July 24, 2015:

Steve and Ronnie go on a stakeout to find out about a Frank Payne

Long Island

It's a real long island.


NPCs: Constrictor



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…


Warm rain falls from the low clouds of the smoky sky, plopping down and making the blacktop slippery on this side street. The vehicle, a 1970s muscle car, is one of several available to SHIELD agents for such an operation.

Next to Ronnie sits Steve Rogers, but without the red, white, and blue. Instead, a green jacket, with a white t-shirt underneath, and a pair of jeans.

"Thanks for accompanying me on this, Agent Hauzig," Steve says.

The clock on the dash says it's 2:13 AM. Many of the SHIELD agents were at home, and given who they're trying to find, this was not a solo job. Not even for Captain America.

If anyone else had wanted Agent Hautzig as their back up, red tape would have smothered them before the mission had a chance to even begin planning. Captain America gets privileges that others don't — so Ronnie will catch hell later, probably in some kind of passive-aggressive way, but for now no one can stop her from going out on a mission.

Ronnie would be reflecting on how this is exactly what she needs right now if she wasn't blown away by who she's working with. She's avoided saying anything too geeky thus far. Maybe in trying to not come off as a fangirl, she's been acting a bit aloof. She doesn't have a good feel for how she's doing yet. She's got her hair clipped back out of her face, and she's wearing a zipped-up off-wine leather jacket and black jeans.

"No need to thank me, sir," Ronnie says, still militantly keeping from fangirling. "When duty calls…"

Steve chuckles as he looks out at the street. "Right." A bit later he slides over an envelope to Hautzig. On the inside is a file on an Agent Frank Payne of SHIELD. Evidence suggests that Payne may have gone rogue, and it is apparently Steve's (and by proxy Ronnie's) job to get him back in.

"I hear Racine is wonderful this time of year," he says idly. But Frank Payne isn't from Racine. That's his cover story as he was supposed to go deep under cover with some fledging criminal organization. Not much is known about them, not even their name, and Payne hasn't been making the contact he should.

Ronnie takes the envelope and frowns slightly as she reads the file. She reads fast — her brown eyes, much darker than Steve's almost cerulean ones, flick back and forth rapidly as she takes in the information.

"Never been, myself," Ronnie replies as she flips pages, gobbling up key details. She finally looks up and over. "How do you want to play this, Captain?"

"Well, I figure we sit and wait till we catch sign of him or his t—" And then of course there's movement. Because this is the time in the story that there always has to be movement.

A group of men in black exit from below a bar in a Cheers-esque exit upwards towards stairs. On the ground level now, they make their way into a van. Most of them seem pretty normal, but one has some sort of special uniform. It's tough to see in the darkness, but it shimmers a golden color in a stripe down the middle of the outfit.

"I think that's our guy."

Once the van begins moving out, Steve puts the car in drive and begins to tail "leisurely."

Ronnie closes the file when the men start moving. She doesn't seem like the sort of person who lets herself get too distracted from the target.

As they begin their "leisurely" tail, Ronnie's eyes are fixed on the van as if she can somehow telepathically will them into slowing down, or something. The only noises she makes are the occasional low "hmmm," which has as many variations of meaning as the word "fuck" in that one scene in The Wire.

Steve does a decent job of tailing—well enough to keep them out in front without, presumably, attracting interest. From Harlem they make like Modest Mouse and head south, over to the east, and then into Queens. And then out towards the Island.

It's a long drive for two people without a lot to talk about. Trying to break the ice, Steve begins to ask her about herself. "So, you been with SHIELD long?"

Ronnie will, one day, kick herself for being in a car with Captain America and not trying to make much conversation herself. That day will in fact be tomorrow. "Around five years," Ronnie says. "Recruited out of university."

Which doesn't do much to explain why someone with all of the necessary field and undercover agent qualifications was working a desk job when Steve yanked her for this mission. And Ronnie herself doesn't seem like she's about to go into that unprompted. She doesn't actually look away from the van the entire time she talks. She does specify one thing: "Coast City U."

"A California girl. How do you like the East Coast?" Steve asks conversationally. Ahead of them, the van exits and pulls down toward the cross road at a more rural piece of road.

"Wonder if this is some sort of extortion thing? Maybe they're going to rough someone up?" Steve's really not sure.

"It's had its ups and downs," Ronnie says non-committally about East Coast living. "Snow's a lot more of a fucking pain than the movies make it seem like." She realizes who she's talking to. "Uh, pardon my language, Captain."

Ronnie frowns harder while considering. "Out here in the sticks, it could be anything that they need to be away from civilization for. Could be roughing someone up, or an execution… or a burial site. Could be drug growing, manufacturing, that kind of stuff. Could be girls. Lot of could bes right now. Not my favorite kind of situation."

"It happens," Steve says with a chuckle, not seeming to want to make a big deal about the swearing. "Mine either," he responds later, growing concerned. Well, more concerned.

Off in the distance on the right, the van pulls off the road onto a gravel driveway. Rather than follow them with the car, Steve pulls off the shoulder and into some tall weeds. "Follow on foot? I've got my shield in the back." The car turns off and off go the lights as well.

It's then that Ronnie actually looks over at Cap, to give him a single nod. She doesn't have a shield, but she does have her firearm tucked into a holster on her belt, under cover of the jacket.

Ronnie exits the car quietly and draws her gun, keeping it pointed down but ready to swing it up and fire at a second's notice. She keeps her eyes towards the driveway, except for when she looks to Cap again, seeking to follow his lead. This is the part she'll feel cool about later. A real team-up! Right now, though, she's too in the zone to appreciate it.

