The Engineer-Aspirant

April 24, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert accompanies Rusalka Stojespal to an internship interview at Stark Industries, and immediately begins to regret being in the same room as Tony Stark.

Stark Industries - New York City

Rising high into the skyline with the name of it's Lord and Master for all to see, the Stark Industries Tower is the most visible component of the Stark Industries complex centered in Midtown Manhattan. Manufacturing, office space, power generation and even some inventory is housed in the tower and its associated subelevels. It also contains guest housing and, at the top, the penthouse suite that is the domain of the Main Man himself, at least, when he's not at his Malibu home.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Pepper Potts, Phil Coulson, Sloane Albright

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The Stark Enterprises Intern Program.

One of the most presigious and one could say infamous programs in New York. The number of brilliant young scientists hosted by Stark Enterprises has racheded up in recent years as its owner came out as Iron Man and shifted the focus of his company towards less world ending things. The Program has been pouplar, though working with the irredeamable Tony Stark on occasion has driven them off.

Which is why Pepper handles most of the face-to-face workings of the program now.

Except those days when Tony Stark gets it into his head to do it personally. Why? Well mostly because he might have heard something about said intern. Or he might have seen said Intern before. Or he might just be really damn bored and decided to breeze though things again.

…its hard to tell with Stark.

Right now though, as one secretary is holding a file of a young woman who has applied it seems that its door number three that Tony is going though. Boredom.

So he breezes into the office with a grin. "Wanda! Its Wanda right? Right. So! You go take lunch or something I can handle this one!"

"B-but Mister Stark," The poor secretary. "This is my job?"

"Come on, I'm offering an early lunch!" The beam from Stark is bright as he plucks the file from the beweldered secretary. A wave of a hand to shoo the poor woman off and she stumbles out the door.

Which would be why when Rusalka and her partner in crime arrive to the hollowed halls of Stark Tower and are shown into the meeting room by security.

Room is on the fifteenth floor with a glorious view of the city.

Its not a simple secretary or the esteemable Miss Potts greeting them.

Its Tony Stark himself. In jeans and a t-shirt. Feet propped up on the desk and chair leaning way back as he flips though the file in his hands. Humming to himself. And munching on dried peaches from a bag in his lap.

Nomnomnom.

At last, the Big Day has arrived. Rusalka had put in her application for the internship program, completed the test paper that had gone with it, and had been ecstatic to learn she'd at least advanced to the interview round. Granted, her version of ecstatic isn't quite 'throw a party' level as it is 'cheerful grin' but those who know the young woman would understand how much this means to her.

That meaning has deepened since her trip to the race track with Phil Coulson. Her decision, made somewhere around the ninth turn, was something she'd already known - she just hadn't realized it yet, and it took the devilish professor-type to point it out. The only thing she had balanced it on was the outcome of this meeting, with whoever at Stark Industries is going to handle her personally. Naturally, this means the Sokovian girl's fully prepared…

…and sighing a little inside at having to play up the formality and protocol.

At least Isa's along with her; the pilot had mentioned a need to get over to the building as well. It wasn't at all an issue for Sally; she's more than happy to give her new friend a lift - especially with the way that the pilot had advised her for her future. Fortunately for Isa, the Lotus is more roomy than it's small size might suggest, and rather comfortably appointed. And her chauffeur, always very precise at following the traffic laws, is extra careful to avoid jostling the older woman and her injury too much.

Eventually, Sally settles in for a rather short wait. A very dark blue suit and slacks gives a nice formality, a fashionable and expensive brand fitted just perfectly to her slim, long-legged physique. It also helps set off her eyes, Sloane had suggested, so she'd gone for it. Necktie as well, a sedate black one to contrast the silk blouse under the jacket, hairband keeping her face framed with long bangs, and low heels - an inch, no more; the only concession she makes to uncomfortable office fashion. And, of course, a proud enameled lapel pin bearing the coat of arms of the Stojespal family. It's the pin that's the heaviest; it's been a while since she's felt the weight of tradition and family like this but she knows how much it would mean - and how much the barony's heiress is expected to succeed.

And then it's time. The fifteenth floor's views are spectacular, of course, and Rusalka steps forward in expectations that are almost instantly bombed, napalmed, and then strafed for good measure. For a moment she freezes in shock, before gathering herself together and coming up short. It's him, Phil Coulson's 'headstrong, infuriating, clownish, generous' self-declared Iron Man. Clearly something has gone terribly wrong, and Sally drops into a curtsy of respect. He may not be true nobility, but this might as well be his castle and she'd just walked into him. And it might not hurt an attempt to smooth over the mistake.

"Mr. Stark. My immediate apologies, sir." The eighteen year old still has a Sokovian accent, not thick but enough to leaven her voice with a soft fluidity that's almost musical. "I was supposed to be escorted to a meeting for an interview, but the security guard directed me here. There's been some mistake, I am very sorry for disturbing you." Pleasedon'tblush pleasedon'tblush pleasedon'tblush. "With your leave, sir?" And she's looking to back out - right through Isa, if she has to; this little bunny just found herself face to face with the big bad wolf.

…bunny, that's right, just like the chrome-and-black outfit she'd had at the Auto Show at one of the display pavilions…not that Tony Stark noticed such a thing.

For her part, the pilot has chosen a more professional mode of dress today. That is to say, she isn't wearing a flight suit, nor is she wearing the more casual fare that she might enjoy at home. Jeans and a tee-shirt are her preferred mode, but the one-eyed woman is capable of cleaning up nicely.

Today she's chosen a black button-down blouse, tucked into black slacks, with polished black shoes. The only thing she's wearing that's not black is her eyepatch, which is more of a dark dove grey. Over the blouse she wears a suit jacket, buttoned neatly. She wears heels well, too, for someone more accustomed to combat boots. Like Rusalka, she also wears a tie; a somber affair in silk and a soft, dark maroon; the only concession to colour in her ensemble.

