|Red Skull's Big Sexy Birthday Bash|
|What: Pretty much what it says on the box... It's Red Skull's birthday. Well, not really. But he has a party anyway.|
"Gott im Himmel! This is why I operate undercover so rarely: It makes mein face itch."
It's not uncommon to see a man in a suit on the subway, perhaps. However, it's certainly not common to see a man on the subway who is wearing an exquisitely tailored black Hugo Boss original carrying a very large boxed birthday cake.
As the subway speeds through the tunnels, the man spends very little time looking at the people around him. Instead, his focus is held mainly by the birthday cake. He's a fairly attractive man, large and blonde. Sure, his face looks like it might have had a bit of work done to it, and his haircut is a bit 'Hitler Youth-y', but all in all he looks like any other successful businessman in Manhattan. Aside from the fact that he's taking the subway, that is.
"After all we've been through, and not even a card? This is unacceptable. But he won't forget my birthday again, dear Natasha. Nor will I forget the anniversary of his death!"
It's perhaps fortunate that the only people sitting near the blonde man and his partner are a passed-out drunk and a woman who's balls deep into her 3DS...
Natasha Romanov sighs lightly, rolling her eyes. "Did you ever tell him your birthday?" she asks. She's wearing a demure business suit, pants instead of skirt. She's even wearing a snazzy black tie. "And I think you forgot his birthday, as well, so don;t be so harse, Johann..."
Right now, Steve hasn't received the proper tipoff. He's outside Gotham U, the bag containing the shield slung over the shoulder, looking through the students milling around and most especially those currently heading off campus. He doesn't look old enough to be somebody's parent...more likely boyfriend or older brother, from the look of him.
Tynan nods her head as she meets up with Cap. She sighs as she shifts her bag a little bit. Time to go to work. The girl yawns a little bit as she heads down to the subway with Cap. "So, whats the plan for the night?", she asks as she heads down into the station...
"How about we stop somewhere and pick up something that isn't already at home?" I.e., something not MREs. Steve's been pretty pushy about getting Tynan NOT to eat rations most of the time. Even if they're better than what he got during the war.
"Of course I never told him my birthday! I'm not ein total backbirth! But during one of his little missions to stop me in 1944, I casually mentioned that he was making me late for my birthday party. It was a lie, of course, but he SHOULD HAVE REMEMBERED IT!"
When you're one of the leaders of the world's largest corporate/paramilitary/terrorist organization, your rationale doesn't always make sense. Of course, the Red Skull has always managed to lead more by sheer force of personality than anything else, and he certainly has never felt bothered to 'make sense.'
The woman looks up from her 3DS as 'Johann' begins to get a bit more emphatic, but she quickly looks back down at her screen, and continues guiding Link through the three-dimensional fields of Hyrule.
The passed out drunk burps loudly enough to wake himself up. But after looking around, he quickly nods back off.
"Also, 'Johann'? I'm starting to worry that you're growing too familiar with me. Let's avoid using my first name, hm? I have an image to protect, after all."
Natasha Romanov merely rolls her eyes again, looking all the world like an exasperated secratary dealing with an eccentric bodss. "If you insist on formality, Mister Schmidt." she replies cooly, readjusting her grip on her back. Heavy bracelets decorate each of her wrists. "I'm just suggesting that a little bit of patience will go a long ways. Of course, I do hope you'll allow me to enjoy the... festivities."
"Whats wrong with the MRE's I got in my bunk?", she asks. THe woman stretches a little bit as she settles in. The woman blinks as the train goes past. "Great we missed the train.", she says. THe woman looks accross the platform at the two on the other side. "Somebody's going to a....wait....", she says. Ty looks closer at the woman with the 3DS...When do business people play with a 3DS on the Subway?
