1963-07-22 - The Cleverest of All Devils
Summary: Welcome to the powder keg. The Winter Soldier considers igniting it but Amora drops a match that Rogue can't extinguish in time.
Related: None
Theme Song: Three Days Grace - Riot
amora rogue bucky 

It seems there's a rally a week lately for the newly awakened cause of Mutant Rights. Last week, Brooklyn had a march. Two weeks prior, there was a near-riot in Queens. Now, near Midtown, a series of sit-ins at a cafe has expanded into something with a carnival air, albeit one with the grim undertones of civic unrest lurking not far away.

So, it's a strange contrast. Children play tag under the mirrored sunglasses of cops atop horses. Old men give speeches on soapboxes while young men mutter angrily in the alleys. Daughters raise their hands to join the cries of discontent, while mothers watch their children and fret.

Strange times.

Of course, there's at least one non-mutant there— and he's one fellow with no love in his heart for the Cause.

The Winter Soldier is dressed like an itinerant veteran. His combat boots are buffed at the toecap, but worn well past presentability. An old olive-drab field jacket drapes over his shoulders, though he's got such a barrel chest and simian arms that it seems tight despite the heavy cloth. He has a bandanna over his eyes, holding back scraggly and untamed hair that drapes to his neck in uncombed waves.

He doesn't really stop to make eye contact with anyone. He just… drifts through the crowd, a few inches under 'average' height, swarthy, stocky, and dismissed by most as one more homeless veteran looking for a meal.


If there was an image that one could hold up as the epitome of a rich celebrity or beauty queen, Amora would be it. A wide brimmed, white, hat sat perched on a head of sculpted golden curls. Green eyes peered out over the rims of matching sunglasses that fluttered thick eyelashes at whoever met her gaze. Her green dress outlined in white clung to ample curves as she walked, attracting attention from at least half of those that glanced her way. More over was the sound of her clicking high heeled shoes, strong strides that seemed to echo and cut through the normal din of New York. As a result she didn't weave through the crowd, more so, the crowd just seemed to get out of her way.

The protest seemed to catch her attention for only a few moments at a time, and she'd make her way toward one or two gentlemen on the edges of the crowd. A few whispered words here or there and said men melted away from sight. A wicked smile pulled at her lipsticked lips, red and brilliant against her skin.

The world was a cruel, cold place, and wasn't it just tragic that tensions ran so high? Of course, for an Asgardian woman trying to prove that Midgard was a terrible, awful place, it was just the ticket for her to go home.


Did someone say carnival? Nothing like a spot of bonhomie to lure out the younger set. Any sort of civil discourse — or disobedience — generates an equal amount of curiosity from those ne'er-do-wells prone to gathering at all hours of the day and night in the Village. Marches or protests are lights of hope to the mothy sorts serious businessmen and responsible parents have grave concerns about, seeing the future of the country one day falling into their deviant hands. Bohemians in their patterned clothes waltz together, arm in arm, while the folk sorts hum their protest songs or scribble ideas. Beatniks and loungers, surfers and proto-punks add to the distinctive social strata.

Strange times call for strange reactions.

One of those bystanders earns a basket of flowers, pressed into her hands by a passing brunette scented by patchouli and a lick of clean woodsmoke. White carnations and blue irises mix with white daisies by the handful, a gift she can only respond to by uttering, "Thank you," at the departing woman.

The redhead briefly stirs, staring down in bemusement at her sudden gift. She tips her head back, broad-brimmed hat casting a shadow across her face and the round sunglasses normally perched upon her nose. In light of the situation, the frames do little but obscure the mass of humanity gathered beneath the pitiless eyes of the media and their corporate overlords. Scarlett stares up into the endless sky and the spiked towers in a staccato skyline daring the very cosmos for dominion. For some reason, a faint smile traces her full mouth. She salutes with one of the rod-straight irises, paintbrush tip licked in indigo.

So it begins.

The cause is what it is, full of baggage and fear, but fear fails to hit the carefree nymph embrace the moment for what it is. She slips through the masses, targeting a child here, a woman there, offering her flowers. A blossom extended to a speaker extolling the failures of the system and the man has a much harder time being wrathful painting words on the air in a gentle hail of blossoms, wreathed in a soft fragrance.


