5652/The Thief of PRINCEs

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The Thief of PRINCEs
Date of Scene: 20 March 2021
Location: Cloisters - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Synopsis: Spider-Man spots a thief stealing a Prince and goes in pursuit...which is how she wants it to go...
Cast of Characters: Peter Parker, Friday

Peter Parker has posed:
It is one of the most revered and reviled books in human history.
Original name: "On Principalities." AKA "The Prince."
And it's author, a known associate of the Medici banking family in Renaissance Italy, then an enemy of the rulers of Florence. Niccolo Machiavelli, who penned a book that was either a satire of the ruling class...or a how-to treatise on getting and keeping political power.

And for three weeks, one of the original manuscripts, in Machiavelli's own hand, is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in uptown Manhattan...

Friday has posed:
Guards are on duty at the museum, and alarms are set. The most valuable items are behind plastic barriers. The guards watch for anyone who seems suspicious. Ready in case anyone attacks them, they are of course certain that nobody would be that stupid.

They don't expect a thief to buy a ticket and walk in the front door. A lady in a red longcoat, wearing a matching fedora, strolls in in just that fashion. She sets off no alarms because she does nothing wrong. There is no threat.

Looking around, she doesn't even avoid the cameras. Her face is partially obscured in all of them, but that's her hair and her hat. And, she looks at all the lovely artwork, having not really decided what to target. Not until she steps into the exhibit, and sees the book.

"One of the first works of modern Philosophy," she reads aloud. "In direct conflict with the Catholic doctrines, it was considered to be a criminal act of Machiavelli. The first great work of modern philosophy. I like it, let's take it."

She appears to be talking to nobody. But she pulls out something from her coat, and looks at the plexiglass barrier. In full view of the guards.

Peter Parker has posed:
About three minutes away as the Spider webslings, Spider-Man is moving through and above the uptown section of Manhattan Island. He has all the landmarks and major locations pinpointed and waypointed if necessary.

Spider-Man is feeling as loose as a goose in the hoose. One attempted rape and one attempted mugging works wonders for shaking off he cobwebs (so to speak) - so, he feels pretty good, all the little engines in his body humming away like a Lamborghini engine in 4th gear.
Spider-Man lands on the roof above the entrance, thinking fondly of an old teenager adventure, THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER.

Friday has posed:
The guards in the area glance about, seeing nothing of real note. There is a few sounds. Giggling, a gasping sound or two, and then someone, a young girl, comes to one of the guards and tugs on his pants.

The cute little thing looks up at him, and says, "Lady has a scoo diver," with the usual adorbsness. The guard looks at her, then smiles to his partner.

"Cutest thing," he says, then he hunches down to her. "What was that honey?"

The little girl points. "Lady hab a scoo diver," she repeats. Then a scream makes his partner stand up.

"Crap." "Crap."

The display case for De Principatibus, by Machavelli, sits empty. And a woman is climbing out a window, waving to them as she does so, with smiles.

The alarms begin to go off, loudly.

Peter Parker has posed:
When the alarm goes off, Spider-Man blinks. The Spider-Sense is great for threats, but if he's not being menaced, it's kinda useless.

He looks down, scanning the grounds of the museum, and...
He spots a lady wearing a broad-brimmed red hat, a red trenchcoat, and...

For a few telltale seconds, he is thinking, *NNNOOOOOOooooo...it CAN'T be...*
Hey, snap out of it, genius, she's getting away!
Spider-Man fired a webline and swung low to gain speed.

And, once again, as Buford T. Justice would say, he was "IN HOT PURSUIT!"

Friday has posed:
"Well, that was far too easy," Friday says as she climbs up a drainpipe to the rooftop. She glances down at the guards, who are not going to be able to follow, and sighs. Then she hops to the next roof, jogging along, and says, "If you can't give me a better challenge than that, it's not worth it."

As Peter comes into sight, she appears to be stopping, on top of the roof, and arguing with someone. "No, I won't," she says. An earbud celphone is the most likely culprit. "I don't care how much it's worth. You promised to give me a workout."

She isn't even running. Yet.

Peter Parker has posed:
There is a thin whoosh of air, and then someone lands on the roof thirty feet in front of Friday.

The crouch is highly indicative of one particular New York native, one of the capes-and-tights set, only no cape on this one. Probably a wise move.

Spider-Man rises to his full (wiry, kinda diminutive comparatively) height of 5' 10", and gazes at Friday.

"I'm sorry, but that book is reserved for someone else. Five-day hold, you understand?"

"A pause. "And who might you be?"

*PLEASE don't say Carmen Sandiego, PLEASE...*

Friday has posed:
The lady raises an eyebrow behind her bangs, then says, "That'll do," with a smile quirking her perfectly proportioned lips. She arches her head left, then right, clearly stretching, and says, "I'm your girl friday, thanks for coming! I really mean that, couldn't do it without you."

Seriously, she'd have dropped the book for someone to find. But having Spider-Man show up? Now it's worth taking.

A second later she's running, back toward the museum of all places, and leaping the gap. She keeps her arc low to give a smaller target. Apparently she wants to do it the hard way.

Little does she know who she's dealing with!

