Broken Promises

July 10, 2016:

SHIELD holds a Company Picnic to try and lure Winter Soldier for capture. Winter Soldier, however, had other ideas.

Central Park

Sitting on 843 acres of public land, Central Park is one of the most famous
sight-seeing spots in New York, and is considered large enough to have its
own police precinct (the Central Park Precinct) dedicated to its protection.
The Park boasts several lakes — all of which have been created artificially
— extensive walking and bridle paths, two ice skating rinks, a variety of
outdoor theatre spaces, several playgrounds, and a considerable collection
of whimsical statuary. It is home to Belvedere Castle, the Carousel, the
Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory, and Cleopatra's Needle (one of three,
70-foot Egyptian obelisks from the Temple of Ra in Helios, its mates
residing in London and Paris).

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Today is the day where a certain picnic for mid-level field agents has been announced, a weird bonding exercise, allowing for down time and some friendly games and chatter. Key person in attendance is Irene Ward, an Agent of SHIELD who has been on Hydra's hit list. After hacking SHIELD and discovering the event, they had asked Winter Soldier to eliminate her.

What was not advertised anywhere, secured or not, is that the person playing the role of Irene would be the Black Widow. She's put on a long blonde wig, eye color already matched, and just a but of perfectly applied makeup and an Irene-typical peach summer dress completing the look. It also helps that such an airy garment allows for hiding protection rather well. After all, if Falcon is going to be sharp, there's the likelihood Widow got get seriously injured if not dead. Then again, it's a risk she's willing to take for the closest thing she has to family in the world.

Falcon, for his part, isn't attending the event. That's not unusual, for a contracted agent, but in this case it's for an important reason: he's in the air. In addition to the usual bevy of stealth characteristics that were the original reason his wing suit was developed, he went to pretty extreme lengths to be sure he wasn't followed: train to Metropolis, airlift to the Watchtower, Javelin back into atmosphere, wings to the site of the park.

Now, it's just a matter of birdwatching. The animals act differently in a park from how they do in the wild, but he actually has more firsthand experience analyzing the patterns of urban wildlife. He knows exactly what he's looking for, and it's the sort of sign that the Winter Soldier will have no idea he's leaving behind.

It was a mission assigned to Winter Soldier, but as he promised Falcon, he turned it down. It wasn't taken lightly and there was a bit of a scuffle with his handlers over his refusal and he managed to make it out of the facility before they shut him down again. It would be only a matter of time before a HYDRA agent said the words in his vicinity and he knew he had to make the most of the information passed onto him.

If he wasn't going to take the SHIELD mission, then it would be given to someone else. Someone more easily handled.

It's why he will be at the Picnic. Not to shoot the SHIELD agent, but to make sure that she isn't shot by HYDRA.

A Promise is a Promise.

Unfortunately, Natasha was not informed about any promises made between Winter Soldier and Falcon, she had no idea they even met. Then again, if she knew the details, she'd probably sympathize with why no posting was made to update anyone. But as always, not having all the information, can lead to lapses in estimating how events in the field may turn out.

As it happens, Irene is reaching to a barbecue spot, getting herself a skewer with some meat. The smell is tantalizing, and she exchanges a few words with Samantha, a friend of Irene, who doesn't seem to suspect anything is wrong. But the Widow can tell something is wrong, because she gets this eerie sensation that soemone in the crowd is scoping her. She never expected the Winter Soldier to try a hand to hand assassination, and it puts her alert level a notch higher. She was anticipating being shot, luckily, she does have her Widow's Kiss on hand, she would just loathe to use it in a crowd.

When feathers do start ruffling, Sam immediately calls out the sighting: "Contact! Approaching from the northwest corner, on foot. Don't see a long gun — might be coming in for a close kill. Wait a minute…" He adjusts the telescopic view on his goggles. "It's not our guy," he says, surprised. "Blond, taller." He briefly considers the ramifications of this. "He might have been serious when he said he wasn't going after SHIELD anymore," he murmurs. Still, he's not going to let this speculation forestall action: "Moving to intercept." Of course, he's not expecting Widow to respond to any of this. She has a cover to maintain.

Winter Soldier should have just left it alone. He should have just walked away…if it wasn't for that promise. It didn't mean he would protect SHIELD, but for some reason he felt that he needed to make sure that this attempt didn't happen. Maybe it was just to prove that he was going to keep his word as best as he could so that the other would stop chasing him down.

A Promise is a Promise.

