5955/A Stolen Birthday

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A Stolen Birthday
Date of Scene: 16 April 2021
Location: Vittorio's Office-slash-Bang Pad
Synopsis: The confident and veteran Teen Titan ARGENT apprehends Felicia Hardy, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. while she borrows some jewelry from a purveyor of fine cold cuts. Also none of these words are true.
Cast of Characters: Felicia Hardy, Toni Monetti

Felicia Hardy has posed:
There are many ways people celebrate a birthday.

Earlier in the evening, Felicia Hardy explored one of the more traditional methods for someone of her age, looks, liberated disposition, and (ill-gotten) means: vodka martinis and dancing with a couple of her upscale Manhattanite girlfriends and their various and often insufferable boytoys. It was a collection of people she would hesitate to call close friends, as few of those as her double life allows her, but who were convenient to fill out the expected social circle of someone living the sort of life she pretended to have. Cover, more or less. They'd commandeered a nightspot, and made themselves conspicuous in their revelry. Enough for a brief mention in a society blog somewhere, to mark that one of the young, idle rich had marked a birthday in the expected, indulgent way. Maybe there were even a few lines about how she ducked out early, speculating on who she'd slipped away with to enjoy her night.

In reality, she'd crawled out a bathroom window, retrieved a bag tucked nearby, and continued on her merry way. Which leads to the present moment, and to a somewhat less traditional way for the freshly-costumed Black Cat to celebrate the milestone: Namely, getting herself a very nice birthday present, current owner nonwithstanding.

One might rightly observe that the approach she's taken is not the most efficient, that there are many fancy jewelry stores in the city stock full of good options. The fact that said Cat is currently upside down a good twenty stories up, tracing a claw-tipped gloved finger in a circle around a window is just part of the fun. As is the fact that this office belongs to a certain 'connected' gentleman, and that her designated gift is surely locked in a safe or drawer that she'll yet have to find. And why does he even have it?

Ah, well that's the point: It's supposed to be a birthday gift.

Not for Felicia Hardy, of course, and as would happen, not even for his wife (even she's not so spiteful!), but rather for a very high-maintenance mistress. And there's just a delicious irony in the promise of making off with whatever moll's would-be prize, and claiming it -- and in a sense, the very celebration -- for herself.

Toni Monetti has posed:
They say that when you pursue a life like this you have to get used to a lot of situations where you watch, and you wait, and you can never let your guard down.

Where you stand vigil. Where you hold your gaze - hold your guts - even hold your water, in order to finally catch them in the act. To finally see justice be done.

Antonia Monetti had read one of the daily updates on possible leads at Titan Tower and had perhaps unwontedly tagged something that she spotted with astonishment and vigor, though it was not something she explained to others. But she recognized the name 'Vittorio Fuerti' - she recognized it because *she knew the guy* - or at least, she kind of knew him. She knew he was a guy who showed up to the Fourth of July picnics or barbecues.

She can taste the mild, sweet sausages he bought. She can remember how by the time she was eleven, she was taller than him. She remembers getting Christmas cards from him - irregularly, but they were there. She remembers how he dressed cheap and acted loud.

So why did they get a report on a spike of surveillance?

At this point, Toni has sat cross-legged across from the office for like two and a half hours. She brought a coffee, which she regrets at this point because she has to pee. She is taking an incredibly cool-looking drag on a pretty illicit cigarette while watching the building because it is also helping her forget that she is pretty nervous (what if this is really big crime? what if it's a mutant or a demon or something? what if they die?) as well as that she kind of skipped dinner to get out here.

What Toni is wondering, maybe fearing, is that there's going to be some kind of a horrifying truth here. She doesn't know what she will do if Little Vee shows up and has a meeting with like eight guys from Japan with necks like tree trunks and weird tattoos, or really, at this hour, any major meeting at all. What's she going to do then? Toni has no idea.