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey sighs. She must be new in town. Ah, well, time for her to get Welcome-Wagoned.
A jump and a THWIPP! and he is using an air-exchanger to propel him forward, keeping pace with Friday.
"Y'know, I can help you get a library card..." he calls to her as he comes up along her left side, about 15 feet away. "I know a guy, you won't even have to pay the reg fee..."

Friday has posed:
She's smiling.

The woman, it's definitely NOT a girl, rolls a long jump's landing and turns a corner around a gargoyle, giving no angle for Spidey to perform a move on him. She calls back, "Keep up!" as she slips around it, and suddenly isn't there around that corner.

A glance around wouldn't reveal her, but there could only be one way she went. There is a vent she could have vanished into, which is swinging a tiny bit. Smart, his web-slinging is not going to help him in a tight space.

Peter Parker has posed:
Great. MORE VENTS. He could practically HEAR the money to be spent on cleaning the suit flapping away.
In the next moment, he is in the vent and climbing through. He does have the benefit of being able to cling to various surfaces, so he is able to listen for long drops, grunts of effort, and the like - these venting were like organ pipes.

Friday has posed:
The vent turns, then goes straight for the length of the building. It's a long stretch, meant to do a lot of air for a large space. And way in, much too far along, Peter can see her. She's..

She's cheating! She apparently hit that same turn, then turned and fired a grapple down the vent, to the far end! She's actually ready to turn a corner, and he can hear her giggling in the venting. She traveled a long ways in a very short time with that little trick.

Dirty tricks. But she apparently knows a lot of them, this is no rookie thief.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man blinked. Great. He's dealing with a SMART thief.

But as they say, TWO can play at that game.

Friday suddenly feels a tug at her leg as she rounds the corner. Looking down, it's easy to see the culprit - a long, thin webline that has snagged her trouser leg.
It looks thin, but it is holding like steel cable.

Spider-Man moves faster along the shaft, going hand-over-hand with the webline to keep Friday in place.

Friday has posed:
Spidey catches up to her easily in the tight vents. He now has her, she's looking back at him, and grinning still. "Nice," she offers, holding on so he can pull himself toward her. "I didn't really like this anyway, not nearly as much fun as a rooftop one. So, what are you going to do now though?"

There is a minor problem, after all. There isn't room for two in here, and though he can in fact grab her leg, he can't, like, tie her up or anything. "Can't get out if you hold me like that, and we're both kinda stuck now."

Peter Parker has posed:
Jeez Louise.
He got a closer look at her, and her voice has a Hispanic accent to it. Very well-enunciated, though. Good schools, and definitely not Cuban, whose Spanish is the roughest out of all the others.
She also looked completely relaxed and at-ease, as if she normally had little chats with supertypes in venting systems.

At least she wasn't FLIRTING with him, like ANOTHER thief he knew.

He thought for a moment. "How about this, Sticky Fingers? Give me the book back, I'll let you go. I'll return the book to the museum curator. I may get a few acidic editorials from J. Jonah Jameson at the Bugle, but that's MY headache."

Friday has posed:
She raises a delicate eyebrow, staring at him while the vent groans under their combined weight. Spider sense may be tingling just a little at that. "Now why would I do that? I even left a note, if he donates ten grand to the Red Cross, he can have it anyway. Why would I bother fencing it, that's way too much work."

She looks at Spider-Man and sighs, then says, "So, what is the weight load on these vents anyway? Asking for a friend."

She's at a corner, with a grip on the vent. He's not. And the vent starts to give way.

Wait, she's doing all this as a GOOD DEED???

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey just STARES at her for a few moments before he realizes this is not a load-bearing cooling vent.

His grip loosens on the webline. "Start moving, Girl Friday...let's hash this out in a place that's more...STABLE."

He REALLY didn't want to drop out of some ceiling like Judd Nelson's character from THE BREAKFAST CLUB...

Friday has posed:
She actually hums as she rounds the corner, then up through a vent access to the roof again. She actually offers him a hand up when he reaches it, clearly still in range. Thief. Thief. Stole priceless book. LUNATIC.

yet there she is, waiting on the top of the museum. "Ruined the mood, sorry," she says, as she waits.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man takes the hand, then climbs out of the vent. He pauses to look at Friday, exhaling.

The burglars were getting weirder and weirder.
On the plus side, she didn't appear to have a violent streak in her, and she wasn't carrying any weapons. And she was trying to make the curator pay ten grand...to the Red Cross?

"All right...look. Give me the book, and let's talk for a bit, okay? If you give me the book, I won't hand you over to the cops. You have my word on that."

Friday has posed:
"No," she says, the book under her left arm. "The cops don't frighten me, nor do you, Spider-Man. I assumed you'd guessed that much by now. The question is, are you willing to chase me more, or do I just walk off now?"

She takes a few steps back, standing on the edge of the building, her heels just short of it. The clicking of them there is audible. She's standing on the edge of a huge drop, not even bothering to look backwards. Well, they were at the end of the venting, so it'd be close.

"I really want you to try me," she says, almost anxiously. "There's so much more we could do!"

