Alien Disco Ball

March 20, 2017:

Lara Croft requests emergency rescue from a SHIELD Quinjet and a new SHIELD pilot. She has an artifact to show to Melinda May…

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Lara Croft had sent in a request for a Quinjet at her location. She'd been out on the Atlantic ocean aboard a freighter-ship that had picked her boat up after it had been badly damaged on the the waters by pirates. Some of the small crew that she'd been with had been injured as well, but she was unscathed.

The Quinjet was now returning to the Trisk in NYC and those aboard it were offloading from the inside. Once landed, Lara herself, unstrapped from the chair that she was occupying and she went to the cargo section of the Jet to retrieve her duffle bags (she had three of them).

The sound of a zipper could be heard as the WAND-division-archaeologist was opening one of the duffles to sort through whatever contents she had inside, while one of the injured agents that had been with her was being helped off of the Jet by two medical personnel.

Its roughly 7:45pm on a Sunday night in Manhattan, the outside landing lights ontop of the Trisk were strobing and providing additional light about the area.


Such an interesting aircraft, the Quinjet. Transitioning from something made for a dogfight into something made for transport took some mental adjustment, but they're manoeuvrable, responsive, and having vertical takeoff and landing capabilities is just a positive treat.

So it is that engines had come thundering over the waters, like the proverbial cavalry. So it is that the speedy Quinjet had delivered its cargo of personnel back to the Triskelion without apparent incident, even managing to shave off a minute or three of travel time.

So it is that the pilot is now twisting to see around the pilot's chair, one arm draped across the empty co-pilot's chair.

The pilot hasn't said a word to any of the people she had picked up — not until landing, anyway. They've been a dutiful pilot, though, with flight smooth as butter and turbulence kept to a minimum. Now that they're safely back in the Big Apple, though, the pilot reaches up a gloved hand with a grunt, tearing off their helmet and revealing—

—a tumble of long auburn-red hair, and a face disfigured by scarring. Shockingly, perhaps, the pilot has only one eye, a dove-grey patch over where the right eye should be. The left is blue as a summer sky, and fixed at the moment on Lara as hse goes rifling through her belongings.

"You lose something?"

The voice is not particularly feminine, gravelly from years of smoking and drinking, and heavily accented in Russian.

Isa Reichert does not, however, bother offering a friendly smile. It tends to have the opposite effect.


Lara was dressed in dark clothing, and she had on a light tactical vest that was covered in pouches and pockets. Atop the young archaeologist's head was a black wool-knit cap and it held her brown hair down around her face. She was covered head to toe in other bits and baubels of gear as well, with only one side-arm weapon in a thigh holster on her right leg.

She looked over to the voice that spoke out to her, it took her a second to realize someone HAD said something to her. "Oh, uh…" She started, looking back to her duffle. "No… I wouldn't dare lose it when its the very reason we ended up in this mess in the first place." She said back to the Pilot.

A moment later and Lara pulled a metal sphere out of her bag, it looked to be twice the size of a softball… covered in intricate patterns and made out of something that looked like a dark bronze metal. She held the sphere in her hand and lifted it up to examine it visually again.

"Thankfully, we didn't lose anyone while retrieving this little Secret Keeper…" She added while eyeballing it with her dark brown eyes.


Having heard about Croft's call for extraction too late to do the piloting herself, Agent Melinda May waits at the foot of the boarding ramp as the medical teams and returning agents all disembark. She's here for two reasons: to make sure Croft made it back in one piece, and to get a firsthand look at this new pilot imported from Russia. Scuttlebutt travels.

Stepping nearly silently into the jet as Lara holds up the sphere, May announces her presence by speaking up. It always has the potential to startle someone. "How soon can I expect a report, Croft?"


After a few seconds of study, Isa turns forward again, hands flicking over the Quinjet's controls with… not quite practised ease, actually; but not awkwardness, either. Various displays pop up on the HUD, which she studies with one narrowed eye.

