6694/Things of Mist and Shadow

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Things of Mist and Shadow
Date of Scene: 25 June 2021
Location: Warehouses
Synopsis: HYDRA attempted to smuggle an artifact into the USA for study. Unfortunately, both the Shadow and the Hand found out about it -- and one Hand ninja has an impressive talent for escaping.
Cast of Characters: June Connor, Natasha Cranston

June Connor has posed:
    A horn from the bay can be heard as the shipping vessel makes it's way in for a late arrival. It was supposed to be in 8 hours ago, but a storm at sea caused a necessary diversion. Nothing too major, but it means that the unloading of the cargo has been pushed to the next day. A lazy swish of the water splashes along the docks. Aside from the usual security for the dock, there isn't much happening as the manifest is uploaded as having arrived, and the crew do their security checks for the evening.

    Another security check is happening, though. The scarlet and black Hand uniforms cover six people who watch over the railway terminal, perched on the roof above the street lights, using that which helps people see the area as their personal cover. They have a target tonight, and the late arrival of the ship has actually made it easier.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
Jeffrey Marcus is not having a good evening.

    While most of this shipment is fairly mundane, one of the crates is marked as 'high priority'; ostensibly some archaeological artifact destined for the academic department of a university to be analyzed.

    That's even mostly true; the department even exists and is eagerly expecting the artifact -- because HYDRA wants very much to plumb its secrets.

    He's taken a few risks to get it this far; Cranston Shipping is one of the few companies whose reputation is clean enough to have waived inspections, but he wasn't supposed to risk his cover just yet. Still, if he gets the job done it'll be worth it.

    What's about to happen isn't entirely his fault; he had no way of knowing that the Hand's seers would be able to scry the Thousand Sorrows' destination and send their fingers to intercept it... Or that someone wearing a girasol ring noticed the schedules he'd altered to make sure only his hand-picked shift workers and inspectors were on-site for receival...

... His evening is about to get a /lot/ worse.

June Connor has posed:
    A hand motion, a small ninja indicating the first movement, a pair of hook swords on her back. She doesn't look any larger than a child, really but two of the ninjas follow her motion, leaping from their perch and making their way down behind a few containers. The other hand is extended, and two more go in a direction not toward the target, but toward a crane that's stationed nearby. She and the last one go the other direction, making their way to the edge of the water, and drop over the side of the dock, avoiding the light as they make their way to the boat.
    The first team makes it to their positions first, and pulling a sai, one of them strikes a metal container sharply, making the sound ring through the dock to draw attention, remaining hidden from direct view.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Any notion that these are ordinary dockworkers goes out the window pretty quickly as the noise registers. All of them - inspectors and workers alike - freeze immediately, and a quick snapped order later, three of them have drawn guns and are moving cautiously in the direction of the sound while the others remain behind to cover the shipment.

    They advance cautiously, military training evident in their coordination and the way they cover each other's blind angles.

    Back at the cargo, Jeffrey is starting to fret. "Get a move on. We're running late as it is," he orders... Which is when a cold, menacing chuckle echoes through the warehouse.

    "Late indeed, Jeffrey. Well past your usual bedtime..."

     More guns snap out almost instantaneously, together with flashlights piercing the darkness, hoping to get a glimpse of this intruder.

    The voice continues in its mocking tone, echoing from wall to crate to wall until there's no way to tell where it comes from. "And what are you doing in here so late, Jeffrey? With your hand-picked friends? Did you think no one would notice? That I wouldn't Know? Heh heh heh heh heh..."

June Connor has posed:
    Unaware of the Shadow's presence, the Hand ninjas outside continue their progress. As the three come closer, the two ninjas behind the storage container wait, and one counts down with his fingers, three, two one...
    Two pellets come rolling out from behind the container, and there's a puff as they burst into a green smoke. A smoke pellet? No, the fumes are noxious, burning to the lungs. Surely the outside air won't let the smoke hang for an extended time, but for the moment, the poison is potent and offensive to eyes and noes and throat.
    Above the scene, the two on the crane make their way over to watch the scene from above, and use the beginning of the action as a cover as the crane activates, and the long arm starts to move toward the boat.
    The last two pull themselves up along the boat's side, looking for the rest of the Hydra agents present for the protection detail.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The scout team is caught entirely in the noxious cloud. Their coughing and retching unfortunately goes unheard over the laughter - and then the sound of violence as one of the people by the shipment is suddenly seized by the wrist and thrown into one of his colleagues.

    Between the dim lighting and the strobing glares of the flashlights it's hard to tell exactly what's going on, but anyone who's spent any time in New York can reach the conclusion that Jeffrey's little operation is falling afoul of one of the city's many vigilantes...

June Connor has posed:
    The two ninjas by the shipping container waste no time, and take the momentary suffering as their opportunity to bring it's cure as kunai come hissing through the air, red tassles waving behind them as they take out the three compromised guards. The ninjas on the crane have almost moved into position, and the crane stops. One of them is already at the top as the other makes his way out of the controls and up the side, but the one on the arm hooks a grappling hook to the end and slides down it to the deck of the ship.