Steve tilts his head towards the rear, implying he wants her to take the back entrance. It's the old strategy, popular beginning in World War II (if not earlier). Encircle and squeeze. That leaves the front part for Steve and his large shield with the star on it.

The building is some sort of warehouse with offices in back and a holding area in the front. There's a large overhead door with a normal door to the side. The back entrance, meanwhile, will have another normal door that leads to old offices that haven't been used in decades.

Agent Hautzig nods again, and sets out creeping to the back. In her dark clothes, and with her SHIELD training, it's not too hard to stay out of sight. She checks the back entrance area for windows that aren't lit, hoping she can get a sense of what's inside before she goes kicking the door down. Just because the offices look disused doesn't mean they're actually not in use.

Steve leans low, listening to the door and trying to gather whether or not there are voices on the other end. He slides his hands up the crevice between the doorjam and the handle and yanks down slightly to check if it is locked. It is not.

He slides in and all is dark and quiet in the main warehouse. There are, however, stacks of crates that create hallways that bar his vision. Slowly and silently, he moves down the first one.

Ronnie doesn't see anything to make her think that she's about to walk into a trap. Which is exactly how a trap should look, but anyway. She goes to check the back door — unlocked. She goes in gun first, ready to fire, but finds nothing just yet to fire at. So like Steve, she takes to the shadows and begins to slowly skulk inward.

Instead, the trap comes for Steve!

A prehensile, metallic whip leeches down around his neck and lights up with bright blue electricity faster than Steve can even react. His body begins to wriggle as the voltage goes through him, his hands constricting around the whip but unable to break it free.

Eventually, Cap hits the hard cement floor and the CONSTRICTOR lands upon the floor with a thud. Where the other four are is not clear at this point. But, it certainly seems as if this was a trap!

Ronnie can tell something's wrong. There's the noise of voltage shooting through Steve's body, for one. The distant light of the Constrictor's coils activating. And a 'thump' of a body hitting a floor. Intuition hits and makes her stomach sink and her adrenaline spike.

Ronnie begins moving on instinct, keeping to the shadows, hoping to get a view of the situation up front. She's still keeping an eye out for the others, but right now the top priority on her list is locating Cap and ascertaining his status — and if she needs to come in as cavalry.

"Nabbed the fucker!" Payne says, dressed as the Constrictor. He laughs back as the four other men who were in the van all drop down. It was a trick, clearly, to get Steve out in the open. Judging by their reaction, however, they have no idea that red tape forced Captain America to bring another. It's not clear what they intend to do to Cap, but it's clear that it won't be very nice.

Ronnie is still concealed. Later, she'll think to herself: how would Captain America have handled this situation? And she'll at least be proud of herself that she only shoots to wound.

Ronnie's first shot is pointed at the leg of the man closest to her, and her next shot is at the shoulder of another. The third, fourth, and fifth shots are at what she quickly decides are key points of the Constrictor's power armor, trying to minimize risk of dealing with armed thugs AND electrical coils. She doesn't think. She just does it. Her training kicks in hard.


The shots ring out before they can even react. Several of the men go down, but the shot that hits the Constrictor glances off his armor. In the confusion he slips into the night, the the moans of the others are loud and eerie as they bounce off the crates.

Ronnie's goal is to move into the situation, to subdue anyone who might pose an immediate threat — when Constrictor slips off into the night, she takes it as a moment bought to check on Cap and make sure he's not… you know.

It'd be a pretty weird situation to be the backup for the mission where Cap died, right?

When Ronnie bends down to check on Cap's vitals, he has a pretty strong pulse. It seems like he's just unconscious. This wouldn't be an action scene, of course, if the Constrictor didn't lash out towards Ronnie's back with a snap of the wip, energy crackling!

The lash comes down, and Ronnie isn't quite fast enough. That'll bug her later. She would have been faster, if she was still on the Aleph Zero Formula injections. She would have been tougher, too. But she's not as tough or as fast as she was and she gets got, the electro-whip wrapping around her midsection and making her scream from the jolt.

She's touching Cap's wrist when she gets shocked, too, so maybe Ronnie will be directly responsible for killing him. Or shocking him awake. Either/or. Who knows.

Payne walks up towards Hautzig and nudges her with his foot. Her lack of a response seems to satisfy him as he lords over her. A few feet away, Steve's eyes open up and his finger runs along his shield.

"Didn't expect you, little lady," snarls Payne. "Course, if my boys here are dead, you're gonna have to wait to die until you wake up and earn it."

Off in the darkness there's a quick twisting motion and the ole red-white-and blue screams from the shadows and conks Payne in the head unceremoniously.

He falls to a heap on the ground.

"Hautzig," Steve says as he slides over towards her, tapping her face gently as he looks down at her and tries to get her to wake. He leans in closer. "Hautzig! Wake up. You're alright. Come on."

Ronnie's still non-cerulean eyes flutter awake, and she sits up with a sharp gasp, looking left and right and reaching around her to try and get her gun.

When she realizes that danger has left the immediate surroundings — and that the Constrictor is knocked out over there, when did that happen — Ronnie relaxes from 'combat-ready' to a mere 'confused.' "Wh— Wait— wh—"

Steve wipes some mussed hair from her face and does his best to seem reassuring. "It's alright, kid. We got them. We got them. And I think I'd be dead right now if it wasn't for you."

When hair gets wiped out of her face, Ronnie seems to put two and two together as to what happened. "I—" She starts to say, and then scrambles to stand up and look around as if to confirm that everything around her is really really real.

Then Ronnie looks at Cap. Maybe she's trying to play it cool. She doesn't look cool. "No… problem?" she says, in maybe the weirdest, dorkiest delivery of her entire life.

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