|The Infestation of Stark Tower|
|What: Button tries her hand at some corporate espionage by sending a swarm of robotic wasps to infest Stark Tower but she's foiled by the quick actions of Pepper Potts and Natalia Romanova.|
Early evenings on week nights are really just work hours for Pepper, so when the building empties of its usual daytime population and leaves only the cleaning crews and a few workaholics like her, she doesn't notice. She also rarely notices when she's here late enough that the cleaning crews have left and only building security and a scant few others remain. This is one of those days, despite any of Natalie Rushman's protests. They have a shareholders meeting to plan, and since it's being held offsite there's that much extra to deal with.
Taking a quick drink from a coffee mug filled with water, Pepper finishes filling out some form or other on the giant interactive screen that is her desk's surface and a practiced flick of one hand sends it to her email's outbox. "Natalie, did you hear back from the catering company yet?"
"Yes," 'Natalie' replies, calling in from her desk outside Pepper's office. "I updated the file in the event folder, so it's all there. I also added Barton's security review." And probably scanned it herself, just to be sure. "You'll want to double check the seating arrangements at the dinner, but I think they're good." Remember, this is a woman who's been party planning for influential business men since before the Cold War.
Out in the skies over the city a slight figure stops to float high over the rooftop garden and flight deck of Stark Tower. Reaching around to small pack on her back he pulls out a large glass jar and unscrews the top, letting out a swarm of large, black wasps.
The cloud of wasps floats in front of her on silent wings while the tiny redhead puts the jar back into the bag then starts taping on the metallic glove she wears on her left hand. Her face is suddenly illuminated by a weak blue glow as a screen on the glove lights up and the wasps fly away, scattering as they make their way down towards the tower underneath them.
Pepper Potts sees the event file on her desktop and hesitates, wanting to reach for it and review the seating arrangement information now. But, as lat as it is, would she be better off letting it wait until tomorrow? The security review would likely be quicker, so she reaches for that first. Then she can go back to the seating arrangement if it's still nagging at her then. It's not that she doubts Nat, it's that she knows some of these people's foibles from personal past experience and can tell who might be best kept away from each other.
As if Nat wouldn't have done her research? Still, she'd be shocked, amazed, and wondering who had replaced her friend with a LMD if Pepper didn't review the tables thoroughly. Truthfully, there are a couple of places she left unadjusted, just to make the former PA feel better about having double-checked.
As she glances at the time on the surface of her own desk, however, she lets out a sigh. "Pepper," she says, pushing back her chair and pulling herself to her feet, "leave it until tomorrow. You know full well the security arrangements are as strong as Clint and I can make them, and you know full well the Easter Egg in the seating arrangement will still be there, waiting to divert you over breakfast. And I don't want to explain to Rosita why I'm ordering in for the 3rd time this week."
She has entered Pepper's office, by this point, carrying her mug and crossing to deposit it in the small sink the night cleaning staff will clear to the kitchen in a couple of hours anyway.
As the wasps descend on the tower multiple video feeds start popping up on the monitor on Button's glove. With a couple more commands she makes the image pop away from the glove showing as a hologram that expands to allow more viewpoints to be visible on the display at any one time.
The wasps arrive at the tower and land on air conditioning exhaust vents, roof access doors, and windows. Then they start to crawl into any opening large enough to allow them in. The mandibles for any of the wasps that land on windows start glowing a dull, barely noticeable red then they begin 'chewing' through the glass, little rivulets of molten glass flowing down away from the holes they are creating.
Pepper Potts looks up at Nat and sighs. "I guess so." Taking one last sip of water, she swipes her hand across the desk and the whole thing stops glowing, returning to looking like a regular (but still high-end) glass-topped desk. "Did Rosita actually scold you for ordering in this morning?" She slips her shoes on and scoops up her shoulder bag before standing and taking her own mug to the sink as well. Because she's already stepped away from her desk, she initially misses the small red light that begins flashing in one corner.
Nat chuckles softly, "She told me to scold you. Again. And said if it happens again, this week, she'll scold you herself. I doubt even I can stop her." Given, however, that Nat has turned to face Pepper by this time, however, as the other woman walks towards her, that blinking red light flashing along one edge does catch her perceptive eye. Her expression instantly changes from amusement to alert. She circles around Pepper, as the other woman approaches the the sink, moving to the desk and calling up the alert.
Button watches the holographic feed coming from her wasps as they make their way down air conditioning conduits, fly along stairwells and hallways, and finish chewing through the windows in Pepper's office, ignoring the molten glass as they crawl through they holes and take flight.
