Off the Reservation

January 26, 2015:

May is more than angry enough to want to distance herself from all things SHIELD. Where is an ideal place to do that? Gotham. It helps that she already has a contact here by the name of Oracle. SHIELD — or one of May's fellow agents — tries to follow.

Gotham, various

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Barely a day has passed since Fury put May on administrative leave. She's still not calmed down. In fact, she's angry enough to do something rash, very much unlike her. So she packs a go bag, pulls the cash she'd stashed for a rainy, no, wintry day, and leaves New York. At first she's not sure where she's going, but then she finds the train she's on pulling into Gotham, and realizes there are worse places to deal with her annoyance.

Having no way to contact Oracle currently, as all of her SHIELD issue equipment was left behind (yes, very much intentionally), she considers for a moment before making her way to a particular botanical garden, very pointedly stopping to stare up at a nearby surveillance camera before stepping into the garden proper. Come on, Oracle. Prove you're as good as rumors say.

~

Oracle has heard about the HYDRA assault, just rumours mind, but she's heard. HYDRA is of interest to the redheaded hacker, they're going to cause problems in Gotham and she wants to be prepared. She hasn't heard that May, who has helped Oracle out on several occasions, has been put on administrative leave. So, when the redhead see's May in the Botanical Gardens peering at camera's, she's curious. Fortunately, she has plans for times like this. Entering a command on her console, a signal is sent to a courier depot near the gardens and a cyclist sets out with a plain, unmarked cardboard box.

It takes a few moments for the cycle courier to reach May, but as they draw near they ring the bell on the bike and stop near the woman, offering the box. On the box is a note "Open Me".

~

Melinda May quirks an eyebrow at the bike messenger. Really? She accepts the box, though, and after only a moment of consideration (after all, boxes can contain bombs) she opens the box to see what's inside. Okay, Oracle, this is a show of trust. Do NOT let her down, or May won't ever help your damned baby birds ever again.

~

Inside is an Oracle Communicator with a label "Use Me". But the redhead won't waste time and she activates it remotely "Agent May. I take it things at your place of employment are interesting?" The digitally disguised voice pauses "And that you're looking for me. How may I help?"

~

Melinda May puts the unfamiliar comm unit in one ear and listens to the digitized voice. "Understatement. Let me sum it up for you. Administrative Leave." She carefully bundles up the packaging the comm unit came in and leaves the botanical garden again, this time in search of a recycle bin or trash can.

~

Administrative leave, for one of SHIELDS best. Interesting. Oracles eyebrows raise at that news "I'm assuming this is related to the news I've received news about HYDRA attacking SHIELD HQ, there's a bit of back chatter but I don't know much about the attack, just… that it happened." In Clocktower, the redhead watches Mays passage through the Gardens "There's a recycle bin just to the left of the exit. Keep walking while we talk. What do you need?" Oracle has access to safe houses if May needs somewhere to stay for a while.

~

Melinda May finds the recycle bin and puts the packaging there before pulling a new burner phone from her pocket to look at while she walks. That way the comm unit will resemble a bluetooth earpiece to anyone who might be watching. "Yeah, it's related. Let's just say I authorized something that the boss really didn't appreciate." She's still really hoping that Fury rips Hill a new one for being off gallivanting while the Triskelion was being attacked. But, that's irrelevant to her here and now. "Know any good hotels in the area? Maybe some place that serves a good Pho Dac Biet? Kind of skipped lunch." And breakfast. And dinner the evening before, but then she's been kind of too peeved to be hungry.

~

Oracle nods slowly "I am sorry, May." Sometimes you just have to make the decisions others don't like though. "I can recommend a restaurant so you can grab a meal now. If you need accommodation, I have safe houses available. Full security and surveillance on them too." The redhead sends the co-ordinates and information on a nearby restaurant where May can eat, it's got a nice dark corner where she can be out of the way.

