Charming the Cobra

January 13, 2015:

A brief meeting between Roy, Baroness, and Winter Soldier leaves quite a bit open to level a playing field… Or two.

Madripoor - The Black Lagoon Bar

Spotted with lush tropical resorts, private parks, houses and manors the
Island of Madripoor looks to an outsider's view a virtual paradise but upon
closer inspection this former sanctuary for freebooters and pirates is
anything but.
As one of the business capitals of the Pacific Rim beyond it's beautiful
areas there lie unprotected squalors of poverty stricken civilization seated
at the feet of monolithic skyscrapers that are rife with prostitution, drugs
and slave trade. Both criminal haven and a place of escape and abandon for
the wealthy Madripoor is truly a place to marvel at.
Located in the straits of Malacca nestled between Singapore and Sumatra this
city state is both magnificent and terrifying. The careless are sometimes
never seen again.

Characters

NPCs: Zayin

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Black Lagoon.

It'd been some time since Roy set foot in that particular bar. Run by an old Checkmate contacts of his, Roy Harper hadn't been back there in some time, not since there was a blow-up involving an arms deal that went haywire.

This time around, he was going as himself, and not undercover, but he dressed to the nines anyway. After all, he was going to encounter a Baroness.

Seated in the bar, with his old 'Contact' keeping an eye on him, Roy nurses the scotch, reviewing his mental notes.

HYDRA, working with ley lines / power lines / whatever you wanted to call them. The most notable place was in South America… and they were dangerously close to crossing Cobra interests, if he wasn't mistaken.

While he wasn't sure -what- might be known, it wouldn't have hurt to find out.

And so an invitation had been sent… and acknowledged. With a whiff of oh so much danger and allure.

Now the question for Roy Harper was, how does one play with two different varieties of snakes and survive?

What was ones deceitful vacation is anothers platter of ambrosia. Madripoor is in a reform on this coast, one to suit COBRA and the Baroness with the handling and ownership of a docking bay, monopolizing imports as well as exports, enabling elbow rubbing with the pirates that now occupy the Black Lagoon and drink loudly. Some things in history never change through to modern day, save the attire.

The doors to the place open, two armed and armored Cobra militants enter, stepping into line and forming -post- at either sides of the door, their eyes falling upon Roy, one speaking inaudibly but obviously with only so much as a button press.

The SUV door flings open and a cigarette butt follows, the small plume of smoke snuffed out by booted toe. The sheen of that boot tells of the metal plating to follow, ascending in the ways of old, plated but flexible where it is necessary, hinged at the knee where plating spikes upward over the leather body suit that ascends higher, entrapping feminine figure and covering it where the rest of that armor plating fails to cover. Her chest bearing a fitted breastplate and a red cobras head with hood spread upon it telling just who she is and who she represents despite the allegiances.

Stepping into the bar the sun from behind reflects off the lenses of glasses, for a moment glaring out that subarctic hue of eyes that settle upon Roy - prelude to her path that wound the serpent between tables and chairs, dodging body's who also sidestepped with recollection of who the woman is.

Russian accented vocals lilt upon the air just before she claims a seat across from Roy, her toe hooking on the leg and dragging it out /slowly/. "To what do I owe this visit? I do hope you bring me something worth your weight considering it has been /so long/."

The Winter Soldier is a couple of steps behind Baroness, and he retains that distance after she sits, looming over the meeting in his goggles, mask, and kevlar-reinforced uniform; there are also a couple of handguns and a knife visibly strapped to his person, because Madripoor is that kind of place.

He doesn't necessarily have a lot to add to a sit-down like this one, but— see above about the overall character of Madripoor; a cybernetic bodyguard with programmed loyalties and no moral boundaries isn't the worst thing to bring to a meeting.

Hm… a new bodyguard, Roy observes, though what it meant… well he was probably overthinking this. A woman like this one might well run through bodyguards like a hot knife through butter.

Adjusting his tie, Roy stands up to offer to pull out the chair, only to incline his head, partly out of acknowledgment, partly to observe better the process of how that leg coiled out.

Taking a seat once again, after giving the Winter Soldier a once-over, Roy begins with a simple question: "How do you feel about HYDRA?"