    The two on the ground in front of the boat, however, realize something is up. The small ninja with the hook swords tilts her head. "Someone else is here," she says. "We gotta speed this up!" The two make a sprint for the ramp, realizing that the other guards already have their hands full, the two from the shipping containers changing course to follow them.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
Judging from the sounds behind them the fight seems to be pretty one-sided; none of the increasingly sporadic gunshots does anything to abate the laughter, and the occasional pained scream and sound of leather hitting flesh suggest that the person not wielding firearms is carrying the fight.

    Security on the boat itself seems to fairly lax; the container that the Thousand Sorrows is held inside is right at the front of the hold, although it's still locked -- but that shouldn't be a major obstacle...

June Connor has posed:
    "We neutralize all of the threats and secure the objective," the man alongside the small ninja instructs.
    "Why?" she asks, "Just get the fuckin' thing and go, why do we care about whoever's having a pissing match in there?"
    "Mind your place, that's the order. We blitz them and catch them all unaware." Apparently while she had the infiltration plan, she's not the leader of the mission.
    The one from above drops a pellet from the position above on the rope, and it plunks to the ground amidst the combat. None are their allies, and the green pop of poison blooms out into the combat. Not concentrated enough to kill anyone, but certainly enough to make sight and breathing an unpleasant experience.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The thing about melee brawls is that you're usually breathing hard and heavy from the start - you want lots of oxygen because you're about to burn a whole lot of calories - so when the pellet drops in the middle of that it takes no time at all for all of the combatants to start coughing and retching, staggering around as they're desperately gasping for the air that's suddenly searing their lungs.

    It probably won't kill any of them, but they'll spend some time incapacitated...

June Connor has posed:
    The ninjas move in, staying outside of the disappating cloud as they throw their assaults into the space.

    The small ninja, does not. She freezes. Something...something is wrong. She watches as her allies deftly end the combat with all of the agents seen. Where's the target? She stays hidden, knowing they don't require her for the blitz, they already outnumber the incapacitated foes. So she's looking for the box...it's here somewhere. She scans.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
     The container's lock is relatively easily picked, but it does take a bit of focus, so she has no attention to devote to her fellows -- and she only realizes they're having a problem when that laughter echoes through the night once again.

    "Heh heh heh... Did you really think you were the first to try something like that?"

    There is no shouting. Unlike the HYDRA agents, Fingers of the Hand know how to fight /silently/. But laughter continues unabated even amidst the telltale noises of leather-gloved fists striking flesh and bodies falling to the floor. It would seem her fellow ninja are not winning this fight, and it's only a matter of time before their opponent comes to see what she's doing...

June Connor has posed:
    "Well, that's creepy as hell," June mutters under her breath. She spots the container, and decides that it's best to just get the job done. They can piss on her later about it. Well, if they aren't dead. Her first job is the mission. She spots Jeffrey, and makes a bolt for him, taking the chaos as an opportunity to grab his keys, simply tearing them off his belt loop rather than properly unhook them. He won't mind. Up the ramp and onto the ship, she reaches the container, and sifts through to get the key. Not that one. No, not that one...click. The lock opens, and she swings the door out on the container, leaving her allies to their fate. The last ninja catches up, having come in from the top after his ally, and joins the fray as a late arrival.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    'Creepy' is certainly one word for it; 'unfair' and 'one-sided' would also apply. Even a cursory glance shows her that three of her fellows are already down - out cold or dead, hard to tell from this angle - and the remainder are not doing well. Her boss has resorted to taking wild swings around himself in an attempt to catch an invisible foe approaching... But just as he's at full extension a tall figure in an almost archaic style greatcoat fades into existence right behind him, delivering a kick to his spine that sends him sprawling against a container. He staggers from the impact - not quite out, but obviously dazed.

    Her last companion readies a pair of kunai to throw, but the enemy is already moving - and fading away into mist and shadow and that unceasing mocking laughter...

June Connor has posed:
    June looks back at the concluding fight. "Shit. Really?" she takes quick assessment. Whoever it is wants neither the Hand or Hydra to come out on top. Two options: A) another group is after this and sent a super-powered mercenary, or B) a vigilante. Weighing her odds carefully, she ducks into the container, taking the lock with her so that she won't be locked in. She finds the box, and quickly strips the container away to reveal...yep, there it is. The box is less than six inches square, some kind of ancient runes inscribed on the old iron bracers that keep it closed. She eyes it, and shrugs. Now she just has to get back out of all of this without getting spotted, because, face it, June, you don't got the chops to take on whoever that is.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    By the time she's pocketed the Thousand Sorrows and prepares to leave, silence has fallen once again - not a good sign.

    Down on the pier, the figure is crouched over the body of her last companion, inflicting what looks like a combination arm lock and sleeper hold to send him into unconsciousness.

    As the body goes limp, the figure rises and turns, almost as if he'd heard June move - and for a moment, inhumanly blazing bright blue eyes meet June's, seeming to look straight through her mask and skin and into her soul... But then the ninja manages to break that gaze and turn to run.

