On New Years day the residents of Chicago are greeting 2052 in the customary way: With a hangover. It’s a good thing that modern cars are capable of driving themselves because the tradition of getting sloshed on December 31st hasn’t dwindled in the slightest. Of course most places give people the day off anyway, so the streets are quiet and have been all day.
Of course not everyone has been enjoying the holiday in bed. Jericho Trent is one such. He’s usually juggling a dozen or so things including one SHIELD and Samantha in particular should be interested in. Which is not why he’s asked for people today. No he’s asked for people because the Institute routed him some interesting reports about a very agile mutant with none of the usual identifiers that’s been traipsing around Chicagoland for the past couple of days generally being…
French is worrisome not in the least because a French mutant is either a hostile agent who needs to be put down and fast or a refugee who needs to be found and fast. Jericho figures that either SHIELD or Gnosis can help. Hence his request to see Sam, Kaylee and Ian at his favorite Crepe truck.
“Could be Quebecois, I guess?” The hacker is muttering to himself as he takes a bite into a steaming chicken, spinach and mushroom crepe. Which is good. So very gooood. There’s no one out here at the moment. Just him, the crepe cook and the Tony AI who drives the truck.
And has a Jersey accent.
For… some reason.
New Year’s day is one of those days where one really doesn’t know what to do with the time itself, or at least it seems that way to Ian. Everyone gets geared up for the eve of and celebrates the old year’s passing. And then what? Greetings go on throughout the day that follows and things otherwise remain largely the same.
Ian had been practical. He’d reorganized his bookshelf.
Now he’s standing out in the cold with one hand trying to siphon the warmth of his coffee cup and the other balancing the savory crepe he’s opted to try since they were here again. Mushrooms, cheese and bacon. It had sounded interesting and smelled… well, as one would expect. He’s yet to actually bite into the thing just yet because it’s a bit too hot to do so, so Ian watches the steam rise from it instead. At least his hands are warm.
“Could be,” he shrugs, having been considering the things Jericho had told them once they’d all gotten together. “No visual records anywhere?” Slightly surprising considering the hacker’s infamous abilities.
When Kaylee finally arrives at the Crepe truck, she’s wearing a heavy winter jacket, a hat and gloves. The cold doesn’t seem to agree with her and she casts Jericho a ‘look’ before she places her order from Jersey Tony before joining the hacker.
“What could be Quebecois?” She asks. Clearly she’s missed something when the request came through, but that could be understandable. She’d been in the lab after all.
“Happy New Year, Ian …”
Samantha, possibly not surprisingly, has declined to get a crepe for herself.
“Not Quebecois,” she says with a clear tone of certainty to her voice. She’d already reported in a couple of days ago about having met an unusual young mutant, but seeing as she’d not been able to get much more about him than the fact that he’d seemed strangely … sheltered, the only real thing she had to go by was his accent. “Parisian. Moneyed. Jacques Dernier would have called him ‘haute monde‘.”
She quickly goes on to explain meeting the young man and what had apparently become of him, and her frustration is clear. “You did see my report, yes, Kaylee?”
Jericho taps on his own coffee cup. “That’s a problem then. If he’s not some kind of refugee or escapee then he’s possibly a EuroMIND or HYDRA agent and both of those would be, as we say, bad juju.”
We say that? Since when do ‘we’ say that? Might be a Trent thing, really. Kaylee hasn’t heard him use that before, even. And she spends quite a bit of time working with him.
“No visual that I could get a positive ID on, no. Which is why I was hoping you could help, Ian. Gnosis has access to a lot of the same methods I do but with a lot more processing power and, well, you’re the link to Gnosis.”
There’s a pause as he takes another bite of his crepe. “Speaking of reports, Kaylee you filed one about our little HYDRA discovery the other night, yes?”
Hunched against the cold and the wind is a lean figure. A warm woolen beanie is pulled low on his head, covering his hair and ears and part of his cheekbones. A thick scarf, not at all matching or coordinating with the beanie, is wrapped about the lower part of his face and neck to keep him warm. A thick puffy jacket, threadbare in places and clearly from a secondhand Goodwill type store covers his frame, fitting poorly. A plain black backpack is slung over a shoulder.