So it makes two, then, moving through the crowd, not with it. Winter's a shadow. An afterthought, really. He's not there to be seen. No one notices another veteran, ground down to a nub, all exposed nerves and pain and anger. He just ghosts along, being jostled and uttering no complaint. His eyes flicker left and right, the surveillance of a man who's accustomed to walking about with his eyes downcast. Missing little.
% Winter pauses for a moment as a stray carnation hits him, errant shrapnel from that delicate bouquet of sweet thoughts. Where jostles and shoves and harsh words didn't stay him, that flower seems to, and he stops to give it a befuddled look as the dying flower clings to his lapel. He plucks it from the coarse fabric between half-gloved fingers, examining it in the light. His left eye twitches. Something seems to stir in his memories, his gloved left hand twitching with a rattling sound.

And then there's a brush near his shoulder and the scent of something utterly intoxicating and inhuman, and Winter's eyes flicker.

"What. What?" he asks, in a rasping, hoarse voice. He looks at the sultry blonde brushing past him, her honeyed, vague words rattling around his ears.

"What did you say?" He doesn't drop the flower, fingers curling around it almost protectively in a cage around his palm.


Amora noted the swiftly changing tides of the crowd. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of flowers and it took considerable effort for the goddess to not turn the flowers into something horrendous. A subtle hand was required and it must not reek of her magic—least it become apparent what she was doing. She sighed breathlessly in a tension strung man's ear, whispering to him into the shell of his ear.

"It's nice to talk, but what about action? These protests are accomplishing nothing.." Her voice as low and sweet as chocolate and wine.

Yet as she brushed past a rather large man, his rasping voice snagged her attention. She turned on her heels, peering at him over the rim of her sunglass as she let them lower on her nose. She smiled, and sashayed up to him with a sway of her hips and click of her heels. She attempted to run a manicured hand over his arm.

"I said that protests accomplish nothing.." Her eyes traced over him, a predatory gleam catching in her gaze. "You look like a man of action, a warrior.. how many wars have been stopped by protest? What progress has been made from protest? Much.. much more needs to be done for anything to be accomplished.. no?"


Deliveries through the festive atmosphere take on less of a throw than an offer, an extension from a slender hand. The lithe girl in a jade dress tarries long enough for her chosen bloom be to accepted or turned away, though for every shake of the head are two dispensed gifts. Sifting through the masses is an exercise in identifying a likely knot holding together every clump, or in one case walking down a line of people to hand out four daisies for six people. Her wicker basket hung over her forearm swings and bumps against her hipbone, a gentle sussurus of tumbling leaves and stalks accompanying her.

Not all choose to be polite. "Get the fuck out of here. This is for mutants, not goddamned flower girls. What did a flower ever do to stop a war?" snarls a man to her side, cleaved from a block of red sandstone, given how dark his skin is tanned.

For that, Scarlett offers only a concession of a smile, turning away. The scent of neroli chases her like a ghost, incongruous with all the rest. For every small eddy she calms, more churn on their axis in response to an underlying effect simple southern charm won't rally by itself. Not, perhaps, when she can hear the petition and witness the effect. One person versus the Maelstrom. Worse odds exist.

"A gift. May your day be lovely." She offers a slender daisy with spiderlike fronds to a man three over and one down from Winter and Amora. Close and closing.


Winter's really not all that /tall/, when Amora closes the gap with him. Even a bit short, really, particularly next to a literal goddess stilting around in high heels. Somewhat shifted or not, she's still got inches to spare over most 'mortal' women nearby.

But the ragged veteran has that strange self-possession that makes height irrelevant, his eyes empty pools and focused a thousand yards away. Still, they zero in on Amora with laser intensity. Predator's eyes. For a moment, she's nothing more than a potential threat being passed through the adding machine behind his eyes, and there's a coiling to his neck that suggests violence might be imminent.

And then it's gone, just as fast.

