|The Truth About The Salvation Army|
|What: Ursa continues to explore the phenomenon of the Salvation Army, getting input from Pepper Potts and Natalia Romanova.|
It's officially less than five days left before Christmas. The shopping in the city is nearing a frenzy point, and this late in the evening, people are rushing about with last minute purchases. Luckily for Pepper, she is an exception. Sure, she's got a TON to do between now and the 25th, but she's got help.
Walking briskly down the sidewalk, the bell of a Salvation Army Santa can be heard faintly somewhere nearby as she hurries to meet up with Natasha. She knows the SHIELD agent would likely forgive her a little tardiness, but that doesn't mean she'll permit it of herself.
Oh, Natasha's quite used to Pepper's schedule -- distracted as it often is. How often has Pepper been tardy because someone had to stop and ask her a Very Important Question at the last minute, just as she was walking out the front door? Really, the woman needs an invisibility suit, more than she needs Rescue Armor.
Nonetheless, the Russian-American is early, as usual, to their designated meeting spot. And that's even with stopping to put a twenty or two in the Sally Ann kettle. She holds a fresh cup of flavoured coffee and turns about expectantly as Pepper's characteristically quick footsteps catch her attention.
"You made it. I'm impressed," she smiles.
Ursa had witnessed something akin to this frenzy of humans in a rush, as they go about their shopping, the ritual that apparently follows with the surfacing of decorated trees. There's also one other thing that seems familiar, the would be army that brandishes useless bells for weapons. Ursa swoops down from the air and comes to land by the Salvation Army Santa, glowering at him rather dangerously as she remarks, "still using bells for weapons? Pathetic."
Pepper Potts smiles a hello to Natasha as she stops, shrugging. "It was a close thing. Nakamura from R&D again. I swear, if she weren't completely brilliant at robotics...." She pauses as she hears a voice that she recognizes, then closes her eyes for a second to keep from sighing as she turns to look at Ursa.
Natasha starts to chuckle at Pepper's complaint, though as the other woman pauses, the agent's attention shifts to the woman glowering over the Salvation Army Santa.
The poor guy looks discomfitted, at best, beneath his synthetic beard, and looks down at his bell. And then at Ursa. "Uh. Merry Christmas. Would you care to make a donation?"
Natasha shifts her weight subtly, her stance loosening into that casual, neutral ready position Pepper probably recognizes as the Avenger assessing threat levels.
"If by donation you mean a tip on improving your odds of survivability, I'd offer to get a real weapon, first of all. Your uniform are also ridiculous and really stand out, go for black or something sensible to blend in with the environment...also," Ursa reaches to pull on the poor Santa's fake beard, "why in the world would you add this silly accessory to your uniform?"
Pepper Potts takes a few steps toward Ursa, recognizing the woman now. At least it's not snowing this time. "Didn't we talk about this last year?" She crosses her arms as she regards the kryptonian woman with a slightly impatient expression. "This man is a volunteer for a charitable organization. Please do not interrupt him."
Now, truthfully, there's not likely a whole lot the Avenger can do against a Kryptonian. She's good. Almost as good as Cap. But not quite so good as Supes. Still, that doesn't mean Nat wouldn't be game to try. Though, you know... she'd prefer not to. Maybe call the JLA in. Or Thor. Or, maybe just Bruce. He might enjoy the challenge. Though, the City's Dept. of Public Works probably wouldn't thank them any.
But, that's probably why it's better Pepper deal with this than the Widow. She's a much better diplomat. Most of Natasha's negotiations happen at gun point... or in other compromising situations.
"I take it you know this woman?"
Ursa turns to look at Pepper, not accustomed to people just breaking into her words while she is holding an exchange. But upon seeing Pepper, the Kryptonian woman smirks, "you. I remember you. You mean to tell me this one is also a pitiful volunteer? How come this weakling charity army hasn't disbanded yet?" She then rips the beard off the Santa volunteer and extends it towards Pepper, "and why do they wear these? What kind of charity is that?" As Black Widow has yet to intervene herself, Ursa maintains her focus on Pepper.
Pepper Potts takes the fake beard from Ursa's hand and offers it back to the volunteer with an apologetic smile. "They are meant to represent a fictional individual known as Santa Claus, who brings hope to people in the form of gifts. The charitable organization does the same thing, and this is their method of collecting donations." And then as if to illustrate, she pulls her wallet from her bag and starts to open it to get out some money.
Ursa allows Pepper to take the fake beard, not really caring for that trophy. "This Santa Claus is the leader of their army?" Ursa asks curiously, as unlike the occasional members of the Salvation Army Volunteers she paralyzes with fear, Pepper actually gives her answers. When Pepper reaches for her wallet, Ursa takes one step to the side and observes her exchange with the volunteer closely, as if it was some kind of an experiment.
