Red Dawn: Part 1
Rplog-icon Who: Natalia Romanova, Winter Soldier
Where: Red Room facility, Russia
When: Many years in the past
What: Natalia Romanova was the young woman set on the path to becoming the Red Room's most deadly spy; the Black Widow. But she still has a long way to go.

The men in her new advanced combat class scoffed at her ballet training. They knew practical skills, like hunting, trap making. Their new classmate? She was a dancer, pretty and pathetic, even for a woman. They stopped laughing when graceful Natalia Romanova danced around their sluggish movements and tossed three men twice her size to the ground without missing a beat. "Is that all?"

The girls in the Red Room were trained to be deadly.. but also to have finesse, to know how to appear helpless or harmless, to seduce and cajole just as well as to fight. Natalia was the best of the best, and her combat ability was especially outstanding, earning her this place in the class of the Red Room's most esteemed combat instructor. And she's fully prepared for her peers to underestimate her.. that only gave her an advantage.

Those who can't look after themselves and protect their own backs don't survive in the Red Room. She knows that as well as anyone. Clearly better than the opponents she just single handedly bested. If -this- is all they have to challenge her with.. but then a voice from the other side of the room says, "That's not even the beginning, uchenik." though it adds, "..But, not bad. Work hard and you may even be able to call yourself a proper operative one day."'

"Thank you, uchitel." Natalia's reply was instant, polite and respectful. The three beaten men scramble to their feet. 'Uchitel Ivan!" they chorus, somewhat nervously. After all, they had just gotten their asses dropped by a comparatively tiny 'girl'. "These three don't understand the beauty of dance. Do you, uchitel?" Natalia steps forward, getting into a fighting stance.

This earns her a somewhat enigmatic smirk. "I do indeed, uchenik." Ivan answers, stepping towards her with almost casual directness. "You're a confident one, and that's valuable. But there's a good many sayings about pride." without further preamble he rushes her, and the abruptness is dizzying after the telegraphed amateurish way she'd come to view her peers. She is barely able to block, and she has to admit, the way one attack shifts to another is, indeed, very like a dance, driving her defenses dangerously out of her control-- and he's clearly favoring one arm as well, as if to taunt her!

Natalia isn't one to get frustrated - not even when on the losing end of an encounter. She rolls, sidesteps, and dances out of the way, at least partially. Still, she is soon winded and mostly likely bruised. She smiles, an expression of enjoyment. "Then I will temper my pride." She won't admit defeat, not until he's forced her into a sumbissive hold. But at that time she will accept the defeat gracefully, as a performer accepts a crowd's applause.

At one point she even manages to dodge so skillfully that he's briefly off balance, and she can see the surprise in his face when she seizes the chance to strike. But whether it hits solidly or not, the next exchange surprises her when a shockingly unyielding grip closes on her upper arm pulling her off balance even as a strike lands on her other shoulder, and she finds herself spun to the ground and pinned. Still, she managed to actually find an opening there before she was taken down.

She dutifully taps her hand on the ground, signalling her acceptance of his victory. She's still smiling; she enjoyed the challenge her new instructor presented to her. The pain didn't bother her, not truly. Once he lets her up, she gracefully rises to her feet. "Thank you, uchitel." Behind her, the three other students whistle and applaud politely, impressed and now respectful of the young woman. She turns to them and bows, like the ballerina she was trained to mimic.

Ivan considers her for a moment, surprise still showing on his features as he looks down at the girl, who is still smiling fiercely even in defeat. But not in a nasty way, not hateful or vengeful. There's a spirit to her he hasn't seen since.. he shakes his head a bit, and lets her up. He crosses his arms, one hand asymmetrically gloved at the end of long sleeves. He nods slightly in acknowledgement of the thanks, but rather than replying he turns away to bark at the others, "She knows her strengths and trusts in them. She knows her weakness, and seeks to conquer them. You three could all stand to learn a thing or two from uchenik Natalia." the other three take this politely, though she sees an edge in the eyes of two of them, a look she recognizes all too well. They of course won't do anything here, but she's earned resentment with her skill.

She doesn't miss the look in two of her classroom comrades' eyes. The smile she wore gains a challenging look. She accepts that they resent her skill, and she dares them to do something about it, all in her body language. She has heard words between her instructors, and a title; 'Black Widow', given to the most elite female operative. She wanted that name.

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