at the NYPD Detective. It's not his fault. He's been through a lot. And it's too much trouble to crash a weather sat into the building. And May's with him, and we don’t want that…

*

More curious than because he has any intention of playing Trent's game, he follows May. "You're not going to go running after him, are you? Again. Do you work for SHIELD or him? Isn't it time you stopped letting him dictate terms to you?" Definitely screwing him.

*

Melinda May stops in the middle of the hall and glares at Manning. She could shut him down SO easily with just a few words, but they're not her words to share. So, lame answer it is. "I have reasons. And they're above your pay grade. You want to stay here, fine." As it is, she'll have enough to explain to Hill without having to get Manning to back the eff off as well.

*

"Do you want me to end the call so you can talk in private?" Jericho doesn't really want to listen to Manning and May argue. He knows the detective doesn't trust him. Hell, to an extent he doesn't blame him. But putting his neck on the line to haul his half naked ass out of Turkey should have counted for something. Well, he'd have thought anyway. Maybe not. His world isn't really normal so he has no frame of reference anymore.

*

"You're welcome to dance to his tune but I'm not chasing after him, no." Paul states. "I'll try and get some answers from someone else above my pay grade." That would be Hill, of course. "If you're smart, you'll take backup." If Trent allows it, of course.

*

Melinda May stares at Manning for a few seconds, then without another word turns and continues on her way. She has every intention of taking one of those small copters to 'catch' Trent and then get him to Wilson as the hacker seems somewhat less tense around the former para rescue soldier than anywhere in the Triskelion. She doesn't know about all of this demon stuff, and that's enough to make her angry and want to demand answers. Which she WILL do the moment Trent isn't fleeing another attack.


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