Toni does not really notice the descending form of the Black Cat until such time as she sees her hand start moving. She's a dark object against a mostly-lights-off office. She didn't move any of the ways Toni expects someone to move. And then she's...

Toni shades her eyes and peers across the avenue block. "... Is she seriously doing that... Holy ****!"

Over the wind, such cries are easily lost. Then again perhaps not. Toni strides resolutely forwards, casting her hands before her and all but spraying shining sparkling plasma in front of her, skidding forwards and slightly upwards towards the dangling criminal.

Toni also glances to the side for a moment, maybe having dropped something.

"Oh my GOD," Toni says, and she continues forwards on silverine autopilot before coming up, face-and-body against the side of the building, two stories below and like three panes to the left of the Cat. "..."

"HEY WHAT THE **** ARE YOU DOIN" Toni shouts upwards over the wind, producing a small cupola of a ledge for her to stand on.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Once she's working, the Black Cat is quite efficient at what she does. Although there's a caress-like quality to the movement of her finger across the glass, the act is quick and practiced, deftly cutting a hole that is suspiciously larger than the usual 'reach through and open the latch' kind. Well, obviously: windows on buildings like this often don't open like normal, down near the ground kinds, if they open at all. It also means the glass is strong enough for her to just lightly nudge the now very nearly perfect circle through the hole so that it falls inside, with more of a thump than a shatter. And this is before she does the most impressively 'wtf' thing among her variety of impressive stunts:

Felicia she pushes off from the side of the building (making apparent that there is a line of some sort secured above), hangs in the air a moment, before gravity swings her back toward the glass, only to have her flip over and sail through the hole feet-first, apparently without horrible injury from the presumably sharp edges.

Well, OK. The whole thing is supposed to be perfect and lithe and effortless, almost casual in her disregard for the laws of man and gravity alike.

What actually happens is that she pushes off just as Toni is approaching the building, so that at the outer-most point of her setup swing, she spots her beneath. This is actually just about as big of a surprise for her as it was the other way around, for mostly similar reasons: even if SHE is perfectly used to hanging off the side of buildings, it's not all that common to run into other people! Sure, those Spider- and Bat-folk occasionally, but the latter rarely get out of Gotham and the former, well, if ONLY they bumped into each other more. Alas.

And Toni is none of these people, crossing the way not via swingy-line, but on some weird, if aesthetically pleasing self-made platform of silver whatever. It's strange, and at least mildly unexpected. Where they differ is in reaction: even if it doesn't happen every day, the Black Cat has been around the block a time or two, been chased by her fair share of equally costumed eccentrics. So her answer to the shouted demand is a simple, wide, pearly white-toothed grin as she saaaails toward the glass, white hair fluttering behind her. "What do you think? Robbing the place."

And then she's inside, her acrobatic entry including a corkscrew spin so that she can land, cat-like, on her hands and feet. She's not waiting on Toni at all, or pausing to further explain herself (to be fair, she was pretty up-front!), quickly bounding up to her feet and scanning around for whatever looks like it might be a good place to lock up something valuable.

Toni Monetti has posed:
"Uh," is the astounding ARGENT'S reply, before the Black Cat swings into the office of the distant family friend and she is left, stuck to the side of a building at night. Toni purses her lips together and swings up one arm, before--

Well, it's one of those things that would look way better as a CGI effect. Imagine a high speed starfish pulling itself around the side of the building while holding Toni inside of it. Something like that. The starfish comes up to the opening and sploots Toni into the office itself, where she lands on her palms and then pivots to dismount-- workouts add up, but in the fleeting moment when she's doing that:

Boy, it's kind of a chintzy place. Most offices do not have wallpaper that purple. Even without lights on, it almost glows!

"OKAY SO I don't know if you HEARD but robbery is a CRIME which is something you don't friggin do in my town, okay? So if you don't tell me EXACTLY why you are here and EXACTLY what you are looking for, I am going to throw you in jail," Toni says, folding her arms and doing her best to look scowling and disapproving.

