1965-01-21 - Court of Nevers: Story IV - Peggy: Unraveling Agent Carter
Summary: And whom is she, after all?
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wanda black-widow peggy 


After her meeting with Agent Hill, the wouldbe Peggy Carter has been given time on her own, getting to spend a lonely night in a SHIELD holding cell. It is on the next morning that she's ushered into an interrogation room, her hands left cuffed against the table, and then she's left alone for another roughly 10 or so minutes.

Eventually a red head, dressed sharply with a black pencil skirt, and white blouse, walks into the room carrying a folder. "You'd be the supposed, 'Peggy Carter', yes?" She asks as she moves to sit across from her, "I am Agent Romanoff, we will have a few words, if you don't mind?" Needless manners, seeing how this is an interrogation, but the redhead clearly cares about decorum.

"Let's start at the beginning, this is our first meeting, 'Peggy', tell me about yourself," a rather intense blue gaze is beset on the teenager.

That gets a faint smile, just because it's good to see that it's not just in her timeline that Natasha is with SHIELD now. "What would you like to know, Natasha?" the girl asks, looking over to the Russian.

"So you've found out my first name without introductions…? Impressive, is that from your visit to the archives, or prior prep work?" Natasha asks, looking quite gneuinely impressed as she didn't expect that teen to address by a name that wasn't offered.

So follows the same blonde functionary who escorted Agent Hill. Another agent with a reputation for martial arts and espionage in all its forms. For the moment, she merely appears as another aide. She doesn't push any kind of cart with coffee. She stands outside the door. In the instance of any kind of alarm, that pretty blonde will be the one responsible for front-line protectiveness until Director Fury or one of half a dozen senior ops agents bring the various protective units into action. They could take any forms: tactical units, gunmen under Kevlar armed to the nines, or one of the lesser-known assets on the technical side prepared to flood the place with any number of gases.

The British girl looks back. "Not that anyone seems to believe me, but it's from the memories I have. I know all about you. Perhaps /that/ helps to establish my credentials." Though she doesn't look hopeful.

"You know -all- about -me-…" Natasha seems rather surprised by such an audacious statement, being one of the more mysterious Agents in SHIELD, certainly among those with the most exotic if not unlikely backgrounds. "I'll entertain the notion, what wouldbe memories do you have of me? Something I wouldn't tell anyone…" Natasha arches a skeptical brow while studying the teenagers mannerism, she certainly seems very steadfast compared to what one would expect of a teen.

Peggy sighs, and starts. "Natalia Romanova. A.K.A. Natasha Romanoff. Former Soviet agent. Red Room-trained, primary Black Widow agent. Enhanced via Russian derivatives of super-soldier formula. Previously equipped with a wide array of useful espionage tools, including a sedative mist, electroshock device and more."

Natasha listens quietly, her expression quite deadpan, not giving away any surprise or shock. Her face may have well been frozen in place from how cool she is in just observing and listening. "Are you Red Room-trained?" Natasha eventually muses after a pause, not denying nor confirming what Peggy states, "are you a recruit of the Black Widow Ops?" Those would be the easiest explanation to that bit of knowledge, after all, Natasha has been held as an exemplery graduate of the program for all recruits to look up to. A testament to how great they could become. She waits a moment to see if she can get any response out of Peggy, if not, she will follow with, "who is your Russian contact? Intelligence? KGB? Military? Ministry of Defense?" The suggestion is clear, there are ways to come by that information through means other than supposed 'memories'. Peggy was right, others apparently do find it extremely hard to believe what she's saying.

Peggy groans, and literally head-desks, thumping her head on the table a moment. "Do I /sound/ Russian to you, Natasha? I'm British, not Russian. I know all those things because I learned them from /you/." That gets an exasperated sigh, as she looks up, hair framing her face.

Monitoring is a reality. Every inch of the place is designed to capture sound, from hiding feeds and microphones to the highest levels. Certainly in everyone's interests to gather as much information as possible. Outside, one of the guards shifts. The blonde woman glares at him.

"A Red Room trained agent can certainly seem to have whatever origin they please," and as if to support her claim, Natasha herself switches to a rather crystal clear, perfectly enunciated British RP, "so, as you can tell, I don't quite allow myself to be moved by a facade presented to me." She doesn't prolong the game, switching back to an American sounding English, "so you claim you've learned all that about me, form me? But I've never met you…please, consider our age difference alone…" she turns focus on the distinct difference in age between herself and the teenaged Peggy, just as Agent Hill did before, "are you suggesting that someone took you, Peggy Carter, and placed you in a different body? I'm not familiar with a rejuvinating tech, are you?"

