SHIELD: Los Angeles
Agent Dr. Jonathan Talon (MIKES’ PC): Burbank to New York teleportal a success. Tony Stark arranges to get some of the portals in exchange for an Arc Reactor or two.
Talon enjoys the party but is disappointed that Kristine Viera (aka Gadget Girl) does not attend — all of the Project BEARCLAW (reverse engineering alien contragravity tech) people are busy with a test run.
Agent Celeste Copeland (DAVE’S): flies commercial (first class) to LAX. Glues an excessively obnoxious fellow into the john.
Agent Elvis Mgwanze CALVIN’S): pilots a Quinjet and three passengers to Vandenberg AFB, then hops a helo to LAX.
— Where he and Agent Ellis (Kate Ellis, former Senior Chief Petty Officer, HQ manager/office mom, not their boss) beat Copeland there and drive her to Anaheim, Disneyland, the Disney Bunker and newly vacated NSA facility that is now their hidden base of operations.
Tour of the facility. Meet the staff. Talon joins them.
Info from the techie on monitor duty: a John Doe at the Santa Monica morgue shows signs of death by psychic attack that has Georgina Jackson’s (aka Vertigo) ‘fingerprints’ on it. Jackson is very strongly suspected to be one of the ‘Glass Cannons’ who fought alien invaders along side the X-Men, and President Obama wants to thank her personally and officially — but she disappeared at the end of the fighting and the Xies won’t give any information.
So: examine the corpse, have it moved to a good hospital and scanned, trace the ID — false, several sets — the car keys and so on.
Run camera footage from traffic cams, ATM cams and from people Tweeting the death, which was in public in the early afternoon; the man started to draw a gun and dropped dead.
ID Jackson (probably) in the crowd, follow her back and forward from the death and eventually ID her as Gina Nixon.
GN is living largely off the grid, in a luxury condo belonging to a successful assistant director, making money under the table as a party organizer/consultant.
‘Nixon’ runs and walks a lot for exercise, does not own a car, does not use credit cards. There are photos, mostly tweets, of her in clubs and parties attended by mid to high level Hollywood folk.
A number of (probable) would-be muggers or rapists have turned up alongside some of Nixon’s usual running paths badly stomped and lying in their own vomit — Nixon/Vertigo’s only known pre-BNY power was that of psionically scrambling the senses of people over a considerable area, which usually involved severe nausea.
Mgwanze acquires Nixon’s cell phone number. Calls, identifying himself as a SHIELD agent and requesting a meeting. Topics are: grateful nation, need any help? Nixon is relieved SHIELD didn’t send, say, ‘Batgirl’ (Romanov has not been publicly identified) or the Archer. She ID’s the deader as one of Stryker’s men and one of her handlers. Meet: Spago , on their dime, tonight at 8 pm: if they are really from SHIELD they’ll have the juice to get them a table. They do.
The meeting goes very well. Nixon is assured that she’ll be in the clear for offing Corporal Manning and beating up muggers. She’s bemused at the notion of meeting the President. Not interested in joining SHIELD — also can’t. People in US Army uniforms freak her out. What she’d like: a real ID, her tax dodging finessed (she can pay what she owes, fines, probably not), and an effective, discreet shrink to deal with her soldier phobia. She likes her current gig — she’s learned to psionically make everything seem nicer (tastier, more attractive, wittier, etc.) over a wide area; her offer to demonstrate is declined — and doesn’t want her clients to know that she can also kill people by wishing them dead. (Which trick she came up with to kill Invaders in frustration and rage as her usual trick doesn’t have a lot of range.) She invites them to come over to her condo for a swim. There’s a nice heated outdoor pool on the 8th floor and the condo’s owner left a selection of new guest bathing suits there. They accept.
The swim is pleasant. Talon teeps around and learns that Nixon is receptive to his flirting, he’s cute enough, has good manners has a certain badassitude from being a SHIELD agent. Fuckable, maybe more, but not tonight. Other residents are interested in who these people with the Hollywood-connected party organizer are, are they rich, are they good for their careers…
The pool terrace’s view is to the east and sometime after midnight everybody notices the letters OROTHY written across the sky in glowing green-yellow cursive maybe a mile high. A trip to the roof (with all the poolside folk following) shows that the message is SURRENDER DOROTHY. It does not seem to be smoke as it is not moving or dispersing at all. Gotta go.
