Keep It Brief
S.H.I.E.L.D. has a briefing about an upcoming mission.

SHIELD Briefing Room

"Do we have an issue with solving hunger now?"

The SHIELD briefing room, with walls cloaked in stainless steel, shines like a newly polished pot, fingerprint-free and without any tarnishes to detract from its constant sheen. This of course, has a nasty side-effect, causing the flourescent light to reflect annoyingly across the large U-shaped table producing a painful glare into agents’ eyes. Particularly for those without adequate rest. Too much travel and not enough sleep has its effects on some of those present. Which is probably why multiple pots of coffee rest on the table’s surface. Agent Coulson had come early to ensure the comfort of those present. Of course, he knew what some of his colleagues had endured over the course of the week, and could guess at what the rest had encountered. The swivel chairs, complete with ergonmic backs, around the briefing room’s large table have already begun to fill, but the Director hasn’t yet graced the room with his presence, leaving its front quite empty with expectation.

The wall at the front of the room, in its chameleon form, could fool novice onlookers, particularly with the tech department's efforts to match the desktop screen to that of the steel wallwall. Some would suggest that the tech guys had too much time on their hands. Others claimed it was some art. Others still, simply didn't care. The floor, unlike the walls of the room, is an array of navy blue tile. Neutral, but not too neutral so as to be terribly shown up by the stainless steel walls. A console in front of the table signifies the Director's future perch. The same one he always occupies as it affords him easy access to SHIELD technology and data dumping as needed.

Near the far end of the table, the Black Widow, dressed blue jeans, a grey t-shirt, and a flack jacket, toys with the cup of coffee in front of her. Her eyes narrow at the black substance in silent judgment of this particular crutch. Both hands cup around the white, very nondescript mug. The warmth of the cup against her hands receives no reaction even as if there’s no sense of comfort in it all. But it is comforting. Carefully the mug is brought to her lips, and only those who know her most at this table could see the small change in her eyes. Enjoyment. But it doesn’t register on the rest of her face. Instead everything else is neutral, perhaps even a little disapproving.

Natasha straightens in her chair while she seems to stare back at the black coffee in front of her. Do not be mistaken, however, she is watching. Silently. Her curly hair is immaculate, yet scratches line her hands, despite having washed them multiple times. Her face, however, has little change aside from the dark circles underneath her eyes, evidently there was time to encourage that level of refresh. So many hours of travel has left her little or no time to sleep. And this is her second debriefing today. The first had left her less than pleased. Angry, perhaps. Yet it registered as little more than irritation to those present. General irritation. She leans back in her chair as she finally peels her gaze away from the coffee, allowing her eyes to scan the room and each of the faces present in turn. Her lips press together emotionlessly as she leans forward in her chair and returns her gaze to the front, awaiting the start of the meeting.

Anthony Masters sits askew from Natasha. But, unlike Natasha, his general appearance is far more smug. His lips curl into a near-arrogant smirk while his arms defiantly cross over his chest. His chin drops slightly as a nod in greeting to a handful of his colleagues while he offers that same smirk towards each in turn. A single side of his mouth hitches upwards at the silent spider in open amusement, but the exact source is unclear.

Masters looks as though he put some effort in before coming to work today. He even smells like it. His blonde hair is perfectly slicked back, begging questions as to how long he spent in front of the mirror this morning. His face is freshly shaven without even the slightest bit of stubble. And the smell of some high-end cologne wafts from his seat. His clothes are even semi-professional, at least by SHIELD standards. Dawned in his SHIELD jacket and matching dark navy pants, he could almost pass as a respectable agent. Of course, any appearance work may have been overridden by the cologne.

Languidly, he draws his arms behind his head, allowing his palms to act as a sort of hammock-pillow for the back of his head, while his legs stretch out in front of him, allowing him to sprawl out like he's on holiday rather than at a briefing. Yes, Masters knows in his heart of hearts that he owns the room. In every single way today, he is winning. And no one, not even the almighty Nick Fury, will convince him otherwise. Not today. Not today.