"I'm suggesting that someone, yes, has altered things. Not /just/ my body. Peggy Carter should be Director of SHIELD, and apparently is not." The girl looks back. "And I am solidly older than you, Natasha. Despite what I look like at the moment."

"Things?" Natasha muses, "who would be the grandmaster to enforce these changes?" There's no derision in her tone so much as a curiosity, willingly entertaining the teenager's notion, right until the point she mentions Peggy Carter should be Director of SHIELD. "Look, if you're going to try and masquerade as another person, you need to get your facts straight…and also not get over confident in your ability to look far more mature than you are." Shaking her head faintly, she notes, "the best makeup wouldn't make you look in your 40s, I'm sorry."

She then adds, "what kind of prep work did you do to think others would buy you as Peggy Carter, if you go on claiming she should be the Director of SHIELD? That should be easier to check than my redacted past. However, as it's not even classified, I'll have you know that Director Fury is the Director of SHIELD, and he looks far less feminine than Peggy Carter, I assure you that much."

She's not about to argue with a teenager who is older, that much is pretty straight forward in Natasha's eyes, any who looked their way would say without a doubt Natasha was the older woman. "What did you hope to accomplish by infiltrating SHIELD? What was your goal?" Natasha gets back to the matter at hand, before playing a little bit along with Peggy, if only to offer a reason for her to cooperate, "you tell me more of the truth, and I will see about sending an investigative team after your culprit, the one who made 'the changes'."

The girl looks back. "Correct." Peggy says. "If I could determine your past, I could easily determine SHIELD's director. So /why would I claim otherwise/? If I were intending to deceive you, it makes NO sense to pick a nonsensical story." She smirks a bit. "And how old do you think I am?"

Natasha smiles as Peggy agrees with her, and considers her words, "I think that would make you one of two things: 1) An agent no tyet primed for infiltration, failing spectacularly on her first mission due to lack of prep." She looks directly at Peggy as she says that, checking if she's getting any sort of response from the girl, body languages does say a lot. "2) Someone told you about my past, nobody told you about who the Director of SHIELD was. You took a wild guess, and while it's true that women are doing better and better compared to the past, I believe it's ludicrous you think any of the top dogs would approve a woman for the role of Director. It's a lovely thought, but we're years away from that happening." Asked how old she thinks the girl before her is, Natasha leans back, takes a closer look of appraisal, and then offers, "old enough to drink?" She muses, before adding, "a young looking 19 year old at the oldest."

Peggy's body language shows her frustration, but little else. "And yet I "failed spectacularly" enough to get all the way into SHIELD headquarters? Your theories don't make sense. And I am 43 years old, Natasha. Despite what I look like externally at the moment."

An eyeroll out of the blonde comes as she watches those behind her. "This is gotta be sitting great with the director." The muttered statement isn't lost on those out there, waiting for instructions.

"You don't look 43," is all that Natasha offers in rebuttal to Peggy's claim about her age. "You don't look 30," she continues as if to emphasize how far off Peggy is in her estimation, "you could convince me of 20 if you weren't so petulant." Every now and then it seems Natasha will toss in a comment specifically to measure the reaction of those she faces, Peggy is likely familiar with that habit, but now she gets to experience it during an interrogation. Quite different from her memories, tables quite turned, and no doubt the whole situation too judging by her youth.

"I doubt you gained access to SHIELD HQ by spectacular failure, but I do believe you were helped…who do you know from SHIELD staff?" She opens a folder, and reaches for a pen, jotting down something on a piece of paper, "you deny Red Room origins, are you suggesting MI6 is spying directly on SHIELD? Care to point out the mole? Or should we move to the old barium meal test directly?"

Petulant. /Petulant/. Peggy bites back her comment, but the annoyance shows on her face. "I am not from the Red Room. I /do/ have some MI-6 training, however, that's quite a long time back. Before my SSR service." The teenager looks back to her. "And if you /really/ want the list, I can PROBABLY rattle off the entire list of SHIELD personnel. I /did/ approve them, after all."