Once outside they see that Gadget Girl’s CG-fitted 1999 Learjet 45 (with its 10x normal array of lights all over it, because hovering, LA airspace) levitating towards the edge of the second E in SURRENDER. A quick cal to the Works redirects her to pick them up and take them along; for a fee, of course.
The letters are transparent, they’re not material, not a hologram, not radioactive or more than marginally warm. Not dangerous, except as a navigation hazard — many, many aircraft are being redirected around the 26 mile long, mile high, 100 yard thick projection. An idiot in a Cessna flies through the D and loops around for more.
There comes a tapping at the cockpit glass: a pale, ohmyhfuckinggod beautiful woman with black hair and wings gets their attention, and Viera let’s her in. This is Angel D’arc, part owner and major attraction at Pandemonium, a popular Goth themed club, and a friend of Viera’s. She wants to know what Viera’s learned about the letters. She dismisses Our Agents’ speculations as paranoia; obviously, whomever did this did it because it’s cool and because they could. She bets Talon $20 that when they find the person responsible, they’ll be green. Wicked Witch of the West themed powers are perfectly reasonable (argues the succubus-looking woman), just look at whatsername, the Tinkerbelle lookalike, and the vampires, including the sparkly one, and someone spotted a fucking unicorn in Seattle. Angel D flies out and hovers to stick a finger in the E: nada. Viera reports a faint psychic tickle from the letters. Angel is bored now and leaves — and flies right back chasing a witch — dead ringer for Margaret Hamilton in full makeup and costume as the Wicked Witch of the West — trailing a green, glowing contrail from her broom. They play chase a while but Angel can’t keep up.
Mgwanze requisitions/rents Viera’s flying ‘Troncycle’ (securely mounted in the middle of the fuselage) and takes off in pursuit. So does Viera and the Quinjet that’s been making it’s own observations. The witch dives down towards central LA’s skyscrapers. Mgwanze follows; he’s a very, very good pilot and the Troncycle is quite user-friendly. The witch is slightly faster but Elvis manages to get her to pull over — slow down and levitate — after each has a narrow escape.
The Witch is manic, high on something. She says she’s had this form and her powers for almost seven hours. Mgwanze talks her into turning off the SURRENDER DOROTHY (SHIELD’s rep for redonkulous resources and pull help) and pitches SHIELD as a career. She’s persuadable. She’s also got troubles: nine hours ago her home was invaded by five gang bangers, she was robbed and beat all to hell and her house set on fire. Then she manifested her powers: healed in minutes, green and Margaret-like, chased them down and, ah, burned them to death in their car. And put the fires she started out. Mgwanze, his listening fellow agents — and SHIELD, really — could care less about homicidal gangers but flight, an energy attack, negating fires are all very useful to the agency. She demonstrates ‘flying monkeys’ (telekinetic projections) and teleportation — ending up 30’ from the Gadgetjet.
Elvis and the Witch — Elizabeth Harris, age 63, solidly middle class, retired CPA — enter the jet, people are introduced and the Witch concentrates on her hand, trying to turn back into her old self. Nothing. She borrows a mirror from Copeland, produces an Android phone (hers, taken back from a ganger) and Googles a picture of Idina Menzel as Elphaba and tries for that. And succeeds after a few minutes. Someone brings up witchy water-solubility. Harris determines that her hair does not melt, then picks her least favorite fingertip to risk: nothing. ‘Thank you, subconscious!’ Copeland wonders if she can sing. Harris tries it out and is very Menzel-like, the replay causing her to actually ROFL hysterically. Then stops, worried that she’s permanently high as a kite. Feels like she’s twenty again though… eyes Mgwanze and Talon. Are they married? No. Plants very lusty kisses on both of them and says she’s fully rejuvenated. Now what?
Viera flies them to Edwards AFB where they can land openly, get Harris fingerprinted to see if they have changed (they haven’t) and get started on signing her up as an cadet Avenger, her identity re-established and her financials in order. And where all the witnesses are under orders. Harris, still manic, picks out a promising young airman and invite him to help her give her new bod a test drive; she promises everyone to not kill him. He’s game. They decamp to an off base motel. Our Agents acquire some Air Force cops to watch the place. Mgwanze starts on the ‘paperwork’ for Nixon and Harris.