The almost homeless looking man is walking along the sidewalk, the smell of the crepe truck drawing him in until, with a flick of soft green eyes, he spots the familiar Samantha Carter at near the same time he hears the words ‘Euro Mind’. The rest was too much English too quickly in an odd non-Queen’s-English accent, and the meaning gets mostly garbled. There’s a slight stutter in his steps before the young man just keeps walking, like nothing happened.
“Happy New Year, Kaylee,” Ian replies, a reflexive response by now but he offers a smile along with it to show he means it. He blows lightly on his crepe before finally sampling a bite, humming to himself in pleasant surprise.
Jericho gets a slight side-eye at his supposed saying. “I’m sure I’ve heard my grade school teachers use that phrase. Just how old are you?” he smirks, pausing to sip his coffee.
“I can probably ask Gnosis about assisting, then.” Surely he can’t be the only ‘link’ to Gnosis but perhaps for all the time he’s spent with the artificially grown brain-being, perhaps he can see the sense of phrasing it so.
He takes another draw from his coffee cup as he glances at the others with them, tilting his head at Samantha as he considers what she’d said earlier. His pale eyes slide away from their immediate group to the movement of the figure in passing, a brow arching.
“I was putting the finishing touches on that report when you summoned me, Jericho. It was logged as I left the office.” Kaylee pulls the gloves from her hands to take the tray of ham, cheese and pineapple crepes from the Tony. “Report, Agent Carter?” she blinks for a moment as her attention turns to the other agent “Oh, yes. I’m sorry, there’s a lot going over my desk.”
For Sams and Ian’s benefit, the biochem quickly sums up. “Jericho and I cleared a HYDRA facility the other week and he’s found that a part of the equipment we seized was made by either DCI, Alchemax or Stark Fujikawa. One of those companies has a HYDRA mole.” That’s bound to go well with Sam.
Her accent is pure British and whilst not perfect Queens English, it’s not bad. The passing of the man goes as unnoticed as anything else going on around them.
Samantha nods to Jericho. “He is either some manner of escapee or refugee, Mr. Trent.” Her own nearly perfect Queen’s-English accent still has the faintly flat Americanized vowels to it. “Either that, or he is one of the best prevaricators this side of the Red Room. He seemed genuinely confused and distressed.” And remembering a skittish pet cat has actually helped her confirm her impression. What? SHIELD never allowed time for pets. Peterson AFB frowned on them too. But, Ember was a sweet little spaz. She blinks once, then frowns at Kaylee’s mention of HYDRA.
“We should report that to Stark Fujikawa immediately. I remember them being aggressively protective of their patents and manufacturing processes.”
“They are, yes.” Jericho nods to Samantha. “But we have to be careful how we handle this. The indications I have are that HYDRA is planning something for the Presidential Conference next month and… well with all three Presidents in town that’s a bad time for something to…”
Jericho pauses because he just noticed Ian looking off in a different direction. He glances to the two agents and then to Ian. “Something up, Ian?”
The conversation, what bits and pieces he’s managing to catch, has the bundled up Adrien unnerved. But he’s hungry and so dares to try his luck (which in his memory was always notoriously bad unless his Lady Luck was near at hand and she seems to be MIA) by stepping up to the food cart. He’s had this time to think about it, about how he would talk. Samantha Carter heard his french, the accent in English and the very Paris lilt when they switched into French. Maybe, he can just get away with -not- talking. So, the tall man moves over and points at the crepe he’d like before dipping back into a pocket for the some of the quickly dwindling cash store he has.
“Another facility? The implications with that kind of finding isn’t good, but we’ve already been figuring someone’s got their fingers in everything,” Ian murmurs, still watching out of the corner of his eye as the bundled up figure moves towards the crepe truck.
“Hm?” He looks over at Jericho then when he’s addressed. “Ah, I’m not sure. Could’ve been my imagination, or paranoia,” he admits with a crooked smile and a shrug before lowering his voice a little. “Not sure if that fellow there was listening in or just took a bad step.” He gestures with a nod of his head.
“I don’t think that would appropriate, Agent Carter. I’ve organised warrants for Jericho to go digging in the the three corporate’s systems to see what he can find. If we tip HYDRA off, they’ll just relocate and we’ll loose any advantage that we’ve gained.”
Kaylee looks to Jericho “We will need help when we narrow it, Agent Carter. Jericho might need help now…”
It’s hard to not see the tall man as he moves to the window. Agent Carters report had mentioned the youths height but surely …. there are a number of tall people in the city, right?