~

Melinda May heads toward the indicated restaurant on foot, considering that flashing around the amount of cash she brought with her is likely a bad idea in Gotham, and settles into that nice dark corner. She's already appreciating the restaurant, as the waitstaff clearly have limited English skills, and she can see the little shrine tucked behind the counter. "How's your bird doing? Haven't heard anything in a while."

~

Watching as the Avatar, that marks Agent May on Oracle screens, moves to that restaurant and then stops moving, Oracle waits. "The bird has taken an extended leave of absence. Not before time, May, as you said." Truth is Oracle misses Robin but he needs the break to recover fully. May hadn't spoken truer words previously.

"What are you going to do, May? I don't suppose for a minute that you will actually go on administrative leave and I can't believe your boss believes that either." which probably means there's plans within plans, not uncommon but the execution will need to be handled carefully. "HYDRA are getting bold and, as we discussed, they're starting to dig in here as well."

~

Melinda May orders the Vietnamese noodle soup she'd been craving, then considers Oracle's words. "I'm glad he's getting the time away. That kind of mess can really damage a person." She hesitates for a moment. "Good question. I have a friend going out of town to visit some acquaintances in South America." That might be enough of a clue for the voice to recognize that she means Trent. Maybe. "I might go with him if my passport's up to date." Another code, inferring SHIELD might not want her to up and run to another continent so soon after being put on leave. "Or, I could stay around here and check out the night life. I hear it's pretty hopping."

~

"Yeah, it messed him up alright and with him on indefinite leave my resources are stretched even further. No matter how badly he was mangled, he was good at what he did." Just /one/ of the reasons she misses Robin. Sitting back in her chair, Oracle chews her bottom lip and considers before responding "The nightlife here is pretty exciting really. Never a dull moment and there's lots of colourful characters." She'll take the assistance if it's offered "But South America maybe more fruitful… "

~

Melinda May accepts her meal as it arrives, then after a spoonful or two offers, "Well, since I don't know when my friend is leaving, how about I enjoy the night life around here until then? Warning you, though, I get bored really easily." Is this entire conversation in code? She idly glances at the burner phone she'd set on the table, knowing that there's no way anyone in SHIELD knows the number.

~

Of all the people in the world, one of the few who could track down a Melinda May who didn't want to be found is the Black Widow. Of all the other people in the world, the number who could successfully conceal someone so well that the Black Widow couldn't find her is the Oracle. Legendary for his/her/its/their unalloyed skill in both gathering and concealing knowledge, the Oracle is one of the few entities out there that actually impresses her.

So when she finds that she can't find Agent May, that her trail has dried up almost completely, it doesn't take a massive deduction.

She knows it would be a bad idea to even try infiltrating Oracle's servers.

So she does the next best thing: she intentionally fouls it up.

The message will be caught easily by one of Oracle's trawling nets of security, picking up the sorts of messages that she hunts for. It's positively designed to trip all sorts of alarms, perhaps because it's attached to the oldest known Russian-written virus. Even a fifteen year old copy of Norton would have caught that.

Attached to the worm itself is a small message. Just a few lines of text: "Lonely Widow Seeks Missing Comrade. Vacation's So Dull Without Company. Dinner?"

~

Oracle smiles "I'll be happy to take you out on the town. Introduce you around." The wheelchair bound woman stretches "I would /love it/ if it was boring, to be honest. But that's not likely to happen and this might give us a chance to find some of those snakes we've been wanting to see." Chewing her bottom lip again, Oracle thinks a little longer and frowns as her systems send up an alarm.

The automated defenses in her systems quickly shunt the worm into her sandpit… Oracle rarely lets the attacks be fully repelled, she learns so much from them really. The report that flashes up on her screens has the redheads eyebrows raising "Well May, I don't believe in coincidence. Would you know a Widow seeking a comrade?"