She's eschewed all jewelry, partly because this place might entail metal detectors, and that would be one less distraction to deal with. So her necklace with its Russian military dog tags and the wedding band on it were left at home, tucked safely in their drawer.

Her hair is the same vibrant auburn red as before. The lack of change suggests that's its natural hue, rather than dye; the presence of strands of a different colour here and there only reinforce that suggestion. It's been left down, but it's been meticulously combed and straightened, left to spill across the right side of her face to obscure the eyepatch and scarring.

A touch of makeup enhances her natural features; a touch more subdues some of the worst of the scarring where it can't be avoided. All that black in her attire does set off her own natural colours well, too – the crisp wintry blue of her eye, and the red of her hair.

The only thing that isn't is the dark blue, white-hemmed, hospital-issue sling that her left arm is currently pinioned in. Hmmm.

The drive was made more or less in silence. Isa had been carrying a black briefcase with her, but Rusalka would not be given so much as a peek at their contents. Classified information? Or does she have something to deliver to Stark? The pilot's given no enlightenment on the issue, and if Rusalka's voiced any questions, the issue has been stonewalled.

Spectacular is the view from the fifteenth floor, not so much as skipping a beat as Rusalka's expectations are murdered without a trace.

She does cast a bland look over at Rusalka, though, as though to say, it only gets worse from here. Wait until Stark opens his mouth.

Before Rusalka can do anything dumb and breeze right past her, Isa surreptitiously reaches down with her right hand and closes her scarred fingers around the Sokovian's forearm. Oh no you don't. Don't you dare show your back to him, or you'll never live down that first impression.

The bunny might have met the wolf, but the bunny happens to be friends with a she-bear.

Not a flicker of a smile crosses Isa Reichert's face.

"Mister Stark." Her Russian accent seems somehow less, today; her voice a shade less rough. It could almost be charming, just like how the pilot is almost pretty, if one catches her from the left side. She inclines her head in the faintest gesture of concession. "I was likewise directed here. I will wait until Miss Stojespal has concluded her business, but considering the fact that she was kind enough to provide me with transportation, I would prefer not to waste your time with a separate appointment."

Isa speaks the truth.

It only gets worse from here.

<Rusalka Stojespal.> Stark's russian is flawless but the accent just just slightly off. Anyone beyond a native speaker wouldn't even notice. No hesitation in the syntax and he hardly looks up. His eyes slowly tick up over the edge of that file as he peers towards the two in the doorway.

The grin grows wider as he sees them both. "Desk Job! You made it!" His eyes first towards Isa, though that hospital sling makes his eyebrow tick up. "Lemme guess. Rogue stapler? Vicious coffee pot? Errent pen?"

Those were three guesses, but whose counting. "I keep telling people they should issue desk jockies body armor. Safer that way."

Then those sharp eyes, quick as lightning snap back towards Sally as his grin grows. "And you're not intrupting. I'm just helping with the interview process!" A glance at the file. "So you're right on time. For a suprise meeting. With me." Beatpause. "Suprise."

It totally is isn't it?

"Nice of you to bring Desk Job there too! Since I need her to test something out for me. Someone bet me I couldn't design something to air-drop a live car and have it road-ready when it hit the ground. You know. Like they do in the movies." A beatpause. "I mean its not hard. And it does have pretty high 'cool' factor."

He closes the file with a slap.

"So! Introductions! I'm Tony Stark." His feet swing off the desk as he shoots to his feet. One hand leans against the desk as the other is extended across it to shake. Its about then when he focuses on Rusalka for the first time.

Really focuses.

A touch of confusion. The regognition passes across his face. "…I think I've seen you somewhere before…"

It's the first time she'd seen Isa dressed up fancy, and it's an impressive look. All black, the severe colore meshing well with Isa's red hair, Sally can't help but imagine it as some sort of dress uniform. The lack of jewelry helps with that, as does the way she carries herself - it's at the very least impressive.

Contrasted, that is, to the occupant of this room, who for all intents and purposes treats it as his man-cave. Such a silly American expression, but - well. It is his building, perhaps this really is a…sparsely, corporately appointed man-cave. No, that's not it. But what's he doing here?

Isa's catch of her arm as she starts to back out of the room to find the security guard and report the error gets her to freeze in place, and she tenses her fist slightly to let Isa know she gets it. She'll stay where she is, at least until the pilot's had her say, then go discover where it is she's supposed to be…and hope the reason for her lateness is accepted.

Well, at least she could count on Tony Stark to back her up, right?

So she'll wait, understanding - a single glance of cobalt blue eyes at the Russian pilot saying plenty. I understand. Do not show fear, and represent myself well. First impressions, after all, well. At least her instinctive reaction had been proper protocol, and she hadn't turned into a stammering idiot. Okay, so now she's down a lap, but it's not hard to make a comeback from that at all.

Desk Job? Now there's a nickname, apparently, though she doesn't have to look at Isa to know her reaction. She can probably feel a sudden surge of heat from the woman next to her, especially when Stark goes off suggesting various means for her injuries. Then that rapid-fire spirit gets focused on her, and she can tell this 'clown' is…much more than he seems. At least, much more intelligent, even if the evidence of that was the skyscraper built around her.

Wait, HE is going to interview her? There's a soft swallow as she takes an instant to gather herself, then stands up a little straighter. Her english is accented, but still quite clear despite the momentary flash of panic in her soul. "Surprise. Uh…yes, I admit I quite am, I did not expect such a thing. Mr. Stark." Polite, finally, and respectful for a moment. Hey, someone has to be. And, she supposes, with that moment the interview is on - especially when he brings up his air-drop idea.

She takes a moment to think about it, stepping forward to accept his handshake with her fingers, and realizes the basic concept of the engineering problem. "It wouldn't be impossible, but…you'd need to significantly reinforce the car's suspension and tires, or else very carefully designed crumple zones in the parachute container. Really, it's just building it to survive a car crash. Lower the instant g-stresses below about four, and it should do well." It's how airbags and bumpers and such work, after all.

