When she had been assigned this mission, Natasha had thought it a joke. Then, perhaps, she thought she was being punished for something. It wasn’t that she had anything against mutants, no – she really had no opinion on them one way or the other – she just was smart enough to know when something was a really, really bad idea.
Pretending to be a mutant to infiltrate the Brotherhood? That ranked up there with starting a land war with Asia and going up against a Sicilian when death was on the line.
Of course, all of her carefully thought out and respectfully stated arguments over why this was a terrible idea fell on deaf ears. So, Natasha did what she did best and became someone else. Natalia Rykova, a Russian immigrant who had come to America in the early 2000’s to find a new life, away from the Mafiya. She left all that she knew behind – a troubled past that vaguely had to do with blood money, debts owed, and perhaps a wrongful death; it was all very glazed over and no one person gave the same story. She was in school for several years to get a degree in performance arts – she was to be a dancer, her dream (unfortunately one she’d never see to fruition) was to be in the Bolshoi Company and tour the world. She dropped out barely a year in because of an altercation with a boyfriend that ended with him dead under suspicious circumstances. She fell off the grid for several years before re-emerging as a sex-worker, strung out and looking for her next hit. Being a druggie always led to dealing with gangs and the mob, and poor little Natalia got way in over her head. People whispered that she was killed, others that she was recruited – kept on a leash of heroin, sent to do the dirty work no one else wanted. People underestimated her, they said, she was stronger than she looked, quicker – better reflexes. Not human. The rumors circulated for a while of her sordid acts and Natalia fell off the grid once again. Heroin overdose, some said. Suicide, others. Some just said she was tired of all the blood on her hands and wanted to go back to her homeland. One rumor persisted, that if one were to go to the Bronx and find the Key Club Cabaret and ask for the girl with ruby hair, could tell you where she went.
The rumor – of course, hand crafted by Natasha to lure in either Erik himself, or one of his recruiters – was spread by informants of SHIELD, making sure they fell on mutant ears. The Brotherhood was growing in size, looking for new recruits, new powers to keep them ahead of Xavier’s school. She custom made her identity to appeal to them; desperate, end of the line, hiding her ‘powers’, and barely scraping by… just waiting for a second chance, a chance at redemption.
SHIELD wasn’t exactly sure what the Brotherhood was all about, and that’s why she was being sent in. Were they benevolent? A threat? Perhaps their bark was far worse than their bite, or perhaps it was just the opposite? Natasha would find out, assess the risk they posed, and advise on how to handle the situation.
And that was how she found herself in the seedy night club, her curls bloody red and defiant, her attire scant and alluring to the types that frequented these places, and her eyes shadowed with either lack of sleep or withdrawl from her drug habit; something she’d never willingly say. Her body melted along with the music that crooned from the crackling speakers and she managed half-cocked smiles for the few amount of patrons that littered the establishment, and her eyes scanned – looking for the face she had only seen in pictures.
A flash of brown hair a blue eyes sparked the recognition she was waiting for and she studied him from afar. After her set was done she slipped off the stage and went to the bar, picking a drink up before maneuvering over to the man who had caught her eye. “You don’t look like the type who belongs here.” She smiled a Cheshire grin that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Too clean cut. Respectable.” Her words were coiled in silk and hidden meaning, hinting at what she wanted to do to him, should he buy her for a few hours. Her eyes half closed and her smirk widened over the rim of her martini glass. “Or maybe you’re the type who fits in perfectly?”