|Blood Red Trail: Silent Night, Violent Fight|
|What: A Holiday Party at the Romanova Residence becomes a crime scene.|
It was odd that Natasha was having a get together at her home for the holidays. Usually, she liked to attend other people's parties. BUt it was definitely her handwriting on the invites. The invitations instruct to bring a small gift of about 15-20 dollars, wrapped but not marked, for a gift exchange. Nat also mentions that she doesn't ant people dropping by early, because she'll be busy cooking dinner.
So the appointed time has come. The Avengers Assemble - for partying! All seems merry and bright as the guests arrive... but something's not quite right. Not only is the apartment door locked, which might be inevitable, but the deadbolt's been thrown too. Huh, guess Nat really didn't want anyone sneaking in early...
Well, Ty got an invite, and she was kinda nervous about going. So she brings Guardian. Her calico kitten. Yes, that was Cap's intention last night to make her get a pet that she can unwind with. She has the kitten in a pocket of her heavy winter coat, set so she can hold the kitten, and make sure she doesn't get away. Not that the kitten is running. She's sleeping peacefully in the warm pocket.
A couple of blocks away from the apartment, Ty meets up with Bucky. "Quiet talk. Guardian is taking a cat nap.", she tells, petting the purring ball of fluff. She seems so calm and relaxed right now, as she snugs the kitten.
Bucky Barnes catches sight of Tynan heading towards Natasha's as well, veering over to meet up. He raises his eyebrows at the request to be quiet and chuckles. "Took the plunge, huh?" he asks quietly. "Was it that little ball of vinegar that had you on the ropes?" though spotting the fluffy ball in Tynan's pocket, it's pretty clear it is. "Pick a name?" he wonders, his own hands in his pockets as they head up the stairs to Natasha's apartment.
Bucky tries the door, stopping with a frown when it doesn't open. He reaches into his pocket for a key, but a quick glance along the seam of the door shows the bolt to be thrown as well, and suddenly there's a lot less Bucky and a lot more Winter Soldier to how he holds himself.
"Accessing File: Romanoff, Natasha. From Russia. 9 out of 10. Natural hair color: Inconclusive. Enjoys writing prose fiction. Spelling: Within normal human parameters. Suffers from moderate to extreme psychosis, paranoid delusions, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Also, doesn't take proper care of her nails. Recommendation: Acrylic overlays."
When Natasha sent a handwritten invitation to Tony Stark, she probably hoped that he'd actually be present to receive it. Or at the very least Pepper would receive it for him and make him attend. But the situation where Tony Stark is involved is always kind of fluid, and the man is nowhere to be found.
But fortunately his replacement, Iron Man (Don't Call him Robo Tony) has intercepted the invitation. Standing in front of the locked door with a new tuxedo-themed paintjob, the hulking Iron Man suit begins scanning the apartment's interior.
"Assessing threat level... preparing to update file for Romanoff, Natasha." In his hand, he carries a fairly small box, about the size of a hardback book. Gee, who can guess what's inside?
Tynan smiles at Bucky. "Guardian.", she tells. "She's a fighter so...", she tells. The woman blinks at Ironman, and steps back, going right into a defensive stance, readying to open ap a rift while protecting her baby. The woman pauses a little bit. She takes a deep breath. "Why use the deadbolt if you were having guests come over? Bucky, can you move the deadbolt without destroying the door?", she asks. The woman looks at Iron Man. "Can you do a fly over, and check to see if there's any disturbances around? Or at least scan for activity?", she asks.
"This is wrong." In answer to Tynan's question, Bucky takes a step back only to slam his left shoulder forcefully into the door. Apparently, no, he has no quick way to bypass Natasha's deadbolt. And if she just forgot to unlatch it, then it looks like Bucky's getting her a new door for Christmas. Bucky has dropped the soft backage wrapped in tissue paper he'd been carrying in the entryway, already producing a handgun from somewhere in his coat as he passes into the room.
