|What: Black Widow brings Vorpal in for a talk|
Keith had been dreading this since yesterday. He had a good idea of what the Widow wanted to tell him... but he had to get through it. He comes in as one ready to face a firing squad.
Yes. She intimidated him that much. "Um. I'm here... I hope it's not a bad time?"
"Now's a good time."
The Widow's voice comes filtered through suit speakers, just like Tony's has been heard before. Indeed, the Russian defector stands in the middle of the training area in a suit of Stark power armor that looks an awful lot like Pepper's Rescue armor... except that the bronze and teal have been given a sheen of black so that the colors all but disappear into shadow. As the face plate opens, Natasha lifts her armored hands and pops the helmet off, shaking her head and letting her hair fall loose as she does.
Her eyes flick down to where Vorpal had been injured. "Good," she says shortly. "Channel said she'd taken care of that." She pins the cat with a direct look. "You and I need to talk, Vorpal. About a couple of things, actually. But, I'll settle for this: I need you on this mission. You can teleport and you're an illusionist. I'd be a fool not to take advantage of that. But, I need you in control. You cannot go off on some vendetta in this and you cannot afford to lose your head. Because the job I have for you is both crucial and probably more dangerous than anything I'm asking of anyone else."
"Widow... with the utmost respect- you remember that quip I made about snorting all the coke in the world? THAT is what would have to happen for me to go on a vendetta against someone who could so much as fart and erase me from existence." The cat crosses his arms. "... I have my problems, but I'm nowhere near as stupid as I look. Just a little bit."
"I don't think you're stupid, Vorpal," Natasha says simply. There's nothing personal in her tone, it's merely a statement of fact. "But, I do think you have some issues you're still working out. I read the reports. You stabbed yourself in the leg, son. I agree it was for a good cause, but there were other injuries you could have done yourself that would have been less compromising and still gotten the job done. That tells me you weren't thinking clearly. I need you thinking clearly for this. Otherwise, I will go to the JLA and find myself a different teleporter/illusionist. Superman owes me a favor."
"That's fair. .. in my defense, at the time I was far more worried about finding a place where I could stick that blade and not have it get out. It was a soul drainer, and I needed it to stay put until the entity cancelled the spell and the portal was closed. At the time, I thought that my leg was the largest part of my body that I could hit without causing a fatal injury... and where I could have both hands to hold onto that blade. I mean, my shoulder- I'd only have one hand, and anywhere in my torso would have risked an organ."
"The blade tried to get away from me physically-- so I did need both hands to hold it. Whether the decision was flawed or not, I was more worried about saving someone from getting soul-sucked and stopping an enormous demon from coming through the portal. I've only been doing this for..." he counts "... eight months. I'm nowhere near as experienced as you are... and I'm going to make less than ideal decisions. It's a given. If you think that another teleporter with more experience would do better..." he stops for a second and thinks. "Daytripper is a sorceress of no mean ability, and Nightcrawler is a teleporter with unlimited skills in that area. I don't know if you've read my dossier yet with all of the crazy that's been going on, but I can only teleport fifteen feet at a time, and no more than three times per minute."
Full disclosure and honesty is better every time.
"How many people can you carry?" Natasha asks now, accepting the explanation with a simple cant of her head. That's more important... but not a deal breaker. "If any? Because you and Channel are on distraction detail. I want it to look like we've sent in a flight of Iron suits and our heavy hitters for a rematch. But, I don't want you to get hit, so you need to be ready to move fast. With luck, channel can deal with any energy discharges that come you way. But she won't be able to stop everything."
He knew that was going to come up. He had seen Kurt teleport Domino around, and the other teleporters he had seen could do it, too.
"How about... just myself?" the cat answers, looking sideways.
"I don't want to presume what intention drove my creator when he was ... adjusting me, but I do not think consistency was one of his standards."
It's possible, Natasha has to concede silently, that this Daytripper or Nightcrawler the cat speaks of would be better choices. But, she's trying to keep this 'in the family', so to speak. Which means she doesn't want to call in the favor Superman owes her. And she doesn't want to work with people she doesn't already know. She knows Vorpal, albeit not well. He tends to avoid her, she's noticed. "Can you handle the sorts of illusions I'm talking about?" she asks. "If you can't, I'll find someone else. But, you're an Avenger." Which means it's time for him to step up to the plate. "I think this needs to stay in-house."
Vorpal closes his eyes and focuses. When he opens his eyes, there is an army of Iron Men behind him, stretching all throughout the room. "You mean... something like this?"
"Nice," Natasha says, duly impressed. "Now, can you animate them separately?" She moves forward, though, to see just how solid they are, reaching out a hand to touch the nearest one.
They are illusions-- real ones, so they cannot be disbelieved, but they are insubstantial. The cat focuses hard, and they begin to move independently. It's a strain, though, to move that massive a number as individuals. "...thing is... I can't really... pay attention to my surroundings when I do this... I don't have that much ... practice." He becomes invisible out of habit. It was easy when Julie was carrying him, then all he needed to do was create doubles and move them. If he was expected to move while also animating doubles, it would require a great deal of willpower.
Then, he just may need to find depths of reserves he didn't know he had. Natasha nods. "Channel will be there, with you. If you can remain invisible and undetected, you may not need to move much," she tells the cat. "But, I won't promise you that. This is your call, Vorpal. This mission must be volunteer only, so I won't compel to anything. If you don't think you can do it, I will find someone else." And, maybe, if she survives this, she'll start drilling him to increase his practice.
Vorpal becomes visible again and frowns.
Could he do this?
~You could do it. Then everybody would respect you~
~You would make it up to Tony~
~It also wouldn't hurt that you'd finally be useful~
He takes a deep breath and looks up at the Widow with a frank expression. "I can't promise you I can do that, Widow. If you were to ask me honestly, I'd tell you that I would try my best, even to the point of no return. But this isn't about me. his is about getting Tony back home. If I can't do the job, it's failure on that goal... so..." he looks at her dead in the eye. "I am telling you that if you can find someone who -is- reliable and has the practice... to tap them. I don't want Tony to -not- be here because I couldn't be more than what I currently am. Tony deserves the best chance he can get. So does Pepper. That's my answer, and I'll understand any decision you make, Widow." This wasn't about proving himself.
Widow's expression may actually soften slightly. She nods. "Then, you need to be ready, just in case," she tells him. Because she's out of options. She puts the helmet back on her head, its faceplate still open. "Keep your phone on." The faceplate lowers and she turns, walking outside. She has flying to practice.