Piano Man Two Step

May 26, 2014: Black Widow investigates an on the lam hacker incognito and learns some disturbing news

Sal's Bar, Jericho's Loft

Sal's is a run down brick building with a flickering neon sign that only lights half up. It's situated in the shadow of a large, slightly less rundown tenement building, on a street corner. The alley in the back provides employee and delivery access. The owner and barkeep, Sal, keeps order more or less, but the place is frequented by the blue collar and the down and out, so it can be a bit rough on the best of nights.



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Mood Music:

It's two AM now and a muggy not-quite-summer night in the Bronx. On a near deserted street corner, tucked away in the shadow of a slightly run down tenement building, is Sal's. Not quite at dive bar status, Sal's is none the less a rough bar tended by a rough man and frequented by the blue collar and the down and out. Only the late crowd is out now and tonight that's not much of a crowd at all. Last call isn't for another two hours, but it's time for most of the graveyard shift staff to call it quits. In this case that's just one man and he's coming out of the employees enterence in the alley now, shrugging into a long leather coat despite the heat of the night and donning a faded baseball cap a slightly darker shade of brown than his hair.

"Night Jeri!" The barkeep's voice calls out through the door.

Jericho turns and waves. "Night Sal. See you in a couple days." He shuts the door, looking down and taking in a deep breath.

Earlier in the night, the Black Widow spent about four hours in the run down old bar, chatting up the locals and the staff. Introduced herself as 'Sarah Bennett'. She didn't strike anyone as out of place — just new to the neighborhood. Her Bronx accent marked her as local enough not to raise eyebrows, and her attire was in keeping with the stuff the post-high-school-forget-college girls are prone to wear.

Indeed, when she first came in, she actually asked Sal if he had any openings. And, given one of the girls called in sick, tonight, he was willing to give her a 'trial run'. Didn't do too bad, really. Only got to keep her tips, of course. But at least she didn't break anything, and she didn't screw up the orders any. Indeed, a couple of the more vulgar regulars commented on how much they appreciated the 'change of scenery'.

By the time Jericho is exiting the alley itself, she's exiting the bar, her jacket hooked over her shoulder, a hand in the pocket of her black cut-offs, over the cluster of tip bills she managed to amass.

Jericho, or Jeri as Sal calls him all the time, spent the last few hours playing sets on a beat up but still tuned old piano in the bar. And damned if he isn't pretty good at it too. He seems to have a knack for knowing when to play something with a bit more pep, and when to play something slower and soothing to calm the crowd down. He doesn't appear to have noticed the Black Widow in any unusual way during that time, save a few glances at 'Sarah' as she carried drinks about. Fewer, though, than most of the rest of the bar, including Sal. Now, as he exits the alley he turns, and strides up the street toward the intersection and the loitering agent, angling to turn the corner and keep going. It's concealed pretty well but the bulge in his jacket may suggest to the keen eyed observers that there's a concealed weapon under the jacket.

'Sarah' looks up and down the street. Its mostly deserted at this hour of night. That's not really a surprise. She clocks Jeri as he continues down the street and, after a beat, calls out, "Hey! Hey, you're Jeri, right? You played the piano in there?" She offers an easy smile. "You're pretty good. Guy at the last place I worked kept cycling through freakin' elevator music. At least, you mix it up a little."

Jericho stops and half turns, looking at her over his shoulder. He offers her a smile that's slightly less easy. Chalk it up to the late night. "Thanks Sarah. You did pretty well tonight yourself. I hope Sal can find a spot for you." He's polite. Genuine, so far as it goes, it would seem.

Sarah gives a wry smile in response. "Yeah, me too. It'd sure help with the rent, at least." And the bar doesn't suck. Not for a girl like her, anyway, if appearances can be believed. "So, you worked for Sal long? You think I got a good chance?"

The older man shrugs. "Not long. Just a few weeks, really. Sal's help rotates I think. Dunno how many hours you might get but you didn't break anything tonight, so you have a better chance than most. Kinda seem to have a flair for it actually." And the right look. He doesn't say that though. Not polite. And he's still polite, even these days. Mostly. Ish.