James Barnes spent some time looking over the safehouse that Katsuko tracked down; the one Natasha had apparently been using. He comments on how weird it is that Natasha would spend her apparently limited time making a stuffed doll or collecting figurines, and also seems rather puzzled by finding an artisan's knife in the cutlery drawer. He knows Katsuko was trying to leave the place with no sign of having been found, but if Katsuko isn't very stern on the matter, the man once known as the Winter Soldier seems intent on taking all three items back with them. "She wouldn't waste time collecting this stuff.. she had a reason." he insists. "I think you oughta bring them with when you go after her."
While they were poking around, chatter on the channels might have placed Steve and Tynan as heading back to SHIELD HQ from the college campus, and decided to meet up at the subway so they can discuss the upcoming mission without having to rely on the SHIELD comms.
"If we leave evidence of this place being disturbed, we may very well compromise her cover, assuming it is at all intact at this point. I documented all of these items in the photographs and digital three-dimensional laser scans I took of this place the last time I was here." And she took chem swabs as well, though the lab might be backed up analyzing them; sadly, she does not have Jemma on speed-dial, more is the pity. Katsuko shrugs. ""But if you insist these may be part of her attempt to communicate, I cannot say you are wrong. I do not yet know all of the coded comm protocols from your Red Room files, as I have not been cleared to read them all." And Agent Yamaguchi tries very hard to respect her superiors, and has not just stolen the damned data on her own. Which, knowing the SHIELD ninja, she can do. But doesn't. Hence the 'good guy' ninja air she carries with her.
"I think discussing any of this in the open would be a mistake." comments the young woman climbing the stairs towards the train platform. Dressed in attire suitable to her cover identity, she looks basically one half-step up from homeless, wrapped up in an oversized olive drab US Army surplus jacket, and clothes that have seen the better part of twenty-odd years of use and not a little bit of grime in their time. The fact that this also covers tactical gear can be taken as a bonus.
"Of course you'll be allowed to enjoy the festivities, darling Natasha. Seeing that cruel little smile of yours gives me almost as much pleasure as I get from berating mein employees. Or threatening mein employees' families. Or killing mein employees. Or their families."
Although Red Skull insists on formality from his minions, he clearly doesn't hold himself to the same rules. But having two different sets of rules for people is kind of his entire character concept...
"It's such a shame that your friend couldn't be here to wish me a happy birthday as well. But... I suppose part of being a father figure is knowing when your children need their space. And our Winter Soldier clearly needs his for now." The Red Skull looks legitimately saddened by Winter Soldier's absence, which is an expression that he can pull off now that he's wearing an actual face. However, it's impossible to know if he actually MISSES the young(ish) man, or if he just wishes he were there for dramatic effect.
As the train pulls into the station, the Skull actually looks a bit nervous, and stands to his feet. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulls out a pair of black shades, and shakes them to make the ear pieces open up.
"Alright, it's time for my Big Sexy Birthday Bash. Put on your shades, Natasha dear. We're about to party like it's... pre-World War II Germany. Well, pre-World War II Germany for Rich People. Actually... forget that metaphor. But put your sunglasses on anyway, we're supposed to look cool."
"You need to learn more..." Steve shrugs. "You need to open your culinary mind, Tynan." And when do they? He peers across to the other platform, too. They did miss the train, but not by much - it's New York, there will be another one along shortly.
Natasha Romanov Pslips on a pair of shades herself, standing up carefully. "This better be all you promised, Mister Schmidt." she says, a cold little smile playing on her features. "I'v e been awfully bored lately."
Tynan looks at Cap. "Only when Americans learn how to cook good food. Seriously...what was that chowder they tried to feed us the other day? New England Clam? Ick. Seriously!", she says, almost falling into the ditzy college girl that she uses in public...
James Barnes is dressed in the slacks and long sleeved shirt he brought to the hellicarrier along with a jacket he picked up somewhere. It's not as handy as Katsuko's outfit for hiding tactical gear, but the odds are good he's stashed what he can. He nods agreement to her comment as they step up the stairs. "It can keep 'till we all get somewhere outta the way." he agrees. He raises a gloved hand when he spots Steve and Tynan, and heads towards them as the missed train rushes past.
