Tracking the Tinkerer
[Warehouse on the edge of the port district in Saint Tropez France]
<a nondescript little man hunkers over a worktable, listening to a language tape>
Phineas Mason: <repeating the tape> Je voudrais acheter un nouveau chapeau. <he take a break for a moment, grabbing a soda>
Davina: <storming in, briefcase in hand> That’s the third deal in a month that those mercenaries have ruined! I don’t know how they’ve infiltrated our operation, but they’re making it impossible to offload any product!
Phineas: <unworried> Oh, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, Davina. I’ve been working on some new energy guns with modifications based on the Dark Elf particle rifles we picked up two months ago. Smaller, lighter, less kickback. These are going to sell like crazy.
Davina: <slams the briefcase on his work table> Not if we can’t get through a deal without our buyers getting nabbed! This time they had an Enhanced with them! <Phineas’s eyes widen, as the briefcase pops open from the force of her slam, inert splinter bombs rolling out and bouncing across the floor with a sharp metallic tink, he cringes, waiting for an explosion that doesn’t happen, Davina frowns, pointing at the scattered disks> See? They even managed to neutralize the bombs.
Phineas: <bends down, picking up a disk, studying it, intrigued> How did they manage it? I’ll have to study this and find a workaround.
Davina: <tosses a tiny piece of tech at him> There’s no time for that. I found this tracker in the case. They know where to find us. This operation is compromised. We’re done.
Phineas: <panicking, scrambles around the workshop, grabbing equipment, packing> How much time do we have?
Davina: <grinning> Don’t worry, we’ll both be long gone before they arrive. My new employers have made certain of it. <a pair of thugs step into the room, followed by an imposing gentleman in a suit>
Phineas: <confused> New employers? Davina, what’s going on? You’re not going to… You can’t kill me, it’d be like killing the golden goose!
Davina: <arms outstretched, pointing at the various weapons around the room, laughing as she steps closer to him> No one is going to kill you, Phineas. Having a goose that lays golden eggs is fantastic. But I can’t get the eggs to market. So the next best thing is to sell the goose to someone who can. <the thugs grab Phineas, dragging him before the gentleman>
Kreig: Mr Mason, my name is Randall Kreig. My organization is very interested in your work.
Phineas: <frightened, stuttering> Who who whoo a a ar are yyyou?
Kreig: Someone who enjoys encouraging ingenuity, and has the resources to let you tinker as much as your heart desires. As long as you work for us. You’ll find we can be quite generous. Compliance, <he pauses> will be rewarded. <something in his tone at the last statement sends an ice cold shiver through Phineas, Kreig turns, smiling happily at Davina> You’ve done well my dear. As an example of our generosity, the agreed upon sum has been transferred to your account, along with a bonus.
Davina: <eyes lighting up happily> Had I known that, I’d have gift wrapped him for you.
Kreig: <looking around the warehouse at Mason’s creations and the remaining alien artifacts with satisfaction> You already have, my dear. <turns back to the thugs> Put him in the car, then have the others bring the truck to gather everything. <Phineas screams in a wordless panic as he’s dragged out of the room, Davina looks away with a slight hint of remorse>
[Rooftop of another warehouse nearby]
<Sam and Nat listening in to the entire encounter via Redwing’s surveillance>
Sam: Looks like we’re busting up another deal after all.
Nat: ‘Compliance will be rewarded.’ Sounds like Hydra’s joined the party. Quick thinking on the tracer in Brazil, Sam. Have Redwing tag their vehicles, just in case.
Sam: <taps a few buttons on his wrist control, a small drone sneaks down, marking the two cars and a truck in the parking lot, then calls out over the radio> Hey Grandpa! We’ve got some snakeheads inside. Whadaya say we go cut them off?
Steve: <on radio> Sounds good. Jazz hands and I will come in from the side if you and Rogue Leader want to crash the party from above. <turns off mic, looking at Wanda in annoyance> Man, I hate these codenames.
Wanda: <giggles a moment> You were the one who said it wasn’t safe to use our old codenames in case our radio frequencies were hacked. <looks down at her hands weaving them around each other with a faint red glow, looks up grinning> I kind of like mine.
Steve: <shakes his head, laughing> Ok, ‘Jazz Hands’ how about you dazzle them with your slick moves.