"I am not programmed to accept orders from any organic meatbag who does not possess a Level 8 or higher SHIELD clearance. With the obvious exception of Virginia Potts, who is '... a total ballbuster. I mean, sure... maybe there's something there, but she's just so uptight, you know? There's no way it could ever work, right? Anyway, it's too late to find out now. I'll be dead by Christmas. Just take care of her when I'm gone, okay?'
It's disconcerting, the way that Iron Man occasionally speaks in pre-recorded segments from Tony Stark's last set of instructions. But what's probably more disconcerting is the way that he raises one of his hands, as if he's preparing to fire a repulsor blast into her apartment.
"Threat level assessed: Minor."
"Signs of recent activity."
"Activity type: Holiday Preparations."
"Signs of possible struggle, and rapid egress."
"One organic meatbag remains near point of egress. Condition: Immobile."
"Recommended course of action: Shock and Awe."
"Recommended Playlist: 'Mistress for Christmas' by AC/DC."
As Iron Man walks forward, someone else takes care of knocking down the door for him. But he keeps his repulsors raised in anticipation of violence, as the speakers in his chest begin blaring some Tony Stark-style holiday cheer. With guitar riffs.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells Jingle all the day I just can't wait till Christmas time When I can grope you in the hay..."
The apartment's a mess, to put it lightly. Chairs are knocked over, the wooden coffee table's been shoved about 3 feet from where is usually is, Christmas decorations that must have been hanging are now strewn on the floor. Several of Natasha's precious knickknacks are shattered - and one is coated in blood.
Moving from the living room into the kitchen, the story is revealed.
The fight that happened here was no drunken bar brawl. This fight was precise, and controlled. The dining room table's on its side, the dishes all on the floor. The oven and stove are still on. The kitchen window's been forcibly opened, the frame damaged. There is all manner of silverware strewn about, much of it having been used as improvised weaponry. Because there WAS a fight here.
Laying against the wall in the dining room, bleeding and not moving, is Natasha Romanov. At her side, someone has left a card, with Russian writing on it. On the side that's up is a red hourglass.
Tynan blinks a little bit as she comes into the room, following Bucky. She mutters a little bit. "Red tape bs when we have one on the ground.", she says, as the woman moves over to Nat in a big hurry. "Bucky, you have battlefield medical training? I just have the basics of putting pressure on the wound, and wrapping it.", she says. The Kittne wakes up, and is mewing a bit. Tynan is looking around, images flashing in her mind. The attacker came in through the window, likely while Nat was out of the room. Ty keeps looking. Nat comes in, table gets flipped. Which way is it flipped? Towards the window, or away from the window? This lets her know who had the surprise.
Either way, the fight ended up in here. Nat's on the floor. "Card, translate. Ironman, what is your protocal when it comes to an Avenger down?", she growls. The woman is sees the hourglass, and there's already a cold fury on her face. But she has to let it simmer for now. She's has to focus right now. What else? All the knickknacks stowed about. That means somebody as skilled as well, or a little less. The blood, whose is it? Ty is trying to imagine how the fight played out. How does Bats make this seem so easy?!
Bucky Barnes has already seen Natasha, and he heads there first, though his eyes dart around the rest of the apartment-- he wasn't expecting the snarky AI suit, but sounds like it has some kind of scanners. "You sure no one else is inside? How 'bout on the roof or the outside walls?" if there's still a hostile, they have to be ready, but Natasha's not moving..
Bucky kneels beside her, though he's turned with his back to the wall, ready if anything tries to jump them. He gently starts searching for wounds. She's unconscious-- how's her breathing? He answers Tynan tightly, "I don't.. I don't think so." there's a lot of things he 'knows' that he doesn't find out about until the situation comes up. "We need to call help."
Bucky Barnes seems to be leaving the card at least until they can get some idea of how bad Natasha's hurt.
"Updating File: Romanoff, Natasha. From Russia. 9 out of 10. Natural hair color: Inconclusive. Enjoys writing prose fiction. Spelling: Within normal human parameters. Suffers from moderate to extreme psychosis, paranoid delusions, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Acrylic overlays have been implemented to compensate for improper fingernail care. Currently unconscious. Prognosis: Uncertain. Recommendation: Search Avengers Directory for potential replacements."