Seen her before? "I'm…I do not believe so, Mr. Stark, I believe I would recall such a meeting. Perhaps it was someone else?" No, now that she's standing close enough to shake hands over a desk, the hairband she has is the giveaway. Even if this one doesn't have bunnyears on it.

When Tony greets her, the older of the two women moves her head just so, a faint tilt suggestive of muted interest. It's only visible in the way her red hair moves. Her expression never changes, but part of that may be a product of her injuries, half her face more or less immobile.

Her eye is the tell, though. It's like a chip of flint, rimed in ice. She is not amused by his playful attempts at humor. Her lack of amusement shows plainly. While she could probably tell him she was shot in the most deadpan tone of voice she can muster, it's none of his business.

Stoically, she waits out his momentary interest in her. Inevitably, his attention homes back in on the Stojespal scion, and without his direct attention on her she can already feel her blood pressure ease back a few ticks.

For the moment she steps away from the centre of the room, letting them have their interview in peace. She doesn't move to set her briefcase down, nor does she move to open it. The woman seems content to hold onto it, and content to stand, stoic and stone-faced.

Someone bet him he couldn't…

Heroically, Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva resists the urge to cover her face with her hand. Partly because she's still carrying her briefcase, but partly because she just refuses to give him the satisfaction.

Isa isn't quite simmering yet, but Rusalka can probably sense the irritation in her. For her part she behaves herself, and remains silent, watching with that single eye the interplay between the two; silent support for Rusalka Stojespal. The silence she affords Tony Stark, however, is considerably sharper and more brittle; the kind of thing she'd be trying to saw his head off with if she weren't trying to be polite. She's accustomed to military discipline and efficiency of word and action – not this blundering man-child and his obfuscating ways. Just looking at him is irritating. What kind of person of that stature maintains such a careless appearance?!

"People seldom expect suprises, I suppose thats why its a suprise." The man replies with a grin. "But the world is full of them. You didn't run screaming or leap out a window. You're already ahead of the curve that way. I loose more windows that way, then people freak out when JARVIS has to catch them before they hit. Really derails the flow." He babbles on as he shakes her hand, mind still twisting in on itself on just where he's seen Rusalka before.

He knows he has.

His smile remains as she tackles the proplem he just flung out at her head on and with bared claws. "Mmmm. Correct you are. Change the materials too, high impact composites intsead of more traditional steels. Armoring them up would be difficult, not impossible. Of course…" A flash of a grin. "…would be easier just to fit them with a auxilary reuplsor flight system, but its the principle of the thing right? They still have to be cars. Not flying cars."

He doesn't sit back down though, full of energy. Always in motion. He never seems to sit still for more than a heartbeat. His finger, his foot, always moving to some kind of his own inner beat.

His eyes flicker towards Isa for a moment, noting the stony silence. The glower. The growing irritation. A slight tilt of his head. Then it tilts back the other way, almost like he's measuring her with his eyes.

Which he is.

"JARVIS. Start on a composite armor system test. Jacket style would you." He suddenly calls out. Seemingly to thin air.

"At once, sir." Comes the prim and propper voice of one JARVIS. The highly advanced system designed by Stark to assist him with everything. The crisp english tones clashing with Tony's more rapid fire and entirely unconventional style. "Will your guests be joining us for any tests, sir?"

Tony crans his head back to stare at the ceiling a moment. "Is this your way of asking for introductions?"

"It would only be polite, sir."

"Fine fine, Rusalka, Isa. This is JARVIS. My version of Jimminy Cricket."

"I would only be that if you listened to me, sir."

"True." Stark allows with a smirk as he looks towards the pair of them. A glance once more towards Rusalka before recognition starts to dawn in his eyes. "Wait wait wait…" He mutters as he squints towards the lady. Then his eyes fly wide.

"CARBUNNY!"

Just as she'd been impressed by the older woman's fashion expressiveness, she'd be equally surprised by the level of irritation that Isa gives Mr. Stark. True, Sally had already talked about it to her, and her advice about being very direct resurfaces. With a silent prayer of thanks to the woman, she steels herself up to fight through his distractions. Just like a car in front of her on the track, poorly driven and sliding left to right and back again blocking her in…and Sally just waiting for the precise moment for an opening. Don't be distracted by the antics, stay focused on the road.

In honesty, his attire isn't that much of a surprise. Perhaps Sally's a little more buttoned down than the usual student, but Columbia's engineering department has more than its share of hyper-intelligent folks. Each of them with…curious fashion choices, especially in the stressful times of finals. Maybe that's all it is with Tony, and compared to Isa - and her military career and mindset - yes, it would be a little bothersome. Her own mother has commented the same now and then…

She's not sure, not completely, that he's joking. There's a quirk of a smile at the corner of the teenager's mouth, though it's less amusement than it is the curve of a question mark wodnering just how she's supposed to take that remark. "I'll accept that as a compliment then, sir. Sally Stojespal," she adds, by way of introduction as they shake. That rapid-fire delivery, definitely reminiscent of some of the other students…just turned up to eleven.

Okay, she's starting to settle a little into how to handle Tony. She thinks. Rusalka's young, she's still got a lot to learn about just how far 'turned to eleven' goes after all. But then he fields her suggestion, and she nods. "Lighter plastics for ablative braking, and lower mass - lower inertia. Less force required to decelerate, though it would make it a single-use device." Then again, it is basically absorbing a crash, it's going to be that anyway. She gives a soft laugh at his mention of flying cars and nods, conceding the 'third option' he suggests.

The introduction to JARVIS gets a blink, before a respectful nod. "Sally, please. I prefer to go by that, than my given name. If you don't mind, that is. A pleasure to meet you, sir." Well, he does have a male sounding voice, at least. She's about to ask Tony if they should get started, and what she can do, when he squints - yes, there's no mistaking it. Even with low heels, those legs of hers are a giveaway, as are those strikingly bright dark blue eyes. It's almost an unreal color, but it's not contacts, just the genetic legacy of her family line.