Wanda: My pleasure, ‘Grandpa’. <the warehouse loading doors are enveloped in a red glow before bursting off their hinges, seconds later the skylight explodes in a shower of glass as Sam and Nat come crashing through>
Davina: Shit, they’re quicker than I expected. <starts to run for the side door, Redwing flies down to block her path>
Sam: Oh no, not this time. Just stay put and smile for the birdie.
Kreig: I don’t think you know who you’re dealing with. <grabs the prototype off the workbench, Steve in his sights, the gun whining as it charges up>
Nat: <taunting> I think we’re dealing with just another Hydra lacky that crawled out from under a rock. They don’t send the big boys on a fetch quest.
Kreig: <turns, his aim shifting from Steve to Nat> That may have been the way things were done in the past. New heads, new policies, new Hydra. When recruiting special acquisitions, I find it best to handle things myself. <cockily looks around at the team> Such a shame to have to kill a room full of talent. I’d much rather offer you jobs with my organization.
Wanda: <hands already glowing, throwing them up in an offensive stance> Fat chance on either.
Steve: Not. <scanning the shelf beside him while Kreig is talking, picks up a metallic sphere when Kreig is distracted> Today. <he releases the fastball pitch, connecting with the particle gun, causing it to overload, Kreig drops the gun, but is knocked back by the explosion>
<Nat moves toward the semi-conscious man on the floor, when suddenly a deep blue-black swirl appears, a strange woman stepping out of it>
Portal Woman: <looks around at the scene> Where’s the speedster? <everyone looks at each other and then back to her in confusion, the woman repeats herself> Where. Is. The. Speedster?
Wanda: <angry and confused> Pietro’s dead. What do you want with my brother?
Woman: <haughtily> Hmm, don’t care. I’m here for Flash.
Nat: Listen, we don’t know who you’re talking about, but maybe we can help you. Are you with him? <points to Kreig, still crumpled on the floor>
Woman: <looks down at the defeated man in disgust> I don’t side with losers. <turns back to Nat> Just point me to Starling City and I’ll be on my way, I have a Meta to kill.
Steve: Never heard of Starling City or a Meta, but if you think we’re going to let you kill someone, you’ve got another thing coming.
Woman: You think you can stop me? <laughing>
<the woman inhales deeply, leaning forward as she begins to scream, shockwaves of sound rippling forward, blasting the team back, crouching, they grip their ears, deafened by the sound, the effect greatly lessened behind her, as Davina uses the distraction to grab Kreig and escape, the woman steps past the team as they writhe in pain, she heads for the open warehouse doors and into a strange world>
Later That Night
[Palace Security Footage 03042017]
Loc: Guest Quarters, Palace of King T’Challa, Wakanda
<the team discussing what happened in San Tropez>
Steve: So it’s confirmed that Hydra is definitely back, again. That we can deal with. Fury got what was left of the equipment in the warehouse, so that’s one less worry. What about this woman? I mean, where did she come from?
Nat: I’ve been hearing rumors, whispers, about weird portals opening up here& there. People coming out of them from other worlds. I didn’t believe it until she showed up. I’m more concerned with where she’s going.
Wanda: I did some checking, there’s no place called ‘Starling City’ there’s a Starling in Canada and a few called Star City in the US, but she seemed very specific.
Sam: We don’t even know if she’s a bad guy or not. I mean what if this Meta or Flash or whoever, whatever she’s hunting, is the bad one? Hell, if she really came from another world, maybe what she’s hunting isn’t even here!
Steve: We’ll just have to keep an eye out for both. She said that this Flash was a speedster. <turns to Wanda> Were there any others in the group Von Strucker experimented on?
Wanda: <shakes her head> No. Pietro and I were the only ones to ever survive the procedure, much less produce results. Even Von Strucker was baffled as to why. He wanted to study our genetic structure for answers, but he ran out of time.
Sam: Ok, so, say she IS she’s from another world. Looks human, has powers like an Enhanced. Hunting a speedster, which sounds like another Enhanced to me. What if Meta is just their word for it?
Nat: Until we know more, that works for me. I’ll get Fury to have all eyes on the lookout for her, and her Meta.
Sam: Sounds like there’s not much else we can do. Hydra’s smarter than Davina, they found my tracers before they even left the city. No clue if they left by air, water, land, or where they went. <claps his hands together> So if the rest of you will excuse me, I have a date with Onome. <heads out the door before anyone can object>
Nat: <grins> He does realize she’s mostly dating him because he’s not Wakandan, which makes him exotic, right?
Steve: I hope it’s more than that. He’s been raving about her for weeks. Every chance he gets he’s been out spending time with her.
