|Inducting the Enemy|
|What: Black Widow confronts Iron Lad about a provisional membership in S.H.I.E.L.D.|
S.H.I.E.L.D. has been rather interested in what they have nicknamed the "mini Ironman" from the HYDRA attack at the Stark Expo. They've been working hard to track him down and figure out just who he is, or how to contact him. They got a hit tonight on a solid lead that he might be operating in the financial district, and two callers told them they saw someone flying around. It could just be Stark, but maybe it's the new kid. Natasha Romanoff, aka The Black Widow, is sitting in a flying car, parked on a high rooftop, watching her radar for any blips. She hates stakeouts, but she hates chili night in the Helicarrier cafeteria even more.
The "mini Ironman", as he's been called, was keeping it rather close to the ground at the Stark Expo, but up and about New York City's skyline he moves rather quickly. Tonight is no different story. A blip records on Black Widow's radar from the south as the silver and crimson clad, armored hero approaches from downtown. With both of his arms at his sides and his belly pointing towards the busy streets below, he rockets on a course that will take him past her. Propelled by a soft, golden glow from his chest and from his boots, he seems to be on a nightly patrol.
The Widow taps a few buttons to open up the broadcast frequencies on her radio. If his armor is anything like Stark's, he probably receives most channels. "This is SHIELD Agent Natasha Romanoff to the armored flying individual in the skies above the Manhattan financial district. I'd like to talk, if you would be so kind. I'm on top of the Prudential tower. Just a chat, nothing more."
The way that Iron Lad rolls over onto his side, facing the direction of the radio broadcast, makes it clear that he's heard her. His metallic face turns in the direction of the Prudential tower, and with a slight course correction of his boots he complies. Straightening into a vertical lean as he nears the rooftop, the golden energies of his suit flare as he slows with astonishingly little exhaust. It's as if he floats the last few feet. "SHIELD you say?" His synth-like voice replies over the line. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Agent Romanoff. It would be my pleasure and please, know that I am not hostile."
Natasha, by then, is out of the car and leaning back casually against it. Her feet are crossed at the ankles, her arms over her chest. She looks bored. Who knows how long she's been sitting up there, waiting. There may or may not be several dozen empty bags of Doritos and Red Bull cans on the floor of the car. "I figured that much out by the side you were fighting on at the Expo incident," she notes with a faint smile. "You know my name; what should I call you?" she offers.
"Call me Iron Lad, although the older I get I'll probably have to choose a different name." He replies, coming to stand before her with his arms crossed in a non-defiant manner across his chest. With an almost entitled tone to his voice, he scans around the flying card, the garbage, and finally the Black Widow herself. He tilts his head, finding himself suddenly curious. "So what, if anything, has prompted this request for a conversation? I'm not in any trouble for using my powers at the Expo, am I?" He glances around, sensing no other agents of SHIELD present.
"No. On the contrary, S.H.I.E.L.D. is interested in extending you an invitation to join them. At least on a probationary basis, due to the fact they know less than nothing about you. Tony Stark is a consultant for us. He's the flying armor expert. They thought it might be a carrot to waggle in front of you, to get to work with Iron Man. If you're calling yourself Iron Lad, I'm inclined to agree." She cocks her head to one side, cool as a cucumber.
"Probationary membership, you say?" Iron Lad's expressive face watches Natasha closely, weighing her. "I chose the name Iron Lad because it would be easy to recognize, easy to accept. I've only recently arrived, and yes, you could say I'm a fan of Stark, but I'd like to be judged on my own merit." He lowers his arms, moving to lean against one of the wire-struts that hold some communications equipment in place. "So let's talk details. Do I need to reveal my identity to S.H.I.E.L.D? What sort of rules and regs would I have to follow?" He cocks one of his brow-ridges. "I won't let anyone have the armor."