"I don't know," he admits, words made surly by the sense they're compelled from his lips. He seems shocked by his admission of ignorance, then stiffens in anger at his own speech.

"Why are -you- here?" he rasps, turning the question back on the curvy blonde woman. His eyes are intense, for a human, and despite his focus they seem to retain complete awareness of his surroundings. His right hand curls close to him, protecting the flower in his custody from the trample and bustle of fresh voices raised in ire.


Amora's smile only seems to widen considerably at the coiling of muscle in his form, her eyes grazing over him lazily in turn. His response earns a breath of a laugh, her teeth flashing white behind red lips. Her human guise seeming to shift to meet what he deemed the standard of ideal beauty, the subtle shifting of her form occuring behind the lense of illusion and magic that most were unable to detect; even in this crowd.

His rasped words earned another chuckle from her lips and she practically glided with smooth steps closer to him. Enough that perhaps personal space was not a concern or even concept to her. "Well, that's a complicated question. Why are you here? Why are any of us 'here'?" She shot back, winking as she drew reached up to try to drag a hand over his forearm, or his shoulder, it didn't matter to her.

"But come, I know that is not the answer you seek.." Her gaze dropped, noting the flower in his hand and she hitched an eyebrow upwards. "Do you believe that sometimes you have to destroy something to protect something else?"


The wandering muse needn't know the look a tiger gives a wild boar specifically to recognize a predator. The hindbrain in its solace learns to scream from way back, deep in the void of the mind, setting off reactions far before conscious thought takes note. Adrenaline coils, a stream of chemicals released to the extremities in anticipation of fight or flight. Oxygen levels overturn, a spike in saturation as the heart thuds into action with all the inevitable force of the tide rushing in on an exposed coastal mudflat.

Scarlett touches her fingertips to her ear, guiding back a copper tendril stricken by the sun to a nearly neon glow. What haunted serenade captivates a soldier tempered to glare at the blonde and his own weakness? Perhaps she reconsiders whether she means to travel that way, wishing instead for wax and cloth to stopper her ears with against that gilded siren on her rock.

Viridian mirrors reflect back the profane display of subtle coercion, blank perchance to the method if not the consequence. The flower is extended in wordless acceptance, fingers curled around the long stem, a token for something deeper in message than her voice would ever convey. Perhaps not at all. But behind Amora, facing the Soldier, she is a calm vestige of ancient marble statues observing the rise and fall of empires, the motherland in a single form.



If Amora was seeking a caress of flesh, to stir feelings and muddy the currents of the heart and soul, she is perhaps sorely disappointed. Her fingers (strong as they are) close over hardened steel under his heavy drab coat.

It's steel— terrestrial steel, at that, and to the strength of a goddess, no more redoubtable than the pale flesh of human skin. Winter feels that touch more as a sympathy of phantom sensations in his shoulder, where his humanity is jarred by the machine. But it's enough— enough to give him back that control that he felt slipping away into the dizzying abyss of Amora's endless eyes.

And his muddled brown eyes flicker towards the contrast in colors slipping up behind her. A vision in scarlet, composed, serene despite the seas of emotion crashing around the crowd, the dizzying highs and lows of exultation and rage that Amora whips into a frenzy just by /existing/.

But the redhead with the flowers seems above that cascade, and in the moment between casting off from Amora and before floundering in the sea of emotion, Winter lets the redheaded flower girl pull him to safe shoals.

"It's not your business," he says. He has a strange way of speaking— clipped, cut off. "Don't touch me." He pulls his left arm back with a surprising amount of strength, more than most men would be able to generate against even the least of Asgardians.

He looks to the redhead, shifting subtly to face her— dismissing Amora, and likely completely unaware of the deadly potential that maneuver possesses.

"You dropped one." Winter turns his right hand up, fingers twisted into a cage, and flattens his hand to reveal one of those flowers he'd snatched up and held away from the crush of the crowd and the oppressive bootheel of humanity around them.