Hm… a new bodyguard, Roy observes, though what it meant… well he was probably overthinking this. A woman like this one might well run through bodyguards like a hot knife through butter.

Adjusting his tie, Roy stands up to offer to pull out the chair, only to incline his head, partly out of acknowledgment, partly to observe better the process of how that leg coiled out.

Taking a seat once again, after giving the Winter Soldier a once-over, Roy begins with a simple question: "Drink?"

Once she's given her choice of drink, -then- Roy gets down to the actual question: "How do you feel about HYDRA?"

The tender was already bringing over the bottle of Vodka, as well as a few glasses of ice, settling them upon the table top just as Baroness takes the seat Roy seeks to aid her in claiming.

The smile that spreads across lips reflects a sheen of that deadly intent, the forebodance already there cast in shadows from the 'hood' of black hair that frames her face and descends down her back. Once her seat is taken and she leans back in repose she pours the glasses and slides one towards Winter Soldier, Roy, and her own plucked between gloved fingertips.

His question only garners silence for several heartbeats, save the sound of ice tinking against glass with each circulatory rotation. A sip and then she leans forward, one elbow propped upon the table to be the stand and hold her drink aloft.

"How do I /feel/ about HYDRA? It depends on which head you inquire of, but how *I* /feel/ does not matter. Baseline. Why, Bard?"

The Winter Soldier turns his head in response to Roy's offer, enough to make it plainly obvious that he's just staring at him for several silent moments.

Eventually, his gaze shifts down towards Baroness in search of guidance on the matter; the goggles no doubt obscure his aims somewhat, but she's a smart woman. Also, she probably has enough access to his files to know that he tends towards subservience in the presence of a handler. When she does go ahead and and slide a drink in front of him, he promptly unclasps his mask, snags it, and takes a sip.

He is, at least, better prepared to answer the other question, even if it isn't actually directed towards him: as soon as Roy poses it, he murmurs, "Hail HYDRA," as if by reflex.

"Hnh."

Studying the color of his scotch against the stained table, Roy raises his head, regarding the Baroness with all the wariness of the mongoose, circling about the snake. One can almost hear ''Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk'' grinding through the mental gears, as he considers Winter Soldier, before jerking a thumb at him. "Did you take over one of the heads, or is this just one of those… pickups?"

Leaning back, Roy shrugs, flashing a half-crooked smile. "Well, it's a shame, really, I was thinking of the South American Hydra branch. I'd thought they were getting entirely too close to… your interests there. Unless, of course, you're not working with the cartels there."

Her glass raises to what Winter Soldier says, silently toasting to it, though when she leans back in her chair the smile upon lips barely conceals the curve of fang, her gaze shifting to Winter as she speaks. "He is a great solidifying force." One leg crosses over the other with ease, shifting her seated position to seem more like that of her rest upon a throne instead of a dingy wooden chair in a 'pirates' brothel.

"Where one has many heads another has many fingers," One hand rises and her digits spread, then curl inward into the form of a fist, the digit tips resting upon lips that never fully let her grin fade. "What of my interests in Chile?"

Now something in that smile wilts to show the utter lack of sunlight in her inquiry.

"Apparently all your fingers haven't quite come together into a fist yet," Roy replies, taking a swig from his glass. "Hydra's been sniffing around South America. Mostly around Mayan holy sites. Thing being, though, that they're… well, making more and more people around the area kinda like…" He considers that, before jerking a thumb at Winter Soldier. "Like him."

Baroness' eyes are set to a deadly narrow now, the sliver of a glean showing the shift between Winter and Roy when he makes his comparison - a knife's edge. "He is loyal to HYDRA. There is no fault in that. Like my men to me."

As if in show of such baroness comes to a swift rise from the chair, sending the legs screeching back across the wooden floor of the bar. One sound that masked another, but now Roy has those two Cobra militants standing behind him with their FN-2000's leveled just at spine level. The place now falls eerily quiet.

"I think you need to elaborate on what you /know/." Oh she is aware of what HYDRA has done to Winter, but let's not insult. There is a very… delicate… agreement between Cobra and HYDRA, and this information better be keeping that in mind.

One hand rises and two fingers are held up and together, splitting to aim at the tender. "Relax, men."

