First of all, I never startle Fury. I mean never. Ever. He never walks by without seeing me. (He rarely acknowledges me either but he knows I’m there.)
But today was different.
He actually startled and dropped something when I entered his office. I started to bend over to help him pick it up, but he stepped on it instead, but not before I glimpsed the image of Captain America’s shield.
So I went on and got to work replacing the control panel, but I could see that he stooped to pick up the card and add it to a stack which he stowed in his jacket pocket.
Anyway, I had no problem swapping the control panels and retrieving the bug.
We were supposed to be going home today. Instead we are recovering from a hostile interaction.
I still don’t know what it was, but yesterday there were bright lights like a strobe, a lot of vibration and then an EM pulse that could have knocked us out entirely. Fortunately we weren’t airborne.
It was all over very quickly, but of course it’s a delay of another couple of days and then we’ll be limping home.
Turns out Jerome isn’t exactly so trusting after all… Along with a few other surprise security features, his program is designed to communicate with him whenever it processes a batch of data. Needless to say, I had to abort the process, find a workaround for the notification, and deal with the other security measures. I was only half done after staying up all night,when we were notified that the Helicarrier would be making an abrupt trip to Antarctica.
Trips to Antarctica are usually pretty awful for my department. Other departments get to go exploring as if they are discovering a new (very cold) planet. Meanwhile, my department gets stuck trying to figure out why the main exhaust fan for the heat recovery ventilator is icing over despite preventive measures, and then figure out why as soon as that is fixed the humidity in the cafeteria skyrockets to the point where it’s nearly raining indoors. So that generally means working 18-20 hours a day with no time for recreation, updating my journal, or secret data processing.
It also leaves me feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing, even though the system my team designed has won high praise for it’s efficiency, and usually needs minimal maintenance other than repairs due to hostile interactions.
Anyway, after 15 days of frozen-over hell, we are finally going back to civilization in 2 days. At least in the meantime, I was able to put in a work order so that I can replace the control panel in Fury’s office and remove the static bug without any trouble. I’ll be doing that tomorrow unless we have another major issue.
Jerome is so trusting. It’s really odd that he works on covert listening devices. It was incredibly easy to copy his sound analysis software to my laptop. Of course he knows I have the same security clearance that he does, but still…
Anyway, the software is running, but it could take several hours.
Working on an environmental interface panel in a room adjacent to Fury’s office gave me a chance to lift the data from the static bug. Now all I need to do is run it through Jerome’s sound analysis ap, and figure out a way to get the static bug out of Fury’s office so I can give it back to Jerome before anyone notices anything.
I usually plan ahead. Why didn’t I plan to get out of this mess?
Jerome returned from Black Hat completely excited about the whole thing. (Well, maybe not the keynote, but practically everything else.)
He met one of his hacker turned security expert idols, and apparently he impressed the guy with some of his ideas.
Then he asked me if I was done with the static bug, because he wanted to try out one of his ideas. I told him I need it a little longer, and tried to come up with a story about what I’m using it for, but he just gave me a look like now he thinks I’m spying on him. After that I didn’t really want to bring up my dream.
I hate lying to him, but it’s bad enough that I’m spying on the boss. If I get caught, I don’t want him to end up in trouble too.
After the incident with Loki and the Chitauri, Jerome couldn’t sleep for a couple of weeks. I slept fine. Actually, I slept strangely better than usual. But last night I relived the entire thing in a dream.
The chaos as the Hulk smashed everything while chasing Black Widow, which turned to calm for me as I was trapped by debris. Coulson calling for someone to free me when he spotted me trapped on his way to his supposedly fatal confrontation with Loki. The medics rushing by.
Later, seeing Jerome in the infirmary with an enormous gash on his head, right before the door closed on the room next to us, but not before I got a glimpse of Fury speaking to Coulson who was reclining with a million tubes and wires attached.
In the dream it was so clearly Coulson looking right at me. But in reality, it was just a glimpse. Why did I have this dream now? Maybe I just wanted to see Coulson alive since I don’t want to accept the fact that he died so soon after helping me. Or maybe I had this dream because spying on Fury has made me edgy. I’ve been procrastinating picking up the data from the static bug.
I need to talk to Jerome. He’ll be back from Black Hat soon.
It was incredibly easy to attach the static bug to the environmental control panel and install the whole thing right under Fury’s nose. I guess he wasn’t looking as closely since he smashed the panel himself.
Plus I finished the job right before the big Stark sponsored shawarma party celebrating completion of major repairs.
The party was fun, but they didn’t really have any vegetarian options. The next day, Jerome and I woke up with massive stomach pain and ended up sick to our stomachs. Turns out that about a third of the helicarrier crew was just as sick. Most people were out for at least two days, and some as long as a week.
Everyone was trying to figure it out.
Me: “Why isn’t Fury treating this like a hostile act by an external threat?”
Hector: “It was totally just the shwarma. Maybe even a prank by Stark.”
Me: “I didn’t eat the shwarma, but I spent 6 days in bed.”
Frank: “Well you’re a chick.”
Jerome: “What does being a woman have to do with it?”
Frank: “Well, you know…”
Hector: “Don’t even try. You know VT carries a big stick… Anyway I think if it were a hostile act it would have been followed by an attack. This wasn’t so it’s probably just some virus, like the one that hit my summer camp when I was 10.”
Me: “How do we know it wasn’t followed by an attack?”
Jerome: “Wow, VT, I think you just redefined paranoid.”
I’ve learned that I am not the only one who is trying to uncover the truth. There are others out there:
But can I trust agents Stiletto, Collateral, or Glyph? I’ve never seen them on the Helicarrier–at least not using those names.
So I’m seeing a guy (Jerome Kero) who works in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Covert Technology Department. They usually partner with Stark Industries, but they occasionally develop their own devices.
The device he gave me is called a static bug. It looks more like a miniature credit card than a listening device, and it is able to record sounds using only radio frequency static as an energy source. Retrieving the recorded sound is similar to reading an RFID chip. The fact that it is neither broadcasting nor using any power source beyond existing static makes it virtually undetectable. The historic Great Seal Bug also used passive techniques to transmit, so in a way you could say it is a predecessor to the static bug.
I didn’t tell Jerome what I’m using it for.