Not that Sarah would react poorly to the compliment, in any case. It comes with the demographic. "Ah, I been waitressing since I was sixteen." She looks maybe 22, now. Her gesture is light, dismissive, pulling a hand out of her pocket. "Places worse than this, too. I mean, at least this place, they don't got the flop house over the tap room, know what I'm saying?"

Jeri grimices. "Yeah. I've worked a few dives in my time. Both sides of the bar. Gotta pay the bills. But Sal's a decent guy. He doesn't let anyone harrass his workers. You could do a lot worse." He looks down the street. "Anyway, I should probably be getting out of here. You walking home?"

Sarah gives a quick, casual nod. "Yeah. Don't live too far from here. 'S why I figured I'd check the place out. Saves on bus fare, ya know?" Her head cants. "You? I haven't been in the neighborhood long. Still kinda figure out where everything is."

"Same here. I have a bike but I don't like leaving it out in a lot this late." There was a time when he would have insisted on walking her home, or at least calling her a cab to make sure she got back safe. After a year on the run though he's more concerned with getting out of the open, even if 'the open' is just an almost deserted street corner at two in the morning.

The girl certainly doesn't seem to be looking for an escort of any sort. And the way her eyes flick up and down the street occasionally suggests she's used to the realities of late nights in New York City. "Yeah, that's just asking for a hotwire," she agrees. "I used to ride my boyfriend's bike occasionally." A beat. "Till we broke up, anyway." She gives a shrug at that. "But, hey. It was nice meeting you. Just wanted to say I liked your playing. Won't keep you." She starts moving away down the street.

Jericho waves. "Nice meeting you Sarah. Maybe I'll see you again in a couple days." He turns without really giving it much more thought. Once he thinks she's out of sight he brings his arms up near his chest. To an untrained observer he might just be rubbing his left wrist absently after a long night of playing. Someone trained to look closer might note the movements of his fingers, subtle, but in a pattern not unlike typing. He does a quick sweep of the networks to ensure that everything is quiet as he moves toward his latest of residences, a loft behind a third rate italian restaurant about a mile away.

Sarah's pretty quick to disappear — though not unreasonably so. But, by the time the Widow has circled around and picked up his trail, he's approaching the loft. She follows him, keeping to shadows, often keeping above street-level, watching.

By the time she'd picked him up again his body language had changed. He's wary. Suspicious. He actually clears the corners as he comes into the fenced off lot that contains his loft. He doesn't pull a weapon, but she can see him methodically working through the hiding places. At ground level. He doesn't see her, not that looking up would help given how skilled she is. He tries the door, ensuring it's still locked before he fishes his key out and unlocks it.

Widow positions herself out of his direct line of sight, but in a convenient place to continue to watch him even when he moves inside the loft. Most lofts are fairly spacious, and they've usually got decent windows. As she settles into her shadow, she slides a slim piece of technology from pouch and keys up the feed she wants.

He flicks the light on and scans the room for a long moment. Satisfied that everything is as he left it, he moves inside, closing the door behind him. The first thing he does is take off his hat and long leather coat, revealing the odd marks on his arms: circuit like traces, a quarter inch wide and just beneath the skin. With a sigh he opens the refrigerator and grabs a yogurt, then, relieving himself of his uzis, makes his way over to a fairly up to date looking computer setup and turns it on.

The fact the man carries uzis isn't lost on the agent. The circuit patterns are more interesting, however, though she only notes them and doesn't dwell on them. Instead, she watches his movements at the computer. There's likely an email sitting in his inbox, waiting for him, from a 'friend of the daredevil'.

It's pretty obvious when he gets to that part becuse he sits up a little straighter. "You work fast, don't you, you Ren Faire refugee." He mutters as he keys in a few commands to an old unix shell. The first thing that comes up is a dcrypter. His virtual dead-drop automatically encrypts anything coming and going. That done, he keys up the message to see what it says.

The message is fairly straightforward, containing a voip protocol sequence to a secure line that, when he inevitably sets to trace and investigate it, comes up 'clean'. No trace of the telltale signs of government nor of the various 'broadband' crime syndicates. Every sign, though, of a smart, cautious hacker who knows how to cover their trail. Aside from that protocol, the message simply reads: "Daredevil said you have information about a potential biochem attack on the city. Call me."