June Connor has posed:
    June steps out of the container, wrapping her sash around the box to hold it to her side, and glances down at the completed fight. For a moment she's like a bird who's entranced by a snake, her green eyes just staring. It feels like time has stopped. She has to leave. Finally, she shifts her gaze to the rope, too far, and the figure could intercept her. She shifts to look down the ramp, obviously no good, because she'd be running directly toward him.Instead she makes a break along the deck, a burst of speed down the hard deck top, snatching a coiled life preserver from its hook as she makes a run for it.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
The first rule of horror movies is this:

    Never turn to look behind you. There's no point. The monster is there and it's chasing you, and if you slow down to look it will catch you. Don't look back. Just run.

    Ignore the footsteps behind you - yes, that's the monster, yes, it's chasing you, you already know this, don't dwell, just run.

    Running is what June does, and it keeps her ahead of those footsteps as she bolts along the length of the deck, to the railing...

June Connor has posed:
    June doesn't look back , but she looks down along the side of her course as she races for the nose of the ship, as she nears it, she does turn, though, a leap into the air for the railing, and a fling of the life preserver behind her. Not at all a difficult thing for most people to catch the improvised attack if they choose. But June's maneuver isn't to harm the Shadow.
    She's still holding the other end of the rope as it, the entire mass coil loosely cast away from her as she goes over the bow of the ship. If the Shadow does hold it, she'll be June's anchor, and bear the force of a hundred pound weight hitting the end of a taut line at 9.8 m/s. If she doesn't, then what's to keep her from going straight down to the water? There's a certain defiance in the young ninja's eyes, and her free hand momentarily gives a gesture, a taunt and dare as she goes over the edge. She flips the Shadow off.

    Wait, is this thing waterproof? Too late!

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    It's not that long a fall. It just seems longer, from this perspective. Long enough to wonder if this was such a good idea, long enough to remember that if you don't dive cleanly, hitting water at speed isn't that different from hitting concrete...

    Long enough to come to a sudden wrenching halt as the rope goes taut - and she'll be feeling that shoulder tomorrow, but at least she's no longer in imminent danger of hitting the water at too-high speeds...

June Connor has posed:
    She definitely should have held the rope a little closer to the middle. That fall was enough that while she had wrapped it around her arm to brace it, and used her other arm to support it, there's a decided strain that comes as she is yanked against it, and comes swinging back toward the hull.

    It's an exclamation of pain that is audible from the deck, her voice is young. She hits the side of the ship with a thud foot first. The sudden yank, though, loosened her sash on the box, and it falls from it, and she has to release one arm to reach out and palm catch the little object that's caused all this drama. Okay...uh, now what? She glances back up the rope, uncertain if The Shadow took the brunt of the impact from her end, or had found something else to take the punishment.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
The good news: There is a gentle yet firm tug on the rope and she's being pulled back upward.

The bad news: She's being pulled back upward. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out by who.

June Connor has posed:
    June looks down at the water. She had been ready to hit the water the first time, but it's too obvious an option the second, and the retrieval was an expected tactic if the Shadow hadn't been pulled over the edge into the water with her. That was her real plan, but it didn't go down like that. Plan B. She peels down the shozuko with her arm to expose her mouth, and by proxy, the raccoon colored eye paint that darkened her face. She puts the iron bracer in her teeth to hold it, wincing at the strain on the injured shoulder. As she continues to go up the side of the boat, she peels her tabi off her feet and waits until she is pulled to the anchor. When she reaches it, she grabs the anchor, dropping her weight from the rope and releasing the tabi at the same time. While the splash isn't a large one, it's in the dark, and one might expect a ninja to make a small splash as she escaped into the water. In reality, though, she's holding to the anchor, outside the view of someone leaning over the edge.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The rope is suddenly hauled up much quicker, and once it's gone June can hear rapid footsteps approaching the railing.

    That's all she hears, though; whoever her pursuer is, they seem to know a thing or two about the value of silence.

    Now it's just a matter of what gives out first; June's aching arms, or her pursuer's patience...

June Connor has posed:
    June crawls up the anchor, still holding the iron bracer in her teeth, and when she gets where she can sit, she does, and retrieves the box. She takes a moment to catch her breath, completely unaware of how her pursuer will react to the situation. With a little luck, they would either give up, or even better, get in the water to search for her. She rolls the sore shoulder a few times, trying to gain a little more comfort after the strain.
    Still, she isn't going to wait for more than a few seconds before continuing. She looks into the chain locker. It's a good thing she's small, because even for someone of her size, it's a rather tight fit. And she doesn't know much about ship design. This is a little bit of an impromptu decision. She takes almost a minute, sucking in as tightly as she can to get through the samll opening, and her uniform is covered in left over silt and muck that didn't come off the last time they washed out the locker. But eventually, she makes it inside.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    It's hard to tell time when all you've got is yourself and your heartbeat and you're worried that its noise will give you away, but eventually June hears those footsteps again, slowly receding as her pursuer returns to shore. Safe, for now.

    She'll have a lot of explaining to do when she gets back, but at least she won't be returning empty-handed...