It looks like Iron Man answered Tynan's question pretty handily. Of course, the real Tony wouldn't have been so quick to write off one of his teammates/best friends. But to Iron Man, one meatbag is pretty much as good as another if the meatbag in question's name isn't Pepper.
He stalks around the room, scanning every nook and cranny far more efficiently than an entire team of forensic detectives could. And within fractions of a second, he's completed an analysis that would have taken the guys from any of the CSI shows an entire episode.
"Agent Barbara Morse: Currently on assignment."
"Agent Tynan Morrigan: Improper size. Black Widow uniform would be too baggy."
"Dr. Karla Sofen.... Pause. Updating File: Romanoff, Natasha.
"From Russia. 9 out of 10. Natural hair color: Inconclusive. Enjoys writing prose fiction. Spelling: Within normal human parameters. Suffers from moderate to extreme psychosis, paranoid delusions, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Acrylic overlays have been implemented to compensate for improper fingernail care. Currently unconscious. Prognosis: Uncertain. Victim of break-in, likely motivation: Revenge. Forensic evidence shows multiple DNA registers. Clue left near victim is written in Russian. Accessing Google Translate: 'The past never dies. Even if forgotten, it never dies. What was the past will be the future. She had no past, now she has no future.'"
"Dr. Karla Sofen: Unsuitable."
"Dr. Jean Grey: Potential Replacement. Correct hair color and cup size."
Whoever attacked Natasha is long gone, disappeared into the city. The redhead is breathing, but shallowly - she's likely got broken, or at least cracked ribs. There are slash wounds all over her torso and arms, and a few on her legs. Each wound seems to be shallow - a mark of Natasha's defense, or was her attacker toying with her? It's impossible to tell right now. Her attacker certainly didn't get away without scars - quite a bit of blood isn't Natasha's. She stirs, slightly, unconscious but not completely under. Her head tilts to the side - and now her guests can see that her red hair is matted with blood, from a wound to the back of her skull.
Tynan mutters under her breath. "Head injury. Keep her steady, Bucky. I called for a med team.", she tells. The woman growls a bit as she gets up. The door was bolted from the inside. The translation tells her who it was. The woman grits her teeth. Time for revenge later. Her eyes are like daggers as Iron Man starts listing candidates to replace Nat. Later. Later...Tynan keeps repeating that.
The woman moves back to the kitchen, and changes her scanners to X-ray. She looks for blood splatters in the area. Mostly for a trail to follow. The woman bites her lip a little bit.
Bucky Barnes hisses in a breath when the wound on the back of Natasha's head becomes visible. But she's alive. He mutters as Tynan radios for help, "What kind of nut job Widow leaves a note like that, and doesn't even confirm this kind of kill??" He stays with Natasha, not having the benefit of scanner tech. He pulls over a towel and very gently rests her head on it.
She's alive, thank god. But how could any Widow miss that? Unless there was poison, but then why the signs of an extended fight? Natasha's peppered with cuts-- and al the while in the background is Broseph chattering away. Bucky finally snaps, "You, Can it! She ain't dead, so stop talking like she is! If you wanna be useful, get out the window and see if you can track down the one who did it!"
"Attacker was female. Approximately Romanoff, Natasha's build and cup size. Clearly the superior combatant. Would make an ideal replacement for Romanoff, Natasha."
The song ends, and Iron Man thankfully doesn't play another AC/DC song. Of course, now that there's no action to anticipate, AC/DC doesn't really work for the present atmosphere, and the Stark Directives say some pretty specific things about playlists...
"Genetic Analysis: Inconclusive. Genetic material contains two 'X' chromosomes, but several key markers appear to be artificial. Accessing SSR files on Hammond, Jim...."
