"Tasha, you there?" Clint Barton's voice sounded through the comm piece placed strategically in Agent Natasha Romanoff's ear. The red haired woman was on the lower floor of an abandoned warehouse not far from the outskirts of Manhattan. While both her and Clint worked partly for the Avengers, they still received individual or joint assignments from the higher level shield, and this was one of them.
Currently, Natasha and Clint were staked out waiting for a high value smuggler to hand deliver a package to some random high price buyer. They expected it to be a simple infiltrate, find the location, and take in both the buyer and the dealer. Now, both were in edge considering it took an overly high amount of effort to even find out the date, much less the location.
Reaching up, Natasha activated her earpiece brushing aside some loose strands of her red hair. "I got nothing on either of the two, its a ghost town down here." And indeed it was, the lights were turned off and the musty smell of mold permeated throughout the room. The room's eerie pitch was amplified by the sounds of a train running past, making the old steel framing rattle and shake like that of an old man's.
Static sounded in Natasha's ear before Clint spoke again, "We got movement at both the east and west end." Right as he said that, the lights turned on inundating the warehouse in industrial white light. "Primary target is at the east end, buyer seems to be at the west entrance."
"Copy," Natasha shifted around the edge of an old box, gaining a hidden view of the center of the warehouse. "Waiting for evidence that the material is here, will attempt to identify before engaging."
The smuggler, who wore a simple suit coat and slacks carried a small suit case. He had short, blonde hair and a slightly crooked nose, as if it had been broken and reset just one too many times. His jacket was black, contrasting with his red undershirt. His slacks matched his jacket, allowing him to personify the underworld business man role perfectly. His case was sleek and silver, with a keyhole underneath the handle.
Natasha switched her glance to the buyer, who was now walking towards the dealer maybe forty, fifty feet away. She, Natasha quickly figured out it was indeed a she, wore a simple black hoodie and dark blue jeans. Black hair spilled out from under the hood, but the rest of her face was covered. She carried a black duffle bag in her right hand.
"Glad to see you again Nathan," the hidden girl said, her voice sounding young, yet experienced. It reminded Natasha of the veterans she'd talk to at S.H.I.E.L.D. base. "I take it you recovered what I asked."
The man grinned, moving forwards with his case. "Good to see you too, and you know I've always been on call for your people." He stood at a courteous length from the girl, who still remained an enigma to Natasha. "Here, I'm the only one to come into contact with it when we grabbed it from the battlefield."
The man brought key from his pocket and inserted it into the keyhole. Once opened, he drew out a long, black staff. He gave it a quick spin before handing the rod to the girl. The staff itself was about five feet long, and appeared to be perfectly smooth. The ends were rounded off, yet Natasha knew the with proper training that weapon could prove to be problematic if she had to confront the girl.
The girl took the staff, and in exchange handed the smuggler the bag which he promptly opened. He surveyed its contents, before closing it with a satisfied grin. "Pleasure doing business with you again," the man offered his hand which the woman shook in mutual agreement.
"The pleasure is mine, and now, if you can forgive me we seem to have unwanted guests." Natasha was momentarily shocked. How could this girl know that Clint and her were in the warehouse. "I'll do you a favor and get you out of here, take care Nathan."
And with that, the lights flashed out. Natasha moved quickly towards the spot she saw them last, attempting to find their silhouettes in the dimly lit room. She looked around, becoming as frantic as an agent could allow but could not make out a single thing. She was about to radio Clint when the lights turned back on.
Standing in front of her stood the girl, her hood pulled back allowing her shoulder length black hair to show. Her face was tan, showing high amounts of exposure to the sun. Emerald eyes stared at her with what could only be irritation. All in all, her appearance was slightly intimidating, and it was highlighted by the black staff from earlier held with deadly grace in her hands.
Natasha quickly reached behind her and pulled one of her pistols from its holster, aiming it at the girl. "Don't. Move," Natasha growled out through gritted teeth. The girl simply smiled, like nothing was wrong, and Natasha was tempted to taze her out of spite.
"It would pass the time better, you know, if you'd tell me your name," the girl said. Natasha just gave a dismissive shrug of her shoulders. "Tell you what, I'll sweeten the pot. You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine."
