Sage opened her green eyes and stretched; the sun had just come up and she was ready to move into Stark Tower today. Her bags were packed and her father had made sure that Tony had everything ready. Standing, the teenage girl flexed her sleep-stiff muscles before opening the blinds to her room fully and letting in the sunlight.
Her room faced the east, so the sun coming in lit up the entire room through the sheer green curtains as she undressed to shower. Sage had never felt shy with her body, never been able to, and didn't care that her silhouette could be seen through the window past her curtains.
Be-de-deep be-beep be-de-deep be-beep; her phone rang from the charger and she picked it up, recognizing the ringtone instantly. "Yes, Master Kao?"
"Sage; do you think you could come in today for some extra training to get ready for the competition tomorrow? You know I can't have my prize student in anything but tip-top shape,"
"Of course, Master Kao; I have a prior engagement later this evening but should be able to find time to come to the dojo this morning, in a few hours perhaps."
"Good; I shall see you then Sage."
Hanging up, she finished undressing and went to take a shower before she would head down to Master Kao's dojo for some extra training. She had been taking martial arts for three years and was his 'prized student' for having earned six black belts during that time.
"Are you sure that she's the one we're supposed to take? She is tiny, and a bit old to be trained." One of the Romanoff agents asked, watching as Sage entered the small dojo, alone, on the far end of town. She was used to being out alone and didn't notice the eyes that were watching her on this particular trip.
"She is older than usual but gifted; six black belts in three years, Piotr, we need the talent to replace Natasha's. Besides, orders are orders; it isn't our choice."
"Still; do you think-,"
"Piotr; just shut up."
It was three in the afternoon before Sage left the dojo to return home for the last time; her muscles felt nice, warm and worked after the session with Master Kao. She was almost peaceful and put on an easy grin while walking to her father's studio apartment, the place she had been used to calling home. On the way she considered what it would be like to live in Stark Tower, up in that high place; and what it would be like with her father dead. She knew that she would have been sad, had she been capable of feeling it.
All of these thoughts were interrupted when two hands grabbed her, one on each arm from behind, and another shoved a chemical cloth to her face. Instantly there was a rush of adrenaline coursing through her and she jerked to get free, succeeding to pull partially away from one of the hands before the effect of the chloroform soaked rag pressed to her face kicked in, blackening her vision and causing her to pass out.
"She is a fighter isn't she Ivan; with a little more training she could prove a rival to even the Black Widow herself." Piotr grinned, throwing the unconscious girl over his shoulder.
"Piotr, let's just get her back to Russia and let our superiors deal with sorting that out," Ivan shook his head. No one would be able to rival Natasha Romanoff; she was the best, and it was a shame she had to be replaced.
Sage groaned and woke up, head pounding, on a jet plane with her hands cuffed behind her back. She had been fastened to a seat in the first class private jet for several hours now, and one of her captors, Piotr, had been in charge of watching her for the last hour.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Stewart; it's good to see you awake." His accent was thick as he grinned toothily at her.
Face blank, her soft green eyes studied the Russian man; sensing that he was trained as a fighter and may have been military. "Surely it is closer to the evening," she told him, speaking in Russian to throw him off, even just slightly. "Tell me; why is it you have kidnapped me?" She had learned Russian the year before and was now so adept at speaking it that she hadn't the slightest accent while speaking it.
While she had been speaking she wriggled her wrists, pulling at the metal cuffs discretely, testing for weak points she may be able to exploit later. Piotr laughed throatily at her knowledge of the language. "You are a smart one aren't you Ms. Stewart? You sound as if you were born of the motherland Russia," he laughed some more before growing somber. "Have you heard of the Romanoff family?"
"I have heard of such a family; what would they want with a girl like me?" she let a look of suspicion seep onto her face to replace the plain stare she had been subjecting him to.
"It seems that you have gotten onto our radar to become the new family assassin; ever since Ms. Natasha betrayed us we've been looking for someone as talented as you to replace her."
"Piotr! Quit speaking to our prisoner," Ivan stepped into the section of the plane they were sitting and looked at the girl, sneering. "I'd get a little more rest Ms. Stewart; you've got a long plane ride still; it's a ten hour flight."
"How long have we been in the air?"
"Four hours already; and six left to go. Are you not afraid, Ms. Stewart?" Ivan asked, sitting down in front of her.
"I am not."
Kyle tapped on his watch and paced back and forth. He had allowed Sage to go out to her dojo on the condition that she come back by six to help move into Stark Towers; and it was now seven. He had called three times but hadn't gotten through, which was odd. Sage usually always picked up; and he was getting worried.
"Any answer from that girl of yours Kyle?" Tony asked; at Sage's absence he'd had to help move stuff in.
"No, not yet; I even called her dojo but Master Kao told me that she left today at three sharp."
"You sure she hasn't just run off exploring the city or something?"