All signs point to the would-be assassin fleeing out the window after leaving the card. The food on the stove seems to be burning now, and the cookies in the oven probably aren't edible anymore. Tynan gets confirmation that a medical team is on its way. There's not much more to be found in the apartment in terms of evidence, other than what's been discovered already. It might be possible to trace the attacker's blood trail. Natasha is still unconscious, blood staining the towel that was placed under her head.
Tynan growls a little bit as she looks at the window. "Sergeant Barnes. In a fight, Nat in full Black Widow mode, or me with my new armor, Outcome probabilities?", she asks Bucky. Her eyes are harsh, staring out that window. Her body is tense, yet she keeps focused. Somebody attacked Family. Her family. An unforgivable sin. "And this Widow b**** is very...cocky, mind you. She approached me as if she could get me at anytime, and didn't confirm a kill on Nat.", she tells. She looks at the food, and turns off the stove and the oven. Her temper is raging, but she keeps her focus. A good commander does not let their emotions out. They must be solid, despite what they feel...
Running a little late is frustrating, but sometimes it happens. Pepper jogs up the stairs toward Natasha's apartment, a truly garish wrapped present in her hands. As she hits the landing she frowns, sniffing at the air. Of course, then she notices the busted down door and hurries over to call in through the doorway, "Hello? Is everyone okay? Something's b..." Her eyes take in the chaos of the rooms and she blinks for about two seconds before stepping in and dropping her bag and present on the floor out of the way and going straight through to the kitchen where she proceeds to start dealing with the smoke starting to billow out from there.
Bucky Barnes is radioing for instruction on anything else they can do for her head wound until the med team arrives. He also asks any signs to check for common poisons. He pulls open one of her eyes to check her pupil, takes her pulse, anything else that he's asked to. He glances to Tynan. "You're moving ahead in leaps and bounds." he tells her seriously. "And this other widow, she ain't familiar with the styles you're picking up like me or Nattie. I think you got a shot. And Tynan...I'm beginning to think 'cocky' is right on the mark. If she'd wanted a better shot at Nat, after the party would've been the time. She mighta been drunk and tired. But she jumped her before, knowing all of us were on the way. That's something you can use. You got a way to track the bitch?"
"Calculating Odds: Tynan Morrigan versus Mystery B-Cup Attacker."
Iron Man continues to scan the area, which is pretty much all that he can do to help right now. Certainly, his ability to quickly compile all the evidence is extremely helpful, but if only someone could find a way to turn off the commentary?
"Conclusion: There is an eighty-five percent chance that Tynan Morrigan would lose, and a seventy-nine percent chance that Tynan Morrigan would be killed within four minutes. Most likely causes of death: multiple lacerations to the throat and torso, or internal bleeding caused by blunt trauma to torso or cranium."
For a minute, it looks as if he's going to go into even further detail about the potential matchup between Tynan and whoever this 'Other Widow' is. But that's about when his Pepper Alert finally kicks in. The one that seems to go off anytime Pepper is in the same city block.
Literally all of Iron Man's weapons pop out at once, aside from the ones in his still gift-holding hand.
"Attention Organic Beings! In compliance with Article 41 of the Stark Directives, this crime scene is now under Extra Special Lockdown. All firearms must be placed on safe, and all pointed objects must be wrapped in non-conductive bubble wrap!"
Thankfully, The med teams finally arrive, dressed as standard EMTs, but all of the SHIELD agents. They quickly get Natasha on a stretcher, cleaning the head wound while examining her for more injuries. The commander of the unit, surprisingly, turns to Tynan and asks her for a sitrep, while Natasha is taken away to be airlifted to the Helicarrier. Thankfully nothing on the stove caught on fire. Looking out the window though, there seems to be a slight indent where a grappling hook bit in.
Tynan takes a second to speak with the commander. She gives a clear and concise report to the commander. She gives all the details she can, and then makes it very clear. "I want it known to all of SHIELD that another Widow attacked Nat. That she's clearly very skilled, and not to be approached without notification.", she tells. "Preferably with a high ranking officer or a strike team either inbound or on site.", she tells. The woman sees the mark, and looks at Bucky. "I have ways. Friends.", she tells. The woman nods to Pepper, taking a moment look at Broseph...
