Pawn to Rook Eight

August 22, 2014: Illyana and Roberto walk into the Triskelion to meet with Maria Hill. Yes, walk. No discs or demons or anything!

The Triskelion

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed here, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.



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Mood Music:

Mark today in your calendar. It could be the end of the world.

Heels click against the polished floor of the secure SHIELD lobby as a woman with angelic features and a long blonde bob wearing a skirt suit in dazzling white crosses towards the security desk. "I'm here to see Maria Hill." Illyana Nikolievna Rasputina says without preamble. Not even a 'hello'. "No. I don't have an appointment. My name is Illyana."

It's probably not a request that security is usually inclined to aquiese to, but something about those cold, cold blue eyes and the way the demonic lingers around her like a purfume that can make your knees weak might make them think twice. Maybe.


Roberto da Costa follows in Illyana's wake, his perfectly tailored and pressed suit, professional bearing, and handful of Forbes centerfold appearances doing not a damn thing to make him look less like the blonde's assistant. He blames it on his height, but it's probably more to do with the whole 'demon royalty' thing. "And I'm Roberto da Costa," he adds, just in case SHIELD wants to run a background check or anything. But Illyana has said her credentials should at least get them through the door. Everything past that is up to him.


It also works to their benefit that Hill left word with those operating the desk that if certain people showed up and dropped their names that the call should be placed. As if she doesn't have a million other things to deal with these days. It's starting to feel like she's turning into a public servant for an awful lot of people not directly involved with the Division. Aren't there other people that are supposed to handle all of these requests?

The woman behind the desk gives the unusual pair a peculiar glance, nods once, then points down the hall. "Public meeting room two."

Hill's also getting tired of having people invade her personal space. They've got rooms for these sorts of things, at least. It's entirely likely that she'll be the last one to make it there but she does indeed show up, looking as DepDir-ish as ever.

A glance is given between the two before she breathes out a light sigh. "I'm not going to like this, am I."


Illyana gives the woman behind the desk a nod that is at least polite if not friendly and heads over to the indicated room. She'll even suffer any security measures they want to take. It's not like she carries normal weapons.

When they get there she takes a seat and that cool, haughty manner that doubles as professional slides away so she's just Illyana in a suit. Whcih… is still pretty cool and haughty.

Hill's entrance gets a nod from Illyana and one of her usual smirks. "Probably not." She agrees. "But hopefully you'll like it better than if we didn't drop by. Maria Hill, I'd like you to meet Roberto da Costa. Roberto, Hill." She actually didn't bother to find out Hill's title, or else forgot it. "He's really here to do the talking. I'm mostly here to make sure he could get in to see you." There's a glitter in her eyes. "Feel special. I 'knocked'."


Roberto follows the receptionist's directions and lets himself into the meeting room, holding the door open for Illyana. He unbuttons his blazer and takes a seat next to his friend, then stands up again as Hill enters and offers her his hand. "I thought we would get off on the right foot if we used the front door," he explains to Hill, wearing his most charming smile (for all the good that's likely to do). "We have to discuss something that is of great importance to both of us. The incident in Syria."


Feel special, sure. Entitled, at least. "Deputy Director Hill," she automatically replies with a hardened expression. When did she get to be on a first name basis with the queen of Limbo, anyway?

When Roberto offers a hand in greeting Hill stares at him for a moment before accepting. "Around here it's also a good idea if you don't want to end up being detained."

White gloved fingertips set upon the table as she leans forward and returns her attention toward Roberto, deciding against taking a seat for the moment. "Color me surprised. Ugly business, but why are you coming to me with this?"


"I could have brought you to my place." Illyana adds in a dry manner. She can't help but get the snark in. But she glances to Roberto and gives him a guilty sort of nod. She'll shut up and look pretty for now and let him dow his thing.


Roberto fights the impulse to smirk at the mental image of a formal meeting with Hill in Illyana's disorganized bedroom. Not helping, 'Yana!

"I'm sure you've heard of the X-Men, Deputy Director," Roberto answers Hill, spreading his blazer open by pushing his hands into his hip pockets. (And yes, he made a point of using the title. Bridge-building: it's his thing!) He tips his head toward Illyana. "Now you know a couple of us. We're a mutant group dedicated to preserving peace between mutants and humans by protecting against attacks on either side."

He allows himself a slight pause, then concludes: "I think an airborne anti-mutant bio-weapon designed by HYDRA is something that concerns both of us. We should pool our resources and deal with this problem before it becomes a greater one."


"I'm not particularly fond of kidnapping scenarios, either," Hill dryly replies to Illyana.

Back to Roberto, she confirms "Of course I've heard of you lot." People with powers like that just aren't going to escape someone's notice, regardless of how much they fancy their privacy. Despite the brief response she's definitely got her eyes on the spokesmutant here, she's dealt with enough people to know this song and dance all too well.

"We're also aware of this weapon in its various forms, it's come to our attention weeks ago. Forgetting how this connects to the situation in Syria for a moment, are you suggesting a working relationship between the X-Men and SHIELD?"

