2019-08-28 - Come What May


Jemma seeks out May to discuss Bartons plan

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Aug 28 09:57:16 2019
Location: The Triskelian

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Jemma needs to see to May. It's really important but Kelly had waylaid with the need for *more* diagnostics.

Which is why she's tracked May to the training hall and is currently warming up. She's going to get a workout in while she waits for the other Agent to be finished kicking the younger agents asses.

It's likely a good fifteen minutes or so before May is done 'instructing' the younger agents, releasing them all to flee while she does a few stretches to complete her own warmup.

What? Tossing baby agents around is a warmup.

Spotting Simmons nearby, she collects her things and heads over, moving quietly out of habit even in her workout sneakers on the hard parts of the flooring that usually shriek out their best basketball court fantasies on every footfall. "Simmons. Need a sparring partner?"

In that fifteen minutes, Jemma has stretched and warmed up, watching May do May things. Normally she'd try not to laugh but today, she's weighty things on her mind and it shows.

"Agent May. I would, if you're gentle on me." Jeriah had been teaching her to improve her hand to hand and now the biochem has to wander. "I actually needed to talk to you, in Agent Coulsons absence. It's about Agent Barton and the Contractor, London."

Taking her place on the mats, Jemma squares off and waits for May to join her. This conversation is going to go so very well.

May joins Jemma on the mats and stands in her usual relaxed and seemingly casual stance that is a contrast from the way most melee combatants choose to set their stance. When the biochemist mentions Barton and London in the same sentence, she already has an idea what this conversation is likely about.

"Let's practice basic forms, then," she offers with a nod. Light sparring and a conversation is certainly doable.

Jemma nods and launches into a fairly standard attack. She's not bad but certainly not elite. May could kick her backside with one hand tied behind her back and blindfolded. There's a minute or so before Jemma speaks.

"Agent Barton isolated me last night, in my lab, insisting that I have been compromised by Contractor London." The biochem swallows knowing how this sounds. "I'm concerned for Agent Bartons state of mind. A few days ago, he was subjected to some fairly heavy emotional and mental trauma and broke medical confinement, as your aware." That's why May had to pick him up from that pub.

"I'm concerned that Agent Barton might not be acting … rationally."

May uses standard blocking techniques to fend off Jemma's attack, indicating out where a slight modification in the attack would have gotten past the block successfully by having them redo the attack slowly.

"I assigned him to do that," she tells the biochemist. "He voiced some very valid concerns about London even in light of how thorough your vetting process was. You know as well as I do that SHIELD is in the business of doing exactly what Barton accused London of. And we can't hold ourselves or our allies above that same level of scrutiny."

"And if Agent Barton is emotionally compromised because of his experience?" Jemma's attacks change slightly to a form that May's not seen before or rather, not seen in SHIELD before. It's a style used by the army and many soldiers know it. Good bet where the biochem learned this.

"SHIELD vetted Mister London, May. Not me. He was *sent* to me by SHIELD." It's not like he requested the assignment, they approached him. Jemma sighs "So that makes it ok for Agent Barton to isolate me and insist I run diagnostics. I nearly *shot* him for being compromised himself."

And he'd made her cry. Not that Jemma is saying that.

May adapts to the change in form smoothly, mentally noting that someone else has been training her, then takes a moment to explain how to best counter the moves she just used. Of course, May is showing her a hybrid Tai Chi/Shaolin technique to defeat the military-based moves. Something for her to take back to that other trainer.

"Granted. But even SHIELD vetting isn't infallible. I will speak with Barton about how he chose to approach you, but if London was directly able to access your implants, that would have been the only way to have those diagnostics run with minimal risk of outside interference."

She looks at Jemma plainly. "I would have done it exactly the same way. The only reason you're doubting Barton is because of that recent experience."

Maybe she should mention that the archer made her cry.

Jemma isn't the field agent that others are and learning new techniques take her a little bit. May knows Jeriah has been training her, that must be where she's getting the new techniques, right?

The counter moves are noted though, and Jemma puts them into the practice. May … doesn't exactly take it easy on her … but at least she's not tossing the biochem around. Yet.

"Am I wrong to be suspicious of a man who had data from AIM downloaded straight to his brain? Agent Barton has had … some issues in the past … and what he experienced the other day wasn't good."

"Look, I'm not against vetting London more fully. I didn't appreciate being told that I was compromised. And I don't think that Agent Bartons plan is appropriate. It's dangerous to send a soldier into the field with incorrect data."

"I was very frightened, Agent May. If Agent Barton is compromised, he could have killed me."

May hadn't been planning on tossing the biochemist around… but she can if the situation deserves it. She is instead unfailingly patient with helping Jemma get the new techniques at least understood if not muscle-memory automatic.

"You'd be wrong to not be suspicious of anyone and everyone in this building for some reason or other. But that is why SHIELD has the checks and balances we do. Barton has been cleared by Medical. If you have valid reason to think he is still compromised, I'll have him go straight back. And the plan he put forth was the one I suggested. If you can think of something better, let me know. There have been far too many almost completely scrubbed missions for my taste lately. I might have to start joining in on a few to make sure this doesn't continue."