The half dozen or so wasps that have made it into the office proper fly up to the ceiling and cling there, looking like nothing but an average bug as they transmit slightly distorted images of Pepper and Natalia back to Button. Button taps a command on her glove and one of the buzzes down for a closer look at both woman, quickly followed by two more holographic windows opening up in the air in front of Button's face, showing quick bio's of any publicly available info attached to the images of both women.
Pepper Potts makes a face at Natalie, knowing that she's absolutely correct, and that Rosita's scolding would not be aimed at the Russian. But then Natasha brushes past her, and she turns with a concerned frown to see what's got the assassin's attention. She sees a flash of red and immediately glances toward the ceiling. "JARVI..." She cuts herself off as she sees dark spots on the ceiling that should not be there. Squinting, she asks almost incredulously, "Are those /wasps/?"
As Natasha hits the red light on the desk, an image fills the glass surface, showing the small redhead floating over the tower. Indeed, any information the intruder may receive about Pepper or Natalie is only that which is available via public record. Of Pepper, there's lots -- most of it connected to her former position as PA to Mr. Stark, though she's been subsequently both lauded and lampooned (depending on the politics of the source) for her erstwhile position as CEO of the company before its recent conversion to Stark Global and her reassignment as the newer, larger company's COO. Of Natalie, however, there's very little. A modeling career in Tokyo prior to university. A mid-west college education suitable to a paralegal. Her unexpected rise to influence in Stark Industries, thanks to becoming Pepper's PA when the other woman became CEO, and the fact Miss Rushman continues to serve ably in the executive suite. (Indeed, the news sources have more questions than answers, because her background, while thorough, is so very unremarkable -- aside from that stint in Tokyo that probably explains why Stark hired her into legal a couple of years back... and adds all sorts of rather lurid speculation in the tabloids.)
In reality, of course, young Miss Rushman is much, much more than she seems. And when Pepper distracts her with the comment about wasps, her own eyes dart up to see the wasp hanging near her. Without a second thought, her super-serum enhanced reflexes react, and her hands flash out in an attempt to clap around the wasp, likely to squish it. "Intruder," she tells Pepper succinctly. "JARVIS, we need a bug sweep. Now."
<OOC> Button ROFLs, "Bug sweep..." then wipes some tears of laughter from her eyes! <OOC> Natalia Romanova grins.
Natalia's fingertips barely manage to knock the wasp into her hand. A wasp that proves to be surprisingly resistant to squishing. Instead Natalia feels a sharp sting immediately followed by a sharp electrical shock, strong enough to leave her arm feeling numb all the way up to the elbow.
High above the tower Button taps out a few more commands and the image on Pepper's computer fuzzes, not completely gone but making it difficult to see any details about the girl in the picture. The rest of the wasps buzz away from the ceiling while a couple more appear in the gap under the door and another couple crawl out of the A.C. vent. The wasps start buzzing around the two women with a couple of exceptions. One of them comes to land on the underside of the desk and the other at the base of the desk where the computer cables disappear into the floor. The stingers on both wasps separate into five microfilaments that extend and start to make their way through the insulation of the wires and the material of the desk...
Pepper Potts's eyes go wide at that. "JARVIS, black out my desk, now." They can still talk to the AI via direct voice interface or her phone and tablet if need be. When one of these weird wasp things lands on her desk she fishes what looks like the firing pin of an automatic pistol out of her shoulder bag and steps forward to try and squish the one on the underside of the desk's glass-like surface. Yes, she's risking damaging the display, but right now she doesn't really care.
"Yeaaauugh!" Natasha lets out a clear yelp, shaking her hands as the one is stung. The little wasp goes tumbling, and may be lucky not to get stepped on, subsequently. Nevertheless, despite the fact her left hand and forearm aren't much more use than a hanging Russian kielbasa, at least for the moment, she growls out, "JARVIS: Protocol Lima-Papa-Romeo-One-Four. Voice recognition match: Rushman, Natalie. New York one-niner-niner-five now. Go."
The woman is an espionage expert with few equals in the world. Counter-surveillance technology protocols are as natural as breathing, to her, and she made damned sure JARVIS and Stark got the benefit of that expertise when she became a member of the Avengers. The protocol she activates, now, is designed against this sort of intrusion: a swarm of robotic bugs. And to counter them, she had Tony make a swarm of flying spiders more than happy to wrap their spindly legs around any insectile intruders and squeeze the life out of them. Or chew their heads off. That works, too.
