Dot Comm

January 13, 2016:

Natasha entertains the world's most polite intruder.

Natasha's Apartment

Characters

NPCs: Dottiebot (NPC by Howard Stark)

Mentions: howard stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Doormen are wonderful security measures - in theory. In practice, they can be charmed by someone who was drilled for years in just how to charm people. The young blonde woman managed to convince the relatively new doorman that she's the daughter of a man on the 17th floor. She has a keycard, you see? A keycard that after one false reading, opens the door into Natasha's building.
Natasha's phone trills the security breach around 9:30 PM. Someone is in her apartment.

Not an optimal text. Not one at all. Luckily, the class she was teaching ended half an hour before, and Natasha was only lingering at the studio for a few extra minutes. She's out the door like a shot when the alarm goes off, claiming some kind of immediate text-based emergency — not that this is remotely untrue.
She's got her phone in her hand as she makes long strides to the corner. It's not too far to get home, especially not by motorcycle, and Natasha takes one brief moment to check her home's security cameras. Is this a job for Natasha herself? Or is she going to have to call her friends?

The woman - and the video clearly shows it's a woman, due to the brief backlighting from the hall light - pulls Natasha's door back with ease that shouldn't be possible. Then, all without turning on the lights, she goes and sits herself down on the couch. Certainly strange behavior. The light streaming in from Natasha's window is enough for her to know that this person hasn't moved since entering. It's like she's waiting.

A lot of not-good signs. But it's not an entire HYDRA army, so it might be a bit more sensible for Natasha to handle things on her own.
It's the work of relatively little time, once she's parked in the underground garage, for Natasha to make her way to the roof. She can drop onto her own balcony from there, light as a cat, and open the French doors that lead into the main room.
She has a gun drawn when she does, which is probably no surprise to her surprise guest. Evidently they don't want to ransack her apartment; it's her they want, and she'd like to know why.
Her voice breaks the silence as she steps inside: "You should have left a message with the doorman."

The figure sitting on the couch tilts her head as Natasha makes her presence known. She stands casually and smooths her hands down the front of her skirt suit. She's got blonde hair done up perfectly in vintage style, but the suit is modern. She steps forward in a pair of sensible heels, into a sliver of light.
When she speaks, it's in Russian. Her voice has a strange cadence to it, like a very sophisticated natural voice simulator. "Protocol Six-Seven-Alpha-Tango. Report to closest agent. You are closest agent. Designation: Romanova, Natalia."
And then she smiles. It's empty and broad, like a waitress at an expensive restaurant in the middle of Christmas rush.

You could knock her down with a feather. Natasha stares goggle-eyed for a good few seconds, but she has sufficient presence of mind to close the door behind her. Her eyes flick toward the now-nonexistent door into her apartment. Nothing to be done about that just now.
"Protocol Six-Seven-Alpha-Tango. Confirmed," she says, steadying her voice. Her Russian isn't even rusty. "Agent Romanova, Natalia Alianova, designation Black Widow, sub-designation Zhar-Ptitsa, acknowledging. Please — "
She takes a breath. This was the last thing she expected. Beyond the last thing. "How are you here?"

"Voice print confirmed." There's a look of relief that flicks across the LMD's face. She inhales sharply and places a hand to her chest, and suddenly looks far more…human. "Apologies. Shutdown protocols established when I experienced…damage." She reaches up to touch her perfectly coiffed hair lightly with red painted fingertips. "It's a long story. Oh! I'm sorry about your door! Don't know my own strength." She smiles like she just tipped over a cup of tea, instead of ripping a door clear off its hinges.

"Damage," Natasha echoes. She blinks, then glances toward the door again: "About that, yes. I wonder if you could just prop that back up where it belongs? I'll have to have someone in," she says, her tone mildly… distracted.
But she's trained. She snaps back into focus. "And then please, sit down. I can… get you something to drink? While you tell me that long story of yours."