With an oversized cake box in one arm, the (heavily disguised) Red Skull walks toward the subway doors. Pausing very briefly while he waits for the doors to open, he holds his other arm out very slightly, forming a crook at his elbow.
"Now now, I've told you before: Only boring people are bored. But if our Precognition Division is worth what I'm paying them, you're about to have more fun than you can shake ein stick at."
"Also, stand up straight, dear. You're much prettier when you don't slouch."
The drunk wakes up, and starts shambling over to the doors as the automated announcer informs the passengers which stop they're at.
The girl with the 3DS puts her game on pause, a bit reluctantly, flips the screen closed and starts walking toward the door.
The train stops completely.
The doors slide open.
Natasha Romanov smiles, and takes the Red Skull's arm, slipping hers through rather comfortably, almost leaning against him. "If you say so..." She doesn't recognize anyone's face before the train stops and the doors open.
"Acceptable." Yamaguchi murmurs, as they make their way onto the platform and approach Rogers and Morrigan. She stays quiet and keeps some degree of distance, since her cover identity really wouldn't be one to allow herself to be surrounded by other people at close proximity, and would also be someone others would avoid getting too close to just in case. Her subvocal mic transmits on the encrypted frequency-hopping band. ~// I take it we're all boarding the train rolling into the station? //~ She's not sure why they're all boarding a single subway train, but she won't argue. She's not in charge. She just does what she ...
Then the train rolls in. Before the doors even open, Yamaguchi stiffens momentarily, spotting an eerily familiar face that rushes past by a good twenty meters before the train comes to a complete stop. ~// Do you see that? //~
Captain America spots the other two. He lifts a hand in signal, but doesn't call to them or anything that might look strange in a crowded subway station. He is, of course, wondering what the heck they're doing here. He glances at Tynan, a 'stay sharp' kind of glance. Just in case they're looking for him for a reason.
Tynan nods her head a little bit as she stretches out. "Were you expecting others today, or should I be getting ready to arm a group?", she asks. THe woman smiles a bit. She always brings enough to arm several strike teams on her. She does give Bucky the evil Tynan eye...Mostly cause of all the trouble he's caused her, including that black eye that let Momma get away...
James Barnes still has the SHIELD com he 'borrowed' earlier, so he hesitates partway through a greeting to flick his eyes to Katsuko, and follow her gaze. His brow furrows at the distinct flicker of red hair in the exiting passengers... no way. Are the comms compromised? What other explanation is there? He bumps an arm into Steve, nodding in Natasha's direction, and shifts his other arm to put it within easy reach of a gun...he doesn't recognize the man next to her, but the odds are good he's HYDRA.
No longer willing to risk speaking into the comms, Katsuko resorts to fast-tapping out beep code across the secured, encrypted, frequency-bouncing comms, hoping like ... anything ... that the other agents are listening.
'Target. Range 20 meters. Secondary target, unidentified. Multiple innocents downrange. Advise.'
Yamaguchi backs away from the crowd surging out of the train, letting herself get pushed along towards the two targets emerging with the crowd's movements, letting herself close in without appearing to be doing so. They can't quite afford a firefight in this kind of civilian proximity. But they damned well better be ready to act if the bad guys decide on a fight in spite of that danger - or because of it.
The doors open.
Arm in arm with the swankily-attired Black Widow, the equally-swankily-attired Red Skull steps off the subway and takes a few steps onto the platform. From behind him, people start funnelling out of the subway, others start funnelling into it, and everybody goes about their business.
Taking a minute to savor the moment, Skull inhales deeply. "Ah, the smells of greed, poverty, urine and... what is that? Cheese? We're definitely in America. But speaking of American Cheese... do you see our guest of honor anywhere?" Behind his sunglasses, the Skull searches the subway for anyone tall and broad-shouldered enough to be his target. There are plenty of in-shape people in the subway station, but only one of them has the cartoonish squareness of the Star-Spangled Avenger.