Shock and surprise held her brows high at the cool metallic limb beneath the fabric of his sleeve. She blinked, thick eyelashes fluttering like butterflies cast adrift at sea. So it was that when he drew back, with clipped, even tones that her surprise stole away any viper's tongue or strike. She seemed to stand there, her hand out stretched in aw as she turned it this way and that, mesmerized by the very idea that he hadn't /leaned/ into her touch like an eager sycophant.

The earth-bound Goddess turned slowly on her heels, her lidded eyes following the warrior's movements toward the flower bearing girl with interest. With a clipped motion she removed her sunglasses entirely, tucking them into the top of her dress that caught at least other men's eager gazes.

It was with eyes cold and ancient that she practically prowled forward upon high heels, the boisterious crowd ebbing and flowing around her. She smirked as she watched, content to circle the steel clad soldier who had rebuffed her gentle flirtations.

Instead she started to work on the crowd again, her gaze always following the two with the cruel intent a cat has with a mouse.


World, hold on against the inevitable dizzying tilt through the rabbit hole to a perverse wonderland incarnated by a walking, talking goddess.

Earth through twenty feet of sewer lines, electric cables, and laid asphalt paving they stand on supports all its children with equanimity. Slurried brown eyes serve for a moment as the necessary anchorage to briefly hold out against subconscious urges to knock her, too, ass over teakettle into the void. Her hand remains held out as a tangible reminder between one side of humanity to the other, divisions of ethnicity, gender, and faith irrelevant.

Then the Asgardian takes her leave to incite other riots of will and purpose, and the crushing pressure of an atmosphere lightens off those formerly in nearest vicinity. It happens so subtly at its onset that the relief might be hard to reckon upon. Certainly Winter might be left wondering at the breathlessness in the young woman who marks the bloom in his hand, stricken by an instant of genuine surprise.

Scarlett struggles a moment against the drowning end, and finds her voice. New York sophistication shot through by faint, southern chords illuminate her words, so many pieces of stained glass in a sea of fascinating distractions. Their siren on the rock, foremost among them. "Thank you for saving it. Most wouldn't have done that."

The basket blends its floral scents with hers, the wind and the dash of early autumn wound around the core. "Would you allow me to give you a fresh one?"


Winter's eyes flicker to the swaying, shapely figure taking her leave of him. He feels that palpable release of pressure, too— shoulders unclench, fingers relax. Eyes quit glazing, though many nostrils widen to gather in the sweeping vestiges of that inhuman perfume and ineffable /other/ lingering in her wake.

The look he gives Amora is likely utterly lost on Scarlett, on anyone— but it's the look of a man calculating ballistic trajectories and visualizing the process of taking a life. That bobbing blonde mane, that swaying stride, all are reduced to geometric curves and trigonometry, and his brain automatically goes through the oddly mundane process of doing all the math and movement necessary to draw a single, straight, intersecting line with the center of her brainpan.

And then Scarlett offers him another flower, and he blinks, and that eyeblink of lethal consideration is gone as fast as it came.


Winter's eyes flicker in confusion, as if she's speaking an alien language. It takes a beat to work through her offer, and he looks down at her extended hand, up at her, at the flowers, down at her hand, and at her again.

"Why?" It's a guarded tone, but an oddly plaintive question still. As if genuinely confused as to why someone would simply give him anything— let alone a flower.

The intent of her manipulations can be felt in the change of the current of the crowd. More jostling forms press and crush against the other. Cries of "Watch where you're going!" follow a sickening sound of physical violence as tensions finally rise and snap around Amora's personage. Still the Asgardian seems to glide between the crowded swarm as the rising tide of resentment crashes over several of the people in her near vicinity.

Amora's smirk widens considerably as she watches the chaos bloom around her and spread like a disease among the protesters. Those that would be peaceful, or otherwise engaged are knocked about as combatants swing fists and hurl venomous words, the din rising to a crescendo with shouts of "Action!" and cries for peace are drowned out.

All of this is fed even more when she purposefully lets herself become entangled with the massive, seething throng, falling into a man whose eyes followed her movement with a lurching cry. She points in the direction of the Winter Soldier as the cause of her misfortune with wails and dramatic tears.

More than a few in turn move to action.