And, that legacy goes very wide in surprise as she's recognized, followed by her face turning white as a corpse. "Chto … chto ty tol'ko chto skazal?!" 'What did you just say?!' Okay, she can't help it - startled bunnies speak russian, it's just what they do.

For her part, the Russian remains silent. It's as though a portcullis has come down over her features, a wall between her true self and the outside world. She is the very epitome of stoic neutrality. It's a skill she learned to practise very well in the military hierarchy from which she once came, as well as the politics of the time. For some time self-expression was a dangerous quality to have.

Even so, she is studying the meeting intently, filing away every detail she can think of.

The voice of JARVIS earns a slight tilt of her head, single eye tracking up towards the ceiling as Tony had, albeit in more subtle gesture.

"Priyatno poznakomitsya." A pleasure to meet you, or the cultural equivalent to the same. Her Russian is clear and liquid, as one would expect of a native speaker. Her dialect identifies her as a resident, at some point in her past, of Moscow.

She says no more than that, letting the two talk shop with their engineering. As a matter of necessity she can follow some of it; there are certain principles that carry through to the field of aeronautics, too, in their most basic form. Yet by this point, most of what they have to say is beginning to delve into specifics.

That single blue eye hoods, slightly, as Rusalka looks like she just saw a ghost, or maybe her namesake. At the same time, that red brow rises incrementally. Isa doesn't say anything… but she might have a new nickname for Rusalka later, the next time she's feeling vindictive.

She is absolutely not smiling. That was not a twitch at the right side corner of her mouth.

"Carbunny!" Tony says it again, this time accominied by a wide grin. "I knew I reconised you from somewhere. But it was hard to tell without the ears." He crosses his arms over his chest. "Defintally a carbunny." He says, eyes sparkling with mirth as he starts to stroll around the desk. To what looks like a blank wall.

"Right, so. Carbunny." The man angles the corner of his gaze towards her. He looks at the oddly blank wall, slate gray and office standard, then nods. "JARVIS?"

Screens flash into effect on the wall, hovering a hairs breath away from the sheetrock. Dozens of them, engineering controls, full schetamics of a half dozen types of car. From american mussle to european speed demons.

The schetamics are detailed down to the last bolt, the images manipulatable by touch and expandable. The cars can be pulled apart and put back together using new or different parts should someone wish.

Velocity readings, various types of crash systems, parachutes, retro thrust systems. They all dot different other screens.

Tony takes a bite of one of his peach slices and then shakes the bag towards the two russian ladies. An offer.

A grin again. "Alright. Well call this a crash course. Lets see what you can do about rebuilding them…" He nods towards the screens. "Bunny."

A grin again.

What Sally would note though? Deep in each design, so imperciptable someone not good enough would simply miss it, is a flaw. Something structural that would ruin the landing. Snap an axle. Blow all four tires. All the systems are flawed, even if they don't look like it at first glance.

Tony just munches on his snack and glances towards Isa as he steps back to let Sally work.

"Miss Reichert, Miss Stojespal. A pleasure to meet you both." JARVIS greets them both. "Ah sir, the test piece has begun printing. Description?"

"Navy peacoat." Tony's reply is offhand, distracted, almost bored. Like he's not thinking about it anymore.

Isa is a model of respectful, dignified silence. It's probably one born of Russian fatalism, military bearing, and years being in the same room as senior military leaders and senior spies - sometimes the same person, often not, and always dangerous. Her ability to stand stoic and erect, statuesque in marred beauty, is impressive. When confronted with Tony Stark's erratic energy, she's the model of quiet business. She's even got the strength to hold in her amusement at Sally's new appellation.

Good. For. Her.

Meanwhile Sally's just sort of trying to process what just happened. Settle down, and be direct. Very well, direct she will be - and honest, even if it is embarrassing. But she has her reasons! "I…yes, though…I don't recall seeing you, sir. At the auto show; it's where I've worked." Sigh. An edge slips into her voice, regal frustration at being overlooked. "Yes, as one of those 'booth bunnies' because it's difficult to be taken seriously sometimes. I am young, I am female, I am pretty; three of your 'strikes' and I am out." Silly American baseball.

Shrug. "But doing that at least lets me get a foot in the door, and I can see the technology, the vehicles. Meet the…" …Well, this is embarrassing, and she sighs a loud huff. "Meet the engineers that design them, even for just a moment." And apparently leave a fantastic impression, as her eyes settle in a faint squint at Stark. "Sally, please." And then - then there is technology.

She doesn't notice the bag, eyes focused on the screens, ears paying attention to most of his words. Sally steps forward, heels clicking against the hard floor, as she reaches up to start manipulating her first one. "Rebuild, Mr. Stark? I see." A professor's vagueness, implying she's got problems to solve. Well. THAT, she can do.

And then there's something strange - she reaches into her suit coat, pulling a small notepad and pen out. Paper, actual honest-to-god Groot dandruff, and she starts making notes on it - flipping back and forth between calculations. Half on the page, half in her head, not using the instant responsiveness of Stark's own systems. The concentration lets her tune out what the other two plan to discuss, and she's actually got a smile spreading slowly across her face.

Rusalka is being taken seriously, in something she loves. Something she does well. Now, she's not waiting - she's doing it. Even if nothing else comes of this, even if she's turned down, she has this moment as a gift from Tony Stark. And for that, she's thankful to him.

And, maybe just a little superstitious, whispering a silent request for the wisdom of the harvest wolf goddess and the blessing of Steve McQueen.

What exactly is a carbunny? The pilot declines comment, instead opting to watch the engineer and the driver with some suspicion. Did she miss something? Is there some vague clause of the English language that Isa Reichert is somehow missing, despite how careful she's been today…?