Unusually for Samantha, she is NOT one of the first people to notice the tall man at the crepe truck. “You have a point, Kaylee. Mr. Trent, I will of course assist in any way I can.” Because to her, almost more important than anything else is quashing HYDRA. Far too many people special to her have died over the years trying to stop HYDRA, and they’re bigger than ever.
She realizes that she’s the only one of their little group without so much as a beverage, so she pings the truck to request a … bugger. Fine. A hot chocolate.
Adrien tries just to act like he is no one interesting at all. He stands a bit hunched, as if not wanting people to see his height. The crepe taken, and his gaze never once daring to flick toward the others near by — someone trying way too hard to look like they are not dropping eaves — Adrien turns to make his get away from Samantha and this group of people that know about this dangerous entity known as Euromind or whatever it’s called.
It’s the act of trying to look inconspicuous that does it. Blending into a crowd is an art and it DOES work, but when the crowd has singled you out it’s pretty difficult. Jericho reacts to the sudden tension in the young man by bringing his hand down low by his hip. Those who know him know he has a coilgun there most days though it’s under his shirt and he doesn’t reveal it quite yet. And tense as the hacker has been is it any wonder he’s reacting like this?
“Easy there… we’re all just here. Havin’ a crepe.”
He won’t know if it’s the same man. Someone else might, though.
There’s an amber glow just under his shirt, though, that looks like circuit lines. Ian, Sam and Kaylee all know that’s a sign of wings about to manifest.
It’s Jericho’s shift in position that has the librarian frowning around his crepe. He carefully finishes his mouthful, turning slowly to look back in the direction of whomever the hacker’s addressing. At that point Ian figures the odds that it’s the person he’d pointed out are rather high. Sometimes he hates being right.
He’s never seen the tall one before now to connect any dots, nor has he read any reports. The stranger’s behavior does however make it more than obvious that he’s trying too hard at something.
Kaylee’s hand floats to her hip, where her ICER pistol is holstered as the figure outs himself. “Agent Carter …” she says carefully, balancing her crepes in one hand. *sigh* They’ll be cold before she gets to touch them.
“Please stay where you are, Sir. We’d like a word.” She’s careful to ensure that Ian isn’t in the line of … well … anything.
At Jericho’s subtle reaching for his sidearm, Samantha finally clues in and she turns around. And if the way the man was TRYING to be inconspicuous weren’t clue enough, the way her eyes widen a bit in recognition likely IS. Unlike the others, though, she does NOT reach for a weapon. Instead, and perhaps incongruously, she reaches to take Kaylee’s crepes from her.
And then, she tries something a little bit risky. It will either make prove the heavily dressed man is the young mutant from the other day, or whomever it is will just think she’s weird. She’d be okay with that.
She HISSES. Like a VERY upset feline. And quite convincingly.
Spotted, and the tall bundled man freezes like a cat spotted in the middle of the room. Slowly, ever so slowly, the man’s heard turns toward Jericho’s voice. Soft green eyes land on the group, sliding from person to person, only seeming to recognize Samantha. When they land on Jericho, and that slight amber glow hints at something more to him than meets the eye, Adrien starts backing away nervously. His eyes now dart over all of them with a wary distrust, and then Kaylee speaks.
‘Stay where you are. We want a word.‘
His eyes widen faintly as he takes another step back. It’s slow, it’s careful, it’s a movement as if hoping not to be seen in how slow it is moving. The crepe is held protectively near his chest. Adrien’s already plotting how best to bolt and keep the food safe at the same time. This was likely his only meal today. Agitated, hungry, cold, distressed, Samantha hissing at him is like the last straw.
Very human looking green eyes narrow suddenly and focus completely on Samantha. Beneath the layered scarf, lips frown. But the body language is clear. His back rounds, shoulders rolling forward. And a thin warbling growl drifts from his throat, the warning moan of upset growling cat just before the fight starts.
At least he’s stopped moving backwards.
There’s a ‘thrum’ as feathered wings appear on the hacker’s back, made apparently out of golden light. He doesn’t draw down, Jericho. Instead he kind of stares at Sam. “Really?”
It does work though and the growl from the tall man has his eyes narrowing. “Morlock. Careful Kaylee. Ian.”