Natasha takes Pepper's response to the woman as a 'Yes', and strolls a little closer, perhaps flanking the volunteer... Just in case, you know. "I hear they have a General over in England," she remarks casually to the Kryptonian, making her own observations. "And I'm pretty sure the Santa get-ups are purely seasonal." She shrugs mildly. "Try Google. They may know..."
When Natasha finally addresses her directly, Ursa turns to look at the woman more closely, tilting her head slightly to the side, "a General? Who is this General?" When she starts to get a sense that Natasha is being sarcastic with her, Ursa frowns, "are you making light of me? I have a serious interest in studying military forces on this planet, and so far this Salvation Army is found wanting."
The Russian gives a laconic shrug. "No. Seriously. Their international headquarters is in London. I remember walking past it every day for months." When she was doing a job in England back in the 70's. But, never mind. "They're a charity, not a military. It's a metaphor." A beat. "Or something like that." Another beat. She was raised in Communist Russia. What does she really know of religious organizations? A light smile. "Where, exactly, are you from?"
"A metaphor...so it's a joke," Ursa looks disappointed, "by what right do they call themselves an Army? I will inform the real military of this world, so they can amend it on their own should they choose too. This kind of insult would not stand on Krypton," Ursa also gives her place of origin to the Russian woman by way of making her outraged claim.
Pepper Potts is standing on a street corner with Natasha and Ursa, a poor volunteer bell ringer for the Salvation Army also there having just been accosted by the Kryptonian woman. In her defense, Ursa hasn't even tried to knock the man down yet.
Pepper quickly folds the bill from her wallet so the denomination isn't immediately visible and drops it into the volunteer's red bucket before looking at Ursa again. "This charitable organization chose a strongly worded name to draw attention to their works, to let people know that their organization's mission to assist those in need would be run in an efficient manner just like a real army. They are /not/ a real army, and the governments of this world are not going to feel threatened by them in any way."
Krypton. Oh yeah. Leaving this nutjob to the big guns over with the JLA sounds like an excellent plan to the Avenger's femme fatale. Natasha chuckles softly. "She's right. Militaries all over the world already know all about them. And, mostly, they like them." At least, they do in the middle of disasters, when the Sally Ann is right there with the Red Cross delivering aid. That much she knows. Heck, that much she remembers from times gone by.
"But then again, it's hard to be threatened by a bell and kettle, no matter how backward their thinking is."
Tony is dressed to be outside, which means he's wearing an elegant ankle length overcoat. His hands are in the pockets. He makes his way closer to the women. "Pepper," he says before looking to the others, "Natalia..and.." he looks at the woman, "I don't think I've had the pleasure." he offers his hand from inside his overcoat. He's not wearing gloves. "Tony Stark." - he smiles, turning on the charm and charisma as only he can.
Ursa looks amused by Pepper's explanation as she nods in agreement, "I wager a group of children could defeat this 'army'," she snorts. Taking a look into the collection bucket, Ursa comments, "when they fill this red bucket they withdraw?"
But then Tony Stark approaches, and Ursa turns to look at him with a growing curiosity, she looks at his extended hand without responding, before asking, "what makes you think it would have been a pleasure, Tony Stark?" Cocking her head to the side, she adds, "I take it you wish to know my name in return? I am Ursa."
Pepper Potts looks at Tony as he greets Ursa, having not expected him to follow. After all, she and Natasha had planned to do a bit of last minute shopping, maybe, and definitely work on plans for the Christmas get together. At Ursa's less than polite reaction to her boss's greeting she almost visibly bristles, opening her mouth to say something to the black-clad Kryptonian.
"Tony," Natasha greets with a warm smile, touching a hand lightly to the small of Pepper's back to keep her bristling from becoming something more. It is, perhaps, a needless gesture, on some level, but an automatic one, nonetheless. "We were just attempting to explain The Salvation Army to Ursa, here. She's from Krypton, and is apparently interested in evaluating the military strength of our planet." It's all said with a friendly, conversational tone, one that easily matches the billionaire's charm. "The Salvation Army, however, has her a little stumped."
Tony Stark returns his hand to his pocket, smiling not fading. "Ursa - from Krypton? Fascinating. Look, I'm not saying it would have been a pleasure, but merely that it's pleasure to make your acquaintance..but..being unfamiliar with our customs, it might sound a little weird if you're not used to it." he looks to Tasha and Pepper and smiles, "Ah, the Salvation Army - one of the more interesting parts of this region of world. More a religious sect than a real charity. You'll find that a lot around this time of year, given it's religious learnings, but it is what it is." he looks around, "Doing a but of last minute shopping?" he asks, warmly of the company assembled.
"Fascinating all the same," Ursa agrees, as Tony responds quite unlike what she anticipated. "If you say so," she murmurs about the making of acquaintance, "so now it is a religious sect? Curious. I will go see their headquarters in London to study more," and just like that without even a goodbye Ursa jets into the air and disappears, perhaps en route to London as she claimed. She does prove to be quite fast.