The wind stirs her short wavy black hair.

"You're not SHIELD, are you?" Toni says, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. "You have to cop to it if you're SHIELD, /and I still got the same question as before/"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
Inside, Felicia stands surveying the premises, looking rather good in her catsuit. As Toni arrives, deposited by her silver starfish, and begins to heroically orate, she glances back, less awed by the display of alien might than might be preferable, and holds up a finger as if to halt the speech.

"First, 'your town?' Oh, honey. You really don't want to go down that road. Batman's a real grump, and Gotham's a dump. Take my advice, and try and maintain a little sense of perspective, hmm?" Meanwhile, as the Black Cat lectures, she is also... still seemingly engaged in the process of her robbery, looking here and there and all about. "And besides, I've never even heard of you. Lemme guess, 'Mercury Lass'? 'The Silver Sploo-'"

Fortunately, for the Comics Code, she doesn't finish that one, because she is distracted by the discovery of a coat closet in a corner, and soon within it, a fairly simple but heavy safe sitting at the bottom. She squats in front of it, giving the lock a little curious peer.

Wait, SHIELD? It's good she's looking at the safe, because Felicia actually has trouble keeping a straight face. AND YET: "That's right, as a matter of fact! Just gathering evidence. The man who works here is a bit of a crook, you see, but he's one of those oily sorts, judges in his pocket, so no warrants. So sad."

These are blatant, bald-faced lies, of course, but Felicia's first impression is that she's not exactly dealing with the elite vanguard of the heroic profession, and thus she plays along! Simultaneously, she's leaning down to press an ear to the lock, immitating a classic heist scene as she fiddles with the combination. "Hmmm... hmm... ah, aha!" It doesn't take very long, but it's kind of a cheap safe, like the wallpaper.

Inside, there are a few things, immediately subject to handsy rummaging. A few stacks of CASH MONEY, still in their little paper wrappers. A gun! A fancy watch. A manilla envelop that is not in fact labeled 'incriminating documents' but might well be assumed to contain some, and... is that it? (It is not it.)

Yet, soon the Black Cat stands, holding up the envelope in front of her like a prize in one hand (while the necklace dangles in the other, behind her back, courtesy of a little quick sleight of paw). "Aha! See, we've got him, now."

Toni Monetti has posed:
Argent's eyes widen steadily as she gets a delightfully refreshing burst of BACKSASS AND TALK. Her mouth opens and closes for a moment as her third mission of super-heroics, evar, ends up going in a direction that she did not expect in the slightest. She opens her mouth again. Closes it again.

"I think you're lying," Argent says. "OKAY FIRST OFF," she says, stalking across the room to approach the Black Cat: "Argent. You got that? Don't - WHAT THE HELL! You just -- do you have a like, power!?"

Argent's superheroic instincts are faint, but what is more prominent is her familiarity with certain parts of the face of reality. She jogs forth and slaps her palm on what looks like a range of light switches, causing the following things to happen:

* A sound system, old enough to actually have a CD player, warms up. It will shortly play music. What music? It is for God to decide.
* The lights come on, both regular (recessed bucket lights) and extremely swank (faint purple gels, highlighting the seediness of the wallpaper, revealing fleur-de-lys patterns). (At this point Argent says, "Tack-EE")
* The desktop computer makes a startup beep.

Blinking into the light, Argent focuses on the arising Cat with her swagger and her swag, stares at her for a heartbeat, and then raises up her hands to say, "OH MY GOD!" And with the uprised hands: comes power!

The silver comes out in a sort of double hexagonal web. The material doesn't sting much to the touch - it's curiously weightless, but it is being pushed. Pushed by DREADFUL POWERS. She is aiming towards a side room which has also had the lights come on. Indeed, that other room is where the music is... /and the drinks./

"Even if you ARE SHIELD, SHIELD is like, illegal now," Argent says. "Read the papers! And what, do you KNOW Batman, huh?? Do you hang out with Batman all of a sudden, in your SHIELD base!?" She is absolutely just mad in the exact same way as someone whose coffee order was irretrievably botched.