Honestly, she's afraid to ask. She probably won't want to know what the answer actually is.

Her eye flicks from Tony over to the wall when the ghost in the machine is bade to activate screens. That eye widens just fractionally, a gesture so subtle it could be missed. It's true that she's heard some rumour about the technological advancement of Stark Tower. Reality, however, is a different beast from rumour. That's impressive.

Tony's offer of dried peach slices is given a flat stare. No. Thank you.

Those schematics are studied just long enough to decide that they're beyond her level of expertise, and JARVIS' next statement earns a momentary twitch of an eyebrow. Test piece printing? Description, navy peacoat? What exactly is that supposed to mean? And should she be worried, knowing she has a rather nice navy peacoat hanging in her closet; one of her first American purchases?

Probably, she decides.

At least the question of carbunny gets an answer for her, once she puts the pieces together.

She stoically pretends not to hear Rusalka's quiet whisper.

…Superstitious nonsense.

Her attention turns back to Tony, single eye narrowing almost imperceptibly. Curiosity killed the pilot, and she can't help a final question, staring him down with the same stoic, muted ferocity that she might stare down a malfunctioning aircraft.

"What are you doing?" Her tone is mild, oh so mild, as though she weren't really interested. It doesn't completely hide her suspicion, though.

"Me?" Tony continues to munch on his peaches. "I'm giving Sally here an interview. Thats all." He flashes Isa a grin, eyes dancing with some hidden amusement as he flicks his gaze from Sally to the pilot. "Soooo," A pause. "How did you get shot?"

Just out of the blue, his question fires like a lightning shot from the blue towards Isa. Eyes on the work that Sally is doing as he splits his attention, something that seems quite within his capabilities.

As the girl with the love of cars pulls out a pad he quirks an eyebrow, but he doesn't say anything. Everyone has a work ritual. Some people listen to music. Some people sing. Or do a little dance. Or have a favorite microscope or set of tools. Whatever it takes to make the best use of the brain. To focus and work. He's not gonna mess with a method, as long as it works.

And it looks like it is.

"I mean its pretty obvious you got shot." He adds cheerfully. "And I'm gonna guess its more than an onrey stapler." He adds as he glances over his shoulder to do a perfect three point shot with the empty snack bag.

"Sir, its finished. Shall I send it down?"

"Yeah, thanks JARVIS." Tony replies as he turns back to the pair of them, his hands in his pockets as he wobbles back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"Point the second!" Tony adds after a moment. "Whats in the case?"

There's no surprise to register on the pilot's face. She's very good at masking her own reactions. Even so, she can't hide the faint tightening around her good eye as her temper flares. How did he get that information? Sure, he might have come to that conclusion naturally, but it's still absurdly specific in the face of an extremely generic arm sling.

Then he keeps talking. It would have been alright if he had stopped there, but the stupid oaf just keeps on talking.

Some cold, clinical part of her wonders if she can vault across the desk and snap his neck before any kind of security countermeasures stop her. Probably not, she decides, because this tower is absolutely saturated in bleeding-edge technology.

Even in the midst of her engineering, Rusalka might feel the heat of rage simmering from the pilot.

With a calmness she absolutely doesn't feel, Isa stalks forward to the desk and sets the briefcase down, thumbing the latches with practised ease. It pops open on well-oiled hinges to reveal a series of manila folders.

The folders are gathered up and smacked onto the desk with enough violence that any other bystanders might flinch; the paper makes a sharp, clean sound against the desk's smooth surface.

On opening the folders, the first thing he'd notice is that the documents are without exception printed in Cyrillic; specifically Russian. The second thing he might notice is that there are vast swaths of them blacked out in the manner of redacted information.

"My qualifications." Her statement is calm; cold. "These are for your eyes only. Do not read them out loud. Do not share them. Do not make copies of them."

He'll find that though much of the circumstances around it and the projects involved are blacked out, as well as a number of significant commendations awarded to a single pilot. It would appear that her name was Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva, she was born in the spring of 1979, and was a staunch supporter of the institution which she served. She piloted some of the most cutting-edge aircraft innovations of the time, many of which were incorporated into the production lines.

Something must have happened in 2012. The documents' provenance abruptly stops in that year, and there is no further information – maybe that's why so much of the documents are blacked out.

There's also a collection of documents asserting her service in SHIELD, which more or less amounts to information that would not be classified; public service records that identify her as Isa Reichert. The fact that she works for them suggests she has some kind of acceptable level of skill.

Isa's stare is almost challenging; silently bristling. "No. It was not a stapler. It was not a coffee pot. And it was not an errant pen. To be specific, it was a Dragunov long-range sniper rifle, and it was aimed at my forehead." She'd say she'd done pretty well, all things considered. Coulson's quick reaction and clear thinking saved her life.

Her stare is challenging, and her hand is still flat on the desk.

"Anything else, Mister Stark…?"

"Do not make paper airplanes out of them?" Tony quips as he glances down at the sheets there with a quirk of an eyebrow. He moves on quickly enough though to glance into the files. Eyes flying over pages as he skims though them, flicking to one part to the next. The official SHIELD documents catch his attention. A flicker of a glance at Sally then and a quirked eyebrow towards Isa. An obvious question. Does she know about SHIELD?

But its not voiced.

For once in his life he actually doesn't something without shouting it to the world.

He meets the stare with one of his own, doesn't back down in the least. Because Tony Stark very seldom backs down. He just doubles down. "Huh. So you did dodge." He finally says before he shrugs slightly and drops the files back in the briefcase.

"You know you already quilified in my book when you burned a near double digit G turn in the Quinjet drone with authintic reactions and no hesitation." No hesitation ment either she either was that good. Or she was stupid.

If she was just stupid she wouldn't have lasted this long.

"Oh yeah, JARVIS did you…"

"I took the liberity, sir."