A reason needed forces a pause, a calculation performed too lightning quick to be other than the first thing to come to mind. Filtered through a lens of etiquette, the words nonetheless shape Scarlett's lips as their vessel, given illumination by the slow exhalation of breath.

"You did not have to protect the flower from being crushed by the crowd, yet you did. I am offering you another because I appreciate what you did."

Is she speaking of flowers or lives, idle gifts or herself?

Something changes out of arm's reach. The fates have a strange way of twisting threads of lives, gods or human both. Human hearts blackened by jealousy or misplaced honour have committed their sins aplenty. A shudder runs through Scarlett, the ugliness crashing over her in a wave. Senses revolt out of their disquieted anticipation, screaming warnings 'ere any word might possibly reach her ears. Tone may be enough to ignite a sense of something wrong, if someone wants to review the past in hours, days to come.

Her rosy mouth tightens into a downward crescent, tension cast in the alabaster mold of her worried expression. Those vast emerald eyes slant back up to Winter's emissary. Low and urgent, words accompany the shift. "Trust me. Go."

All in the space of a heartbeat, a breath, the reactions fall.

This is precisely the sort of riot Winter came here, himself, to stir up. But Amora's methods are so deviously subtle, so well done, that she beat him to the punch well ahead of the mayhem he was causing. Winter's plans were loosely laid— perhaps subdue a mutant, or attack a mounted cop, or leave some sign or mark about to help whip up the frenzy.

Amora's gone and simply lit a fire under the whole keg.

Strangely, though, Winter doesn't withdraw. That would, of course, be the /sensible/ thing to do. The practical thing. So it's with a mild amount of surprise on his face that Winter doesn't just retreat, but he steps /forward/, moving at an angle between that rush of energy galvanized by the currents around Amora, and the flower girl.

He's not a big man, as has been said before. And despite his hard features, he doesn't really 'stand out', not in a crowd, not like the shining beacon of hope and valor that other, star-spangled heroes might manage.

So it's perhaps to the first attacker's excuse that he doesn't quite realize Winter's not retreating until the short, burly-shouldered Russian agent takes a smooth step forward and slams his foot square into the man's chest. The blow doesn't just stop the fellow's made charge— he kicks the man in the sternum hard enough to crack a dozen ribs and send him flying backwards like a rag doll, to knock down three of his cohorts. And none of them were small men, either.

The surging tide stops for a beat as everyone whipped into a frenzy by Amora suddenly has their mortality checked, realizing that there's no easy prey here.

"Who's next?" Winter says, his voice colder than a midnight gale on the Siberian tundra.

Amora, for her part, had melted back into the swarms of the crowd, a devlish smile upon her ruby lips as she egged on further chaos. A mutant's powers going awry under her nudge, police officers finally reacting to the edges of the swarming mob, a woman screams and then a man. Chaos at its finest as calls for order are heard and ignored. Chanting for rights and fair treament gurgle and sputter and die under the fierce shouts of combatants.

Amora herself seems untouched by the chaos, a figure dimmed to a sort of nothingness that all the violence simply melts away from. Her hat remains perched as it had been and her sunglasses are once more perched on her nose. Her arms crossed as she turned her attention back to the warrior that had held her interest before.

A wide smile blossomed upon her features again at the sight of his beating back the mob with such venom that the tide surges to a halt around him. At least until Amora 'nudges' a hefty looking mutant who was clearly looking for trouble, and perhaps blood, into his direction.

Scarlett takes a step across the Midtown pavement, hugging the basket of flowers to her chest. Her wrists cross over the wicker basin, daisies and carnations clasped fairly tight. In all fairness, the handle never much had a chance against her bare fingers.

Children and adolescents not much younger than her lie in the wrack of that crowd, separated from her by a gulf as wide as Leyte or Mexico. In the end she hovers behind a frozen ice wall of a man, magnetized to ghost through his presence. The soldier has, after all, carved out a spot easy enough to accommodate one lithe young woman in a broad-brimmed sunhat.

