Cutscene: Shadows Cast by Feathers

May 18, 2017:

In which plans are pushed towards completion, and in which, half a city away, Isa Reichert reflects on the nature of memory and love.

New York City - The Triskelion

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed hear, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"You need to bring her in."

"I know."

Voices. Russian. A woman's alto, and a man's tenor.

Then, the man's voice: "I'm trying. I think I know how to do it, now."

"Oh? Do tell. Boris Petrovich would be very interested in knowing."

"It's not without risk. We'll need to lure her; set out bait. She's with SHIELD now. I don't know how loyal she is, so there is still an element of risk."

"What kind of bait? You've said she's incredibly willful and stubborn, and has always been terribly rash. Nekulturny, too, I'm sure. Look at all the trouble she has caused, even if her skill forms the base of the project."

"I would not call her that. As for bait… well, if you want to catch a she-bear, bring honey. She can't resist the next best thing. She never could. All the newest innovations; all the latest improvements."

"So you want to use the prototypes."

"Yes. Let her know they exist. She will be drawn to them. So will SHIELD, but Vasiliy Andreivich tells me his strike teams and escorts can handle any threat posed by SHIELD's assets."

"What about taking her into custody?"

"I'll shoot her aircraft down. I believe they have her flying quinjets, now. They are easily disabled."

"So you'll take her by force. Bold. What if she doesn't want to cooperate?"

"Five years is a long time. She will want to see me again. And a man can change in that time. Pressure creates diamond out of carbon. I was young, and stupid—"

"You're taking off your ring."

"—Yes. I am. Don't you see? She is already dead. Or she soon will be, with the trouble she has run into. It is not trouble that simply goes away. I am doing this to protect her. If she cooperates it will be good. This prototype is capable of so much. Imagine; no more risking human pilots, not ever again. No more spectacular accidents to destroy pilots' lives."

"And if she does not?"

"Then the life she will live if she refuses Icarus, it will be a very troubled one. But I do not think she will cooperate. She knows too much. It would be a kinder thing to give her peace by my own hand. She has suffered much in the past five years. So much."

"Just like that? Snuff her out like a candle? Cold. Very cold. What about the eight years you were together?"

"Does it matter any more?" There's a slight hesitation in the man's voice. Guilt. Sadness and pain. "No doubt she has moved on. I want only her cooperation in this matter. I am tired. You people told me for so long seh was captured, she was dead, she was in terrible trouble… and now you say the Kremlin wants her head on a pike, also? That is no kind of life for her. This project will allow her to do what she loves, for the rest of her life. She will not be discharged because she has only one eye, now, or dismissed bceause she grows old. Icarus can protect her."

"Did that happen? Was she discharged?"

"Yes, from what I have found. She is a cripple. I have seen the damage. But she still has knowledge and experience that will be a great boon to Icarus."

"How will you catch her?"

"I will shoot down her quinjet myself. Our rescue crews will retrieve her. I am confident she can survive another crash, and I will choose carefully where to deal damage."

"Is that what you will do, then?"

"Yes."

"What if she does not cooperate?"

"Then we will take what we need. Anyway, it is for her own good. For the greater good. For advancement. She will know too much by the time we have retrieved her. She has always been so willful, my Raya… but she will see this time that she cannot always have her way. Not this time."

Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva stood at her apartment's small kitchen window. It wasn't much, as kitchen windows went. It could open when the weather was nice, and it did let a fair amount of light in.

She clutched a coffee mug in her hands, steam still curling from its top, and a cigarette dangled from her lower lip. He eyepatch lay at a slight angle where she hadn't yet bothered to adjust it. She still wore the tank top and sweatpants she had worn to bed.

Dawn hadn't quite arrived yet, the light filtering in still decidedly grey. Her eye lingered on the living room, and the loveseat before its little coffee table, where the slight cramped form of an agent lay sleeping… well, probably not peacefully, she decided, but somewhat restfully.

The sight troubled her. Why, she could not say. This agent would not endanger her home, or herself. If anything, he had proven himself as a protector of all to do with her; a fact she could not be more grateful for.

Don't go down that road, Yakovleva. Isa took a slow sip of her coffee, mechanically, eye locked on the loveseat. Yet still… five years, and no messages at all. Why did he not try? Were we truly ships passing one another by in the night? Or was there a reason for Misha's silence…?

Her fingers drummed softly on the ceramic of her mug, gaze dropping to the coffee still in it. Am I in love with no more than a dream; a memory? Has he moved on, after so long?

Would I have…?

Almost against her will, her eye drew back towards the living room and its sleeping agent. Her expression fell a little.

Merciful God. What am I to do…?

She looked down, to the plain gold wedding band around her ring finger. Setting her cup aside, she eased it off, looking it over carefully; studying the way one side was slightly misshapen from the heat of the flame, watching the way the light glanced off of it.

What if he is not the same man I left behind?

Her eye roamed past her palm, to the rumpled suit visible even from the kitchen. So far as she could see, he was still sleeping peacefully, or as peacefully as he was liable to get in a cramped position like that.

He remembered exactly how she took her coffee. What were the odds…?

And what am I going to do about that one?

The rising sun held no answer for her. She twisted her ring back onto her finger, with effort, but couldn't help a stab of apprehension as she did. The ring barely fit onto her finger any more. An omen?

Isa sighed quietly into her cup. There's nothing to be done about him, I suppose. I don't have the heart to wake him. A flicker of a smile touched her face, watching the agent sleep as she cradled the coffee mug in both hands. He looks so tired; as exhausted as I feel. Yes, I will let him sleep just a little while longer. I do not doubt he rarely has opportunity to do so…

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