"Good good. I sware, too many thoughts in my head. I'd just loose it sometimes if it wasn't for him." He drawls as he leans against the table and snaps his eyes back towards Rusalka.

"Done yet?"

She's not completely lost in her work. Whatever Jarvis is talking about to Tony, whatever floor he's on, she's loosely paying attention to. Including the back and forth byplay about this thing being made, some jacket? And Isa's injury. She thinks a moment, then glances up from her work.

"If it's something personal, I can always move to another computer, yes? That is, if you object to my presence." She's talking to them both, but she's actually looking at Isa; the redhead's opinion matters more to her in this than his. After all, she's the one with the bullet wound. Once her question's answered, she'll return to work - either slipping out to work on a screen in the next room, or else staying where she is.

It's some fascinating stuff, actaully. Some of it is painfully easy, mere intuition solving the problem of things like too much suspension travel that would send the tires into the bodywork and shred them. Adjusting that is simple enough. Then some get a bit more difficult, like the wrong metals specified. That too's noted down, with suggested replacements. There's a couple serious brain-teasers in it that take more than a few minutes to figure out in silent contemplation, one of them requiring following individual wires in a remarkably tricky bit of work.

She keeps most of the calculations on paper, scribbling furiously and mumbling in Russian. One particular flaw, though, catches her eye and earns an actual bit of swearing - something vague suffering rectal tunnel vision from biologically impossible points of view…oops. Pretend nothing happened, carry on, and keep working!

Fortunately it doesn't seem anyone's heard it - because instead of them reacting to her swearing, it's Sally who jumps when the suitcase hits the table. She turns, glancing back to see what the noise was, and from her position sees folders being handed out. And Isa's statement - secret classified things, okay. Well, she can't really see much from her angle besides 'moderately thick stacks of paper' anyway.

When Isa spills further details, and is quite put out by the man, Sally just glances at her face - eyes meeting eye for a moment, a little bit of worry creasing her forehead and lifting her eyebrows. A silent plea of sorts, 'please do not murder my interviewer at least until after I've finished' perhaps. Or maybe just a caution to not give in to her anger, that it leads to the Dark Side and all. The woman's frosty demeanor is certainly icelike, but there's a burn underneath - as if Isa Reichert were a golem made of frozen methane.

She'll turn back to her work quickly once the woman mentions the details of her injury. Details she couldn't share with Rusalka, and thus the Sokovian heiress sweeps it from her mind. Instead, she just says something quiet in Russian, "eto byl prosto veter." It was just the wind. Please don't be angry, Isa, says the big blue bunny-eyes.

Once she gets back to the test, it's the final one that catches her. It's a truly complex design, perhaps something Stark Industries is working on - certainly not a car she'd seen before. Maybe it's just one of Tony's daydreams; whatever it is the beauty of the machine is hard to understate. As is the specifications, but it's…not making sense. The design is clearly valid, but to an engineer it's like looking at an escher drawing. Any one part of it is correct, but coming together is almost impossible. And like Escher's neverending staircase, it doesn't have a starting point to work from.

Frustration brings a frown to her face, and she flips back through the others to see if there was anything she'd missed. One more look at the twisty machine, and she finally pushes away from the floating screens.

The answer to Tony's question comes quickly, though with a slightly frustrated tone. "Yes, Mr. Stark. I believe I've finished, if you have a moment." She hands over a sheet of paper, written in fairly plain english script - something easy to understand, clarity for an engineer. It goes over the list of problems she'd discovered - too brittle alloys, untempered materials in places, electrical equipment swapping wires and technically running backwards, parts physically just slightly too large to fit in place, a fairly thorough list. There's even some comments on improvements to safety and performance; she's covered most all but the last one.

There's a frown on her face as she explains. "The final design, I'm…not sure where to start. It would require a complete rebuild; the generator is rated for certain levels while the throughput requires a different style, mated to a drive shaft that…fits, but can't work with the components involved, and the rest…it loops back into itself, where the wiring to the generator itself is too easy to crack and break. I can't fix any part of it, because I've no place to begin."

When faced with a path that never ends, where do you take the first step?

It is entirely possible that Isa is repeating a mantra to herself in Russian at this point, something to the effect of not strangling Tony Stark with the sling on her left arm, because the paperwork resulting from that would be nightmarish. Even paperwork is starting to pale beside the desire to do something violent.

But aside from a slight twitch near her left eye, she doesn't let it show.

At the unspoken question, she does nod, almost imperceptibly. The aspiring intern does indeed know about SHIELD, and she lets out a faint breath of relief. Thank God he didn't shout that to the world, just on the off chance that the youth hadn't been familiar with the organisation.

"You noticed?" Isa allows herself a thin half-smile when he observes the fancy flying she'd done. "You should see what I can do with real hardware. These simulations, they just aren't the same."

At Tony's back-and-forth with JARVIS, her eyes cut sidelong toward the wall and its high-tech screens. If there's any chance she might have started cooling off, it's gone now, seared away in a blaze of silent suspicion.

This was probably a bad idea, no matter what her intentions.

She listens in silence to Rusalka's appraisal, though. It's clear the Stojespal scion does indeed know her stuff. She absolutely has the engineering chops. Stark would be an idiot to turn her down, but Isa already knows that Stark is an idiot, so it wouldn't be any great loss to her. SHIELD is better off with someone of Stojespal's obvious talent.

Slowly, that blue eye cuts back to Tony, as though curious what he'll do now that the tennis ball is in his court.

Tony, being Tony. Stays nothing at first. He takes the notes, he goes though them. He reads them. He reads them again. He lets Sally sweat on the verdict. Did she do right? Did she do wrong? Is he just being an ass about it? Its hard to tell. At least until the turns and tosses the notepad on the table and crosses his arms over his chest. His eyes fix on Rusalka for a moment before he sighs.

"So," He begins. "You missed the fact that on the third design there is a minor flaw in the forward electrical systems that could make half the dashboard explode on impact."