"Ah... it looks like everyone is here. Go ahead and cue the music...."
The stations loudspeakers are cut off in the middle of making various subway-related announcements. After a few seconds of silence, the sounds of classical instrumentation kick up, followed by a choral arrangement of an old German birthday song.
"Hoch soll er leben! Hoch soll er leben! Dreimal hoch!"
Back near the (now departing) subway, the Red Skull bobs his head merrily along with the tune. He's even humming, though it's unlikely that anyone further away from him than Natasha is able to hear it. But as the music starts to draw to a close, and his voice can finally be heard more easily, he finally announces his presence.
"Mein dear Haupttman... so good of you to make it to my Big Sexy Birthday Bash. I mean, we had to bring it to YOU, but it's still so very good of you to come."
Natasha Romanov was, probably, not expecting the music. I mean, who would? But she does seemed phased, and is still smiling that dangerous cat-grin. "Well, you certainly know how to cut to the point, Mister Schmidt." The redhead woman puts a hand to her mouth, laughing politely - before pulling off her shades and tossing them aside, revealing cold green eyes.
Steve taps back, 'We can't deal with this here. Katsuko, get the...' Then he stops as the German birthday song starts to play. 'Belay that. We need the civilians clear.' He reaches for his bag, pulling it off of his back, but not opening it yet. Watching the man intently. Nazis. He's sometimes very tired of them, he hoped when he woke up in this time that he'd seen the last of them. It's very hard, though, to kill an idea.
Tynan blinks as German music starts to play. Then the woman blinks as the woman standing away from her looks like she's about to attack Cap. Yeah, not happening on Tynan's watch. She rushes the woman, and decides that its time for some rugby, Irish style. Tynan tries to grab Widow, and pick her up into a very heavy handed football slam. Let Cap deal with the guy! And hopefully the notabomb cake! Plz no bombs! I like my cake nonexplosive!
James Barnes looks up at the classical German music....and his eyes narrow. He's suddenly looking for any sign the man with the 'cake' might be favoring injuries... say broken bones from a crash or multiple gunshot wounds. Whatever the case, he's not planning to take risks. He pulls out a handgun, firing three shots down and at an angle to try to take out the cake man's legs-- at least then if he misses it will only hit the pavement, and hopefully the glaring man firing a gun will get the civilians exiting sooner rather than later.
Clear the civilians, he says. Great. Yamaguchi only manages not to grimace visibly because of a decade of life lived 'under cover' in one capacity or another. Inside? Full-on face-twisting 'you must be joking' expressions, to be sure. The apparently homeless woman lurches out of the queue of people and slaps a control alongside one of the columns supporting the platform's roof. The control sounds an immediate alert and evacuation, courtesy of security upgrades that have been made all over the City's vital infrastructure.
Lights flare, flashing in hues of red and yellow, demanding attention. Klaxons sound. And signs indicate evacuation routes. None of this interrupts the German music, but it might drown it out just a tiny bit, or the pontificating speechifying that follows immediately thereafter.
The man said 'evacuate civilians.' Now? All bets are off, right?
Gunfire, and Yamaguchi twists to the side, grabbing a child under the armpits and putting herself along his back, making sure any riccochet off the floor will hit her, not the child, as she pushes him hard enough to launch him into his mother's arms. Time to go!
Somewhere else, on a particular helicarrier bridge, a screen comes to life and an alert signal flashes brilliantly, demanding attention, as information flows across the screen about the alert that has been sounded.
"Ach! Incoming!" Red Skull unlinks arms with Black Widow just in time to avoid being caught up in her imminent catfight. Hopefully having both of her arms free will allow her to polish off her opponent pretty quickly.
Of course, this means that Red Skull now has a free hand as well...
Of course, this swift change of location also gets him out of the line of fire, just in time for the bullets to land over to his left. But even weapons fire isn't going to interrupt his monologue...