Natasha pondered this for a second, her eyes never leaving the aggressive woman standing before her. They maintained eye contact, her severe jade eyes meeting the powerful sea green ones before her. "Natalie," Natasha said, giving the woman her alias. "Natalie Rushman."
The woman rolled her eyes, giving an exasperated sigh. "Please don't insult my intelligence," the woman said. She gave the staff in her hands an experimental swing. "If you really thought I'd believe that was your real name, than you mistake me for a fool. And I would be ashamed of myself if I could not recognize the famous Black Widow, otherwise known as Natasha Romanoff."
This time, Natasha could truly say she was stunned. She drew back the hammer on her gun, making it click and giving it a slight flourish before asking, "How?"
She smiled, her grin resembling that of a teenager who knew they got away with something, "A magician never reveals their secrets."
Natasha was getting agitated now, and Clint noticed this from above. He reached back in his quiver and grabbed an arrow tipped with a tranquilizer. He aimed the shot quickly, and released the tension from the bow string. He waited through a breathless second, watching as the arrow descended with lethal accuracy. His head was counting down the moments before impact. Five… four… three… two… o-
The mystery woman spun around faster than lightning and batted the arrow out of the air with her staff. Natasha tried to take advantage of the opening but before she could even pull the trigger but the back end of her staff disarmed the agent of her firearm. The girl kept up her momentum and the end of her bo staff crashed into her temple, sending the redhead into unconscious oblivion.
The girl took off after that, sprinting across the crumbling ground. Clint pulled another arrow out of his quiver, aiming it just above the door the girl was running for. He released the grappling arrow, hearing it sing through the air with the rope tailing behind it. It bolted itself above the double door right as the girl went through. Clint let out a curse and slung his bow over the line and descended from the rafters. When he reached the door, he was met with nothing but an empty alleyway, not even a stray can disturbing the layer of filth on the ground.
Letting out a defeated sigh, Clint pulled a cell phone out and dialed a number. He held it up to his ear for a few seconds before it was picked up at the other end.
"Report," the voice of Nick Fury sounded through the cell.
Barton prepared for the worst, "Mission failed, agent incapacitated and package lost."
To Clint's surprise, Fury hadn't completely exploded in his ear yet. "A retrieval? Why?" he asked. Despite the one word question, and the recent events, Clint wasn't completely sure how to answer.
"I'm unsure exactly, sir," he began, taking a deep breath. "We arrived before the transaction began, and we identified the seller as Nathan Yantaz, but the buyer was an unknown woman who seemed to have dealing with him before. Things started out as usual, buyer shows that they have the money, seller shows object, buying commences, etcetera etcetera, but that was when the girl somehow found us out."
"Did you find out how?" Fury asked, seemingly more reasonable than he should be, considering he's normally a severe hothead.
"I don't know sir, but she warned the buyer, and said she'd do him a favor and get him out of there, next thing we know, the lights go out and the seller disappears before they turn back on. The girl is still there and Agent Romanoff moves to engage, but they get into a stalemate between staff and gun," Clint explained, realizing how stupid it was that the girl had over powered them with a staff, of all things.
"I took advantage of me thinking she didn't know of my presence, but when I fired the stun arrow, she batted it out of the air and somehow simultaneously disarmed Agent Romanoff," saying it out loud, Clint couldn't help but feel irritated that they had been beaten. They were members of the Avengers for crying out loud, not some untrained FNG that couldn't tell army fatigues from an Armani suit.
Fury responded, "Return to Stark's tower, we'll have a full debriefing upon your arrival. Stay alert, never know if you'll get lucky." Barton gave affirmation before signalling Natasha that it was time to leave.
The green-eyed girl moved quickly, acutely aware that if she was delayed or dallied she could very well be caught. With the newly acquired staff in hand, she wove her way through the maze of warehouses before quickly entering a more residential area. To avoid drawing unwanted attention, she ducked between two apartment complexes and scaled one of the fire escapes to the roof.
She quickly canvassed the area, confirming her sole presence, before letting out an ear-splitting taxi cab whistle. She crouched patiently, looking out over the bustling city and waiting for her ride to appear. And appear it did, detaching from the night sky as if he belonged, her beloved Blackjack descended onto the roof before whinnying in greeting.
