Once their team is gathered, they take the unmarked van that was designated. They’re to go in first, their small team is the reconnaissance unit. Eight people might be a little overkill, but both Natasha and Maria want to make sure this is done right. In the van, they discuss strategies. Natasha and Maria will take the top floors, and clear out unfriendlies. They pair the rest into teams of two, and each team takes a few floors. Their communication devices are already linked, and they designate a channel with HQ just for their unit. The general channel has already been established. They finish suiting up in the van as it’s driven to the location. It bothers Maria a little that the building in question is only eight blocks from their current HQ, it’s too close to home. She feels someone touch her leg and she turns to face her fiance. Natasha is offering a small smile, full of confidence. Maria wishes she could share the confidence, but her gut is in turmoil, she has a bad feeling about this operation.
The van finally reaches the destination, a block behind the building. They all pile out, check their comms, and walk their separate ways. The sickening gut feeling doesn’t go away, and Maria swears it seems to grow. She’s trusted her gut before, so she meticulously checks her gear over one more time, and then scans the area a little more alertly than she would usually. Natasha catches it, of course she does, and Maria just shrugs.
“I’ve got a bad feeling.” She says simply, letting her right hand rest on her side-arm. They’re not the big guns, the heavy artillery, so they’re both going in with just their usual gear. You can’t be terribly stealthy with a semi-automatic slung across your back. Natasha gives her a look and shrugs, taking point. Maria is tempted to argue about her fiance taking point, but she realizes the logic behind the situation. Natasha is faster and stronger than Maria, largely so. They walk into the back alley like they belong, and Natasha crouches down to pick the back door lock. Maria presses her back against the wall next to the door, her gun drawn and held towards the ground. She waits for the tell-tale click of the lock, and Natasha swings the door open, one of her own guns drawn. The hall-way is empty, and they enter the building, creeping along the walls. Maria knows Natasha has the floor plan memorized, and Maria has a good chunk of it memorized herself. Natasha is leading them towards the back elevator, the freight one. These people are going to expect an assault first, especially since it’s not common knowledge that SHIELD is back to operating in the shadows. Still, they don’t know this group well enough, they don’t know their tactics, so SHIELD’s best bet is to take this slow, and quietly.
They come to a corner and Natasha signals for Maria to stop. She listens, pressing her back against the wall. Maria waits on Natasha’s lead, trusting her fiance’s heightened senses. Sure enough, Maria can soon hear someone walking up the hallway adjoined to the one they are in. Natasha is also pressed against the wall, and the footsteps they hear grow closer until a heavily armed man emerges. Still, he’s sloppy, and Natasha strikes. She has her garrote out and around the man’s neck before he can even react to their presence. Maria feels oddly useless, so she trains her gun on the man for insurance. It doesn’t take long for the man to pass out, and Natasha’s easily lowering his form to the floor. Within seconds, she has relieved the man of his weapons and zip-tied his wrists behind his back. Maria enjoys watching Natasha work, but she vows to take the next man out. Natasha tends to walk away with a larger head count, but Maria is always determined to walk away with a significant count of her own. She helps Natasha drag the man into a closet before they move on. The rest of the trip to the freight elevator is uneventful, and the elevator doors are wide open. Natasha goes in first, checking the corners before she clears it and Maria follows. Maria can only assume the majority of the guards are out in the front of the building.
“Coulson was right about their arms.” Natasha whispers, and Maria can tell she’s also talking on the open channel. The slight delay makes it weird, hearing it come from Natasha and then also from the link in her ear. But something Maria is intimately familiar with.
“What, they all have two?” Barton’s smart mouth returns, and before Maria can even berate him, Coulson shuts him up. Still, Maria smirks a little. Maria hits the button for the thirty-eighth floor and the doors close.
“I’ll take the vents on thirty-nine, you want to take the vents on another floor?” Maria asks, and her gut twists at the idea of splitting up. But they’ve got five floors to cover and clear, and two floors of suspected hostages, and they don’t have a lot of time to do it. Natasha nods, and she hits the emergency stop when they’re halfway to their destination. Then they both climb out of the top access and up the emergency across along the shaft. Maria’s gut twists again as she watches Natasha go first up the ladder.
“I’ll take out the ones holding the hostages if I can.” She whispers back down to Maria, and Maria nods. She starts up the ladder herself, watching the floor numbers as she climbs. Natasha is much faster at ladders than she is, and at least two floors ahead of her as she scrambles up the ladder like her namesake.