"I believe you know my friend, Captain? She said that she knew you, spoke very highly of you, in fact. Until I shared some of my enlightenment with her. And now look how happy she is..."
With his free arm, Skull motions over to the (imminent) catfight. "In fact... I... damn!" The warning klaxons are making it extremely hard for him to monologue. This is unacceptable. With inhuman speed and precision, he reaches into the pocket of his Hugo Boss jacket and produces a tricked-out H&K Mark 23. In his SSS-enhanced hands, it's not overly heavy, nor does it look especially oversized, despite this being a common complaint against the pistol.
Three shots are fired, and all of the speakers in the immediate vicinity are silenced (explosively). Then, without looking, he empties most of his magazine in the direction that the bullets were coming from. Sure, they'll probably all miss, but he's more interested in making a dramatic point than actually accomoplishing anything...
Holding the still-smoking gun over his head, the Skull continues...
"Much better... now, as I was TRYING to say... actually... I've forgotten where I was... I was trying to say... oh! Right!"
He points the gun in front of him, directly at the (not currently) Star-Spangled Avenger.
"Fuck you, Captain America! You forgot my birthday!"
Natasha Romanov is momentarily caught off caught by a tackling Irishwoman - usually that stuff happens in a bar. "Oh, it's you." There's something cold and awful about her tone of voice - and the cold way she smiles. "You're in over your head, little girl." She goes with the momentum, letting Tynan carry her back a bit, before planting her feet. With a graceful twirl almost, she tries to redirect Tynan -into the valley of the train tracks beside the platform.
He was expecting that. The shield comes up, a vibrant, sudden splash of color that distracts the fleeing civilians - some of whom now try and get behind him. The bullet ricochets into the station ceiling. "I didn't know you cared that much, Red Skull!" he yells in response. Tynan's tangling with Widow. He can't spare a thought for her other than hope she can keep up enough to survive. Or possibly enough to get through to her. Instead, he's charging towards Red Skull, shield first. "Silver Shadow, get the civilians out of there. Winter Soldier..." What will Bucky do?
Tynan blinks as Widow starts throwing her off the side. "Oh crap, oh crap!", she starts. The woman grabs the first thing she can to keep from going over the edge. She grabs onto Widow. She's trying not to go over, but well, yeah, she's going over...Is Widow going to join her though?
One of the many rectangular pillars in the subway offer cover for Barnes as his shots are returned in kind, though of course Cap has that shield of his out in record time, deflecting the return fire and negating the need.
Even if his own opening shots' aim was fouled by Skull's reaction to the brawl breaking out beside him, being shot at is the kind of thing that can pull someone's attention; Barnes lets that happen, leaning around the far side of the pillar to squeeze off a couple more shots at the man Steve also seems to have concluded is the Skull. He's not sure what is in that cake box-- with Skull it seems just about as likely that he would really bring an actual elaborate cake to celebrate with after whatever he was planning as a hidden weapon. But if they can divide his attention and take him down quick, maybe they won't have to worry about which is which.. though it looks like Tynan and Widow are having problems of their own.
"Vnimaniye Uchenik!" he snaps loudly-- the best help he can offer for the moment.
Evacuate the civilians? That wasn't the plan. But this also isn't a HYDRA HQ, and she's not leading an infiltration squad. Silver Shadow - that's Agent Yamaguchi for those keeping score at home - herds the last of the civilians she was working on well away from the brawl breaking out. She could sent out a tendril of her metallic substance to fetch up Tynan and keep her from going over, but that wasn't her assignment. Tynan chose to go off on the Widow; she reaps the whirlwind she has sown. Besides, damned third rail could probably fry Katsuko to a crisp if she tried.