In the blink of an eye, the Winter Soldier is not only clutching a pistol in his left hand, he's pointing it between Roy's eyes. Maybe the Baroness' movement was a signal; maybe he's just that good at reading the room.

Either way, the gun doesn't waver an inch until Baroness issues the order to stand down, not even as he takes another sip of his vodka.

In the blink of an eye, the Winter Soldier is not only clutching a pistol in his left hand, he's pointing it between Roy's eyes. Maybe the Baroness' movement was a signal; maybe he's just that good at reading the room.

Either way, the gun doesn't waver an inch until Baroness issues the order to stand down, not even as he takes another sip of his vodka. The gun doesn't go back into its holster after the order, either; he just lowers it.

"Speak carefully," he flatly reminds Roy in support of the Baroness.

This was the cobra baring its fang, unfurling its hood, weaving back and forth, a warning signal, beautiful and deadly.

Refusing to flinch, Roy waves a hand back up towards his old Checkmate contact, keeping her back from making her own response. It was, after all, her bar, and she wasn't about to tolerate these antics. "Easy there, easy there," he says, as though soothing the savage serpent. "I don't suppose you're well aware of the ley lines running through the Mayan holy sites, do you? They're using… hoodoo or something, to slowly convert people into working for HYDRA. I merely offer the possibility that you may want to look towards your own men. It wouldn't do if they were subverting your men the way you've… him, hmmm?"

Baroness is staring over the rim of her glasses at Roy, not bothering to look at the woman. They had a past, a present, and an agreement, but like most things, dalliances can be held on wavering cords.

The signal not only makes the men ease back with weapons slowly lowered, another that blends with the current occupants rises and exits, returning moments later with ladies on his arm - those of questionable yet profitable repute, but apparently one of the Cobra militants knows the red head because she squeals and unceremoniously jumps upon him with legs twined about his waist.

Baroness pushes her glasses slowly back up on the bridge of her nose and the glance to Roy now is a cold calculation, long frozen over with unmoving placidity. "It is not ley lines or /hoodoo/ that create loyalty that I keep close." Winter might be a small exception, but none the less she is not -lying- in saying as much. He was not her doing, that is not how /she/ operates.

Standing beside Winter now, she watches over the rim of her glass while she partakes of her vodka, a blonde woman, dressed in a lycra dress of deep red coming to pay the man beside Baroness a visit. A single brow rising as she watches, wondering what would occur with Winter upon such an offering.

"I do, however, appreciate the warning, Bard. I will look to my men and that of HYDRA to be sure this is not a mistake or something more."

Pausing though her eyes shift from Winter and the woman approaching back to Roy. "What do you gain from this? What of yours is in danger that you come back here?"

The Winter Soldier is just about to sip from his vodka when his attention is inexorably drawn to the blonde in the body-conforming dress who's suddenly placed herself right beside him. Wordlessly and with a gradually furrowing brow, he studies every inch of her from behind his dark-lensed goggles, taking great pains to fill in what he can't see with what little imagination the Russians/HYDRA have left him with.

Maybe thirty seconds later - provided that she doesn't pose a security risk - he'll turn his attention back to Roy and finally have that sip without giving the blonde another thought.

"Are you seeking a favor?" he idly wonders of the redhead.

"More like… information," Roy replies, regarding the blonde in the body conforming dress, before turning his attention back to the Baroness with a speculative look. "And think about it… if they're influencing -your- people, then they're almost assuredly influencing -mine-. There's no way they'd let that pass up… you'd be the first to know for sure. The… canary in the coal mine, you know what I mean by that…?"

It was a very simple thing with miners- they'd just send a bird down the deep mines, where the heavy gases gathered. If the bird came up alive, then it was safe for the miners. And if the bird didn't come up… well, good for the miners, they'd just diffuse the gas. But the canary…

The blonde tried to maintain Winter's attention, looking over to the others that now had Cobra agents immersed then back to the one that seemed to consider and then… Nothing. She frowns, but it is only slight as she reaches to touch, perhaps gain attention….