Well known for not always being the most punctual, especially when lacking sleep, Trent has prepared for a meeting in the blinding room. He still wears his sunglasses indoors, though not for the fashion statement he would expect Masters to pull, but for the eye protection. His SHIELD jacket looks just slightly ill-fitted - a bit long in the sleeves. Underneath that, he wears jeans and a black t-shirt with three large columns of small linux commands upside down (so that the wearer can read them). His dress gives the impression that a college student stole a SHIELD jacket and then somehow infiltrated this very serious meeting.

Immediately, the computer guru moves for the coffee, giving Coulson a quick jerk upward of his chin in greeting. He pours the caffeinated lifesaver and practically collapses into the chair next to Natasha. It squeaks a bit and glides closer to her, the nicely polished tile floor not giving the wheels much to grip. His demeanor suggests an all-night rager leaving him with a sizable hangover, however Trent isn't exactly the partying type. "'Scuse me," he stage whispers to Natasha, ignoring Masters.

Quiet (for a change, some might say), Clint Barton exists in the back corner of the room. He's hardly paying attention to anyone or anything that's actually in the room or that may be coming into the room because he's got his arms crossed over his chest and he pretty much looks as though he'd love to be anywhere but here at this exact moment. He's decked out in fitted jeans and a white t-shirt with a purple flavored target on the chest of it. Slung over that is a black and purple hoodie. He looks, to be perfectly honest, bored.

Clint's fingers are moving, though and soon enough it can be seen that he's just playing with a metal arrowhead. Maybe it is what's keeping him calm. Or maybe it's just something that he does out of habit or spite, depending on which person's nerves he may be choosing to get on at any given time. Right now, though, he's just going to continue to lean and await the debriefing that should be kicking off soon enough. Or at all.

There may be the occasional glance off in the direction of the Black Widow. Natasha. Especially when nerds start trying to talk to her. Seriously? Seriously?

[OOC: Feel free to pose in between mine (below) if you like! I just felt like adding my Fury pose at the bottom so it doesn't get lost. :D If you don't want to pose in between just pose at the end and we can move things along~]

"Hey! Watch yourself, Carter. The Black Widow takes no prisoners. That's where she gets the name," Masters sneers as he seems to stretch out even further. In many respects, the man takes up the most space in the room, both physically and emotionally. "Get too close and she'll eat you alive," he actually chuckles, but there's no mirth in the action, only irony and pride.

Trent earns a flicker of a smile from Natasha in greeting, but the smile fades at Masters' quip. A glare is sent towards the agent, but only for a moment before she returns her attention to Trent, issuing him a larger smile that never actually reaches her eyes. "It's alright," she states in turn before issuing a quick glance over her shoulder to Clint. Her eyes reflect something too knowing, perhaps even vulnerable. But only for a moment before she twists back to face the front.

The wheels click over tiles as Trent rights his chair. However, he can't really help himself from swiveling back and forth in it, his feet firmly planted on the ground to make sure the chair doesn't skitter out from underneath him. The smile he gives Natasha is a friendly one, not lecherous or flirtatious in any way. Then, his attention is on Masters. "Actually, that's a myth." The self professed geek peeks over his sunglasses at him. "There's no evidence of Black Widow spiders killing their mates in the wild. It only happens in captivity. We all look pretty free here." With that, he pushes his sunglasses back up and takes a long drink of coffee.

Heavy-laden black boots authoritatively stride into the briefing room and up to the console at the front. The black-suited Nick Fury, peers out at each of the agents present, and then towards Maria who he issues a single nod. His hands grip the edges of the console, but only for a moment before they find their most natural position across his chest. His lips press into a tight thin line, and he gives a short clipped glance to the screen behind him and then back towards the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. "Good morning," the words are altogether unconvincing. Fury's tone is heavy, gruff, and perhaps, just a little irritated. "Many of you already have assignments, and probably don't know why you're even here." His lips purse and his nostrils flare as he exhales his breath. "We're all here to discuss the Samuel Sterns problem." Whether consciously or not, Fury's arms stiffen over his chest. In fact, his whole stance stiffens as he allows the words to permeate the room.

Whatever semblance of humanity Natasha had just issued fades moments later when those black boots make their first entrance. The presence of the Director causes her to sit a little straighter in her chair, redirect her own attention, and resume the neutral expression she'd managed just moments before. The name, Samuel Sterns, however, causes her eyes to narrow like she's just bit into something sour.