"The identity is a necessity, yes, but it will be secure knowledge for Director level and above, if you require. They will not take the armor, although they would like your assistance building technologies inherent in it. Mr. Stark has provided the repulsor tech for our Helicarriers, for example," Natasha rattles off calmly. "You'd need to go through some basic training courses, but I don't expect you will need to take them for long as you seem to be experienced already in self defense. As for regs, the costumed set have a bit more leeway than you typical S.H.I.E.L.D. agent." She gestures at her very non-regulation costume. "You could also work as a civilian contractor, who could be asked to join missions in which your particular talents would be useful."
Iron Lad turns his head to look over the city below, considering her offer in silence. His little, metal fingertips tap over his forearm, resulting in a series of drummed, metal clacking sounds. "Fair enough." He replies, turning back to Natasha. "I'll be able to provide you and your sources with everything you need, but I'll warn you ahead of time there are some details you will not be able to find. You won't find any information on my family or any recorded history of me in the United States. I am seventeen years old, and should best be considered an emancipated youth. There are questions you will have about me that I simply will not answer, but I //will// assist S.H.I.E.L.D. with what needs to be done here, and I will share what I can in terms of technology." He pauses. "Any dealbreakers here?"
"The age might be an issue. At least until you turn 18. As a UN organization S.H.I.E.L.D. has to abide by child labor and child endangerment laws," Natasha points out, rubbing her chin. "So if you have no record, are you not from around here? Or not from the present time?" She is, of course, thinking of the past, like the recently defrosted Captain America, not the future. Or somewhere like Themyscria where Wonder Woman came out of nowhere from.
"Where I come from, I'm an adult. I'm more than capable of proving to anyone's superiors that I'm fine to take care of myself. In fact, just tell them I'm eighteen. Less than six months is a long time to waste for getting work done while bombs are going off around here." He retorts, a bit of youthful arrogance being tossed in her direction. He turns his wrist over, palm toward the sky, and a golden holographic image appears. It appears to be writing a file, getting to work on building a biography for himself. "I'm not from the present time, though I'm preparing for you a file that I can submit to your superiors that will list me as being eighteen years old, and include my educational credentials that follow after the timely death of my parents, including documentation that lists me legally as an adult as of last year." He looks to her as the light dissipates, apparently done with the work. "Where would you like this file sent or inserted?"
The Widow waves a hand dismissively. "Your secret is safe with me. In my day, most boys tried to join the military before the required age. I have no issue with it." She draws a mini SD card from a belt pouch and hands it to him. "If that is compatible with your tech, on there is fine. I'll get it into the proper hands."
Taking the card between his fingers, Iron Lad looks it over. A warm glow of light trickles from his forearm to the card and then suddenly snaps off. He offers it back to her, offering another hand to her in a shake. "It's...going to be a pleasure working with you, Agent Romanoff. How long should I wait to hear from your superiors, or is there somewhere I should go to deal with this now?"
"Give them 48 hours to review your documentation. If you'd like to formally fill out an application, there is a S.H.I.E.L.D. office in the United Nations building," Natasha replies. She tucks the card away. "Thank you for your assistance at the Expo. You helped save a lot of lives, Iron Lad."
"Oh, I think I'll wait the 48 hours. I'm not about to walk into the UN plainclothed. Besides, paperwork is slow where that data-file is going to be fast. In the meantime I'll be flying around and you can reach me on the same frequency you used. If trouble happens, call me." He offers her a hand to shake. "As for the Expo, don't bother. I did it because it's what needed to be done."
Natasha accepts the hand to shake. She is tempted to try and put a tracer on him but her orders were clear. Don't piss him off or scare him off. "Good to hear it. I think you and Captain America will get along very well." She climbs back into the car, and heads off to deliver the file to Fury.
Iron Lad watches Natasha fly off, waiting for a long while before he speaks again. He turns to look back to the city below, planting one boot on the lip of the building. "That's precisely what I was hoping to hear, Agent Romanoff..." He says to himself, before he pushes off of the ledge and takes flight, returning to his previously scheduled patrol.