Instead, the SHIELD ninja in homeless attire ducks around another of those pillars and then sprints for the civilians cowering behind the shield-bearing Captain. She doesn't seem to be very concerned about being shot, though she is maintaining a low aspect ratio and moving fast. Not yet blurringly fast, but fast. Which is why despite her nominal stature, she hits like a linebacker when she hammers into those civilians with arms wide. "Move, you morons! Warning klaxxons and gunfire mean run away!" Damned civilians, failing 'survival in a crisis'. Back to kindergarten with the lot of them!
There are only a couple of rounds left in Skull's magazine, and he doesn't waste any of them firing at Captain America's shield. Of course, he'd know better by now. Instead, he fires off shots 'around' the shield, keeping his pattern as unpredictable as possible (ie, not aiming at anything) while strafing quickly to his right. So anyone standing anywhere near Captain America has an equal chance of being caught in the path of a bullet.
This is all that saves him from getting a bullet through the head, but it unfortunately means that his cake takes one of the bullets that was meant for him.
Now they've gone and done it...
But Steve's habit of barking, combined with James' similar habit, have given the Red Skull more information than perhaps they'd have preferred. Now he knows exactly who is firing at him, without even looking.
"Winter Soldier, you say? Well, I guess I really WAS right about everyone being here. This is going to be the best birthday ev... ach!" That was the last round...
He does a Kirk-like Action Roll, to avoid the remaining shots, though it's obvious as he does so that he's favoring parts of his body. Apparently, Red Skull has taken some injuries semi-recently, and hasn't fully healed from them. But now that he's put one of the concrete pillars between himself and the Winter Soldier, he's got the time he needs to set down his cake and reload his pistol.
Natasha Romanov grimaces as Tynan's grip is much too strong to simply shake off. She ends up almost crounced, with the young SHIELD agent clinging to her legs. "You're stubborn. Stupidly so." The mindcontrolled agent says coldly, drawing a knife. And the Bucky yells in Russia....
For a moment, the redhead's eyes widen, looking lost, and bewildered. "Uchitel...?" She grimaces again, squeezing her eyes shut. The knife slash that was aimed at Tynan's eyes goes wide, possibly only shallowly nicking the Irishwoman's arm.
A gamble. And Steve relaxes almost imperceptibly at Bucky's call. ALmost imperceptibly, because right now he's busy trying to block as many of those shots as he can. He's not, though, going to get all of them - he's fast, but he's no true speedster, no *true* metahuman. And then...the Red Skull runs out of bullets. Good. Steve darts to the side, making sure he does *not* get between the Red Skull and the Winter Soldier as he zigs and then zags to try and get around the pillar and get to Skull before he can reload.
Well, Tynan was pulling herself up a bit, and then the knife. "...Son of a...", Tynan goes. She swerves her head a bit, and instead of getting her arm, Widow gets a small bit of Tynan's neck. The woman lets go, and starts putting pressure on the wound quickly. Please don't let it be an artiery or a vein! Ty isn't sure. She lays down by the tracks, keeping pressure on it. The woman starts doing breathing exercises, trying to slow her pulse down from a combat high. She's got to try to minamize the blood lose, though shd doesn't know how bad it is yet...But...that takes care of Tynan from the fight....
Barnes fires the last shot from his handgun to the side of Skull's pillar opposite the side Steve is approaching from-- he's going to keep the Nazi's attention focused as much as he can. He would be out of bullets too at that point-- if he had only one gun. In times prior he'd have had half a dozen, but two will have to do for now. He darts to a pillar closer to skull's position and with a better view of Natasha and hisses, if it's keeping her off balance, then that's enough for now. It communicates in Russian.
He can only hope it keeps working.
Two of the shots fired by the Red Skull - in human guise - that escape the interpose of Captain America's shield strike the speedily-sprinting form of Agent Yamaguchi, with one slamming into her hip, another into her left pectoral region. The momentum of the heavier, faster slugs is enough to twist her about, almost throw her down. One would expect gouts of blood and collapse to follow. But instead, the woman still manages to hammer into those civilians and drive them out of the way, herding them despite pain, cracked bone, shattered cartilage, ruptured blood vessels. She staggers, and drives them out of the platform to the stairs, as a third wild shot slams into the small of her back. Then she staggers behind a pillar. Whatever threat she represented to the Skull's plans has been put to an end.