"Of course!" The EMT says cheerfully. She walks over to the door, turning the lights on as she goes. Then she bends over and hefts the door like it's a picture frame, then props it up against the doorframe as best she can. "Oh dear. What a mess!"
She turns back to Natasha and walks over. "Oh, you're a doll, but I don't require sustenance and alcohol just makes me burp like a sailor. It's so embarrassing. They never did work out that bug." She looks quite honestly dismayed. She sits down again, in the same spot where she was waiting in the dark. "Now! You understand I can only tell you as much as I'm authorized to with your clearance. But please, you must be dying of curiosity."

Natasha isn't going to disclaim that it's a mess. It's a mess. Her eyes follow the woman, though, and it's… It's eerie. She knows what she must be, who she must be; what she can't figure is why any of this. Drawing the drapes, ensuring that no one from outside can see in — to the greatest extent possible, anyway — she switches on the lights in the room at last, dusting off her hands and turning to face the strange blonde woman.
Natasha is not looking her dapperest: she's in a pair of yoga pants, trainers, and a hoodie with a T-shirt underneath that says "I Fight Like A Girl". They never did work out that bug.
"You know, I really am," she agrees, moving to settle herself in her own seat. "Speaking of which. Last I remember, I don't remember you being alive."

"Oh, I'm not her, silly," coos the LMD. "I just look like her. It's Project Ghost." She says that like she's telling Nat about a new brand of lipstick she just discovered. She pauses a moment, squints, then, "Well, you certainly have the clearance level to hear this, even though it's need-to-know. Would you like me to tell you conversationally, or shall I just read the file for you?"

Project Ghost. Well, everything they did was on a need-to-know basis. Either Natasha never knew, or she was… deemed subsequently to no longer need to know. That was kind of par for the course.
"Let's do 'conversationally'. I think I know what you are, but I'd like to reserve judgement until I hear the story." Her usual way. She may be needing a drink at this point.

"Well," begins the LMD. She folds her hands in her lap and shrugs her shoulders forward. "When our government got wind of this whole…well, you know," she looks coy, like she's loathe to describe herself as a machine. "They decided to make the other side think that one agent," she places a hand to her chest, "…was foiling plots all over the place. Create a legend, you know?" Like what would happen with the Winter Soldier. "But I'm not sure what happened, because I don't have very many missions in my memory bank."
The LMD looks slightly pouty as she sits there. "I remember the sixties. Then a few years in the 80s. I was shut down after my mission here, in New York City. But I woke up all alone. And there was a fire in my building. I was damaged. But I managed to find a friend to help me fix that."

Something about this story piques Natasha just a bit. But then again, she wasn't supposed to be the agent everyone knew about. If everyone knew there was a cute little redhead assassinating people left and right, she would have had a lot more trouble. But the beautiful merciless blonde who leaves bodies in her wake?
"You may have done a few things you don't remember. That's the handy thing about being… what you are." Natasha rubs her wrist absently, then goes on: "You found a friend? That's… unusual. Tell me about this friend."

"Oh, he's dead now," the LMD sing-songs casually. "I couldn't be sure he wouldn't tell the nosy nellies who I am! He knew too much. I had to let him…interface with me." She wrinkles his nose. "He was some kind of creature with mutated genes. He could talk directly to computers. Very useful for getting around Stark's sticky security. He coded me this, though," she reaches into her jacket and pulls out a key card. "It will let me in any swipe door. Except yours, of course. Well done with the security, by the way!"

Bemused, Natasha catches the little card. "…Thanks. I worked hard on it. It doesn't prevent against people just shoving the door in, but by the time someone wants in that badly, I generally want to have a few words with them as well." She looks the card over, glancing between the LMD and the card. Tucking the latter away, she leans forward, elbows on her knees, toward the blonde woman.
"Where were you reactivated?" she inquires. "And when was your last mission, and what was it?" She'll have to find out about the poor dead man later. Though given the 'interface' comment, she might not grieve for him too much.

"That's why I'm here. It's all…jumbled. The machines repaired the physical damage, but my memory banks are still a little out of whack. It's like I had a night of drinking with none of the fun!" The LMD tilts her head at Natasha. "I remember dates, but the details…I'm full of errors. When I couldn't restore myself to full working order, that's when my protocols kicked in. I got my friend to search for your address. I went to our safehouse but this family lives there now. Can you imagine?"