All systems normal. That's what she likes to see. Confirming that everything is indeed as normal as she suspects, the pilot flicks that single blue eye back, frowning slightly; the expression creases the scar tissue that ravages the right side of her face. It's a somewhat unsightly expression. She doesn't seem to care.

Her clothing is more simple — a flight suit in drab olive, an unlit cigarette tucked behind one ear, and the chain of military dog tags visible around her neck.

"Reichert," she supplies, for the archaeology, just in case Lara's searching for a name. It's even helpfully embroidered on her flight suit. Her single eye and scowl linger on the Mysterious Object, which she studies in silence. That, fortunately, is not her area of expertise. Flying the taxi is what she's needed for, which is exactly what she's going to do. "Hunh."

Oh. Someone else aboard. That single eye snaps over to Melinda May, and the woman is absolutely frozen for a moment, as though weighing options or settling on what she should be doing or how to address the newcomer.

Someone who outranks her. By a lot. So the Russian twists to her feet, snapping off a razor-sharp salute once she's free of the pilot's seat. Her expression is still fixed in that scowl, as though waiting for orders. Or criticism, maybe.


Lara Croft stood up from her crouch when Melinda's voice was heard. She looked over to see the Superior walking aboard and she nodded once to her. "As soon as I've had the chance to investigate this?" She summarized, still holding the sphere up in front of here. "So a couple hours, max?" She was trying to be optimistic about it, but she wanted to have the results of her investigations likely just as much as May did, maybe more.

Lara would look forward to the pilot once, she hated being rude to people who didn't deserve it… but sometimes her work-driven-mind made her socially awkward and she's been known to ignore people sometimes, while thinking about the varous projects that occupy her life.

"Oh, Croft." She told the one-eyed woman. "And… thank you, for coming so quickly to retrieve us." Her British accented voice was soft, but easily heard. "It has been a… tumultuous night. I'm just glad none of ours were gravely wounded."

Lara would look to May then. "Once we found the Black Market Ship that was transporting the Sphere… we retrieved it and shortly there after, their escorts found us. It got a bit messy, but nothing we couldn't handle." That was a tiny-bite-sized-report for the senior officer.


May's eyes cut over to the pilot and that super sharp salute, which is not really something ANYONE in SHIELD does. But, as she's not yet met this new pilot. She'll let is slide. For now. She nods to Reichert and returns her attention to Lara, wordlessly indicating that Isa is okay to stand down and finish her post-flight checks.

With a nod, she acknowledges Lara's quick sum-up of the events and says, "I'll let you get started, then." It sounds like a dismissal, but if the archaeologist doesn't promptly skedaddle, she's not going to say anything. Not her job to make people scurry.


The Russian waits precisely three seconds after receiving the wordless at-ease. If one didn't know any better, or looked past that permanent scar-induced scowl, one might suspect Isa were sticking to military protocol… because the grizzled pilot is /nervous/.

Pshaw. Surely not.

Hands dancing over the controls, Isa finishes her check of the systems, which are about as normal and ordinary as she was hoping for, because having an engine explode into fire and smoke the first day on the job would be absolutely awful.

Thankfully, nothing appears to be (or smell like it's) on fire. Isa tucks her helmet under her arm, reaching down to unstrap her gloves and toss them into the dome of her helmet. Her left hand is normal, but her right hand has broad swaths of faded white, the skin almost plastic-like in its texture. Ravaged and deadened, the burn scars are probably without sensation at all, by the way she handles the glove with her right hand.

Between the scarring on her hand and the scarring over her face, one wonders what happened to her. Scuttlebutt says she flew a malfunctioning jet, rode it down from the sky as it burned around her, and lived to tell the tale… but it must have been a pretty hollow victory to look at her. The pain must have been unspeakable.

It seems she's half-listening to the conversation as she's doing all this. She grunts, faintly, delivering a last flick to a last switch on the cockpit's expansive instrument panels. So many buttons and toggles and switches and displays. It makes the hardware she'd been accustomed to seem simple by comparison — where the Quinjet oozes quality and budget, she'd made do with jets that had sacrificed minor comforts for core functionality.