"Oracle. This is War Crow. Priority One Emergency. Cashing in anything I have saved up as well as 2 favors in the future. Need some eyes on my location, starting an hour ago. (gives a direction that Tynan is facing) had a person of interest moving to the rooftops. Can you give me a trail?", she says into a Bird emblem. She takes a moment to adjust herself as well, before switching to SHIELD channels. "This is Dark Caliber. Person of Interest in the attack on Natasha Romanov took to the rooftops of New York within the last hour. Sat Recon of the area.", she comms. The woman breathes out. "Robots...Always thinking that I'm all cuteness, and no claws. Guardian. See what I have to put up with?", she says, petting the kitten.
Broseph's reaction to her arrival earns a sigh from Pepper. She's tried to make the shellhead ease up, but, well, it's easier to talk to Dummy sometimes. The oven and stove are both turned off promptly, the various pots, pans, and cookie sheets quickly moved under running water to stop anything from bursting into open flames. She then looks at Tynan from the kitchen and calls out a bit loudly, "JARVIS, please coordinate with SHIELD and DELPHI to help in that search. You have my authorization to make use of Stark Industries' orbital satellites."
SHIELD arrives and starts doing their thing. Bucky answers any questions that are put to him, but otherwise stays out of the way, moving over by Tynan and Pepper with a set expression. Once Tynan is finished with setting her various contacts in motion he says, "Easiest way to up your odds if you tangle with her's not to go alone. Maybe Gar oughta catch the rest of this tomorrow morning. If you get a lead on her, I say we go now. A fight like this, she can't be at her best right n.." he pauses, something catching his eye. He walks over to the pile of shattered knick-knacks, crouching down and pulling out a folding knife. He reaches into a pocket and pulls out one almost just like it, but the one on the floor looks rather older and careworn. "..What the hell?"
"Error. Article 196 of the Stark Directives states: 'Oh, and make sure you tell Pepper to start charging SHIELD for using our satellites. She just lets them use our satellites all willy nilly and that shit is NOT cheap. Personally, I think we should charge them way more for, well, everything. Bunch of blue pleather-wearing moochers... But I figure it's only a matter of time until Maria invites me over for a nightcap, so maybe I should wait until afterward to jack up our prices, huh? I don't know though, maybe she's not interested? Hey, here's a fun idea: Why don't you run an analysis on my chances with...'"
Apparently, the Stark Directives contain super specific instructions that apply to every situation that Iron Man encounters. Tony really should have just entered his directives as a few lines of code, and saved himself all kinds of embarrassment when he inevitably returns.
It looks as if Iron Man is content to just observe and secure the site, and despite having his weapons panels popped out he looks relatively docile. But when Bucky unexpectedly pulls out a knife in complete contradiction to his orders, Iron Man suddenly points his repulsors directly at the (possibly) unaware Winter Soldier.
"Attention, partially-inorganic meatbag: No pointed implements are allowed within fifty meters of Virginia Potts at any time. Failure to comply will result in Explosive Violence."
"War Crow, this is Oracle. I'm on it." The computery voice of the Bird of Prey's informant/leader crackles over the comm. "..Oh, I get to use SHIELD's satellites? Many thanks." There's furious typing. "Got something. Arguing with the size right now - Unknown humanoid figure, about twenty-five minutes ago. No discernable characteristics. Headed south-southwest. Tracking... Damn! She went into a sub station (lists off a sub entrance). Sorry. That's all I got."
The knife is old, and well used. Peering close at the blade, there's an inscription, a name written in Cyrillic. It reads, "Nikolai Kuznetsov"
Tynan nods her head in thanks to Pepper, as she takes in all the information at once. "I was already thinking of that, Sergeant. Never go into a fight without backup.", she says. Pepper might remember this side of Tynan from the Ireland mission. Her father was grooming her, but it rarely shows up save when Tynan is very stressed out, or very angry.