Wouldn't -that- just be the day.


Maybe later, Illyana will tease Hill about the lack of amenities here. Shouldn't she at least get offered some water? Seriously. She just plays observer though, not wanting to throw any curveballs into Roberto's play.


"I'm suggesting that where our concerns overlap, we should coordinate our efforts," Roberto answers with an amiable shrug. "Nothing formal. Nobody submitting to anyone's authority. Just letting each other know anything useful, so that if one of us has a piece of the solution, and the other has the rest, we aren't putting our own secrets before other people's lives."

Roberto puts one hand forward, palm up, as though offering something intangible. "We have a vaccine for the virus, for instance. I can get you a supply. We also have these." He pulls a small pyrex cube out of his coat pocket and sets it down on the table between them. It contains a sort of robot moth, structured to be all feathery feelers. "It's a sniffer device, attuned to the specific explosives used in HYDRA's dispersal devices for the virus."

Roberto points to Hill. "You have global reach. You could use these to locate dispersal devices before they're used — maybe even the facility where they're being built. Everybody wins."


Hill holds steady while she hears Roberto out, only ever breaking eye contact when she has to blink. Maybe she received extra training just to be able to stare someone down like this. The robotic moth is the most unexpected point of the discussion, odd enough that she does finally look away from the guy in order to get a closer look at the tiny machine. It would appear that someone has been busy of late.

When she's being pointed at she looks back to the mutant in question once more, canting her head somewhat to one side. "Tell me Mister da Costa, how well do things usually work out when the law teams up with the vigilantes? Regardless of your powers or your minority status, metahumans still fall under the SHIELD umbrella. The safety of civilians is important to us, but you're representing a group which is outside of that 'civilian' label and not known for getting along well with others, -or- following the rules. What do you expect me to say, that I'd be eager to pool our resources? I don't trust a single one of you X-Men and you've not exactly gone out of your way to help that situation."


Illyana is sooooo not gonna touch this one. She breaks laws left and right just by being. And y'know, the illigal entry… She just swivels her chair back and forth a bit and pretends she's watching this from Limbo.


"That's why I'm here," Roberto tells Hill, his hand still firmly on the back of the cube. "That's why I'm telling you that I'm Roberto da Costa, codename Sunspot, and that I absorb and redirect solar power. That's why I'm prepared to give you a basic dossier on my entire team. Not all of the X-men — I don't have that kind of authority — but my little corner of the group."

He lifts his off hand, spreading it to the side in a sort of 'bring it' gesture. "You can come after my family. My business. You can arrest me. You know where I live, I'm sure." His hand drops back to his side. "This is me stepping out of the shadows and making myself and my group accountable, just like any other civilian. Because this sort of thing is too important to be caught up in a power play. Lives are on the line."


..Hmm. Now this -is- a curious development. Not only that da Costa, the same one that has his name slapped across some very significant real estate within the area, happens to be a mutant, but that he's also part of the X-Men. Or at least some corner of it. God knows how many subdivisions that lot has wherever they're hiding.

"Bold move, da Costa," Hill remarks. This would certainly give her more control of the situation as a whole, including the sliver of mutant individuals this happens to affect.

The matter is given some careful thought before she continues. "It works like this. Information is one matter, but if we're talking about potential cures or vaccines or such then it goes through SHIELD. You want to save lives then great, but I'm not going to sit by and let people start passing out something akin to a flu shot unless they are -properly- backed, and -anything- being administered gets run past us in advance. You're stepping into dangerous territory here though that's really nothing new for you, is it?"

She's well aware that trying to push something like this through the FDA's going to be a monumentally wasted effort, which means taking it fully into their own hands. It's a lot of responsibility, for everyone involved.


"I am known for my bold moves, Deputy Director," Roberto answers with a slight smirk. There was a whole piece about it in Fortune, actually. "I find that they're the best way to get through dangerous territory intact."

The intensity level in the room falls slightly as he lowers himself into a chair. "We've already administered the vaccine to our own personnel. I got it myself just yesterday — feel free to have your doctors take a look at me, if that will help them determine its effects. We haven't had the resources to give it out publicly, but we would welcome your assistance in that matter."

And speaking of a lot of responsibility… "I'll meet your condition if you meet one of mine," he continues, using a measured tone. "When this is over, the virus is destroyed. Absolutely. Not shipped to the CDC for study or held back as a contingency if M-Town gets uppity. Destroyed. It is a weapon of genocide and it should not be allowed to exist."


Hill's not quite so anxious to take a seat, herself. Maybe it's that subconscious feeling of power which comes from having the height advantage. Maybe it's because she's dying for another cup of coffee and taking a seat would imply that she's wanting to hang around for a while. Places to go, carbs to burn, people to yell at.

"Hopefully with the consent of everyone involved," she points out upon hearing that some shots had already been administered. "If there are any side effects those are all completely on your shoulders." She won't go out of her way to start throwing down the law over this, however. The X-Men aren't exactly known for playing it safe, either.