Wanda: Speaking of spending time with someone special, I promised Vis I’d meet him in Paris for a night at the opera.
Nat: <smiling> Then I guess you’d better go find a dress. Steve and I will keep a watch on things here. Have fun! <Wanda smiles back as she dances out the door, Nat turns back to Steve> I was going to take the Quinjet and go check up on Laura and Clint at the farm, but what do you say to beer, pizza and movies tonight? It’s been a while.
Steve: <thinking about it> You know, that sounds like a good way to unwind.
Nat: <heading for the door> Great. I’ll go pick up the food, you pick out a movie!
<Steve scrolls through the selections on the tv for a while before finding one that catches his eye, then picks up his tablet to catch up on the news and his messages, engrossed in conversation, he doesn’t hear Nat return>
Nat: <sneaks in, reads over Steve’s shoulder> MissUnionJack? Really? You certainly have a type Rogers. I thought I sent you to Twitter, not Tinder.
Steve: <looks up from tablet, feeling guilty> It’s not LIKE that. She’s with the Resistance. She’s been sending me info and tools and news. She’s good to talk to.
Nat: <grinning> Uh Huh, AND turning YOU into a blushing teenager. It’s a good look on you though. Much better than that brooding doom and gloom monster I saw last time I was here. So I see you took my advice about getting involved.
Steve: <still blushing a little, happy to change the subject> Yeah. Not sure how much I’m ready to get back into the world just yet, but I can’t sit on the sidelines completely.
Nat: Well it’s a start. Way better than moping about, dwelling on the past.
Steve: So movie night was an excuse to check up on me?
Nat: What can I say? I miss my family. <playfully punches his arm, Steve smiles> Plus last time I talked to T’Challa, he said you might appreciate some good news. Looks like they’ve almost come to an agreement on lifting the Accords. Which needs to be done sooner than they think. With the current state of things back home, people are worried that the administration might try to press the Enhanced citizens into service as a super powered force, either to police the populace, or invade other countries. Concerned is an understatement.
Steve: <angry and energized, almost snaps the tablet in his hands> No way in HELL we’re going to let that happen!
Nat: <teases> Language. <grins> Now THAT’S the Captain America I know and love. Think maybe you’re ready to get back in the fight with more than just secret missions after all?
Steve: <tilts his head> I think I’m getting there.
Nat: Well then, here’s some more bad news to get you fired up. Intel links Hydra to the Russians, AND the GOP. The election was hacked so they could put their crazyass puppet in office.
Steve: <shoulders sink, whispers> Fuck.
Nat: <shakes her head> You’re becoming quite the little foulmouth. What happened to my big brother the boy scout?
Steve: <shrugs> I guess I’m just trying to fit into the times. What is Fury doing about it?
Nat: <Points to the tablet> That. <Steve looks down at it, confused> This isn’t a hidden lab or a secret stronghold. We can’t go in guns blazing. They’ve got to be taken down democratically. Law and Order. So, SHIELD has been working with the Resistance.
Steve: <realizing> So when you sent me that note…..
Nat: I didn’t know for sure you’d follow my advice, but it seemed like the best way to ease you out of your shell and back out where you could make a difference. Baby steps.
Steve: <sighs, knowing she’s right> And now?
Nat: Well, we’re reaching the point where we just might need a little old fashioned American inspiration and guidance.
Steve: The Accords aren’t repealed just yet. I’m still kinda stuck here. A Nomad with no place.
Nat: But when they are, you’ll just have to come in for debriefing, and you’ll be a free man. You CAN go home. Heck, Fury said he’ll even give you your own team to lead as you see fit. No oversight, you give the orders. <smirks> Maybe you could recruit that MissU you’ve been chatting up.
Steve: <amused glare> Still trying to play matchmaker for me?
Nat: <grinning playfully> What? Maybe it’s time for you to get back out on the dance floor. You never know.
Steve: <hangs his head, shaking it, and sighing> Romanoff…..
Nat: <snickers> Love you too, bro. <hands him a beer, teasing> Don’t know why I’m wasting perfectly good alcohol on someone who can’t even get a buzz. So what’s first for movie night?
Steve: I thought something light and funny after the day we’ve had. How does Lilo and Stitch sound?
Nat: <laughs> You’re such a sucker for all those Disney movies!
Steve: <smiling happily> What? Cute characters, fun music, and a happy ending. What’s not to love? <he hits play on the remote>