Sup boss, the pegasus' voice rang in her mind. She stroked his mane with care, happy with seeing her long time friend again. Blackjack was definitely her most loyal companion, as he, Tyson, and Grover were the only few to side by her when-
No, her mind said viciously, shaking away the memory. She was over it, and her time there was done. No need to stir up those painful memories, she had work to do. She mounted Blackjack, petting his mane soothingly as she looked around.
She leaned next to Blackjack's ear and whispered, "Bring me home boy." Blackjack whinnied in response, galloping towards the edge of the building before quickly jumping off, allowing gravity to take effect shortly before he spread his wings and rose up, flying quickly between the skyscrapers of the big city.
Up here she could be in peace. The green eyed girl relaxed, before unconsciously falling asleep, still astride Blackjack. Blackjack on the other hand, was taking extra care in his flight so as to not wake up his boss and would most definately demand donuts when they landed. But while Blackjack daydreamed of sugary ringlets of dough, the green eyed girl had nightmares of the past.
Suffocation, that was all she felt as the toxic air filled her lungs. Her sight blurred, and glass cut into the skin of her bare feet, but she had to move; she needed to make it to the River of Fire. Her legs gave out, blood seeping into the craggy, broken shore of the Phlegethon. She caught herself on her hands, the shards of glass impaling themselves deep within her skin and bones.
Unable to stand or walk, the raven haired girl crawled with her remaining strength. The toxic air had filled her lungs, leaving her unable to breathe. The lack of oxygen plus the blood loss was making her even more lightheaded. The girl could barely keep her eyelids up as her hand reached into the liquid fire.
The broken girl scooped up the liquid fire, using the last of her willpower she brought the liquid to her mouth and drank, draining it down her throat as the fire followed with the tasteless feeling of sandpaper.
Coughing and spluttering, she felt the magical effects of the river of pain take over, allowing her to breathe correctly and see straight. Every breath of the poisonous air still scorched her lungs. Once she regained full cognitive ability, her mind and body register one thing: she's stuck in hell, alone, and armed with only a sword.
Jumping into the Phlegethon sounded like a better idea.
Her dream started to shift, flashes of pain, blood, death, hope, and despair. She felt every flash of emotion pass by her, all until she was there, standing at the edge of the abyss. She stared out into the empty darkness that contained nothing to see, but held the beginning of everything. As she stared, the abyss gazes back, and the darkness folds itself.
Out of the swirling shadows, a figure steps out, a woman hidden by the darkness. And she speaks, and the green eyed girl hears, "Boss, wake up."
Confused she tilts her head, when the figure speaks more urgently, "BOSS!"
The raven haired girl jerked awake, feeling Blackjack doing tumble rolls through the sky. She was about to yell at him when she heard the whirring of a machine gun as bullets passed right behind them. Looking over her shoulder, she saw a weird looking jet of some sort, and the name of it was on the tip of her tongue. But that wasn't what mattered, what mattered was the emblem on the side of the vehicle - it was S.H.I.E.L.D.'s.
"Skata!" the green eyed girl yelled, feeling Blackjack bank to avoid being hit again. How they hadn't been shot out of the sky was a mystery to her, it almost seemed like they were missing intentionally. Wait a second, she thought, why are they missing on purpose? It's almost like they want to-
Her thought process was cut off she was hit with the force of a truck by a man in a red and gold metal suit. The girl was thrown clean off Blackjack and into the side of a building, cursing her luck even more, she pulled the staff she got earlier off her back. Using her core muscles and experience from free falling, the girl braced the staff across the front of the body and slammed one end as hard as she could into the side of the building.
The black metal easily penetrated deep into the stone building, halting her movement abruptly and leaving her suspended in the air. She felt one of her shoulders pop, and knew instantaneously that it was dislocated. Ow, she thought idley.
The ravenette waited against the building until she saw the metal man circle back and fly straight towards her. "Damn it!" she yelled at Iron Man. "I already avoided two of you avengers, why can't you all just screw off!" Ironman simply flew right up to her and angled his body so that he'd blast her with hot air and hover in front of her.
"You know, this wasn't exactly high on my agenda either kid," Iron Man started, his metallic version of his voice rang out, "So why don't you just be a good little kiddie and allow me to take you back to my tower where we can ask what the hell you were doing?"