A wall of living, teeming humanity in chaotic patterns at her back gives no easy alternate to cleave to. General Patton was awfully found of shouting at his troops to go forward when they had their back to the proverbial rock, and the Politburo has its generals on leashes who shout the same. Fine, forward it is now, behind the frightening capable man with the molten look of haggard vengeance. Sometimes the best a girl can do is nothing, when the alternative is reaping temporary good deaths among the panicked and the frenzied. Hence, her hands balled into white-knuckled ridges where they can hurt no one.

Fear, fear the mind killer, fear the slayer of hope. Winter is, inevitably, chased by spring. Hatred spread by magic begets reflection, regrouping, and healing. At least he doesn't have to worry about her being in his way. At least Amora doesn't have to worry about another foolish, ignorant human.


Winter watches that big fellow lumbering through the crowd, shoving people out of his way. He's big. Big up and down, /and/ across. His neck virtually disappears into bowl-shaped trapezoids, his face an ugly mass of cartilege and pockmarked skin. As far as mutants go, a fairly common mutation— Big and Ugly. And very strong.

The hulking mutant picks up speed, eyes red with synthetic anger at the sight of the puny man, whipped into a frenzy by Amora's rage, and he starts plowing through the crowd and gaining momentum as he goes.

Winter holds fast the mutant rages at him and lunges forward with a haymaker thrown from a mile off, his fist the size of a cured ham.

Winter's left hand snaps up and he catches that fist in his gloved palm with a resounding THUNK. The mutant looks shocked as the shorter man simply stops his momentum cold, stumbling a little at the unexpected transfer of momentum.

Winter drops his weight, twists his wrist and hops into the air, all while the mutant comes crashing off his balance. The soldier applies tension to the elbow, grabs the mutant by the head, and twists his hips while locking his thighs around the mutant's chest.

The hulking man goes up into the air and crashes down hard on his back, enough to loose the wind in his ribs. Winter leaps through the air, two hands on the mutant's wrist as it slides between the man's shoulderblades. He touches like a dainty flower, then unwinds like a coiled spring.

The mutant's fingers scratch the back of his head and he howls in agony as Winter dislocates his shoulder, elbow, and wrist in one smooth motion.

Winter lands on his feet in front of Scarlett. He grabs her wrist in his left hand, worn leather wrapping around her slender bones like a vise, and her stares at her face.

"Run," he rasps, and with that he sprints pell-mell towards a nearby alley, trying with all his might to propel Scarlett into joining his retreat.


Amusement, mingled with amazement at the warrior's ability against the mutant and she nearly clapped for joy at he downed the rage filled monster she had sicked upon him. Her form flickered, fading into light and nothing among the continued chaos. Even still the riot had taken hold, and the mob would have its blood before it would calm.

Meanwhile, on a rooftop overlooking the chaos sat Amora's true form. She sipped at a martini, watching on with a wide smirk upon her lips. Her gaze following the Winter Solider as he made a bid for retreat. A finger idly traced a path along the ridge of her glass, as she finished her drink and rose. All in a day's work.


Factors that generally work to a racing man's benefit somehow smile on Winter today. Scarlett does not wear totteringly high stilettos or absurd sandals held together with gypsum salt, plastic blossoms, and raffia. Solid boots inspired by equestrian design make for decent running. A breathlessly short skirt means unimpeded stride for a girl who's predominantly legs for a country mile, and granted a physique at least influenced by athleticism.

Winter isn't dragging along Aphrodite's primarily rival but, by the same token, he managed not to find a twig-thin waif who will squeal about the hobbling effect of her macrame nightgown.

In a whirlwind blur, Scarlett lurches forward with Winter and throws caution to the wind on that front. If he carves a path for her then damn well she means to make use of the advantage. No response comes other than the heel strike in jagged cadence with his own, a dubious synchronization as he leads a retreat through irregular byways carved by Dutch pilgrims and Englishmen out of an island marsh. Yet they do keep pace. Somehow. And that in and of itself is terribly telling.

Foxfire tresses swallowed up into the shadows snuff out their presence behind the dumbfounding sight of New Yorkers out of control while the instigator of all this sits nearby, drinking.

The cleverest of all devils is opportunity.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License