Jemma executes a series of moves designed to put May on the back foot. It's an interesting combination of the new techniques and her SHIELD trained ones. Perhaps enough to keep her out of trouble.

"You're suggesting putting a man in the field in a life or death situation with incorrect information. What do you think will happen when London works out he's been duped?" Jemma is relatively certain that London is clean and she's taken a shine to him - sort of. "We'll lose a valuable asset because we compromised him. Take him into custody and assess him. Don't do this."

It's a loosing argument, Jemma knows that and it's breaking her heart.

Again, May is able to counter Jemma's attacks, but the unusual blending of the different techniques is intriguing, to say the least. That may be something worth cultivating.

"This tactic has been used with other agents and consultants in the past. Do you really think he'll take being treated as guilty until proven innocent better than being put on a mission with two different concurrent objectives?"

It might make stop and think. Why would Jeriah take time to train with Jemma. To teach her to this level? If he's a rogue element and she *is* compromised, and can fight - that's in his favour. If he's on the up and up … having the squishy in the team is to his benefit. But which is it?

The counter attacks are met, Jemma being forced back to regroup. Then another series of moves, designed to keep the agent off balance are executed.

"I think, and I have to agree with him, to give him details of one facility and send to him another unprepared - particularly when we know what we're dealing with, is entirely foolish. And dangerous. You're playing with his life on a hunch."

The biochem moves again, another series of attacks. "What would you do, Agent May, if someone sent you to die?"

May stops at Jemma's question, dropping the combat stance. "We're not sending him to die, Jemma.We're trying to further confirm the vetting that SHIELD has already done. The last thing any of us wants is to prove that he's still working for AIM. But we have to prove beyond a doubt that he's not, especially considering that he's been the first one to touch the intel every time so far. You have to admit, there's always a risk there."

"Aren't we? We're taking a man who is the first into combat and sending him in with incorrect information. He won't be prepared." beat "I know there's a risk but I can't be ok with deliberately feeding information in live operations like this."

Now they've stopped fighting, Jemma's concern and frustration is evident. She's near tears - why? A side effect of the Death Lok Protocols, certainly. But is there more?

May looks at Jemma for a long moment. "Then perhaps a modification of the directives. We still can't allow him to be the first to touch intel, that has to come to a hard stop. But you and he and one or two others are given a different exit point than the person who does collect the intel. This has also been done before." Usually with assets they knew not to trust, but it's almost the case at this point."

She can tell this is very upsetting to the biochemist. "Explain why this is bothering you so much."

"I can live with that, Agent May." Jemma takes a deep breath. "Though I'd like to know who is going to be doing the decoding. With Fitz on extended mission, our choices are limited." That's something she'll deal with. Data decoding is a lengthy process and it's possible they've just made it longer.

Mays question brings Jemma up short. "It's my team. They're lives are my responsibility. The Director tasked me to do this and the rug was pulled out from under me. That's to start. It hasn't been easy since … " she gestures "… the Death Lok Protocols messed with my emotional control." that's all her file including the work that Dehaven is doing with her. Though some of that information is redacted.

"He might be an smart ass, May. He might be irreverant. But I like him and it's nice to have someone like him around."

Who will do the decoding. That is truly a problem, and one of the main reasons that London was assigned to the team in the first place. For that one May does not have an easy answer.

"He can do the decoding, but it must be done here, on SHIELD premises, using only SHIELD equipment until we are absolutely sure that he is not compromised. And only after someone other than him has carried the data in from the field mission." She's making compromises here, and she's not entirely happy about it.

"Also, until this is cleared up, I'm part of your team."

"Get one of the other techs to work with London when he does. They'll need the experience and can provide oversight. Get them to decode it as well as him. I'll get an air gapped system configured to ensure there can't be any other access." There's no need to compromise a lot here. But SHIELD had bought the contractor in for a reason.

"No arguments Agent May. You were my first choice but you were on mission, already. We need people to get this finished and stop others dying."

"Then that's how we'll go moving forward. I honestly don't anticipate needing to do this more than once or twice to confirm London. But it needs to be done. I'll also tap Barton to be in on those missions if he's not already assigned to other tasks."

That last is partly so the archer can be reassured of London's allegiances, partly so May can assess Barton himself.

"Are you ready to continue sparring?"

Jemma nods and takes up position again. "I had tasked London to lead Barton and Harper on those missions. The Directors cleared their allocation to my team." Jemma's been busy in Mays absence.

"I don't ever want to be as scared as I was last night. I locked my lab door when Barton left and cried." She finally admits, just as she launches into a routine, preparing to put this behind her.

May also takes up position again. "On the next mission or two, I want someone else leading instead. Me, if I can be there. And you and Harper will stick with London. Agreed?"

She then leads off with an attack this time, mimicking the basic attack Jemma had used at the very start of this conversation, as if testing to see what the biochemist remembers from earlier.

"Agreed, Agent May." Jemma would have had May on lead but … she didn't know when the Agent would be back.

This sparring match will continue for a while.

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