That is when Baroness' own hand snaps out and intercepts her touch without even giving the woman a look. "He did not initiate." Now the blondes face seems to wilt a bit as two fingers of Baroness' work into the wrists pressure point and twist, slowly almost bringing the woman to her knees - they're buckling…

Baroness then raises her brows and flicks her hand back and forth as if she was dangling that blonde and offering her to Roy like a treat. Silently inquiring. /You want this one?/

Baroness finally releases the woman and finishes her vodka, setting the glass down upon the table and refilling it.

"I am aware. I have yet to hear of /my/ dealings being effected, but in this case…." The look upon Baroness is apathetic, but there is a militaristic way in which her shoulders are squared, her spine is rigid and her tone; that accent. Irritation in thought. Had something slipped by?

"Zayin!" The man seemed to appear from nowhere. A Night Creeper by blood, an accountant by appearances, but he heard it all and his look is baleful in comparison to that cool indifference of Baroness. "We leave tonight. Be sure Ravage is ready."

Now she looks back at Bard. "You'll know if I found out lines have been crossed." He'll likely see it from the States.

Even though he's not looking at the blonde, the Winter Soldier can almost feel her preparing to breach his personal space. His muscles subtly tense and a soft whine rises from his left arm as his hair stands on end, and the tension doesn't pass until well after Baroness wards her away.

Which, really, is probably the healthiest thing for her; he's on high alert right as long as he's here to watch over the Baroness, so unsolicited contact? Probably not wise.

By the time he actually looks over to where the blonde was, she's, well— not there; this suits the Soldier just fine, so he turns his attention back to Roy and follows Baroness' lead in downing the rest of his vodka. After setting the glass on the table, he starts to wonder, "Will you be— " before pausing as he meets an unexpected rush of light-headedness on his way to straightening back up.

His previous handlers didn't actually let him drink alcohol very often, vodka or otherwise.

"— doing— anything else about this in the meantime— ?" he manages to get out, bracing himself on Baroness' chair with the slightest of frowns.

Well he -did- appreciate the offer, and it was a nice one, as Roy gives the blonde the eye, before shaking his head at Baroness. No, business, it was.

Slumping back, Roy regards the Winter Soldier curiously, before asking… "Not a cyborg, is he…?" He'd heard rumors about some of COBRA's soldiers, but since this bodyguard wasn't quite so faceless, he wasn't sure what -this- meant.

/Tss/. That small hiss sounds as Baroness draws her upper lip from her teeth and presses her tongue to the backs of them. Watching Roy (Bard) as she does so, she remains stoic beside Bucky as he regains himself, only regarding him with subarctic gaze after Roy's inquiry that wrought such a sound.

"You have come inquiring about one thing. You have your response." Her voice never has left that carefully tread stillness until she leaves her post near Winter and moves around the table towards Roy.

Every movement is well trained, intent upon it, down to that hypnotic sway and that slow rise of her hand, bringing her to cup Bard's chin should he not shy away. Leaning in it almost would look intimate, lips carefully hovering just over his ear as she utters, enough so only the three of them can hear. "You should also be careful on how much of mine you look into."

Upon release of her hand there also leaves Roy the proximity to see the /promise/ in that smile. Time left rifts, but sometimes things are best left unanswered. Disliked results are best left to not knowing and Winter was no ones business but hers for this moment.

Time given for him to recover she paused, looking back over her shoulder for Winter to join her as she responds. "We leave tonight. Until then indulge, or join me." Allowing him drinks, granting him options…

In the backdrop one of her men laughed as a woman shrieked and laughed with him. Most know to enjoy the moment when she gives it.

The Winter Soldier's brow knits a little further at the options he's presented; neither is optimal to him. If it were up to him, he'd be going over additional intel, checking his weapons, trying to acquire more… anything and everything he could to increase their chances of a successful operation.

"I'll join you," he flatly decides after a few seconds' delay. All the better to keep her safe; he'll forgo further drinks unless they're given to him though.

"What, no invitation for me, Baroness dear?" Roy replies, arching his eyebrows, though he makes no move to get up. But flirting with danger… well, that applied here just fine.

Looking back up at his ex-Contact, Roy nods slowly. "Okay, right, rack up the darts, then you can tell me how stupid I am. Bring over that bottle of Jack Daniels too."

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