Or has it?
Three tiny dulled silver spheres are launched from behind that pillar, each whirring with a different pitched hum as they reorient themselves mid-flight, and then land in positions that roughly surround the last confirmed position of the Skull. Then each erupts in eye-searing, ear-splitting, chest-slamming force, superior militar-grade flashbangs set to go off across an array of visual and auditory spectra.
No ninja smoke pellets, this time.
"Nein! This is ein crapshit!" The Red Skull not-so-silently curses the way the brawl is shaping up. He might need to work a bit on his profane declarations though, unless 'crapshit' is something the kids are saying these days.
It serves him right for bringing a 130 lb former ballerina as his ONLY backup. He silently notes that he'll be more careful in the future. But even without backup of any kind, he's still the Red Skull, and he's the guy who gives Nightmare nightmares.
Although he's able to reload his pistol, the Skull doesn't take the opportunity to return fire. Instead, he uses the precious few seconds of time to pull off his mask. After all, it's making his face itch pretty bad.
But before he's able to do that, a series of Pokemon-esque, seizure-causing, explosive distracto-blasts go off around him. His HYDRA-issue glasses provide him with some protection from the visual trauma, and his HYDRA-issue Hugo Boss suit provides him some protection from the worst of the force. But it'll probably be awhile before he's able to listen to his lovely lovely Ludwig Van without having to turn the volume all the way up to 11.
Of course, the force also shreds his fragile false face up pretty terribly. Maybe he doesn't need to take it off afterall, now that it's hanging in shreds around his real face.
When he emerges from behind the pillar, he's got his pistol in one hand, and an archaic looking Kampfmesser in the other. If he can't manage to shoot his nemesis, he clearly plans to stab him to death.
"Oh Captain. You and your friends always give me such interesting gifts... but now let me give YOU something to symbolize our years of friendship! A case of Stolichnaya!"
He places a lot of stress on the mid-grade liquor brand's name, practically shouting it. Now that the weapons fire has momentarily ceased, it's unlikely that anyone in the subway station would be unable to hear it...
Natasha Romanov is breathing heavily, Bucky's shouted words clearly having an effect. She opens her eyes, looking around wide-eyed at the battle around her - and clapping her hands over her ears to dull the sound of the flashbangs. She pulls her hands back down, just in time to hear the Skull's final words. Her eyes narrow, and she stands up, knife in hand - and rushes at Steve, a deadly serious look about her.
Great. Steve...isn't about to be where Natasha will when she "hits" him, but it's hard to find a place to go that won't get him stabbed by one of them. "Winter Soldier, get Caliber." Because she's done and vulnerable. As he yells that he crouches, and goes *up*, bouncing off the pillar to somersault over Natasha and land on the very edge of the platform. Bucky had probably better get Caliber soon...are those the lights of a train?
James Barnes hisses in a breath as the flash bangs go off and the Skull starts shouting. But he doesn't let it stop him as he steps forward, moving after Natasha as she closes on Cap. He discards the gun from his right hand switching the one from his left to it to leave the metal arm free.
At first it may look like he's too focused on stopping Natasha and Cap from fighting to hear Cap's instruction over all their ringing ears, but when he would normally close position with Steve against their enemies, when he reaches his friend he instead closes his left hand in an iron grip around Cap's shield arm, raising the gun in a threatening gesture. "Freeze."
Communication comes in, despite the flashbang and other assault. Katsuko's body recovers rather rapidly to such things, and it helps she knew it was coming. Despite the gun blasts, she is ready to move. There's pain, and not a little of it. Her body will demand time to heal. But she can move, even now. And when Barnes tells her to get Morrigan, she moves.
