Natalia needs time and the freedom to discover what kind of person she really is. All she’s ever really known is how to be what others told her to be. Her trainers in the Red Room; her handlers in Soviet/Russian intelligence; the marks who needed to see what they wanted to see. She knows there can be strength in vulnerability (or appearing vulnerable). Her ability and willingness to expose herself is one of the Black Widow’s most powerful weapons.
She cannot say whether her perfectionism is something she came by naturally, or something trained into her, but the question of nature vs. nurture isn’t as important as the end result – that she holds herself to the highest of standards and will not accept anything less than perfection. That doesn’t mean she always lets people see that side of her. She can play a slacker, carefree sort of teen when she chooses.
She has a dry, often subtle sense of humor, and feels that if you can’t find and appreciate the absurd in life, you’re probably dead or dying inside.
Enhanced agility, reflexes, speed, stamina, strength. Healing factor.
Ballet, gymnastics, martial arts, marksmanship, espionage, computers. Russian, English, French, German, Chinese and Japanese, at native or near-native fluency, some Latin, with a working knowledge of other languages likely (but that she doesn’t remember she knows.)
Dance (including but not limited to ballet). Cozy mysteries. Absurdist and nonsense literature.
Natalia Alianovna Romanova was born in Moscow in 2002. When she was six years old, her parents were killed in a fire. Natalia was saved by a passing soldier on leave who saw the smoke, ran in, and pulled her out before the building collapsed. The soldier, Ivan Petrovich, became something of a foster father to her. Not long after, she was one of twenty-eight girls chosen for a special program at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, to find the best of the best of the next generation of ballerinas. The training was hard, but making Uncle Ivan proud and for her parents’ memory...
No… no, that’s not right.
Natalia Alianovna Romanova was born in Moscow in 2002. When she was six years old, her parents were killed in a fire. Natalia was saved by the KGB agent who had set the fire, ran in, and pulled her out before the building collapsed. The spy master, Ivan Petrovich, became something of a foster father to her. Not long after, she was one of twenty-eight girls chosen for a special program called the Red Room, to make a new and better kind of covert operative. The training was hard, but making Uncle Ivan proud and for her parents’ memory…
No… no, that’s not right.
Natalia Alianovna Romanova was born in Moscow in 1952. When she was six years old, her parents were killed in a fire. Natalia was saved by the KGB agent who had set the fire, ran in, and pulled her out before the building collapsed. The spy master, Ivan Petrovich, became something of a foster father to her. Not long after, she was one of twenty-eight girls chosen for a special program called the Red Room, to make a new and better kind of covert operative. The training was hard, but making Uncle Ivan proud and for her parents’ memory…
Natalia excelled, meeting or exceeding every challenge her trainers in the Red Room put to her. Uncle Ivan. Taras Romanov. Rodchenko. Madame B. The mysterious Winter Soldier who only appeared in the Red Room occasionally, a break from the regular training schedule, but at least as grueling. She had been at the Red Room for around seven years when the girls were taken, one at a time, to a new lab for “testing”. By the time it was Natalia’s turn, none of the others had returned. It wasn’t until after the experiment she was told she was the first (implied only, although that remains unconfirmed) to survive injection with a new formula of super soldier serum, and that the trauma of the transformation had triggered innate mutant abilities.
With her now enhanced physicality and healing factor, the already intense training and experimentation became even more extreme. The Winter Soldier was brought in more often as one of her trainers, but Natalia had learned not to ask unwelcome questions, so she did not, at the time, know that when he was not training her, he was as likely to be in cryo as on a mission. If anything, she suspected he spent as much time as a lab rat for various scientists as she did.
Success on simple missions while still with the Red Room – some solo, some with the Winter Soldier – earned Natalia the codename Black Widow, promotion to KGB agent as one of Ivan’s assets, and more important ops.
Over weeks together in a luxury hotel during a longer, deep cover op, Black Widow and Winter Soldier became Talia and James, and they began to wonder what if they forgot about the mission and simply ran.
Trust wasn’t something that came easily for either of them, though, and in the end, they decided “next time”. There would be another mission, another opportunity… assuming neither of them turned on the other after this time.
The last time Black Widow was allowed to see the Winter Soldier, there was no sign he recognized her, but maybe he’d passed the test Natalia failed. She had no way of knowing, and not long after, she was grabbed by a mutant from the twenty-first century who had traveled back in time to “acquire” the Black Widow for a Mission of Vital Importance to Mother Russia in his time. Seeing the new millennium as a chance to run, if on her own, Natalia killed the other mutant once they were safely in the future.
The time-traveler’s handler appeared to believe Natalia’s explanation of how her partner was killed in the otherwise successful completion of the mission, but before Natalia could make it to one of her old drops, she was given the latest in the series of false memories they used to keep her compliant or to make her more effective under deep cover. The decades of her life are buried under other memories like layers of wallpaper, occasionally peeking through tears. Sometimes it’s more like a double exposure photograph where different memories both feel real, and she doesn’t know what to believe.
For the past few years, she has worked primarily in western Europe and the US, sometimes under an alias. At other times, skimming in and out of orbit with the rich, powerful, or genius, as Natalia Romanova, gifted dancer and heiress to an oligarch’s fortunes.
Ten weeks ago, Natalia’s car lost control on the Stelvio Pass, went through the guard rail, and burst into flames at the bottom of its drop. The body of a young woman was found in the wreckage, burned beyond recognition. Publicly, obituaries were published, for a life ended too soon. Privately, a note was added to Black Widow Romanova’s file: Missing. Possibly deceased. Monitor only for further activity.
Seven weeks ago, Natalia arrived in New York City. She doesn’t stay in any one neighborhood for too long. But she watches. And there are those who beat their wives, their children, the people they are meant to protect who have learned, a black widow dangling by herself on a single thread… is a deadly thing. A really dangerous thing.