Felicia Hardy has posed:
"Oh, Argent. That's actually pretty cute. Do you know Silver Sable?" All potential invitations to the sorority of silver themed (outfits, skin, hair!) ladies aside, this random name-dropping is probably just a little more of Felicia needling her 'foe' on this very obvious 'new to heroing' thing. Do you even know all the people?!

But as all this sass and provocation brings the younger woman stalking across the room, Felicia is quick to come to the conclusion that that the young hero is fast approaching her limit. And she's well aware they do tend to revert toward the punching and the blasting when angry. Or to the... silver goo, as the case may be. There's no boasting, in the last, but rather a rather sly answer, matched with a similar smile. "A power? Oh, I don't know... Spiders crawl and sling their webs, and Bats go flap in the night. What do Black Cats do?"

Toni will soon enough find out!

Yet again, like on her inward swing, the Cat's confidence in the situation is briefly undermined or thrown off-kilter as her counterpart does something else BEFORE getting to the cRaZY pOwErZ part of the night, hitting that row of switches and prompting a subequent variety of lights and sounds. Felicia sighs dramatically at the increasingly farcical situation, and gives hero-girl a LOOK. "Do you want us both to get shot up by the mob? Because this is how you get shot up by the mob."

Where we they? Oh right, the posturing and POWERS FIGHT.

Argent raises her hands to summon her alien abnormalities, and the Black Cat, quite ready for it to come to this, is already in motion, darting forward more than might be expected, although not in attack (sharp as those claws do look!), but rather just off-center as if to pass by and go back for the window. She closes more distance than Toni might expect in the brief fractions as the silver starts to blobulate, requiring the alien-powered heroine to turn to keep tracking her target-

-whereupon she promptly finds her footing unsteady on some unseen (and perhaps unseemly?) object apparently strewn on the gangsters floor.

It's all enough to throw the aim off, but there's still silver plasma between Felicia and the, so she thinks twice and jukes back. Some it flies in the room anyway, and there's an angry shout! (and then a more startled, more feminine one!) Felicia meanwhile goes for another door to the hallway, unfortunately deeper into the building.

The necklace is probably visible in the (shapely) rear view!

Toni Monetti has posed:
"No, why, do you?" Argent snaps back while trying to remember who - oh yeah, she thinks, the lady who sells the chrome lipstick.

Her lips press thinly as Felicia snaps round, diving forwards with felinious grace and speed. Toni pivots and tries to sweep her net around and

Something gives way under her foot.

The astonishingly stylish Argent falls on her ass. "AGH!" she cries out in dismay as the plasma forms a free-standing shape in the air before curling in and dissipating on itself, no longer maintained by Toni's fell will as she says, "Maybe you shouldn't be ROBBING PEOPLE FOR THE MOB!" Which is kind of tangential but did come to her pretty quickly.

And then Felicia - who did not lose her footing, after all - dashes forwards.

And from that side room: 'Jesus! - Wait, is that...'

F C U K, Toni thinks to herself, the designer label's name taken in vain. She coughs into her hand, tries to pitch her voice lower, and calls back, "Careful, uh, citizen! The - Purple - French Computer's on the case. I'll catch that crook! /Zat/ crook." With this she hastily vacates the area, in hot pursuit of the Black Cat!

Vittorio emerges from his love nest, wearing a towel and holding a Glock. Vittorio is played by Danny DeVito. "I could'a sworn that was Anthony's little girl." He turns around. "Holy ****! Babe, we're getting robbed?!"

"At least the Purple French Computer ran the burglar off," says the startled feminine voice from within the love nest.