Firing into the picnic seems a bad idea. He could take up position on the top of the Plaza Hotel and snipe from afar, but with so many people moving about, it's not the easiest. That's not the bigger problem, however. The bigger problem is that he doesn't know which agent they sent in his place.

So, wearing a jacket and a baseball cap low over his eyes, he's hanging a bit at the fringes of the SHIELD gathering, watching…waiting for anyone to make their move against another.

Hearing everything in her com piece, Widow grows a bit nervous. Since she doesn't know of Falcon's arrangement with Winter Soldier, she figures it's a two pronged attack. Winter Soldier is the type to snipe, he doesn't often use disguise and personal proximity to targets. So she's not sure what to expect, though she does move about, mingling with the crowd and making sure to present her chest by happenstance, in the clear, if any should choose a shot through the heart. She looks like she's simply wearing a summer dress, so it's a possiblity.

However, as she looks around the crowd, she does spot a rather familiar looking baseball cap. Almost similar to the one Winter Soldier was wearing when she prevented his hit on Bob. Then again, Irene would not find that cap familiar, and so she keeps along as if nothing happened. Moving to sit at a bench, taking a bit of her meat skewer, seeming to enjoy a wonderful day with meandering thoughts. Almost looking unaware of her surrounding.

Now that he has identified the attacker, Falcon knows Widow has a bit of time to prepare for the attack. So, instead, he starts scanning the crowd itself. Ballcaps are, unfortunately, a highly effective disguise if someone is trying to spot you from the air. "I've still got no other contacts," he says, which is just a less insane-sounding way of saying, 'no one is doing anything aggressive or weird enough to upset birds.'

Refocusing on the assassin he has identified, he adds, "Knife — he just pulled a knife. Approaching on your eight. Probably hoping to be away before anyone notices you're hurt." He's ready at a second's notice to dive on the guy, but he's still hoping their net will trap more than the unidentified attacker.

Winter Soldier doesn't know Irene…and he doesn't know that it's Black Widow in disguise so the glance she gives him doesn't even register a second look. He does, however, note the other man's movement closer to her. He circles around slowly, hoping not to be noticed by the other as he gets closer and closer. No gun is drawn yet…not until he starts in at his target. Only then will a silenced gun be pulled out and the other agent shot.

It should be easy this close, but it's a park full of SHIELD agents. He's off like a shot as soon as the gun is fired. If he's lucky, he'll be able to blend back into a crowd somewhere.

However, he didn't even think that there was aerial support. He really should have known better.

Irene remains on the bench, she knows an attack is coming with a knife, and she anticipates Falcon would delay any aerial support in the hopes Winter Soldier is the second prong of the attack. So while she pays some attention to the oncoming attacker with the knife, reported by Falcon, she's also on the look for the familiar baseball cap approaching her vicinity.

When she does spot Winter Soldier, she nearly reaches for her hidden weapon, when she notes he's not even considering her. Weird. She tries to go with a gut feeling, and instead of turning to engage the identified target, she gets up and starts to walk away, forcing her assailant to lunge at her if he really wants to close the distance for a knife attack. But it also gives Winter Soldier all the space in the world to shoot her assailant before he can reach her. Soon as she hears the wouldbe assassin grunting in pain as he's suddenly shot, she whirls to look for Winter Soldier, <Falcon, anyone moving away? I think the Winter Soldier just protected me.>

Okay, that registered on Falcon's avian radar. "Wait, there he is!" The flier sees the drawn gun, shouts a warning, and dives. Too late to prevent the shot, but it turns out he didn't need to. Still, there will be time to figure out the meaning of that little twist later. For now, they need both men captured, and one of them is making a run for it.

"He's fleeing to the North," Sam reports. "I might be able to trip him up." The flier angles his dive, extends his wings from their delta, and swoops out to lateral flight, throwing a wave of disturbed air over the crowd as he goes. He fires one of his gauntlet snares at Bucky and immediately pulls up, hoping to entangle the cyborg, then immediately get him into the air so that escaping the snare won't be the best idea.

Winter Soldier is indeed running, darting around pedestrians and pedi-cabs on his way towards Times Square. It's always crowded in Times Square…easy to duck into a crowd or into a building and exit the other side with none the wiser. In fact, he should have done that to get aerial off of his tale.

Hindsight is ever 20/20.

The snare catches him and, even as he tries to pull at the cables to snap them, he's being lifted up off of the ground.

It seems promises can be broken.

Looking up past the brim of his cap to see the familiar form of Falcon, he spits out, "You lying son of a bitch!"