He turns and shuts the computer set up off. It may look for a moment as if he is not going to, or not tonight at lesat. But then he raises his left arm and a field of shaped blue light, like a gautlet plate hovering about three inches off his arm, appears. His right hand flies over it, tapping in commands to cover his own virtual trail as he calls up the VOIP connection through the internal comms systems in his implants. He waits for the connection to return confirmed and sending before speaking.

"This is Aspect," he says using the name he gave Daredevil. He's scrambled his voice, slightly. It's still recognizable but enough to throw off voice recognition software.

Sat on a darkened fire escape, Widow fixes her earpiece when the hacker's call comes in. "Widow," she replies by way of introduction. Gone is the Bronx accent from earlier, and her own scrambler program disguises the specific tonality of her own voice. "Daredevil said you have some information for me about a warehouse at 10th and 42nd."

"Someone is storing chemical weapons there. Military grade artillery shells. Cyanogen Chloride, mostly. Nasty stuff. And a lot of it. Looked like a hundred rounds worth easy." He leaves unsaid for the moment his strong suspicious about who that someone is. "The warehouse was secured by a very smart electronic lock and alarm system too."

"This someone have a name you know — or can guess?" Widow replies, glancing at the feed on the small screen she still holds. "Any other surprises you came across?" She chuckles softly, though the digital distortion probably gives it an odd sound. "I specialize in relieving undeserving citizens of unfortunate hardware of that nature. But, I usually prefer to do so without attracting attention. So, anything you can tell me about the place would be helpful."

He pauses. Hackers prefer anonymity for a reason and that's one reason he gets along with them so well but part and parcel of that is the constant need to question if any given line of conversation has some ulterior motive. In this particular case, though, his desire to not see those weapons get used makes him not. "Just one name and I'm not certain of it. Hydra. I'd prefer not to discuss how, but I'm next to positive that the server that was running the alarm system was hooked to their network. Warehouse itself is standard floorplan for that area. Weaponry was stockpiles along the north wall in heavy wooden crates. Would not surprise me if the owners figured out very quickly it had been compromised." Shutting off the power to an electronic defense system is about as sure a way to announce that someone's been there as he can think of. "Weapons themselves may be compromised structurally. There were no guards and the place scented of cyanide."

Widow's expression grows grimmer as she hears the details of the warehouse — far more comprehensive than what Matt was able to tell her. "How long ago did you see them?" she asks now, already keying a text message to the Director with the information. Hydra is a big deal in SHIELD circles.

Aspect glances at the time on his hud. Mostly he keeps it hidden even from his own view, but having the time is always handy. "Fourteen hours." It seemed like not quite that long ago, but he well knew that the stores may already have been moved. Maybe if he was lucky this 'Widow' could do something about it before they could react… but he'd learned long ago not to understimate their reaction times.

Fourteen hours… It's definitely uncertain if there's any hope of actually getting a SHIELD strike team to the wearhouse in time. But, if anyone can scramble it, it's the Old Man. A message pops back up on her text app, and she pushes herself into movement, rising to her feet and dropping noiselessly over the side of the fire escape to swing her way down to the alley. She has a team she needs to meet up with. "Thanks," she says into her earpiece, now. "I'll look into it. Anything else you can give me?"

"One or two things." His voice sounds tense. He doesn't like dwelling on this too much but the more the thinks of it the more he realizes that even seeing those things is evidence of something massively wrong. "All those stocks were slated for incineration years ago. And according to records, they had been. These are not the sort of things you can steal without someone noticing… which means someone handed them over and falsified the books."

"That's the easy one. Here's the hard one. If the shells are leaking, they'll be contaiminating the sites where they're kept. They'd have to be moved around quite a bit to avoid detection just from the stink of them, or from someone wandering in and catching a bad case of dead. CK gas is heavier than air. So if it did leak it'd sink down into any hole or crack present… and probably end up in the water supply… Depending on how long these things have been in the city…" He doesn't finish the thought.

"I hear you," Widow says, her digitized voice reflecting his own concern. "I'll look into it," she promises. "Let you know what I find." A beat. "I'll shut them down." And perhaps give Hydra someone else to chase in the process — other than him. It's not like she's not already on their shit list, anyway.

There's a long pause. "Watch your back, Widow, whoever you are. These aren't people to screw with. First hand experience." Another beat. "You know how to find me if you need me. Aspect out."

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