The army jacket leads the way, thrown up into the air as a visual distraction. Then a dark-clad form blurs across the platform. She's no true speedster, but when she opens it up, Silver Shadow is as fast as a speeding car. She sprints the distance, ignoring the complex melee despite her urge to involve herself, to subdue the Widow or Skull, to contribute to the battle. They have wounded. And she has her orders.
The dark-clad form leaps into the train track pit, barely managing to avoid landing on that damned lit rail. She grabs the fallen woman, and slings her over her shoulder, slapping a quickpatch over the neck as she does so. Then she taps out another code, a priority code. It has to be renewed after every op, by Hill or Fury, preferably both. But with that code, a quinjet launches, arrowing in on her coordinates, as a locator beacon flares to life, shrilly screaming for SHIELD comm systems to hear. Then the blur leaps back out of the pit to the platform, and sprints for a ladder leading up one of those pillars towards the roof.
"Extract, Extract, Extract!"
"When will you learn, Captain? I'm not only better-looking and more well-endowed than you... I'm also MUCH smarter." Now that the ball appears to be back in Red Skull's court, he's ready to unleash one of his rant-y monologues. It might have more oomph if he wasn't picking pieces of latex off of his dark red face though.
"You see, your friends are now MY friends, and they're about to give me the best present ever: Your head on a chocolate birthday cake with strawberry icing. And when I've eaten your face off, I'm going to reveal one last act of TERROR!"
Creeping closer, knife in one hand, pistol in the other, Red Skull looks as triumphant as he ever has. "You see... I've managed to do something you would NEVER suspect... inside my birthday cake I've hidden.... A BOMB!"
Natasha Romanov whirls, eyes tracking where Steve is. She sheaths her knife, not needing it now, and sort of rushes at Steve, smirking as she reaches for the man's neck. "WInter Soldier, do you want to...?"
Looks like Cap's struggling against the Winter Soldier's grip. There's a look of betrayal in his eyes. Closer. Closer. It's a gamble...if Nat grabs him he might be in some real trouble, but he's going to trust Bucky to take care of that problem. Only when the Red Skull is all but on top of him, clearly thinking that Captain America is beaten does he abruptly drop out of Bucky's grip, below Natasha's grasp...and bring the shield up towards the arrogant Nazi with full force!
James Barnes holds out a knife to Natasha when she asks her question. "Why don't you do the honors..?" it's a strange knife though, the weight looks balanced for throwing and the blade looks sharp, yes, but mostly on the end, and with a strange curve. It's more like a tool than a weapon... he's offering it to her hilt first, though when Steve moves he does in the same instant, ducking behind the Captain to bring the hilt of said knife around to strike at Natasha, a stunning blow. It's almost like a certain scene at a museum, played out in mirror image.
"And now, while your former sidekick holds you still, I'll remove your head as slowly as... Ack!" Apparently Steve isn't being held as firmly as Red Skull would have preferred. This kind of ruins his entire plan to decapitate Captain America. Oh well, he'll have another fake birthday next year. Or... whenever he wants, actually.
As the shield flies upward, it catches Skull right under is red chin, sending him flying up in the air. It's all he can do to say "NEIN!" very loudly before crashing back down to the ground.
Of course, he lands right on top of his birthday cake. Fortunately for him, it didn't actually have a bomb inside. Unfortunately for him, his head hits something much harder (concrete), and he gets knocked out. So he pretty much just lies there, covered in chocolate cake and strawberry frosting.
Natasha Romanov is momentarily entranced by the knife - something about it looked so familiar... It's enough distraction to let Bucky stun her, leaving her wheeling and unsteady. "W-what..." SHe grips her head, sinking to her knees.
"Bucky, hold her," Captain America says, trusting him to be gentle about it as he moves to check to see if Skull is A. Alive, B. Actually unconscious and C. Not actually an LMD.
James Barnes keeps a firm hold on Natasha, though now that the Skull is down it's clear Steve wasn't the only one nervous with the trial by fire of Karla's handiwork. His breath is a little unsteady, though he nods. It looks like they did it.