Peter Parker has posed:
Spider-Man eyed her a little closer. There was something...almost yearning for the chase. The anxious look, her posture...
...did she actually ENJOY being pursued?

Well...one way to find out.

He doesn't say a word, he just comes right at her. Not at full speed, but he closes the distance very quickly...

Friday has posed:
The eyes light up, and she steps off the rooftop. Not steps, but just kind of slides back a tiny bit, then drops out of sight with the speed of gravity.

Assuming Spidey arrives a moment later, he'd see her snag a window ledge, plant her feet, and with a kick off of the wall, sail out into space. Where there are no buildings, nothing to grab, she does a backwards swan dive. With her eyes, closed.

It's beautiful. Art, outside of a museum. Arms spread out, she starts to fall, smiling.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey runs to the edge, jumping off as he sees Friday descending. He doesn't know what she has planned, but he cant just ASSUME she has a plan, even with her forethought.

So, as Spider-Man fires downward with both web-shooters, a safety net of webbing appears five feet off the ground.

...In case she needs it, of course.

Friday has posed:
She falls, arching in the air to land on her back, right in the middle of the net. If she had a trick she didn't use it, save for a display of midair acrobatics and control of balance which could rival Nightwing. For all her work, all her anxiety, she didn't even try to avoid the net.

And she lands in it almost comfortably, hands behind her head. A criminal does that to be cuffed. She does it, looking like she's in a lounge chair.

Caught in the web, of course. It is going to be sticky.

Peter Parker has posed:
She didn't avoid the net. It was like she knew he was going to keep her from belly-flopping into the turf.
When he thought about it, it was actually kinda comforting.
Spidey landed near the web, not in it, but for a guy who can jump 40 feet, a 70-foot drop was no great shakes. He stood up slowly, then walked over to the web-net and its current captive, gently extracting the leather-bound manuscript from Friday's person.

"You...wouldn't happen to know the Black Cat, do you? You and her have a lot in common..." He sounds slightly baffled - even when supposedly victorious, he feels he is a step behind...

Friday has posed:
She's still grinning, but her eyes open to look at the sky above the museum. "I've seen her files," she says cryptically. "Not personally aware of her though, no. Are you sure you want to take that back? You're costing the Red Cross a big hunk of change."

She doesn't turn her head. She kept her hair out of the webbing, which is nice. It's nice long auburn hair.

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey sighs. "I think the Red Cross would refuse once they found out why the big donation. They take a dim view of being considered accomplices in a theft, even if the money was for a good cause. If they profit from it, they could be charged. Your heart's in the right place, Friday, but it wouldn't end well."

He pauses for a moment. "Would you like to hear a story, Friday? One about the Black Cat?"

Friday has posed:
She doesn't answer the first point. Nor the second, staring into the sky. She's clearly not a threat. The fact that she never was is likely what's making this such a calm discussion. Though she is quiet now. Waiting.

Peter Parker has posed:
He had to word this carefully.

"The first time I ran into the Black Cat, she was stealing emeralds from a jewelry exchange warehouse. I caught up to her, but she told me they were the primary assets of an international arms dealer who was in town, but planning to flee, and the emeralds were his ticket out. So, I didn't give her the emeralds, but I *did* give them to Homeland Security, as well as the guy's name. The Cat's story checked out, and with the jewels in evidence, Mr. Arms Dealer had nowhere to go and was quickly picked up by Homeland."

He looks to her. "So, the Cat engineered the theft, expecting me to show and help bring a big-time criminal to justice." He shakes his head. "She was certainly a few steps ahead of me then..."

Friday has posed:
The laugh from the webbed up woman is from deep in her chest. "We do have that in common, then," she says as he finishes. "You should really call the police, if that's what you're planning to do. If you leave me free, I'll go back for it later. You have to realize that capture was way too easy," she adds, her head turning just a bit.

Her eyes do not look defeated. Rather, amused. "I do need to think about that comment, about illegal donations, though. Might have to find other ways to get the payout done."

Peter Parker has posed:
Spidey looks at her for a longer moment. She can tell he doesn't really want to hand her over to the NYPD...but if the lady requests it, who was he to argue?

He sends a call to the police, giving their location and that he has recovered the stolen book. They'll get her on breaking and entering, most likely. But by that point, his participation is done.

But he can't help the misgivings he is feeling. She is talented, that's for sure...

Friday has posed:
The police do come. They are used to all of this, and of course Spidey will let them have the thief. That's the point. They have to wait for the webbing to vanish, but she's not going anywhere.

"Good, you got her! Did you get the books?" asks the officer, as he holds out his hand to Spider-Man, who is still here. He looks at Spidey, at the book in his hand, then frowns. "Where's the other one?"

The cops look expectant, then look at the thief in the webbing.

Who isn't there. Somehow, when they were talking, she just...vanished. She got out of Spider-Man's webbing, and vanished around a corner, into a vent, somewhere. This time without a giggle, a sign. But she left behind a calling card. Red. With the picture of a hat on it.

Peter Parker has posed:
Other book? "There's only the one book..."

He turned to look...and she's not there. He blinked. She persisted in her absence.

His shoulders sagged. "Jeez LOUISE..." he groans.