Masters doesn't even react when the black boots enter the room. His posture, ne're do well attitude, and expression remain the same. He owns the room, after all. Even if the Director commands it. In many respects, when Nick Fury begins, it seems like Masters isn't even listening. The name, Samuel Sterns, however, causes him to sit up in his chair, and plant his hands on the table. A flash of something crosses his expression, and he raises two fingers in the air from the table. Almost like raising his hand, but not. "All due respect, sir, Beta team is handling it. I see no reason to involve" with a single hand he motions across the room "everyone here. We've been handling the problem for months without anyone else's intervention, and I would like to keep it that way." He leans back in his chair once more and crosses his arms over his chest in an exact mirror of Fury's expression and stance. He really is good at impersonation.

"Without any due respect to this guy…" Clint's words are the only reason he's pushing away from the wall and making himself even known more. That and he's now taking the time to toss the arrowhead around between his palms. It's just something he needs to play with at the time. "… I don't really feel like cleaning up whatever mess they're making." There's a pause in his words for him to take the moment to look over at Masters with a sly smirk that pretty much spells out: own the room, I'll take the building. or something. Either way, though, he has one more thing to add which may or may not be true but it is what it is at this point: "Again."

Maria stands just slightly behind Fury's right shoulder, arms crossed in front of her. She is straight backed, legs just slightly apart. After her nod to her superior, she glances at each SHIELD member in turn, studying them for possible threats or disruptions. Of course, she starts with Masters, already expecting an issue from his corner. With clipped speech she attempts to silence the troublemaker. "I'm sure Director Fury will mark your comments in the minutes of this meeting. However, as we're all here, perhaps you should listen to why we are gathered before passing a rather ill-informed judgement."

During Maria's dressing-down of Masters, Trent glances around and realizes that most of these people seem to know what Fury is talking about. He, however, doesn't. Much like a slacker kid in class, he raises his hand lazily into the air, but doesn't wait to be called upon to ask his question. "The Noble Peace guy? Why do we have a team on him?" Though it's impossible to see his eyes through the tinted lenses, an eyebrow raises. "Do we have an issue with solving hunger now?"

His back to the coffee-maker he's standing beside, Coulson finishes his turn in a calm and steady manner, similar to how he blithely raises the mug up to take a nice, smooth sip amidst the on-going chatter and questions of his compatriots. It's as Trent skips to the front of the line that his eyes raise, calculating— yes; he shifts, reaching for the device behind him, more sugar would be nice.

Director Fury is less than impressed with the stirring that Sterns seems to have caused. "Agent Masters, you and I have very different definitions of handling it." His eyebrows arch high on his forehead as he challenges the agent in turn, his stance firming even more and his expression hardening. A strong nod is given to Maria before Fury addresses Clint's thoughts, "SHIELD has been tracking Sterns since September. The operation was supposed to be stealth." Hence the reason most of those present were unaware of Sterns interest to SHIELD. "Dr. Sterns, to our knowledge, has never aimed to solve world hunger. His research until recently involved the testing of gamma radiation on animals."

"He entered our radar when General Thaddeus Ross and Beta Team" colloquially known as the Hulk-busters "last made contact with Dr. Bruce Banner. General Ross ordered Sterns' capture and detainment." He clears his throat. "Dr. Sterns escaped SHIELD custody eight months ago. Since that time beta team has pursued the mark," and then, as if to put Masters in his place, Fury's gaze lands on Masters, "unsuccessfully." His arms unfold as he presses a single button on the console in front of him.

The screen behind Fury changes to a picture of Dr. Sterns, the mark. His pale skin, and waspy brown hair do little to make the man seem remotely intimidating. In fact, if anything, Sterns seems like any professor at any university. Unassuming. The image is perpetuated by his tweed jacket (complete with elbow patches) and the red bow tie at his neck. Fury motions once towards the screen before steepling his fingers, "This is a recent photo of Dr. Sterns according to Beta intelligence."