There's an annoying glint in Natasha's blue eyes as she draws a reaction from Peggy with the 'petulant' adjective. Nat doesn't say anything, and doesn't backtrack to getting a rise out of Peggy, but it's clear she's pleased with herself and feels like she's making progress. "I would find that extremely hard to believe, seeing how you likely were still in diapers when a majority of them were approved."

"You do seem adamant in selling your story, even when there's no audience, very well…entertain me. What is the last thing you remember before becoming a teenager again? Seeing how you're 43 years old, right?"

Peggy looks back at her, dryly, and starts rattling off a laundry list of SHIELD agents. Level 7s and higher. She stops after about ten or so. "I had a very odd dream. Then I came in to work. Here. Like always. I went to the archives, and then, suddenly, I was being confronted."

|ROLL| Black Widow +rolls 1d20 for: 10

Natasha listens to Peggy rattling off names of high ranked agents, the fact she knows so many level 7s and higher is alarming indeed. But then she taps the desk when Peggy gets to the 9th name, "you do now that he is deceased, right? Or did you not have enough time to pick up that tidbit while you were at the archives? Why would you name a deceased agent?"

"Or is it that you bought the list, and it's not up to date?"

"Because he isn't deceased where I'm from. Look. I realize it's difficult to believe. But SHIELD makes a career of investigating the unusual. /Somehow/, I have been transported from my reality into a parallel one…or a mostly parallel one. What does it /possibly/ benefit me to try a story that isn't true? If I was an enemy agent, I would be far better suited by either telling you nothing, or a more plausible story." Peggy says. "My name is Margaret Carter. I am forty-three years old. I am the Director of SHIELD. I recognize none of that seems believable, but I assure you, I find the fact that I have somehow been regressed to a teenager to be as hard to believe as my story is to you."

"He isn't deceased where -you're- from…?" Now Peggy was introducing a whole different ballpark of crazy. "So you'll have me believe you are from a parallel reality then?" Turns out Nat does her share of reading now and then. Though the concept is far more far fetched in reality compared to fiction. Natasha stays quiet for a moment, pondering, "at least you acknowledge how far fetched your story is." Leaning back in her seat, Nat takes a moment to think it over, "assuming there's merit to your story, why would you appear is someone else in this reality? I know Peggy Carter, and she's not you."

|ROLL| Peggy +rolls 1d20 for: 4

"One supposes, based on a quick theory, that it's because there is already a Peggy Carter in this reality. I suppose there can't be doubles, so whatever did this had to make me someone else. I have to admit, I'm no expert in parallel realities. But yes, clearly there are differences in my experiences and the reality here. Occam's Razor suggests that either I am in a different reality, or time has been altered to produce a new timeline. But the fact that there is already a Peggy Carter other than myself here implies the former."

"Suppose we agree on that assumption, that means neither of us knows who you are. You may well be Peggy Carter, 43 year old Director of SHIELD in your reality, but you're not here. We have to assess you according to our reality, this is where we are," Natasha presents her logical view on the matter. She really isn't all that sure how else to approach it, this is the most bizzare cover story she's run across yet. Hill wasn't joking. "If you try to focus, can you find any memories that are 'foreign' to you? As in…ones belonging to who you are at the moment? I understand the uncertainty of the situation, but we can't have you about and free until we ascertain you are no threat."

"Agreed." Finally, something in the direction of practical. "It's why I had Agent Hill take my prints. In hopes of confirming an identity here. I've had no luck identifying any memories other than mine." She looks dryly amused. "And I am apparently a teenager, with no legal paperwork. Exactly how much of a threat am I going to be?"

"'Peggy'," Natasha entertains the teen with the name she's been claiming, "you've stated knowledge of the Red Room and the Black Widow Ops, I trust I don't need any further word to explain why I would deem even a 13 year old a potential threat. A moment please, I'll go check on those prints," and with that Natasha leaves the room for a few minutes.

Peggy can't help but protest that. "I am /NOT/ thirteen!!!" she says, indignantly.

Natasha eventually returns, and sits once again across from Peggy, "you have any recollection of Poland…?" She asks, "we have you on an F1 visa. Also…you've been missing for months! Where were you before you've infiltrated SHIELD? Where did you wake up in the morning?"

"Poland??" Peggy looks surprised at that. "No, none. Who am I supposed to be? Is there a name?" She honestly looks very interested.