"Get him!" Irene calls out urgently into her com, before rushing first to subdue the wouldbe assassin who just got shot. She cuffs him, before assigning two agents to take him to medical before preparing him for interrogation. With that slight delay, she rushes towards the street where she has her bike waiting for her, "I'll lock on your position, be sure to get him, I got the sleeping agent on me." As soon as she'll get to her wheels, she'll set after Falcon using her transponder device. Black Widow usually comes prepared.

It's… not an unfair assessment. Sam winces, feeling bad about the betrayal for a second. Then: "You broke into my apartment and put a gun to my head!" he barks back, reminding the Winter Soldier of the circumstances of their arrangement. "You can't expect honest promises at gunpoint! Next time ask politely!"

Thrusters roaring, Falcon banks toward the condemned lot he and Natasha prearranged as their ideal post-op rendezvous point. "Got him," he reports. Barring any hostile actions by the Soldier, they should be there in just under a minute.

Winter Soldier isn't surrendering. However, he's not going to fight while he's being flown in the air. That's just plain stupid and he knows it. If he shoots the man flying him, then they both fall to the streets of New York, quite possibly to their deaths.

So he'll wait. And plan. No response is given to the sad excuse for the other breaking his word. There is, now, complete mistrust instilled in him.

Only once he's close enough to the ground that he won't severly injure himself does he start fighting, using the grapple line to pull himself closer to try and land a punch or two on the other. Now he'll fight back.

"See, this is what I'm talking about," Sam says as Bucky climbs lightning-fast up the grapple line. "Rude." The snares release by opening their magnetic clamps: the cables themselves aren't designed to detach. This means he doesn't really have a way to deal with his attacker. Unless…

Falcon's wings slide back, and what was a gentle descent turns into a gut-wrenching dive. He's going to attempt to slam the Soldier bodily into the ground, and hope he has enough altitude left himself for braking before he hits, too.

Zooming and weaving in traffic to get to the rendezvous point, Natasha has already got a pistol loaded with sleeping agents in one hand, she can see the struggle that starts and fires a shot in an attempt to subdue Winter Soldier, but as Falcon starts a dive, it just misses. "Can't ever be just nice and easy, huh? Crash into the ground if you need, I'll be all over him," and by all over him, Natasha apparently means to crush her bike straight into Winter Soldier, she knows he's tough enough to take it, and means to stun him while he's off guard.

If it was easy, Winter Soldier would still be in SHIELD custody. As it is, he may be again, but he's not going to let it be something so simple. The baseball cap goes flying off as he's dragged, with Falcon's dive, towards the ground. Bracing himself for impact, Winter Soldier rolls on the ground - it'll be an intense case of road-rash, but the brunt of the landing went on his cybernetic arm, which could take the force. Scraped up a bit, he gets to his feet, the silenced pistol appearing in his hand.

"So much for helping you," is growled out even as he aims at Falcon. The bike ramming into him wasn't in the plans, however.

He's tough enough to not be killed by the hit, but it dodn't feel good and he didn't have time to brace for it. Flying backwards, he lands, the wind knocked out of him, and he's stunned for a moment before he tries to push himself back to his feet.

"If it were easy, they wouldn't send us," Sam answers with a grunt of effort. He does his best to pull out of his dive, but it's not quite possible: he hits the ground, wings immediately retracting, and rolls and skids to a halt. Not as bad as the Winter Soldier got it, but it still looks painful. At least the assassin let go of the snare so he could retract it; he doesn't much like the idea of being tied to the man.

Still, he grimaces in sympathy when Nat rams the man. "Jesus, Widow," he says, unholstering one of his own machine pistols and covering the HYDRA dupe where he fell. "Do yourself a favor and stay down, Elsa," he warns.

There's a reason Black Widow has the reputation she does, and while many only know of rumors and stories without having any way of knowing if Natasha is spreading tall tales about herself or others do. For once, Falcon does get a first row seat to the type of things Natasha will do, she's half standing on the bike moments before ramming Winter Soldier, and as she does, she leaps off, so she can land on top of him after the crash. She doesn't mean to let Winter Soldier have any recovery time this go around, and while trying to get a lock on his human arm, she releases a blast of Widow's Kiss which looks like a pink cloud exploding in Winter Soldier's face. She knows he'll fight to the end if he has to, so she means to knock him out, so she can have a better and more civil conversation with him later on. She doesn't say anything to Falcon quite yet, wanting to make sure she really has Winter Soldier under control first. Last time she got shot for getting careless.