Natasha's lips press together into a thin line and she shifts in her chair uncomfortably. She swallows hard, expression trained on the Director at the front. And she doesn't react to her colleagues' misgivings, questions, or thoughts. Nor does she react to Fury's exposition. The picture, however, has her swallowing hard. "His forehead is different than when be was brought into custody," she states as blandly as she can manage. "It's flat" like her tone.

Masters stands to his feet after Fury fills everyone in. "General Ross will not be impressed, Director. We have been working tirelessly to get him back where he belongs. And" he stares at Clint "we have not been creating a mess. It was SHIELD and SHIELD personnel who allowed him to escape in the first place. Not the Hulkbusters. We're cleaning up your mess."

Clint is not amused by anything that is coming from the mouth of Masters. In fact, that's pretty much the only thing he's paying attention to right now, because whatever Fury and Hill are going on about is not important enough that Clint is not about to save face in front of Natash— his fellow SHIELD associates. "Have you?" snarks Barton, "Because you sure as hell look well rested to me." And since Clint has not been privy to anything before this assignment thanks to being off the grid for a little bit…

… he finally looks up towards the ones actually running this debriefing. "Look. What do you want done? Just tell us, we'll get it done and be back in time for breakfast." Clint then smiles just a bit, as if this is going to dig into the other members around the table. Because, well, why not. "And by us I do mean myself and the Widow. Y'know, the A List."

Maria Hill watches the pissing contest between Masters and Barton with barely restrained disgust. "If you both would both keep your mouths shut and listen, then Director Fury will give you orders. If you don't wish to follow orders, you may leave. You can hand in your security passes to Agent Coulson on the way out." The hot heads in the room irritate her. This operation has been compromised from the get-go and she certainly doesn't approve of the way its been handled so far. However, in front of these unruly kids, she's not about to show dissidence in the ranks.

Still with his sunglasses and his ill-fitted jacket, Trent is the only one apparently listening to Nick Fury and his debriefing. He, much like Clint, was never briefed on Dr. Sterns and is curious as to how someone who is such a threat is now on the fast track to a Pulitzer. This time, the hacker doesn't even raise a hand, instead he interjects, "Hey, wasn't General Ross' daughter linked up with that Samuel Sterns guy? Not to mention the fact that this dude just got written up by hundreds of different newspapers. And is going to be at a huge fundraiser. Doesn't seem like it's rocket science to figure out where he is."

"I will not tolerate bickering in my briefing room. Sit down. All of you." Fury first addresses Masters, "Agent Masters, General Ross has been deemed compromised and removed from active duty indefinitely." His gaze turns to Maria, "Agent Hill will be assuming leadership of Beta team until further notice." Whether or not Maria knew this before this moment is anyone's guess. "Further, Agent Romanoff had to bring him in. Beta team failed to do so. Accepting help from your colleagues is part of this job. As is acknowledging your failures. General Ross failed to notify SHIELD when Sterns escaped custody." It wasn't until the article had crossed his desk that Fury had an incling. His attention turns away from Masters. "Carter," apparently Trent is next to be addressed, "you are correct. While the Sterns problem was to be dealt with quietly by Beta team without the aid of all of our ranks" a glare is sent towards Masters "Dr. Sterns has ensured this is no longer possible. The Doctor" (see what I did there?) "has turned our operation on its head." Pause. "Beta team was scooped by the Daily Bugle. How the man got nominated for two Noble prizes is beyond our current intel, but it makes it difficult to disappear him back into captivity." Another pause. "All of the names on the Doctor's 'research team' may be familiar to you. All have had, or have, ties to SHIELD, our operations, and research and development." His lips press together. "We believe that our scientists are not working with the Doctor. We believe he has managed to hold each captive."

Which brings Fury's attention to Clint. "Barton, three months ago Beta team should have admitted their inability to capture and detain Dr. Sterns. At this moment we are not only dealing with a security breach, our intelligence believes we are dealing with a hostage situation." His arms cross over his chest. "A very personal vendetta of a hostage situation."

Again Fury turns to face Trent, "And we will be sending teams" multiple "to the party." The why is left for everyone's imaginations. "While we don't know what the Doctor's plans are, he has already proven himself to be a clever advesary with a chip on his shoulder."