"Magda Czerkawski is the name on the visa…" Natasha offers the answer, still looking for more out of Peggy, "do you feel different when I call you by name, Magda?" She tries, who knows how these things work, "you have been missing for 8 months. Do you remember anything that far back…? You're a cultural attache…" an immediate keyword suggesting espionage as her true line of work.

Peggy shakes her head. "Nothing. The name strikes no chords, I'm afraid. Believe me, I wish it did. But I have no idea who Magda Czerkawski is." She looks back to Natasha. Nothing in her body language suggests a lie of any kind.

"I see," Natasha looks disappointed, "in that case…do you have any recollection of where you might have disposed of Magda's body before assuming her identity?" Are we still doing this parallel reality thing, or is Natasha off on her own track of thought here…?

Peggy blinks! "No! I haven't disposed of anyone!" she protests. "I /told/ you, I have no idea what is going on here. Contact Xavier's. Ask them to send a telepath. Contact Agent Maximoff, perhaps she can determine something. Perhaps magic is involved."

Natasha crosses her arms, not at all pleased with how this interrogation is heading. There are very few points to stress when Peggy's body language isn't off, she is lacking intel, and the person she is interrogating appears to genuinely not know much themselves. Sure, she could introduce more old fashioned meaned of interrogation, which SHIELD will heavily frown upon, but Peggy or Magda or whoever is just a girl. She's clearly someone's pawn, and she hasn't the heart to ruin her life as it's just starting. "Very well, we'll see if I can get Agent Maximoff," and at that Natasha leaves the room again, to return with or without Maximoff, according to her availability.

Tactical activities outside remain on hold. The blonde is frowning now, whispering to a comm-link secure enough in the building to allow little chance of tracing. There are advantages to being friends with the techs, and the techs in turn like not having a spew of background information like Polonium-210 or Uranium-235 across the pretty diners. Confirmations shoot through short-distance transmissions; minutes later, one redheaded creature companies accompanied by one with chestnut hair and a black ensemble, the sunset Slav to the winter Russian.

Agent Maximoff isn't particularly exciting to see at first, not really. No hint of what she is, what she does.

Peggy waits in the cell, hands still cuffed. She sighs, frustrated and to be honest, bored. She looks around, waiting.

As Natasha and Wanda walks into the interrogation room, the Russian still wears a relatively blank expression, compared to how exasperated she is with Peggy/Magda/Whatever. "Agent Maximoff, your particular skills would be appreciated in cracking this nut. A supposed Magda Czerkawski, disappeared for over 8 months, claims to be 'Director' Peggy Carter, and seemingly neither is true. She is theorizing she is of a parallel reality."

Peggy gives a tired smile. "Wanda. Good evening. Morning. Honestly, I have no idea what time it is." One of the first techniques in cracking a prisoner. Deny them routine.

Wanda is not one to stand on the regimented routine or else she might be wearing a SHIELD uniform. No uniform, no patch on her shoulder or breast to identify her. Neither are her methods entirely by the book, since no book quite exists to understand the nature of her abilities. Not even at the highest levels, presumably. She minds her business at least, awaiting the instruction from Natasha on how to blow the lid off the teapot so to speak. Her amber eyes flick upon the much younger woman, someone who puts even her youth to a shame.

Half the assessment takes place unseen, the other hand involving the spread of her fingers against the line of her hip. "This is not Agent Carter." A statement made flat, blunt. A dismissive little gesture, one that leaves a trace of crimson mist on the air that evaporates in a heartbeat. Its purpose is there for an audience beyond to see, of course, though not the woman at the heart of the story herself: it rips open the perception to all elements of Peggy's aura, that web of emotion and energy and purpose in a signature around her as individual as a finger print.

Peggy frowns at the stated assessment. "Look deeper, please." she requests. "I assure you, I am who I claim to be."

"Yes, that much I did gather," Natasha notes dryly, like she'd need magical powers to tell that teenager wasn't Peggy Carter. "But we are trying to determine who she really is…do you find any connection with Magda Czerkawski? Polish cultural attache…?" She hopes at least Wanda can shed some light on this matter.

|ROLL| Wanda +rolls 1d20 for: 5

Clashing colours and scents resolve as easily as any paint on the wall when someone flicks a lightswitch. Whatever pattern that makes up Peggy — be that a shard of steely resolve or the merciless weight of red ink to condemn men to death, dripping shadows and lies — Wanda ensures that it is on display. Those features captive her far more than the physical. Further glimmerings flicker around her hands, betraying the casting in action, filaments that invariably brush against the shell of Peggy's mind and crack open the vaults.