Morlock. He means the inhuman mutants that often live at the edges of society. They often share animalistic traits. This one looks human enough but he’s definitely acting like a cat.
The growl. It’s… got a kind of a frequency. A particular frequency that makes Ian… well… it makes him remember that time when Kenlaris shot a SHIELD agent, let’s put it that way.
Ian almost feels sorry for the guy that’s suddenly gained everyone of their little party’s attention. These are not people that one wants to have focused on them. He’s only glad that Kaylee’s not already firing her ICER.
And then Samantha goes and -hisses- at the man, which prompts the most baffled of expressions on the librarian’s face as he mouths, “What the-”
Even more baffling, the suspicious stranger reacts in like fashion, drawing an uncertain look back towards him as Ian stares.
…perhaps a little too intently. The look of confusion’s melted into something more like one focused on a target.
He hardly reacts when Jericho summons his electro wings into being. Morlock. It’s a term that he’s familiar with now, although Jericho’s words of warning sound very far away.
Uh… that was not the reaction Samantha was expecting. Not that she doubts she could fight the beanpole of a mutant off, but it would be better if she didn’t have to. So, after Jericho’s one word commentary and warning, she tries option number two. Which, in retrospect, she probably should have gone with first.
In near-perfect Parisian French — from about a hundred years ago — she says to the now hunched and growling man, “I wondered where you went when I returned with food for you.”
Kaylee wouldn’t have thought to growl at the man but the resulting growl has her grip tightening on her pistol.
“Agent Carter, I haven’t eate–” the biochem sighs as her food is appropriated. At least she’s not worried about spilling them?
” Ian?” Kaylee can see him ‘fading’ and the pistol slides clear – though she trains it on Ian and not Adrien.
The French seems to soothe the tall man’s inner feline, for the growl fades away into silence. He hasn’t relaxed, however, looking still like he would fight or flee at any moment.
“I wasn’t feline like hanging around,” he quips back tersely, in French. It’s a touch more modern than Samantha’s mind, but only by about fifty years.
“I’m not looking fur trouble right meow. Just a bit of… wait. You were going to feed me?” Yup. He distracted himself.
“You were gonna feed him?” Jericho looks at Samantha and then to Kaylee. “Maybe SHIELD can house him then. Or I’m sure Ian can take him back to the Institute if that’s preferable.”
Either way they can get him off the street and if not, hey, Jericho has his face on record now. Should make finding him easier.
“Kaylee, Ian, I’ve got another project when you’ve a moment. While Sam is busy with th- Kaylee?” He looks at the Agent clearly ready to tranq Ian if need be.
“Oooooooooh. Uh, perhaps we should talk about this… elsewhere. While Sam sees to her… stray cat.”
Maybe the only thing keeping Ian from acting out right off the back is that his hands are full and he’s debating on which would be more effective a distraction; hot coffee or hot crepe? Either way he’s tensed, looking about to take a step forward, but the movement ringing new alarm bells is from Kaylee.
The slow look he casts in her direction is almost downright alien for the lack of recognition upon his face, as though the only thing he sees of her is her drawn weapon. But the growling has stopped, one crisis averted, and although it takes a moment to kick in, the hesitation is apparent as the librarian’s brow twitches then knits as his normal mindset works on overriding whatever strange reaction that had been hardwired into him.
Ian shakes his head, closing his eyes.
It doesn’t take Kaylee a moment to close the distance between her and Ian, sliding her arm through his and turning him away. “Let’s go Jericho. To my lab or the Institute, I want to get Ian … away.” beat “Agent Carter, I trust you have this handled?”
There’s one last rueful at the crepes she didn’t even get to sample before the biochem is chivying Ian away, into a self-driving and … to safety.
Samantha is surprised by Ian’s reaction more than the mutant’s, so much so that Kaylee’s moving the librarian away before she actually realizes what’s going on. Quickly, before he can leave as well, she offers Kaylee’s crepes to Jericho to take with him, and then she steps toward Adrien to lead him elsewhere.
Probably back to the same flat he’s already escaped from once. Though at least this time the place will have the pantry and fridge stocked.
With strange reports of a French-speaking mutant circulating, Jericho calls the usuals over to see if anyone's got anything. As it turns out, their quarry is closer than they realize.
January 01, 2052