Part of her is happy to have a comm system that's actually audible at all times. So far.

"All system normal," the pilot grunts, reaching for the cigarette behind her ear. Not to light it, but to toy with it in her right hand, as though she can't stand being without something to fiddle with. Melinda will find herself being studied by that single blue eye, piercing; almost /wary/. Despite the gruff outward appearance, this woman appears to be… nervous. She has a lot to lose, if her files are truthful. "You are… Melinda May, da?"


Lara gave a singular nod to Melinda's words. "Yes, of course— Actually…" Lara sort of cut hersel off then as she stepped back to her duffle bags on the floor and started rummaging through the open one once more. She pulled out a smal leather pouch and then retrieved a jade-colored disc from inside it. "If you'd like a small demonstration, May… I can do that here and now."

Lara would stand up again with both the Sphere and the Jade disc and she'd look to the pilot who's physical form clearly had seen some troublesome times, but Croft was not the type of person to ever ask someone about something like all of those scars and 'battle wounds', part of her expected to look much like that sooner or later in her own life, at the rate and way that she lived…

"Could you please turn the lights off inside the Jet and close the exterior hatch?" She'd ask of Isa then while she moved to the center of the Jet's cargo hold. It was spacious enough… though the archaeologist was looking around none the less… A small string and metal hook were pulled from her utility belt and she went to hang them from the Jet's roof on a small hole in the metal paneling… she was certainly up to something…


May nods to Reichert. "Yes." And then Lara's asking to close up the quinjet to demonstrate something. She nods again to Isa granting permission to do as the archaeologist requested, and steps toward the ramp to press the button on the wall there to start it closing. "Go ahead," she tells Lara. Or maybe Isa. Or likely both.


Slowly, very slowly, the pilot folds her arms over her chest. The posture seems almost standoffish, but there's curiousity in her eye as she looks to the thing Lara pulls out of her pack. What /is/ that stuff? Isa is normally a fair hand at technology, but trying to figure out what that thing does by looks alone is useless. That thing is just so /weird/.

Being addressed drags her back to reality, though, and she glares in Lara's general direction, before offering a single slow nod once Melinda more or less Says It's Okay. A flick of the controls in question sets the lights to powering down, and the hatch to humming closed. Darkness envelopes the interior of the transport.

Isa folds her arms again, audible by the 'zip' of that starchy flight suit fabric every time it moves. She's scooted a little closer, though, frowning as Lara reaches up to run string and a hook from the inside of the Quinjet's roof. Just what is the archaeologist doing to her jet…? Not that it's /her/ jet, personally, but she does consider herself responsible for Company Property, as it were.

It is entirely possible she has a few thousand questions she'd like to ask, but she's willing to bet neither of these two women speak Russian. Also, not looking like an idiot in front of what she's pretty sure are new superiors would be kinda nice.

Isa's desire to start asking questions is almost a tangible thing, though.


Lara watched Isa move to close up shop and shut the lights down. She glanced to May who approved and she finisehd hanging that string from the upper bulkhead of the Jet. "Okay." She said to them both. "You're both doubtlessly familar with the old fashioned 'disco ball', I am certain… yes?" She said without looking to them or waiting for responses. She raised the metalic sphere up and looped it into the string so that it was hanging from the ceiling.

The young Brit would then step back and she'd hold up the Jade disc that was resting in her half-gloved hand. "This, is supposedly a 'Dropa-disc'. Native to Asia. It has been dated to being roughly ten to fifteen thousand years old." She drew in a deep breath then. "These are widely believed to be purely myth, and up until a handful of days ago I would've believed it as-such myself. But now…" She turned the disc around in her barefinger tips that were not covered by her half-glove. "I'm. not. so. sure…"

Lara's free hand touched the sphere on a very specific spot and it -popped- open with a metalic 'snap'. "The way the discs work is that they 'light up' whenever they come into contact with one another. But that light only lasts for a brief moment… However." She placed the disc up and inside of the sphere gently setting it on a tray inside the sphere. "That momentary light should become far more, potent, when placed…" She closed the sphere shut once more and a sudden brilliant burst of light shot out of the sphere!