For a split second Isa might just think that SHIELD is getting Sally for good.

A beatpause.

"Other than that, you found everything. Redisgned it well. Fixed the flaws on every design apart from the last. Which…" A smirk. "…it looks beautiful doesn't it?" He asks. "It drove four engineers mad trying to figure it out. I call it the Knot." He reaches up to touch specific parts of the design and pull them apart, flinging it up on the wall as five different designs. All of them layered almost imperceptively over the other. Each car a one of a kind concept built for a different purpose, which is why when combined none of them looked quite right.

"Its a trap, oen that most of the people I show it too slip on on. Spend hours trying to fix and eventually try to throw themselves out a window over. Which I already said was a bad idea right?" A smirk crosses his face. "You on the other hand pointed it out and most importantly, asked a goddamn question. No one asks questions anymore. They just nod and go on. I mean come on, how do you learn anything if you don't question and don't push. Right?"

At that moment the door hisses open to reveal a boxy hoverdrone with a…well…box. A package more like. Which is motors over to thump on the desk.

Its clothes. A peacoat and a SHIELD jumpsuit to be exact.

This is pushed towards Isa almost casually.

"So you're hired, Bunny. You pass. All that good stuff, I'll get a contract written up and sent down."

Yes indeed, Sally does know SHIELD. Even better than Isa might suspect; a recent and rapid trip with Agent Coulson had helped her seal the deal as far as that went. Well, it could be Isa's fault, she did tell the girl to talk to the agent. In the end, all Rusalka Stojespal needed was the right sounding board - and a few assurances.

To do something, do it well, and make it matter, was what she'd decided in the end.

There's a little bit of a smirk on her face when Isa mentions 'real' hardware. And her assurance towards Stark about her skill might just be the same sin of pride that Sally has; it's true that in a way they are sisters under the family of speed-junkies. As well as under the family of perfectionists…

When her assessment is read, she waits…and waits, standing politely with her eyes fixed on the older man. Her confidence is in her work; she's already decided on a future - the only question is a summertime option. There's a calmness and sense of waiting that Tony would know well - his time in the cockpit of Formula 1 cars, watching the clock tick slowly towards the start time, it's that same soul in her.

His first words, though, get a frown, and she thinks back - did she miss something? Yes, something serious, and it's…frankly annoying. Sure, she'd gotten the rest right, but the third problem had two components after all - she'd only spotted the first. That she'd gotten everything else correct was almost inconsequential; it wasn't the answer she'd wanted. She takes a deep breath, letting her chest settle back down before nodding.

"Thank you, Mr. Stark. And…" Beautiful? "Yes, it is, it's just…" The Knot. Blue eyes widen as she's shown the magician's trick, the different vehicles independently constructed and then cherrypicked for 'almost enough.' "It's a very evil trap, Mr. Stark. Like those puzzles without borders…" Cruelty indeed, but she can see the use of it. But then he goes on, and her eyes widen a moment as she nods. "Well…that is what I am here to do, I mean…yes. I…I pass?"

In fairness, she was distracted by the floating delivery unit. Give her credit, she's never seen one of those before. Though it was for her friend, it's still eye-catching. "Spasiba, Mr. Stark." She can't help the eyetic when called 'Bunny' but she'll deal with that later - there's something more important first. Her hand extends to the table, fingers spread slightly as she reaches down to touch it. And despite the slight sigh at the tradition, she still recites the oath in Russian, blue eyes suddenly intent and staring into his.

"<I, Rusalka Stojespal, swear by the Honor Unyielding of the Stojespal family that I will serve as your student, without question and without blemish.>" Contracts are for Americans. This is an oath that goes back to a much older land, and a much older way of doing things. Sally's not just pledging herself, but her entire family's name; what was once an agreement with a student and trade master still carries weight in her way.

She'll stand back a little, and start to translate her words - that is, if Tony doesn't happen to let on that he's not only been listening to her muttering this whole time but understands everything she'd said.

Isa doesn't fold her arms, mostly because there isn't any comfortable way to do that right now. Her arm is completely pinioned by the sling, and taking it off flies in the face of medical orders. She still has to suffer through it for a few more days, maybe another week.

Hopefully it won't be any more than that; being unable to fly or even function like a normal human being is beginning to drive her insane.

She does eye Tony when he delivers his verdict, something in her expression hard at the way he's stringing along the Sokovian girl. It reflects in the slight twist of her mouth, the faint downturn of the left-side corner. In her experience, good news and bad news are best given punctually. There's no point to this beating around the bush nonsense… but she is something of an impatient person, in some ways.

Despite her vocation, she can be incredibly patient, listening to aircraft and guiding them with a gentle hand. Yet when it comes to interpersonal matters – she burns as fiercely and hotly as a fighting jet's afterburners.

Still clutching her briefcase, Isa waits in stoic silence for Tony to finally suggest that she did well. If it were her own evaluation, she would probably be cursing at him by this point, unable to hold frustration in any longer. This is Rusalka's interview, though, and Isa would be loathe to harm her chances.

The hoverdrone is very slowly squinted at.

The contents of its package are squinted at even more.

Isa fixes her eyes on Tony, arching her red brow in faintly annoyed expectation, as though waiting for him to finish explaining whatever in the Hell it is that he's doing. She's waiting.

She does glance briefly at Rusalka's oath, but declines comment.

Superstitious nonsense.

"<No need,>" she finally says, wearily. "<He knows Russian, even if he speaks it exactly like the American he is. Save your breath, young lady.>"

The man smirks as he notes her calm, and then comes the oath. There is a half-second of processing, but then before Sally can fully start to translate. The man nods his head in a short dip of a bow.

<I, Tony Stark, might not have much in the way of honor. But I will teach you what I know of other things, as long as you always question. Always push. And never stop seeing just how far you can stretch what you know.>

His russian? Flawless. Isa might grumble, but he does speak it well enough. The cadence matches Rusalka's, even if he obviously made the words up on the spot. Mostly because Tony has never had anyone sware an oath to him before.