"It's been a few years, Dottie," Natasha replies with a wry twist of her lips. "You mentioned Stark's sticky security. Are you talking about what you had to get past to get in here? There's. Well. There's a lot of news since you last went under, if that was the 80s. I can get some specialists in to take a look at your errors, though. I know a guy who's pretty good with your kind of tech." Never mind that he's a Stark. He's probably the least problematic person to call in. It might not be a great plan to call in SHIELD just yet. LMDs can be tricky when cornered.
A slightly awful thought occurs to Natasha: "The family who lives in our old safehouse. Are they… You didn't, did you?"

Especially LMDs who can rip through reinforced security doors like they're tissue paper.
"Howard Stark's lab. My friends found out where it was. Too bad it's so obsolete now, isn't it? We looked for that lab for decades! Colonel Nebyev would be so cross to hear we never located it." Tch. "I broke in and used it to fix myself up. It took a few cycles, and then the nosy nellies showed up." There's almost a pout. "If I could have stayed longer, it might have repaired my memory errors."
As for Natasha's question, 'Dottie' smiles serenely. "Hmm? Oh, no, silly! I would never murder civilians in an easily accessible location…without a cleanup crew. I'm broken, but I'm not stupid."

"Science marches on," Natasha agrees. "There's more advanced versions of you out there, for a start."
She was never really Dottie. Not really. But Natasha isn't going to try calling her by her old name. This is Dottie, dimpling and blonde and perky. Admittedly, the woman herself had been too. Sometimes.
"Glad to hear it," she murmurs. "There's a few things you need to know, clearly. This apartment, you already know it's in the name of Natalie Rushman." But that was a pseudonym from a long time ago. "A lot has changed in the last little while. I'm in what you might call very deep cover. You'd be amazed. So… tell me about Project Ghost. What you can. And I'd like to know what authorities are granted me in regard to your activities."

"I'm sorry!" says Dottiebot with what comes off as genuine dismay. "I've hit my maximum time allotted in an unsecure location. Protocols dictate I leave." She stands up and tugs out the wrinkles in her suit. "Please tell me how I can reach you and get in touch without messy collateral. Ooo, unless you have access to a clean-up crew? That would make finding a secure location so much easier. Besides, I can get you the files and you can read up to your heart's desire!"

"…Tell you what." Natasha rises, turns, and strides over to a small desk on the wall opposite her demolished front door. She opens a drawer and pulls out a burner phone and its charging cable, offering these to 'Dottie'. "Do you know how to operate one of these? Fairly self-explanatory. My number's programmed in there. All you have to do is tap Contacts, then NR, then 'Connect', and you're calling me. Do you have a secure location in the city you can return to?"

Dottie turns the phone over in her hand, then smiles up at Peggy. "Oh I do love how far communications technology has progressed! It's so…handy!" She tucks the phone into a patent leather handbag and slings that over her shoulder. "I do! But I can't tell you about it. Besides, it's just such a /mess/. Not ready for company. I don't even have tea!"

"Oh, that's fine," Natasha replies with a warm smile. "I'm sure it's lovely. And I look forward to seeing you again soon. Please, though, don't kill anyone without letting me know first. You can disable them. If they need to be taken care of, I'll handle it. There's some concern of blowing our covers." She steps over to the door, grunting faintly as she 'opens' it herself.

"Don't be a stranger," she says.

Dottie pauses by the door and then leans in to say, "You look marvellous, by the way. I love the hair." And then there's a wink as the blonde bot makes he way down the hallway as if nothing at all was out of the ordinary.

There's a few calls Natasha has to make. First is to her security company. Yes, her door's been broken down. There was a dog. A really big dog. No, she's just going to pay for it herself; no, she's sure everything is fine.
It's only after a very, very careful security sweep that she can take care of her next priorities. First, she settles at her computer to start tracking the phone she gave to DotBot. While she's doing this, she makes a call to a guy who mostly doesn't sleep.
"Hope you're not too busy, Howard," she says. "I've got a problem you won't believe."

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