"In its home.." She finished her sentence, now shielding here eyes with her left hand.

Surrounding the women inside of the dark Jet's interior was a wealth of green light that was gently swaying as the sphere swayed on the string it hung from. The light was hitting the darkened bulkheads of the Jet and as one's mind came to catch up with what they were seeing… it was a map of the planet Earth. Every continent was visible, if a bit distorted by the odd shapes of the Jet's interior walls.


It takes May a few moments of looking at the green glow to make out what she's supposed to be seeing. "How many more of these Dropa discs do you have, Croft?" And she can't help but wonder if they would also display Earth, or if they might show OTHER planetary images.

And yes, if anyone knew what May was thinking right there, they'd be sure she'd lost her marbles somewhere.


The pilot doesn't offer a response to the question of a disco ball. Maybe she doesn't understand what's being asked, or maybe she's just not a very sociable person. Or, maybe she's just tense and waiting to see whether this 'demonstration' explodes 'her' jet all to hell or not.

THEN, SUDDENLY—

OW OW OW OW OW

—THE QUINJET IS FLOODED WITH LIGHT. This is pretty neat, and probably visible from outside, except for the part where the inside was just in total darkness a few seconds ago. That probably explains the sudden storm of virulent cursing in Russian, and the sound of Isa Reichert clapping a hand over her lone eye as she reels away in the other direction, staggering against the pilot's seat.

A few seconds later the pilot's eye adjusts to something approaching normal, and she risks squinting her eye open just a slit. It proves visible, then, and…

Isa leans forward, still breathing a little hard, the red hair that spills over the right side of her face fluttering slightly. "Earth?" She frowns even more. "Da, is definitely Earth," she mumbles, mostly to herself. The frown deepens, scars creasing. "What in hell /is/ that?"

"Whatever it is," Isa announces crisply, "is probably something I don't have security clearance to see, I think. Will be going now, then, if you don't need me for anything else. Quinjet is ready for next pilot. Systems are clear." She throws a last glance at the green whatever-it-is over her shoulder, before filing out of the Quinjet with a shake of her head.

Mumble grumble stupid freaky weirdness. Driving jets around is a lot less complicated than this bizarre arcane nonsense. As she sidles around the pilot's chair — carefully, because it's still mostly dark, and she'd rather not bruise her shins — she reaches up to pull her cigarette from behind her ear, sticking it into her mouth so it hangs at a loose angle from her lower lip. One more scowl is afforded at the glowing Dropa disc.

"Dasvidania," she mumbles around her unlit cigarette, clambering out of the jet and pausing in the doorway. "Have fun with new toy. You need to go somewhere… can wait until I find more coffee," she mumbles, shutting the hatch behind her.


Lara watched as the pilot left the Jet and she exhaled softly. "My apologies for the light show." She told the departing woman before she turned to May…

"Look though." She told her, stepping forward to the Sphere she tapped its side and re-angled a specific little tool on the side of the glowing sphere (while trying not to be blinded by it in the process). Once properly adjusted Lara stepped back again…

Now, two things happened… One> The sphere started to 'hum' an actual song, a little quiet sound that was pleasant to the ears. Two> a green 'beam' was eminating from the Sphere like a jade-hued laser-pointer…

"See that?" Lara said, motioning to it and then then looking to May. "Its guiding us." She told her Superior. "To… South America." Lara exhaled as she looked at the spot on the map that the Sphere was pointing to against one of the bulkheads.

"I only have this one Dropa-stone." She looked back to May, in the green-shaded interior of the Quinjet. "I believe that every Dropa-stone points to a site on our planet… A site that likely holds some secret." She paused. "Possibly from… yes, uh, extra-terresterials…"


FADE OUT HERE

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