"She'd answer her phone; and she's not reckless and keeps good track of time, she'd be back by now unless something happened to her." Tony nodded and glanced at a few of the small boxes that still needed to be brought in; they'd already brought in all of the equipment Kyle used to test her abilities and the only things left were her personal items.
"Jarvis; you think you could find Ms. Stewart?"
"I will try sir."
Sage let Piotr switch the cuffs around to her front to make it easier for her to eat and drink; it was late and she was feeling slightly hungry, she could go longer without food but it was easier to simply not refuse her captors.
The meal was a simple chicken breast served with mixed vegetables and a glass of water to drink, which she accepted graciously with a bow of her head. By her count, there were still a few more hours to go until they touched down in Russia.
Her watch started going off, telling her that it was time to take her medication. She could feel it still under her shirt and reached for the binder. "What are you doing Ms. Stewart?" Ivan stopped her, grabbing the binder from her hand and opening it.
"I've got to take my medication." She told him as he examined one of the three inch long needles.
"Why should I let you have one of these needles girl?" they were still speaking in Russian.
"Because if I don't take my medication I'll die and be of no use to the Romanoff family; think about it, what will I do with one of those if I'm stuck on this jet with you two? Trying to escape here would be a pointless endeavor."
"Just let her take her medicine Ivan," Piotr interrupted. "She's right; she can't do anything here." Ivan handed over the case reluctantly, allowing the adolescent administer the syringe and take her pills before continuing to eat her supper.
"Sir; I've found her on video being taken by two Russian ex-military currently serving under the Romanoff family." Jarvis spoke after some time, playing the video on the living room television after a gesture from Tony.
"Any idea what they want with her?" Kyle asked, worriedly watching the two as they knocked his daughter out, seeing the timestamp on the footage from nearly eight hours ago.
"It seems they're taking her to Russia sir; for what purpose I'm not sure."
"Is there anyone in Russia you can contact Tony?"
He thought for a moment and nodded. "Jarvis do you think you could get a hold of Natasha and Hawkeye?"
"Right away sir."
Sighing, Sage stood and stretched a little, straining her wrists within the confines of the cuffs to do a summersault. Piotr had fallen asleep on his watch and Ivan was in another part of the plane, so she had a little more freedom to move around. It was good to not be cramped into the chair, and according to her watch they'd be touching down pretty soon.
"Eh girlie; sit back in your seat and buckle up, we're about to land." Ivan growled, elbowing Piotr sharply to wake him up. "Keep a better eye on Ms. Stewart next time Piotr; we're about to land." Sitting down and buckling up, Sage obliged the large form of Ivan and let herself smile a little; perhaps she'd get a chance to make a good escape, and the amused smile would hopefully put the two off. "What are you sneering at Ms. Stewart?"
"You two are so funny together," she told them, grinning wider as to confirm her words.
"You'd shut up if you knew what was good for you girlie." Sage nodded, using her cuffed hands with some difficulty to make a 'my lips are sealed' gesture before folding them on her lap and staring out the window as the ground came closer.
Within half an hour they were walking off of the plane, Sage once again cuffed behind her back with Ivan gripping one of her arms and Piotr holding the other. Keen green eyes scanned around the bare landing strip, catching the slightest movement up on a nearby rooftop.
Riveted to the spot, Sage walked alongside the two Russian ex-military men until they both dropped suddenly, arrow's buried deep into their chests as they croaked slightly in surprise and died. Unfazed, Sage looked down at the two, reversed the cuffs around to her front before grabbing the key from Ivan's pocket to undo them.
"Sage Stewart?" Natasha asked, running up to the teenager, having to pull back her short red hair as it flew into her face.
"Yes. Natasha Romanoff?" Sage queried in return, examining the adult in the black bodysuit she had guessed to be the Black Widow, who nodded. "Pleased to make your acquaintance." She allowed a smile and reached a hand out to shake hers, "And kind thanks for the rescue, and to your friend as well," Sage glanced over to the spot she'd seen the initial movement from; now in total view was a figure, slightly silhouetted by the dim light of the moon behind him and holding a compound bow.
Natasha was surprised by how well Sage seemed to be taking the kidnapping and the fact that two people had just died right next to her, and shook her hand; but then again Tony had mentioned that she was a strange girl. "Come on; let's get out of here." Clint Barton had already disappeared and was probably waiting for them in the car to head down to their safe house for the night.
Nodding, Sage followed her over to the black car and got into the back, buckling up. "Those were nice shots you made." She told the man in the driver's seat in a complimentary tone, still stretching. She thought she needed to move a little bit more after sitting for so long, but was glad to not be in the care of the men that had kidnapped her; they had been terrible company.
Hawkeye grinned and looked back at the girl with the slight, false looking smile on her face. "Thank you; and don't worry, we'll get you back to you dad soon Ms. Stewart."
"Please, it's Sage."