Natasha straightens again. She's stayed mostly quiet through this debrief. Few quips. Few reactions. Clint's plan, however earns a smirk and a shrug of her shoulders. Her eyes track back towards Clint, bemusement reflecting in them. It's not wholly untrue. But then Fury speaks again, dumping more information to all of those present. She nods slightly, and then leans forward. Her tongue rolls over her lips and her head tilts as she stares at the picture a little longer before she offers, "He's beyond clever, sir. Saying Dr. Sterns is clever is like saying Banner is smart or Stark is rich. He" her eyebrows furrow "picked up on particulars in our conversation that no one has for a very long time. And he dodged my capture for awhile." Particulars. "His brain works differently than most. I don't know if that's the result of his exposure to gamma radiation or prior ingenuity, but he sees situations differently than most I've tracked." She hmmms quietly, "I think this party is an open invite to us. The man gets himself nominated for two Noble prizes for research we don't believe he's ever created, and then tries to credit people connected to us for this assumed work? Attention seeker." And then she asks a question that's been rolling over her thoughts for some time, "How did he escape custody?"

"Is that the plan then, Barton? Shoot him down? Take him out? Without thinking about all of the work we put into this and what the Doctor could offer us — " When Maria Hill tells you to shut up, you shut up. Which is why Masters is silent through the rest of Fury's orders. And when Nick Fury tells you to sit down, you sit down. Which is why Masters finds himself sitting on the edge of the table. After Fury has finished his schpiel, Masters leans back against somewhat and rolls his eyes. "I could catch a nerdy little twerp too if I shot him in the leg! Not all of us resort to such ruthless methods, even if they do get results from time-to-time. Orders were to bring him in undamaged, Agent Romanoff. Or do you not believe in orders?" And as far as Agent Hill taking command of Beta team, he counters, "Agent Hill doesn't know the inner workings of the Hulkbusters, wouldn't it be more appropriate to have someone within the team to take command?"

Off at his side, Coulson's eyebrows lift and he pushes off from his post near the coffee machine— the sugar's done its job, but he collects a thin straw with which to more determinedly stir it.

Taking over the Beta team is certainly news to Maria. However, she's used to being surprised by Fury so she doesn't let the surprise show. Showing division to the lower ranks only breeds more insurrection. When she and Fury are alone will be another matter. He's sure to get an earful, make no mistake. Instead, she turns her attention to Masters. "If you'd like to lodge a formal complaint, I'm sure there's a form somewhere you can fill out in triplicate. Until that time, you'll make non-sarcastic contributions or none at all."

Trent finally pulls down his sunglasses to the bridge of his nose and looks at the bickering Barton and Masters, then toward Natasha and Coulson. His eyes finally rest on Maria and Fury. He's not on a team; he's their tech person. "Uh, so, stop me if I'm wrong, but we're attempting to apprehend a genius who has eluded capture for awhile, press ganged SHIELD operatives into doing his work for him, somehow managed to get nominated for the Nobel Prize and is currently throwing himself a huge party without anyone outside being the wiser. And we're just going to walk in there and say, 'I'm sorry, Doctor Sterns, but you seem to be an evil mastermind, would you please come with us so we can put you in your proper cell'? That sounds…fun." Luckily, he wasn't forbidden non-sarcastic contributions from Maria Hill.

"If the arrow fits." Barton just offers a bit of a shrug at this moment, perhaps in response to Hill's queries, seeming to pretty much not care how the situation gets taken care of. He's more than willing to assassinate whomever he needs to assassinate to make this problem go away. That's the whole point of being an assassin. He doesn't say anything else though, choosing to revert himself back to silence, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest. In the end, Barton will just follow whatever orders he's given. Snarkily.

If at all possible, Fury's jaw tightens as his agents continue to argue and disagree on, well, everything. His eyes narrow, his arms tighten over his chest, and he bcomes nearly statuesque, at least until things seem to have calmed down some. Maybe the bickering is over? One can only hope. Nothing like agents arguing like children. Questions though, questions are useful. And to be addressed. "As it stands we do not know how Doctor Sterns escaped custody. Beta team has conducted a long-term investigation, but there is a serious lack of evidence. How Sterns escaped is anyone's guess." And, from the looks of Fury's grim expression, it is a priority. But then so is capturing a Noble prize nominee. Evidently, however, it seems keeping him could prove problematic.