~

Melinda May stops with her spoon partway to her mouth, blinks once, then curses faintly to herself in Cantonese. Hopefully no one around her understands it, because it was pretty vile. "Yeah. Coworker." And one of the people that was off jaunting in the arctic circle while the Triskelion was being overrun by demons. She doesn't hold that against Natasha personally, that spot is currently held by DEPUTY DIRECTOR Hill. Instead, she's just mildly annoyed with anyone and everything SHIELD right now. It IS why she's in Gotham currently. She doesn't ask Oracle to relay a message back, though she's tempted to. Because foisting Nat off on Logan would be amusing. And bad. Simultaneously.

~

"Mmmm, figured it might be." Oracle might even have an idea who it is. "The widow has issued an invitation for dinner in a most inventive way." Oracle is amused. "I can send her to you or a return message. What would you prefer." The Information Goddess of Gotham is already testing that worm and because of it's crude construction, there's a digital signature that is already being traced.

~

The digital signature is pretty much intentional. It couldn't be a clearer stamp. It's almost as if the sender actually intended for the worm to be easily traceable.

Apparently, the Black Widow is at (or at least she's using the wifi of) a Starbucks just outside of Gotham. She's even polite enough not to cross the city limits, though naturally Oracle's tendrils extend worldwide. It might be a sign that she's traced May that far. Or it might be a sign that she knows the Oracle's main base is there. Or it could be coincidence.

It's probably not coincidence.

~

Melinda May considers as she resumes her meal. Romanoff is likely still in New York, and May's perfectly okay with that. So, she opts for the latter choice. "A return message. Tell her 'Wolverine can usually be found by following the stink of his cigar'." Logan might even find that amusing. Maybe. And, if following cigar-stench leads Natasha to that Hellboy person, that would not be a total loss either.

~

The worm is quickly rewritten and the message May's provided attached. "It would appear, May, your grieving friend is sitting just outside of Gotham." As the worm is sent out, targeting the widows computer, Oracle watches it's digital travels. "Message sent, May."

~

Wolverine. Well. THERE'S a name Romanoff knows all too well. She groans softly under her breath and rubs her temples. What on Earth is May doing with Logan, of all people? She does send back a quick message before packing up and heading out.

"O: Thank you very much. M: Some company you keep. Keep safe out there."

~

Melinda May finishes her meal and pockets her burner phone before getting up to pay. She had enough foresight to put a few $20s into her jacket pocket, and one is used now. She doesn't address Oracle again until she's out of the restaurant and walking somewhat aimlessly. "Thanks. For the dinner recommendation and for throwing Widow off my scent."

~

Oracle had forwarded the message to May when it came in and she's happy to wait while May eats. "My pleasure May. Do you need somewhere to stay?" The young woman has been dissecting the code the Widow used "What do you want me to do if she makes contact again?"

~

"Place to stay might be good." Especially with that winter storm already just about shutting the city down. "Depends on why she's making contact. Don't really feel like talking to anyone from work right now. Not unless it's important." Or it's Fury saying the leave has been lifted. Or it's Fitz… no. Not even if it's Fitz. Not right now. The kid didn't do anything to deserve her bad mood aimed at him.

~

Coordinates are transmitted to an Oracle Network Safehouse. "This is one of my places, it's got security and surveillance systems. I'll know if anythings coming your way." The woman in the Clocktower nods at Mays answer "Then I'll pass on the message and you can tell me what you want to do." Oracle won't make the assessment, that's something May can and should do. "I'm looking forward to painting the town red with you, May."

~

Melinda May studies the coordinates, then heads toward the indicated safe house. "Should be interesting, at least." Just the thought. Kicking someone's butt and NOT having to fill out paperwork about it. No, really, it doesn't appeal. At least not on the long term. It's a young person's game, and May's already been doing similar for what suddenly feels like far too long. Sad part is, she knows that she can't just stop. She's piloted a desk before, and it SUCKED. And she's just not got the temperament for Coulson's job. She could be a glorified bus driver for while longer, but even that gets tedious after a while.

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