SOON ENOUGH, IN THE HALLWAY: Toni does not take more than two slaloming impact off of office hallway before she realizes she can pop a squat and do her slide thing down a straightaway. This is significantly faster than running, even if it looks kind of corny in the hallway, because she has to keep her head down. "So is that who YOU are!? The Cat!? Cuz I didn't GET your whole INTRODUCTION because I was YELLING AT THE TIME!" At this point, she can see sparkles - sparkles that aren't magical light or anything she did. "I KNEW IT! SHIELD wouldn't be holding up a cold cuts dealer for DIAMONDS!"

Felicia Hardy has posed:
The hallway is classier than the office. In fact, it's impressive that he managed to make the place look that bad in what turns out to be a nice building, with marble tile and everything. Whether it's residential with a home office, or some mix of space on floors isn't clear. If you're a made man/sausage purveyor, most contractors won't argue details of putting in a love nest. But mostly, these are elements outside the purview of the INTENSE ACTION.

Well, medium intense.

Felicia seems to be having fun more than she's fighting for her life or freedom, laughing as she bounds down the hall at a rather atheltic clip. "That's the /Black/ Cat! There's a difference!" Seven years worth, sometimes. "Cold Cuts? Oh come onnnn, you can't seriously be THAT naive... can you?" If an eyeroll has ever been audible... "Do you really think the Five Families put out contracts for metahumans... to hit a rival's six by eight inch shitty fire safe with maybe twenty grand and a stolen rolex?"


"And then, you know, not take the money? Please, I did this for ME." The last is said with a certain touch of wounded pride that is, frankly, a lot more convincing than her 'Felicia Hardy, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' routine.

Apart from stunning conversation, the journey down the hall offers Disney Land ride's worth of fun. The hall leads toward a big, fancy looking elevator door at a T junction, with them on the long leg. And being that this is a mobster's penthouse or office floor or whatever it is, there are SECURITY MEASURES. Well, goons. Mostly goons.

The first one pops out of a door pretty almost at the very beginning of their journey, perhaps a bodyguard who is designated to be nearby in case of things like this. He is a large man, and not only by contrast to Vittorio. And while a single goon is probably no trouble for robber or heroine, the encounter with him is the first hint of what Toni may discover is a 'theme' when chasing the Black Cat:

In this first instance, the door opens JUST AFTER Felicia passes, almost into Toni's face, leaving the former to dash ahead unhindered while the latter must subdue a man who once gave her a piggy back ride around her yard. And after passing this obstacle, where it seems like her speed should quickly overtake the felonious footracer Felicia, she finds that need to keep her head down constantly exacerbated by things falling in her path. Some of these Felicia has knocked down intentionally (a lamp, a potted plant) but others seem to enter Argent's path under their own dubious volition, such as a falling chandelier-like fixture. Did someone shoot it?

There IS also shooting going on, as two goons emerge around the end of the T, presumably stationed on guard near the elevator. They do a lot of it, aimed mostly at a woman who is essentially running straight at them. She does zigzag it a bit, an artful flip here or there, but it is pretty remarkable they don't hit her.

The ricchocets, on the other hand, seem to hit all kinds of stuff around Toni, causing explosions of sparks from electical junctions, sprays of glass from fancy mirrors, and other creative nonsense.

Finally, Felicia is at her goal, the elevator. She flips over the first pair of goons (who make comical bear-hug attempts to grab her), and then hits the ground and slides, just as the elevator DINGs open. There are more goons! But she goes right under them, while they bump into the two in front as they turn around.


As the doors close, she gives a little wave of her fingers back down the hall, toward her silver-surfing pursuer, and weirdly, a 'call me' gesture with her hand.

Of course, there may be subsequent efforts to stop the car or get in after her: they slam buttons on the panel, maybe they even shoot it. And by then, Argent will have time to have caught up. Needless to say, though, by the time anyone gets in the car, Felicia is long gone. Up the shaft, down it? Who knows.