Fury nods follows Maria's address of Masters. And it seems like the questions are all addressed. Until Trent offers a sarcastic version of events. Fury's lips actually curve upwards at the edges in a wolfish, nearly-predatory non-smile. "Carter," he clears his throat, "that's why we want all hands on deck. This is more than a bag and tag. We need to find our people, and do this as quietly as possible. Which is why we need all of you. Ordinarily I wouldn't want to go somewhere where we're so expected, but this is the first point of access where we've managed to track Sterns. We are going to the party. And we will require all eyes and ears."

Again, like a predator, Fury begins pacing the front of the room, arms remaining firmly across his chest, jaw maintaining its solid form. "Carter," again Trent gets addressed, perhaps because of afformentioned sarcasm? "we will need eyes and ears everywhere. The mansion has a top of the line security system. Do whatever you need to in order to give us the best visual possible. Keep us linked together." He clears his throat, "Romanoff, your job will be to find a way to get Doctor Sterns' attention and keep it. Get any information you can about the hostages' whereabouts." His head snaps towards Clint, "Barton," his eyebrows raise, "we anticipate a heavy guard in and around the party. Situate yourself and be ready for fire. While we want to do this quietly, there is no reason to believe Sterns won't make hostages of all party-goers." Fury then turns towards the other side of the room, "Masters and Beta team, under the direction of Agent Hill, will provide support at the party and will be responsible for the getaway. If we need to evacuate the party, I want to be prepared." And then, with just an edge of snark he adds, "It seems like Beta team, with leadership can handle that. You're a taskmaster, aren't you?"

Natasha openly glares at Masters when he suggests she shot Sterns, but she says nothing. She has more restraint than that. Her lips purse and nostrils flare slightly at the notion of getting Sterns' attention. She shifts in her seat while she neutralizes her expression as best she can. A single eyebrow arches at the entirety of the plan, but no thoughts are given. Her gaze finally tracks to Coulson, and her hands tighten around her now-empty coffee mug while her gaze trails to Clint. Live bait. Well, she's certainly had worse roles before.

Finally, it seems the weight of the room and the urging for silence have achieved their desired effect, at least on Masters' side as he resumes silence. His green-hued eyes turn to slits and he sucks on the inside of his cheek at the relaying of the plan. But he says nothing, until asked. "Guilty as charged," he states smoothly.

Maria takes the briefing information that Fury dishes out with a single, confident nod of understanding. She immediately looks toward Masters, seeing how he'll take the news. She catalogues it, already making a list of things to prepare before she can properly give orders to her new team. She'll want to know personalities, weak and strong points, things she's glossed over before as second in command but not really processed. "Yes sir," she replies to Fury's orders.

Trent is at the receiving end of two parts of Fury's plan. One, to gather his attention and the second his actual assignment. Pushing his glasses back onto place at the bridge of his nose, he leans back in his chair. "Can I be the singular member of Omega team? I'll make badges and everything. I just feel pretty unappreciated if everyone else has a team and I'm just the loner watching everyone else have fun." After a pause, he adds, "Though, really, I'd be glad to do this from a remote location since this dude knows we're after him and knows we haven't been able to track or capture him is now suddenly throwing some big gala. That sorta screams trap to me. Not sure about anyone else."

The only time Barton actually seems to be alive or even paying attention is when he matches eyes with Natasha. There's something there. He's not sure what it is but he knows there's something there and he's going to play it as cool as Luke's hand until he finds out what exactly it is. For now, though, he's just offering her a silent nod that pretty much says: 'I got you.' in regards to live bait. "I'll make a nest, Sir." is the comment of acknowledgement tossed towards Fury, even though he's looking at Natasha the entire time. He's ready to go pick out arrows but he'll wait for a full on dismissal.

Fury stares at Trent. He doesn't do much else besides stare at the tech fellow for several seconds. Feel the weight of the Fury-stare, Trent, feel it. He clears his throat, "Alright. You all have your assignments. You're dismissed." As agents start to move, he adds as an afterthought, "And be careful out there."

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