Talon talks some tech with Viera and she’s interested, but later please. She’d been up for three days when she boarded the jet.
Harris finishes ravaging the airman, showers and comes out at 10:46 am, no longer manic but way too pleased with herself. Viera flies them to Bob Hope Airport (Burbank) and they sneak Harris into the Skunk Works and teleportal her to SHIELD NY.
Early that evening they get attaboys from Acting Director Hill. The President is pleased with the results re: Nixon; so is Hill despite the bill from Spago. Hill, the LA and California authorities are pleased that the skywriting was dealt with in under an hour and that there should not be a recurrence; she’s pleased with the new recruit; she understands about not haggling more with Viera (don’t worry about recruiting her, she’s already a consultant/contractor), and everyone is happy about the nearly glitchless teleportal tests. Re: successful teleportal tests, security at the Works will be doubled since Hydra, China and . . . everybody will want a piece of that action.
SHIELD equipment: superglue variants — good for 20 minutes then quickly degrades, good for several hours before degrading. EP cost = 0 — it’s effing superglue.
2) Spago Beverley Hills (it’s Spago, not Spago’s, my bad, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant) likey SHIELD (the manager has relatives and friends in New York); standing offer to comp major participants in the BNY or the cleanup, at least once.
“Aside from the fact that the food was amazing, I was truly impressed by the friendliness of the staff. I expected that perhaps they would be more stuffy or snobby, but everyone from the hostess to the waiter to the maitre d’ was warm and so accommodating. As this was our first time to Spago, I inquired about a tasting menu for lunch. Our waiter went to speak to the chef & even though they didn’t have one set up, they created one for us. It was truly incredible. Not only did they come out with fabulous dishes, but they respected my friend’s request to leave out certain items that she couldn’t eat. Yes, you’ll pay a lot for your meal at Spago, but IT IS SO WORTH IT!! I look forward to going back again someday.”
3) SHIELD has a 1-800 number.
4) Romanov and Barton have not been publicly identified. To the public they’re Catwoman/Batgirl/Mrs Peel and ‘the Archer’/Green Arrow.
5) “Chuckie” (Brainchild/ Charles Lefner) is masterminding the Travelling Revenge Show with Sabertooth and Blockbuster. He invited Nixon to join them, she declined.
6) Harris, FYI, is PL 6, 114 points.
7) The Skunk Works — located in Burbank on the site of the old Lockheed Skunk Works, under two parking garaged and a sound studio (front) — can run the teleportal for 14 minutes continuously, with a recharge cycle of 22 minutes. Talon can hand finish/alter/wizard the critical Weird Science components of a portal pair in about 6-7 hours; he has several pair on hand.
8) The press is all over Viera (casting: Piper Perabo) to find out about the skywriting and what was her part in dealing with the Witch — her jet was super conspicuous. She just says ‘Sorry, that’s Classified’ and since she’s known to have contracts with the Air Force and Marines, that works as well as anything would. D’arc just acts all mysterious like she had something to do with it.
9) Mgwanze = ‘M GWAWNZAY
10) Nixon knows a hairdresser/cosmeticist/brujo who darkened her skin from Scotts-Irish pale to medium Mediterranean olive, her hair from light green (all over) to dark brown and altered her facial structure a bit — permanently. For $22k. She can introduce them. (Elvis is thinking Witness Protection.)
Viera never, ever calls it a Troncycle herself. Lawsuits. It’s her ‘cycle’.
It’s airbreathing, aside from the CG, and tops out at around 120 mph. Her jet does 500 mph. Her pro bono SAR work and government contracts keep the FAA off her ass.
Harris has a son, Scott, a daughter in law, Jennifer, and two grandchildren, Jacob
and Emma (6) whom she dotes on. They live in Reseda a west of Burbank.
Harris’ property is in Altadena, east of Burbank, a few blocks from the Angeles National Forest.
13) Vampires: there have been at least five known ‘vampiric’ serial killer types in the US, all killed. The sparkly vamp, ‘Edmund’, lives well on volunteers despite being a douche. Stephanie Meyer despises him, Summit Entertainment hates him, Robert Pattinson, his double, fears him and Kristin Stewart isn’t stupid enough to bang him. A fair number of Avengers and Xies are waiting for him to screw up; smart money says The Girls will get to him first.