The green eyed girl would've fought back, but seeing as she was helplessly stuck to the side of a building at least eight stories up she found no other viable option than to comply.
"Fine," she started, her stare unwavering as she looked into the metallic slits that were Iron Man's eyes. "Just make it quick."
And he did. The metal man simply grabbed her waist with one arm and held her to his chest, while he grabbed the staff with her other arm before flying approximately two miles to the Avenger's Tower, where he promptly deposited her to the loving care of Hawkeye and the Black Widow. Those two were charmers for sure.
They quickly deposited her to a cliché interrogation room where they handcuffed her to the bland metal table and sat her down in a uncomfortable metal chair which was bolted to the floor. Her shoulder throbbed painfully as she waited. The single light overhead thrummed obnoxiously, annoying the emerald eye girl to no end.
As boredom consumed her, she started humming, letting her mind simply be. She was oh so tempted to mess with her powers, but refrained from using them in here. After about thirty minutes of staring at the tiled grey walls, the green eyed girl suddenly yelled, "You know, your hospitality freaking sucks!"
"Only when you're on that side of the table." A woman had walked in carrying a manilla file, the tiles in the wall folding back. She was wearing gray slacks and a white blouse, giving her the appearance of what the green eyed girl liked to call a work "clone." Though the girl saw through it. Actually, the girl had to admit that the woman who walked in was pretty attractive. She had dark hair cut just above her shoulders, framing her face perfectly. That along with pale blue eyes set atop her sharp cheekbones, elegant nose, and full pink lips would make her stunning with the correct outfit.
The green-eyed girl didn't know if she should be worried about her mental health because she found her interrogator hot. Eh, not really, she corrected. I gave up caring for my sanity years ago. She looked over her interrogator again and decided mess around a little before things got too serious. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'd rather be on top of the table," she said salaciously with a quick lick of the lips.
To the woman's credit, she managed to keep her slight blush to a minimum and narrow her eyes at the girl. She slapped a manilla folder onto the table and sat down. "Let's keep things civil shall we? This is no place to suggest such carnal pleasures," the woman responded, shooting the girl down.
The girl continued unperturbed, "Well, we could always make it more civil." She grinned wickedly. "Should we have a nice long pillow chat before hand with candles and wine?" The girl leaned back in her chair, hands still held close to the table by the restraints.
The woman openly glared at the girl, responding in a scathing whisper, "Enough! I will not sleep with you, lay with you, or in any case have sex with you!"
"Tell me what you were doing in the warehouse earlier tonight," the woman demanded, eyes boring holes into the younger girls skull.
"I thought S.H.I.E.L.D. was all knowing," she responded cheekily.
And that was how most of the questions went:
"What's so important about that staff?"
"It's a walking stick."
As well as…
"Why won't you answer my questions?"
Responded by, "Why won't you have sex with me?"
"Why are you obsessed with sex?"
"Why are you obsessed with me?"
"What's your name?"
The lady started, surprised by actually getting a non-nonsense response and decided to start from there. "No last name?"
Persephone frowned lightly, "None that I care to embrace."
The woman took the hint and asked about something else, "What is someone your age doing meeting with smugglers and beating world renowned spies? And more importantly how?"
Persephone's face went blank, her expression reflecting that of ice: cold, clear, and deadly. "That is a long story, and one I'm afraid you're not privileged to yet Lady Interrogator."
The newly dubbed "Lady" interrogator frowned slightly before standing up and leaving through the shifting tile door. Persephone reclined the best she could, propping her feet on the side of the table with a thoughtful expression on her face. She looked down at her shadow and raised a questioning eyebrow at it before asking it a question, "Shall we make things interesting?"
She tilted her head and grinned, as if hearing a reply that only she could here. "Sounds like a plan, let the games begin." The room dimmed slightly, and the incessant humming from the overhead light ceased.
The only physical change in the room was the blink of the red light above the door.
Hey all, I know I've been away for awhile and that I have yet again made another new story. School has kept me on my toes and my ability to maintain writing has become severely crippled. Apologies.
Anyhow, thank you all to my loyal followers and reviews who stick with me even when I don't return the favor enough. And everyone who read the early version of this chapter where FF literally dumped a crap load of code into this...yeah. I don't know what happened either.
Merci mes copaines,