It's the part about destroying the virus, however… This gets her to pull up a seat directly across the table from Roberto. It is a major detail, one which will get her complete attention. This affects an entire species.

"Deconstructed into vapor," Hill assures the mutant. Possibly both mutants. "But you need to keep in mind that no one knows how much of the virus has entered circulation, in any of its formats. There could be stockpiles of it waiting in a cave somewhere. Finding it, and destroying it, will be a group effort."

Besides, it's not like they need some HYDRA offshoot's hack-and-crack shot at a chemical agent to wipe out anyone with an X-Gene. Whoever said this is the only anti-mutant virus the world has ever seen?


When Hill agrees to his stipulation without question, Roberto allows himself to breathe again. "I'm relieved to hear you says that," he says, flashing a true smile again, for the first time since the meeting took a serious turn. "We will be more than happy to do what it takes to find and dismantle any hidden stores of the virus. Eliminating it is our top priority. And…"

Roberto trails off and folds his hands in front of him on the tabletop, uncertainty crossing his features. "We're going to strike the HYDRA branch that created this, if we get the chance. I imagine you would do the same. I'm not sure whether working together would make us more or less effective, but I'll consider it and discuss it with my team, if you wish."

That more or less covers that. Except: "Of course we only gave it with their permission," Roberto says with an almost chiding look. "We're not the sort of organization that forces injections on people. If there are any side effects, I doubt they'll limit themselves to my shoulders, but I am confident in our doctors."


When it's mentioned that they're going to try and strike at the ones responsible Hill says in a slightly lower voice "I would pretend that I didn't just hear that but we both know you're going to do it, anyway. I have a few Agents in mind, if not just to keep a lid on all of this before it hits the global news."

Then, "I'm not going to assume anything regarding how your secret organization is run," Hill adds here with a hardened stare leveled at Roberto. "By the nature of being 'super secret' I have no idea what it is that you all do over there." Which is a problem, but one she intends to rectify as the opportunities present themselves. Heck, for all she knows it's a religious cult and everyone involved has a matching X brand on their left ass cheek.

Well, here goes yet another tentative 'alliance' she's helped to establish. The first person within the Division to accuse her of going soft is going to have a broken face in short order. "Once we have the profiles on this section of your team on file as per the agreement I will make sure that our proper research branch is in contact with your own eggheads of choice." The smart scientific sorts, that is.


"We are trying to be a bit less 'super secret'." Illyana finally says, speaking up a bit. "And I think the more that we can involve 'proper' authorities, the less we'll have to… bend rules. When you need to avoid the folks in charge, it means so many more laws get broken."


Roberto turns to Illyana and nods his agreement. "We are trying to let in a little more sunlight. We're hoping the world is ready for that." He leaves unspoken that Hill can do a lot to assure them that the world is, indeed, ready; she'll get the message, he's sure.

Turning back to the DepDir, he gives her a wry smile. "I'll have a courier drop by with the dossiers on a thumb drive later today. I hope you'll pardon my lack of trust" — in the beating heart of the world's largest spy organization — "but I don't have them on me. As for the rest, maybe you'll have a chance to learn more about what we do as we work together on this. You'll find that most of what we do is protect people." Often from gigantic, unbelievably well-funded government agencies. But he won't hold that against her.


There's a soft "Mmh" of what may well be agreement from Hill when Illyana raises her point. It's true! "You kids still have an awful lot to make up for, but your taking initiative toward this first step is acknowledged." So much the better if it makes her life easier in the long run, too. Even knowing who these people are and what they're planning on doing makes a significant difference from where she's sitting.

"I'd question if you had recently suffered any head trauma if you had brought them in with you, da Costa. Everyone involved with this arrangement has trust issues. Little steps may be just what everyone needs in order to keep things from getting out of hand. That said, we're ready to move on this when you are."


"At the bare minimum, it opens lines of communication, right?" Illyana says, rising up to her feet as it's sounding like the meeting is wrapping up. "Want to let us know who we should make our point of contact here? I figure you're busy enough you don't need us asking for your personal attention every time we want to ask a question or make you aware of something." Hey, Illyana leads a whole damned dimension. She understands delegation is a Good Thing (tm).


Roberto stands and buttons his jacket, giving Hill another smile. Discretion all around, then! "Yes, let us know who to get in contact with. And I appreciate that you took this meeting. Small steps, like you said." He leaves the cube and the moth on the table, with his business card on top. It's a DCI business card, not an X-men one, in case that needed to be said.


"Just as soon as I have our lucky contestant hand-picked for the job," Hill answers Illyana. As this is also becoming a diplomatic matter in its own right she wants to make sure that the person stuck with the responsibility isn't going to flub the whole thing up with a poorly presented mutant joke.

As the other two prep to leave she stands as well, both because she has a robotic moth to figure out what to do with and because she's still got plenty of other matters to fuss over.

"We'll be in touch."

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