Snakes on a Boat

Summary:
February 19, 2015: Midnighter and Black Widow discover they have some similar interests.

New York Harbor

Aboard a rather suspicious cargo vessel


Characters

NPCs

  • Mooks
  • Mook Captain

Mood Music:


Some secret agents develop leads by intercepting secure communications - nowadays usually via computers - and tracing them back to the source. Others use forensic accounting, following the money trail through dummy corporations, foreign bank accounts and anonymous wire transfers. Midnighter doesn't really have the skill set to do that kind of thing so relies on the old fashioned method of beating on people till you find the one to tell you what you want to know. Truth to tell, he'd do that anyway even if he was a computer specialist. It's fun. Ever since the trip to Egypt, HYDRA has been on his radar. They're always on Stormwatch's radar but now they've gotten his interest. A trail of bodies, both dead and merely unconscious, led him to a ship in NY's harbor. There's another less figurative trail of bodies here that leads to the room where Midnighter is questioning a couple of the higher ranking crew. Questioning with prejudice.

Midnighter's tactics are… frowned upon, occasionally, but they do get some results. Occasionally, the results need to be cleaned up by an appropriate crew — or a hose — but Black Widow isn't one to get too sniffy about that kind of thing. She may be many things, but she's not that much of a hypocrite.
Still, Midnighter's not being subtle, and it's not hard to notice what's going on. Particularly for a super-spy. She's skirting the harbor and, pausing only briefly to answer a text — with a deep frown on her face — she slips onto the ship, following the sounds of the whimpers.

The captain is clearly one of the two. The identity of the second is less clear but he must be high enough to make it worth keeping alive. To start with. Midnighter is teaching the captain that every joint is able to be dislocated if you do it right and it doesn't even break the skin so there's no bleeding. 3 joints per finger and 2 for the thumb. 14 per hand. Midnighter is working on the second hand now. "I'll repeat." he says calmly. "Where is their base here in New York?"

It's no trouble getting onto the ship or up to Midnighter's Happy Fun Room given that all resistance has mostly been liquidated. So Black Widow makes her way quite silently to the door only to lean comfortably against it and fold her arms, observing the man's work.
"You know," she muses, "I've been having to play Good Cop more and more lately. How's it going over there? Any luck?"

"A role that doesn't come naturally to the Black Widow, I'd guess." Midnighter says without turning around. Dislocating a thumb joint gets an expected scream of pain along with a whimper from the one observing. "We've only just started. I don't expect any answers until I start tearing the joints off one by one. Usually by the time I get to the elbow it starts to produce results. And what brings you by? Hunting HYDRA as well?"

"It's a hobby. But one I've had for long enough to know that if he's actually HYDRA, you can break every bone in his body one by one and he won't tell you a thing. It's one of those really, really annoying traits they have. If he's not HYDRA, of course, have at it. But I might be able to give you a hand."
She smirks at her own choice of words. Striding in, she adds: "I'm tired of playing good cop. So let's play 'bad cop, worse cop'. Up to you. I have some pretty potent truth serum. Or I have this really fun acid and these amazingly sharp knives."

"Only if I get to be the worse cop." Midnighter counters. "The acid could be interesting but don't you think it's a little dangerous to carry around? It could leak in a fight. I prefer simple fire to cauterize stumps after I've torn them off." He turns to look at the second crew member who has yet to experience any pain. "But since you're here, why don't you demonstrate on this one?" Who promptly faints. Must not be HYDRA.

"I have some good containment. Metal canister with glass inside and a high-tech padding between them; say what you like about the present, but containment technology… oh look, you broke him."
Black Widow leans forward, lightly backhanding the man in the chair. No response. Sighing, she straightens and shrugs. "They don't make 'em like they used to. You just got through one hand. What led you to these boys, anyway?"

"About seven others, each one who eventually gave up the name of someone a little higher up the chain." Midnighter gives the two prisoners an impassive look. "They're guilty, there's no question of that. The hold is full of crates of machine parts disguising the very illegal guns they were smuggling. The only question is what information they have." He looks back to the Widow with a speculative look. "If it leads overseas, it's out of Stormwatch's jurisdiction." Which means little except the resources are limited. "But not yours."

Natasha inclines her head very slightly. "SHIELD has some good resources on tracking HYDRA movements. If it leads overseas, we can certainly take it on, though of course we'd be glad to either way. HYDRA's pretty close when it comes to intel, though; it wouldn't surprise me if no one on this ship knew much. Did they load the parts up here? If so, it should be simple to figure out where they were going. The question is whether they were going to make any pit stops on the way."

"Maybe I should join up with you then. Being limited to inside the border is inconvenient." Not that it's ever stopped Midnighter. And SHIELD has a helicarrier. Stormwatch doesn't. "No, they brought them in so maybe you can find out where they came from. I haven't called in any techies yet so feel free." He doesn't really care which agency finds out.

"Join SHIELD?" Natasha's teeth glint in the uncomfortable light. "It's a process. And you have to put up with being second-guessed for a good long while. And being given stupid orders. And obeying them." She nods with interest, though, and glances around the room. "Make sure he can't go anywhere," she says, "and then you can take me down to the hold. We'll have a look."