Winter Soldier is definitely going to fight to the end, at least, that's his plan. Maybe he remembers her from their previous meeting…most likely he hasn't been reset since then or he wouldn't have acted on the promise he thought he and Sam made. He does try to twist out of her grip, bringing his metal arm to try and punch at her or blast an EMP.

That is, until the cloud of knockout gas hits him squarely in the face.

He fights it…he fights the effects and maybe if it wasn't so direct, he might have escaped it.

This is what he gets for trying to do the 'right thing'. No wonder he tried to run.

He tries for one last swing and push before he collapses, unconscious from the Kiss.

"Damn. Nice." Sam slowly lowers his weapon, then holsters it and moves to Natasha's side, checking the Winter Soldier's vitals. "He's stable," he says, already unzipping one of the pockets on his flight harness and getting ziptie restraints. The ankles are a simple matter; when he gets to the wrists, he snorts and says, "Almost forgot." Another pocket yields a few bright alphabet magnets — Z, A, and P — which he lines up on the skin of the metal arm.

"Guy broke into my apartment, trying to bargain for us to lay off him," he says, standing. "Wanting to promise to leave SHIELD alone if I'd leave him alone." He shrugs, continuing, "Figured if this op worked, he'd have already broken his end of that deal. Never thought he'd come in on our side. Guess I didn't exactly make a friend today."

Natasha doesn't look too happy as she struggles to keep a hold and restrain Winter Soldier from being able to escape, just long enough for the Widow's Kiss to catch him off guard. When he finally does lose conciousness, the Black Widow rolls off his arm and gets on her feet. "Now I'll have to repair my bike, just terrific…" she starts with the levity, before leveling a rather stern gaze with Faclon, "how come I'm only hearing about it now? It's kind of a key piece of information in planning an operation like this…" she shakes her head and spits out a few choice words in Russian. Yes, she's not pleased.

As Sam works some restraints on Winter Soldier, Natasha says rather sharply, "do you want to file the report to get credit? I don't mind, but if you do, make no mention of the Winter Soldier. There was an assassin, we fooled him with a decoy target, you got him. That's the story…" she then looks at the Winter Soldier in a rare moment of peace, if one can call it that, "as for him, he has a personal date with me…that's why you're the only other person involved, Sam. I didn't even discuss it with Fury."

Loosening the somber tone, Nat does add with a playful wink, "hey, at least you know he really didn't want to kill you. If he made it to your apartment, he really wanted to talk. You'd be dead otherwise, with all due respect." Returning her gaze to Winter Soldier once again, approaching him to look down at a very familiar face she sighs, "don't worry about the promises and making friends, he'll come around. I won't give up on him."

"I didn't want to come running to you like I'd lost my cool just because some creep threatened me," Sam explains. "And honestly? To have someone like him begging for a deal just sounded to me like we were getting too close and he wanted to lose the heat. I didn't think he would take the deal seriously." He squints at Natasha and adds, "I kind of feel like there's more to this guy than you're letting on." That would be consistent with her reputation, at least.

As for the collar? "Everybody at that picnic saw me swoop in. No one's going to mistake me for some other metal wings guy," he agrees. "I'll take responsibility and we can keep this off the books. But I'll need that pistol so the ballistics match up."

"I understand," Natasha remarks, before smirking at Sam, "men like that macho act, huh?" She teases briefly, before quipping, "I'd appreciate a tip next time, this could have been a real game changer…glad it worked out in the end." When Sam mentions that he feels there's more to the Winter Soldier then she's been sharing with him, Natasha turns to look at him with a big grin, "you think? How many times can you count on one hand that I personally took after an assassin, with a team of 2 on an operation?"

When he agrees to take the responnsibility, Natasha recites, "Agent Rodriguez took the assassin for treatment, he should be in confinement later, check with him, he must have taken the pistol as evidence. Nobody saw what happens, just say I was at risk, you took the shot and saved me…" she pauses a moment to let it sink in, and then asks, "need me to tamper with it so fingerprints match? Or can you handle that part?"

She then turns to her bike, it's in bad shape, she'll leave the repairs for another time. Good thing she arranged for a get away vehicle at the lot. "So, step 1, you debrief Agent Rodriguez, make the connection with the pistol. Step 2, inform everyone of the operation, but omit Winter Soldier. We set a trap for an assassin, I was bait, you covered my ass, mission accomplished, rounds of drinks for everyone…" she doesn't continue to list any further steps as she reaches to pick up Winter Soldier, "help me get him in the back seat, we're going for a ride me and him." She doesn't mention where or to what end. Though she does look at Falcon briefly to say, "don't worry, I won't kill him."

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