Meanwhile, she's heading back out into the main office, in search of a black coach bag kept under her desk. She doesn't tell Pepper her plans, for fear the bugs will transmit words back to their master.
Button giggles to herself as Pepper tries to stab one of her wasps. From multiple viewpoints she sees the pin skitter off the wasps metallic exoskeleton, leaving a long shine scratch on the formerly matte black surface. Meanwhile the wasp continues to inject the five microfibers coming out of it thorax into the surface of the desk, which flashes files at random on its display surface for a split second before going black as JARVIS deactivates it on Pepper's command.
Button's giggles turn into grins as she watches her holographic display where wasps all around the building find likely access points into the network and start to use their own microfibers to attempt to create a connection.
Back in the office one of the other wasps has landed on Pepper's shoulder, stinging her and delivering an electrical shock that momentarily numb her whole arm.
As spiders start to appear in the office the wasps harassing Pepper and Natalia disengage and start to focus on the new attack in response to some quick commands from the far-away Button, who is now making a moue of distaste at the counter attack.
Pepper Potts yelps very similarly to Natalie as one wasp stings her and her entire arm and shoulder go numb from the shock. The metal firing pin falls out of her hand and her bag hits the floor at the perfect angle to cause it to tip over and spill its contents everywhere. Stumbling a bit from the surprise and pain, Pepper's breath hitches once and her expression shifts from concern and fear to anger as fast as her bag fell. "Get out of my office!" she quite literally screams at the invading bugs, reaching to pick up the closest throwable object -- some random knick-knack or other -- at flinging it left-handed at the bugs she can see flying about between her and the windows.
Natasha scoops up the bag in her right hand, kicking off her heels as she goes. "Get to the armory!" she calls to Pepper, knowing that it and the headquarters space upstairs are the two places in the building entirely impenetrable to the small bugs. Then, she's running toward the small express lift secreted at the rear of the admin space behind a partition, using her pass to open it swiftly. She ducks inside and closes the door with a swift punch to a button, before any of the damned wasps can hop a ride.
When the elevator door opens in the Avengers HQ, on the top floor, it's a black armored figure that's rocketing out of it towards the roof flight access port, repulsors flaring. Pepper's old Rescue armor, darkened down so that the old teal and bronze colors barely hint through beneath the black, has apparently found a new, if occasional, controller. In the suit, Natasha's numbed arm is immaterial, perfectly functional thanks to suit hydraulics and the neuro-haptic interface.
Streaking up into the mid-evening sky, she locks her sights and her trajectory right on Button.
A bottle of Espirt du Roi fly at the wasp Pepper has targeted, going wide and smashing against a wall, filling the air with the smell of perfume, wasting most of the $150 dollar worth of scent.
All around the building little balls of metal and plastic enact battles in miniature as spiders and wasps fights it out. Once in a while the wasps come out on top, especially when two or three gang up on one spider but in the majority of cases the spiders manage to disable the wasps, little puffs of acrid smoke marking the spots where the combats are over, regardless of the winner. A small cloud of 6 or 7 wasps chase after Pepper, only to be ambushed by the mechanical spider, leaving her free and clear by the time that she reaches the door to the armory with pieces of furniture and patches of carpet becoming miniature battlegrounds behind her.
Button's holographic display starts showing black patches as wasps start going out of commission causing her to frown and mutter, "Who plans for an infestation of robotic wasps. Damn it! And all I have is info I could have gotten with an hour or two of hacking." Then a proximity alarm goes off in her gauntlet and suddenly the tiny redhead disappears, leaving behind nothing but a loud pop, as displaced air fill the spot Button used to occupy before being automatically teleported away as the Black Widow barrels through the spot doing almost 150 MPH.
A second later Button reappears in a random alley 8 or 10 miles away, collapsing to her knees as soon as her feet touch the ground and retching as if she'd been on a night long, Tony Stark level bender. As soon as she can speak all the comes out of her mouth is a heartfelt, "Son of a bitch! I need to figure out these damn side effects...
Pepper Potts makes it to the armory and slaps the control to make the door close, then sinks to sit on the floor curled around her still-numb arm. Where was Tony though all of this?
The Iron-clad Widow rockets through the spot Button was, hardly even a second after the intruder has ported away. Her own words echo at least the first half of Button's own statement (once she's done retching, at least). But, there's no way for her to track her, which means the best Natasha can do is return to the tower and set JARVIS to analyzing the attack and confirming it has be adequately dealt with, while she heads for the armory and Pepper.