"Second guessed, stupid orders, expectations. And that would be different how?" Midnighter asks. Though a point in Waller's favor, she does give him a great deal of leeway. It's just everyone under her who expects him to be a 'proper agent'. He looks at the captain who's been enjoying the brief respite by pretending to be dead so as not to call attention to himself. "We're going to lock you in. If you try to get out, I will hear you even belowdeck. If I hear you, you'll lose both arms. Stay." Turning, he nods to the Widow and heads out of the room.

Nodding pleasantly, Widow turns around and lets Midnighter lead the way. When they close and lock the door, she adds a small clip connecting the door to the jamb. "It won't kill him," she adds, "but if he manages to get the door open, he'll be falling back to sleep very quickly."
She continues to walk with him, though, adding: "I don't know too much about your organization, surprisingly. It just hasn't come up much in my work."

"That's how they like it." Midnighter answers. 'They' not 'we'. "The guys in the flashy costumes are the public face." That would be Team Prime. "The rest they like to keep quiet about. It's your usual nationalistic secret agency that the public would be shocked to discover how many atrocities they're perpetrated. You know, the usual. I'd guess SHIELD isn't much different."

"Protecting the world from things the average person can't understand. There are worse organizations, but they do employ me, so… take that as you will." Natasha smirks faintly as they head to the hold, hitching a shoulder slightly. "Still, I've worked for worse."

"Right. And Stormwatch protects America from things the average person can't understand." Midnighter points out. Granted, they do more than that too and less worthy things. "So long as they do more good than bad, they have their uses." He leads the way into the hold where a couple crates have been broken into to reveal some weapons. Just enough evidence to let him know he was in the right place. Killing the wrong people is regretful.

Natasha slides in to start checking over the weapons tech, nodding her agreement: "And anyone who's perfect, frankly, isn't going to want someone like me on their team. Not that I haven't had offers. But someone needs to be the one to get their hands dirty and to do the things they can't be seen doing." She pulls out a small LED penlight, observing the lines of the weapon, the quality, the construction.

The Widow's words get a nod of both agreement and approval. "Pity you aren't a man." Midnighter tells her. The weapons are a generation or two ahead of what most countries have available to them. But not advanced secret agencies like HYDRA or SHIELD. "They might not be members of HYDRA but they're at least working for them. This isn't standard gun running."

She raises an eyebrow at the comment before smiling faintly. "You wouldn't believe how many offers I get from people who know my codename," she murmurs. "'Black Widow'. I even advertise, and men still try. You're right — this definitely isn't standard gun running. Do you have forensic accountants? People who can trace the money on this?" She pauses, glancing back over her shoulder. "The captain's not HYDRA, but he wasn't talking. They have something on him beyond money or fearing death. Find his family. Gently," she adds.

"Of course they do. Do you want me to call them in or do you want to take it? Makes no difference to me so long as I get the info." Midnighter's not one to care about turf wars. "If it has overseas connections, SHIELD might be better at tracking things down though."

"Exactly what I was thinking. I'll bring it in and make sure you're included on the op." Another faint smile as Natasha slings the gun over her back, and she adds: "I get the feeling you and Agent Hill don't get along. She likes giving orders. It's good to at least pretend you're going to respect them. Free advice."

"Hill." Midnighter needs to think a moment to recall which she was. He doesn't give much thought to ranking officers, especially those in a different agency. "Oh, that one. Advice noted." Not necessarily taken but acknowledged. "That other crew member. He seems loyal to his captain. He'll probably tell us what we need to know if it helps him."

"Good point. And let me guess — you want to be Worst Cop, right?" Natasha turns back to the hallway, ambling peacefully back in the direction of the locked-in crew members. She removes the little device from the door but pauses outside. Strategy's always good to work out ahead of time.

"It's the only role any fun to play. I doubt he'll need much convincing at this point." Midnighter pauses outside the door when the Widow does. "I have a bottle of good Siberian vodka after we wrap this up."

"Mmm. Speaking my language. All right — let's get this over with. Do you play chess, I wonder?" Natasha inquires. She pulls the latch on the door and swings it open. With care, though. There's no telling when HYDRA will surprise you.

"Yes." The 'of course' goes unspoken. Midnighter walks in without pause, not worrying about their captives since he can hear their heartbeats. They're both awake now. Walking over to the Captain, he picks the man and chair up and starts back out to the corridor. "You have five minutes with this one then I start again."

"It's amazing what I can do in five minutes." Whether that comment is suggestive is left as an exercise to the audience. She doesn't even look at Midnighter as he steps out, though; she just pulls the door closed behind. No hearing screams outside. As her eyes fall on the other man, she shakes her head slightly: "This is just not your night, is it?"

Midnighter takes the captain down the corridor, past a body or two and into another room where he sets the chair down. "You're not that tough." he states matter of factly. "You'd give them up by now if they didn't have something over you. Something you'll die in pain for. Someone. Maybe more than one. We could get them if you tell us where. Then when we do, you tell us everything you know. Think about it." Leaning back against a wall, he folds his arms across his chest.

This is where decent people would pull a curtain over the action. As Midnighter leans against a wall, as Natasha stalks slowly toward her own quarry, the city that never sleeps still carries on, mostly in blissful ignorance of what goes on in dark little rooms with bloody-handed people. Hopefully, though, the evening will end in a few scraps of information… and, if things go well, a good burning belt of Russian vodka.


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