Agents Copeland and Mgwanze joined the augmented Lila Cheney party (her original group — most of her band, various friends and personal assistants, hulking bodyguard Guido Carosella — plus Mindee Grace and Vanda and Piotr X) in Miami Beach after headquarters declined to do more than a half-hour phone debrief. Around 4am Lila checked them all into a luxury hotel penthouse to continue and then crash. When Our Agents woke up Lila, Guido and the X’s were gone and a large contingent of well-tipped hotel staff were helping the partiers clean up. M & C cleaned up. Hangovers were minor, one of the perks of being Gifted. HQ called and requested that Ms. Grace check them out for psychic tampering. Mindee contacted a sister to make sure she was good to scan, and did that thing. No surprises.
G & M decided to go investigate the Botanica Santurce where the summoner had bought most of his occult supplies. Mindee tagged along. Agent Copeland had them dress as a moneyed dilettante, her vacuous friend, both a bit Goth, and Mgwanze as the edgy boyfriend. The business was large and prosperous, crowded with odd things. Mindee browsed. Copeland’s excellent Deception skills kept Armando, the propriator, from noticing that Mgwanze came across as a little coplike. Copeland talked their way into seeing the ‘secret’ stash, an alleged Hand of Glory, a couple of actual skulls (‘child sacrificed by Satanists’, ‘seventh son of a seventh son’) and other crap marked up at least 1,000%. Copeland seemed like the perfect mark, so Armando maintained his spiel until Mindee came over, read his mind and called him out. His stash was legal — technically, barely, maybe. He felt that, should one of his customers use a ‘hand of glory’ as a burglary tool, he’d get what he deserved. Armando revealed, very reluctantly and nervously, that he had the name and number of a dealer in the real thing: Brianna Morgan. A couple of the people he’d referred to her had disappeared; probably: he didn’t check too hard. Our Agents gave Armando a number to call if he had more such customers. Armando requested they call him if, um, Morgan was no longer anyone to worry about.
Cpt. Rogers phoned Copeland as they left. He was getting some pilot time in on flying cars — their LA office flying car, to be precise, Portaled to the Helicarrier — and could hand it over to them. Yes, please. They switched out of the rental, called the company to pick it up, and switched to the argrav-conversion Lexus 450h. Rogers presented and briefed them on the new, standard weapons: ICIs (Incapacitating Cartridge Imitators, more commonly called NNGs, night-night guns). Rogers decided to go along, especially because Mindee Grace supposed to be running around without a bodyguard.
Brianna Morgon lived in Tampa, so Rogers piloted them out to sea and around the Florida coast while practicing things like skimming the waves. Copeland set out to distract him. Mindee insisted she stop while she was a passenger both verbally and by psionically. Rogers growled at Grace. Rogers went to a safer altitude, Copeland continued to test his concentration.
By the time they were approaching Tampa they had intel on Morgan. Moderately rich, minor socialite, some politically wise charities, taxes completely in order. Serious political connections to the mayor of Tampa and the governor of Florida. While brainstorming on how to get at her secrets, Copeland called Agatha Harkness to learn what she knew about Morgan. Agatha said she’d planned to call Copeland. However, concerning Morgan: bad news, a practitioner, mansion undoubtedly had arcane defenses, hadn’t quite risen to the top of Harkness’ to do list. Harkness said that someone wanted to meet them; were they in a place where that someone could join them?
Rogers landed in a relatively secluded place half a mile from Morgan’s home. A woman joined them via Agatha’s mirror: almost inhumanly gorgeous, Eurasian features with slightly pointed ears, brown hair, blue eyes, well dressed. Copeland introduced the group. The woman introduced herself as Karyazad, Companion to the Queen of Asgard.
Rogers: Who is dead.
K: Alas, yes. I continue to obey her commands. With her death and other changes there are some things you — SHIELD, your nation — should know.
Earth and all the Nine Realms are Asgardian protectorates. I am aware of just how much you will like the taste of that. The Nine Realms are closely connected by the Bridges by which interstellar space is traveled. Some are allies. Some are hostile. Earth has been subject to something like benign neglect. As access to any of the Nine brings easy access to Asgard, the King controls contact with Outsiders.
A little over a thousand years ago Earth was invaded from Jotunheim, one of the Nine. This was possible because a mortal mystic helped make a Bridge. The King led an Asgardian army to Earth and drove them out, with considerable losses. He was inclined to prevent further problems of that sort by eliminating Earth’s practitioners. The Queen convinced him that she would handle it. She had a number of Earth’s mystics, mostly women, trained in the Arts and set them to policing the occult. There is also a group, a loose cabal of sorcerers whose powers are largely dependent on Outsiders, centered in Tibet. There are Bridges to other worlds within the normal universe, and there are ones to worlds, places…
M: With different natural laws.
K: Yes. Kaungardar. ‘Pocket dimensions’, perhaps, though some are large as planets. Most or all of them seem to be artificial. Some of their inhabitants might seem demonic or angelic to humans. They frequently have parasitical designs on the worlds and lives of the idiots who deal with them. Forceful arguments are sometimes necessary. Specifically, the Bifrost, the teleportation device used in New Mexico and in London, can reach anyone in the Nine Realms no matter how many miles of rock block him from the sky. It need not take the target to Asgard, it can drop them instead in interstellar space. It can quickly move armies. Given time the Bifrost could destroy — remove — a mountain range.