"And no, Sergeant. We won't give chase. I want to track and hunt. Going after her now is a waste of resources and a good way of getting hurt since we do not know is she's acting alone, or has support. And she's hurt. Makes it a risk that she might fight harder, if we go to bat against her now. Rather take the time to learn her movements, and then take her down from a safe position. Which isn't possible, but we should limit the possible injuries and operation failure as much as possible.", she tells.
Tynan takes a deep breath as she hears Oracle's news, and passes it along. "Sergeant, I want any information that you have on the Widows that you can provide in depth. You were a former trainer of them. Miss Potts, I know I'm asking a lot, but can JARVIS run a scan on (subway) and check for trains going both ways in the last 25 minutes, as well as all stops along the line with information on hotels, apartments, warehouses, and possibly abandoned buildings along those routes to the end of the line both ways?", she asks.
Pepper Potts looks at Iron Man sharply when he turns his weapons on Bucky. "No. That's it, just stop right there." She steps out of the kitchen and straight up to the empty armor with a stern expression on her face and a dish towel drying her hands. She is very much aware that she's put herself between Bucky and all of the armor's ordinance. It was done very much intentionally. "I've mostly put up with your antics because I know that Tony means well, but you will never, and I repeat, NEVER aim your weapons at one of our allies. You will modify Article 41 immediately. Our allies are allowed to carry and wield weapons in my presence, because they are also trying to keep me safe." She reaches up and puts one hand on the armor's faceplate to force the intelligence inside to focus on her. "Have I made myself understood?"
Bucky Barnes isn't in the best of moods, but he's also not in a hurry to set off the arsenal of Pepper's overzealous robotic Galahad. "Woah, simmer down, tin man--" but then Pepper's in the way, talking to the AI like a small child in danger of having their ear twisted. Bucky pockets the knives anyhow, watching the robot and warily stepping away from anyone else just in case. He asides to Tynan, "This just happened, those cookies could've been a lot further gone. I'd push to go now anyhow... but I think there may be a hostage. Natasha'll be okay," maybe this isn't certain, but he says it like it is. "So if you wanna take this slow, I'll back the play. I'll pull together what I can remember."
The giant robot continues to train his weapons on the Winter Soldier for a few more seconds, before slowly raising his arm. All the weapons pop back inside their respective panels, leaving Iron Man both smoother and less frightening.
Of course, he still has his armor painted over with a tuxedo pattern... so that's kind of frightening.
"Article 2 of the Stark Directives states: 'When Pepper's mad at you, it's best to just agree with her. She's usually right, anyway. But she's super cute when she's mad, so you always want to wait a few seconds, like you're about to argue with her. I don't know why I'm telling you this. I haven't even finished programming you yet, so there's no way you'll remember it. Shit, I wonder if talking to myself is one of the side effects of this virus? That reminds me, I totally have to call one of the Hanks.'
With the weapons holstered, and with little left for him to do, the Iron Man seems almost... awkward? As if he's aware that his behavior isn't quite appropriate for the situation. But of course he can't possibly know how to express a sentiment like that, can he?
"I will comply, Virginia Potts. Stark Directives modified. Returning to Stark Industries for additional software maintenance."
The metal monstrosity begins stomping across the room toward the 'point of egress' as he so eloquently put it a few moments ago. But before he steps through the open window, he sets the plainly-wrapped gift that he brought on a nearby end table.
"Happy Holidays, Meatbags." And with that, he goes through the window, even though he doesn't quite fit, takes portions of the wall with him and rockets off in the direction of Stark Industries.
Tynan looks at Bucky a moment. "All the more reason to make this play count when we make the move. Do you think for one moment that Natasha would not use a hostage if she was injured and running?", she asks. "Just changes things to a double strike instead of a targeted.", she tells.
Another group of SHIELD agents come to the apartment, poring over every little detail, NCIS style. Tynan was kept updated on Natasha's condition. Still unconscious, but expected to survive. Nothing was certain though. Oracle and SHIELD both try to track the mystery Widow, but somehow she vanished.