"She does not think so," murmurs the witch. Her black trousers and shirt absorb the radiance of the magic, so much blood washed into emptiness. Brows lower, narrowing eyes forcing her to push down. "Not Magda. Memories of Magda are not here." It may be pointless, but she shifts to Russian, plain. "«There will be pain, you understand.»"

Peggy speaks fluent Russian and responds in kind. «Pain is worth it if this can prove my true identity.» She answers. She is already not enjoying the magic..but whatever it takes.

Natasha observes in silence, letting Wanda have her space to perform her magic. No matter how often Wanda proves useful, Natasha is never quite comfortable around magic. It's comforting to know that superior skill takes lesser skill, but once magic enters the equation, nothing is ever certain. If anything, at least Wanda is on the same side as Natasha, so that's comforting.

«I really tried to spare it of you,» Natasha switches to Russian quite readily, «I guess it was always going to be pain, huh? Unfortunate…»

Witchcraft is a crude term for arts wielded better than scalpel or laser-guided missile. Willing reality to form around the axis of her spell takes the complete focus of the dusky-skinned sorceress, her mouth a frown. Precision work; let the other two talk. Peggy will know what it feels like in a moment, when the keyhole cracks of her psyche give up the space for the mystical lockpicks. Jimmying the tumblers to open, she taps at the impermeable barriers until oiled weaknesses crack. Only for a few seconds, but the subtle mental assault is going to be ugly.

A halo burns around Peggy's head, crown of scarlet thorns erupting outwards and those spikes converge down. However visually appealing, the effect plunges straight into the onion-skin layers of memory and rips them open. Peggy's life on display. Peggy in school, Peggy in war, Peggy counting every muscle on Steve Rogers' chart, Peggy inverted, Peggy this and Peggy that, like…

"She is a book." A pause. "No one is read like a book, not even a newborn. All the mess of a life, this is neat. Orderly. Memorized."

Peggy lets out a shriek a moment. She's strong, but physical assaults and physical pain are what she's used to. She winces, trying to find some order in her mind, as she lets Wanda look.

Natasha doesn't seem to react to the tremendous visuals, further intensified by Peggy's cry of pain, she just observes in silences until Wanda makes her interesting remark. "So, would you say it's an implanted personality? She was made to believe she is Peggy Carter by someone, with ready made list of memories?"

"Yes." Wanda nods. A short, brief affirmation of a basic theory by the Widow. "She is alive. Not a decoy. There should be memories underneath. Are you…?" A lift of her gaze flits from the teenager to the older operative, the unspoken question there. Is it not a risk to ask someone in the Red Room's care, in front of a complete stranger, about her experiences? "Have you ever seen this in your experience?"

Peggy's eyes widen. "I am /not/ an implanted personality! I am Peggy Carter!" she says, defensively.

"While I did not know of it at the time, I have come to learn that implanted personalities can be done…I have interacted with one for years," Natasha nods, frowning, "I'm sorry," she tells the teenager, "you asked for Agent Maximoff, and it was a good idea, we would have never unearthed the truth otherwise. You can't quite remove an implanted personality via torture." She crosses her arms, "can you unearth the original beneath the fake?" She asks of Wanda.

The witch states flatly, "Brittle. It would shatter in less than a day. Not for all time. But it would break. Underneath, there may be nothing. Whatever they built it upon could be like shell and dust. One tap and lost. Scour what is away, and how she was made, perhaps something. If nothing? Then you've a lost soul in your place."

Peggy frowns. "We will NOT be discussing erasing me, thank you very much!! I am NOT this Magda person!!" She sounds indignant.

Natasha looks coldly at Peggy, shifts to look at Wanda for a moment, and then back to Peggy. "It seems there's nothing to look for, whoever you were, is no more. They erased you to create a 'Peggy Carter'," she looks aside at Wanda, "my understand is either we try to pry and break her in the process, or do nothing and remain with this fake Peggy Carter?" She considers, and then notes, "I think this discussion is best done with others, turning to Peggy she notes, "I'll have someone escort you back to your cell while we weigh this matter." Looks like Peggy was right, she will not be discussing erasing herself, that discussion will be held by others.

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