70-80 years ago the power of many Earthly practitioners suddenly increased, about the same time your Gifted started showing much greater powers. Some of the Tibetan cabal tested their new power against Asgard; they were removed.
M: How do they avoid detection in Tibet?
K: Under Tibet, actually. And it’s the center only because the most powerful of them lives there.
One of the reasons Agatha did not care to meet with your Mr. Fury, Ms Hill or your President is that once she’s met someone and paid attention, she can contact them at any time telepathically. And know their exact whereabouts. That’s how telepathic communication works, same as for Ms. Grace here…
MGrace: I can talk to anyone I’ve paid attention to but I don’t know where they are.
K: [looks mildly surprised] You should work on that. Further, Agatha can then use her Mirror to teleport people to her. She’d rather not alarm SHIELD unnecessarily.
So, yes, Earth is a neglected protectorate. This may change. You now have some Gifted powerful enough to be important military assets to the crown. Thor is enamored of Dr. Foster and has vowed to protect Earth as well as the other Nine. And, most importantly, Drs Foster and Selvig were instrumental in killing Malekith, who murdered Queen Frigga, and preventing the destruction of the Nine Worlds — and possibly much more. They intended to unmake the entire Universe. My Queen was beloved in Asgard, Vanaheim and Alfheim. This is enormous social and political capital; use it wisely.
C: [Indicating K’s ears] Are you an elf?
K: .My father is a light-elf, my mother a Van. My people split with the dark-elves, Malekith’s folk, over embracing this universe instead of rejecting it. One of my grandfathers, who did not embrace the light, may have been among those killed in England. 5,000 years ago Malekith’s folk tried to use the last Convergence to try to unmake the universe. They attacked my people first, as traitors, then struck at Asgard to prevent interference. All but one ship and crew, the one that visited England, were killed.
Now I want to see you, SHIELD agents, in action. What you do, how you do it, and why.
Our Agents and Rogers call this in. Mindee Grace, with permission, checks Karyazad;s truthfulness: not lying.
Karyazad offers to help with subterfuge, demonstrating Loki-like illusion tricks. Our Agents and Rogers decide they don’t have enough evidence to do anything about Brianna Morgan just yet but have her watched. SHIELD will send an Obregon (occult consultant) or two with trainee agency occultists and backup.
They end up clubbing again. Karyazad drinks a lot, tried new concoctions (hasn’t been to Miami for 22 years), new versions of old dances, new and old music and observes Our Agents, Cpt Rogers and Mindee in a social situation. Karyazad does not spot the minders SHIELD has watching them in every club until, the third time she taunts a girlfriend-abusing thug to attack her and his friends join in and she breaks (non-fatally… probably) five of them. The minder shows Miami PD officers that she has diplomatic immunity. Like Thor. At 4am Karyazad tells them she has an appointment in Russia, then another with the misogynist in Tibet. She has an area of the parking lot cleared, calls for the Bifrost and is gone.
As the group heads for a hotel, Mgwanze wonders aloud what happened “70-80 years ago”.
Rogers says, “The Nazis dug up the Tesseract. Asgardians hid it in Norway.”
R: “And the ‘Aether’, the — thing — that bonded to Foster was, probably, under London for the last 5,000 years.”
M: “They’re using Earth as a toxic waste dump! What else is here?”
Rogers stops and pulls out a SHIELD satphone, hits speed dial, puts it on speaker.
Laina Petrovna: “Da? Rogers, what to you want, I’m busy…”
R: Is Karyazad there? I have a question.
LP: pause: Here she is.
K: Yes, Captain?
R: The Tesseract, the Aether: What else has Asgard hidden here?
K: Don’t you think that’s enough? There are more… things like that, older than this universe, but it’s amazing that two could be hidden here, or that Asgard would have them at all. Three would be ridiculous!
R: So, not so far as you know.
K: Correct. Shit. The Dark Star is getting irritated. Sleep well; I won’t.
Everybody looks at Rogers. R: What? After Antarctica, of course I have Petrovna on speed-dial. And Cheney, Carlysle, McCoy, Banner…
Eric Lensherr’s new project after forcing a nearly two week cease fire in Syria, and then killing pres. al-Assad (and most of the people in the presidential palace) for breaking it:
EL’s sphere flew around Pakistan a few miles up, then left*.
Next he went to North Korea and removed all the plutonium and uranium he could find, along with accompanying missiles, towed the mass into orbit, built up speed and tossed it to the Moon.
Lensherr issued an on-camera statement to TVNZ:
TVNZ: Mr. Lensherr, why did you destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons?
EL: Because I could. I should have done it years ago. Nuclear weapons can be used to protect humanity, as proved in New York City two years ago. Weapons controlled by an unstable fool are another thing entirely.
TVNZ: The Korean government says they have more.
EL, smug: They’re lying.
*Pakistan’s nukes were stolen by Dark Star and Bright Star — Belenskaya — years ago. DS dragged them into orbit and BS accelerated them to intercept the Moon.