Its kinda cool.

Maybe he should have all his interns do stuff like this.

YEAH! Pepper would love that.

There is a smirk for the both of them though as he leans back against the edge of the desk. "I'm gonna have to get ya a paper contract too, just because Pepper loves paper. But that works for me. And if you can get the Knot to work as a whole you earn yourself a bonus. That bonus being you get to be the first test driver."

That seems to be a better incentive than money.

A grin at Isa again as she quirks a brow at his gift. "New ballistic armor, effective against ninty percent of small arms fire from the tests. As long as they around using high caliber AP rounds. Been needing a field test, beyond what Jane is stealing and using for her friends. So. Since you like to get shot, you can field test it."

He shoves himself off the desk.

"And when you're healed I'll let you at that new Quinjet design. But for now, I should send you both to accounting. Or something like that. Wherever you can get stuff signed." A grin. "And welcome to the family. You are both so going to regret it eventually I'm sure."

Sally's got half an idea of things, thinking about it from Sloane's point of view. From what she knows of Isa, the woman is like a cello - quieter, slower, much smoother in the tunes and tones than other instruments. Tony Stark, it seems…has much in common with an electric guitar solo, brash and energetic. Certainly not the kind of things that harmonize well, and Sally can easily sense the tension between them, even if it's mostly one-sided.

She's got an idea to help soothe the fighter pilot's nerves after this, starting with the obvious help of getting away from him. Of course, her idea of help it may not be quite as fast as Isa likes to travel, but it's a lot lower altitude, so that might help shake a bit of it off. Besides, everyone has fun at the racetrack!

As for the glance Isa gives her, she looks back, meeting the woman's gaze with a sort of serene, determined nobility. Superstitious no, simply the traditional way a powerful family's sworn oaths for a long time. …A superstitiously long time, one might say.

Oh. Tony speaks…oh dear. Well, she can be forgiven such things, she's sure; still it's a reminder to watch her language. His reply is, well…actually impressive, despite clearly being made up on the spot, and she dips her head to him slowly and politely. "<I shall do so.>"

She looks back from Isa to Tony and clears her throat. Maybe they're all she's got at the moment, without family around - but she's already told Sloane the good news. "I've also signed an agreement, then, that will take place after this internship. After speaking with Agent Coulson," she adds, giving Isa a bit of a grin, "I've decided that the best place to apply myself would be at SHIELD. Mr. Stark," she adds, glancing to her new benefactor, "Agent Coulson explained that you provide much technological support. It only seems right to be able to learn from you, and take that to SHIELD."

And then those cobalt blue eyes outright sparkle at his offer. She can't help the determined grin on her face, as well as a nod, before glancing back at the wall. There's a haughty expression on her face when she turns back to face him, as if sharing gossip about the latest from the fashion world. Her words, however, are purely dripping with confidence. "For each one, I'm sure."

Meanwhile Isa is given new bulletproof clothing; fascinating. And made on-demand like that, in the building? Quite impressive. But it's time to handle the smaller things, and it's clear the meeting has ended. She'll give Tony a nod and extend her hand again. "Thank you, sir. I do intensely look forward to learning, I only hope you won't tire of questions." Smirk.

Maybe Isa's made of fire and fury, but right now Rusalka just feels like she won Le Mans. Alone. On foot.

There he goes, trying to be an overachiever once more. The language is cleaner than she remembers it being. He's still not smooth enough to fool her as a native speaker, but he's smooth enough to carry his point across, and make it clear that he would have understood every word if the two women had communicated amongst themselves in their native tongue.

Isa keeps her hand at her side now that she isn't carrying the briefcase any more. He can keep the case itself. More importantly, the papers in it are of interest to him. What will be interesting, she decides, is to see what information he gleans from the redacted papers. It isn't what's there – it's what isn't there, and she's curious to know how he'll eventually interpret the broken pieces of her career's story.

In some small way he's almost like Phillip Coulson. He plays his cards very close to his chest. Where Coulson is the consummate professional, though, Stark plays the fool, and Isa is shrewd enough to know that it's only an act. You don't head a multi-billion dollar company by being a rolling public relations disaster.

For now, though, she focuses on the armour. It's a flight suit, but on reaching out to touch it, even her flame-scarred and nerve-deadened skin can feel the difference in the fabric's weave.

Will that be enough, though, next time?

It certainly can't hurt. She can use all the help she can get for as long as she chooses to play this dangerous game… and with the stakes that are on the line, she's willing to play it as long as she has blood and adrenaline to sing in her veins. The stakes mean more than her life; much more.

"Thank you." It's a somber admission, and Isa inclines her head, once; fixes Stark with a significant look that suggests she's grateful, even if his presence still pisses her off. "Maybe I can tell you the story in full, if I can ever trust you."

Trust comes hard to her. It can be earned, but it is not an easy thing to earn, and perhaps Coulson won the lottery when he earned her loyalty. She is not necessarily loyal to SHIELD itself – she is loyal to Phillip Coulson. Perhaps Rusalka wonders still what he had done to secure that loyalty.

Something in her mouth twitches. "This was not small arms fire. I already told you that. It was a calculated strike. Perhaps there is a chance it was a warning, but I do not think so, and it is only luck that I was spared an executioner's shot. But thank you. I will try this, and perhaps it will save my life."

"But mark me, Mister Stark. I do not like to get shot any more than I like to play games." That wintry blue eye rakes over Tony, and she jerks her chin to indicate her bound left arm. "Aside from the recovery time, I am no 'super.' It is incredibly painful. And my hand is still not working correctly."

You're both so going to regret it, eventually, I'm sure.

"<I already do,>" the red-headed pilot sighs, turning to gesture for Rusalka to follow. "<Let's go sign a few papers, Rabbit, and then you can take me home. I have some homework of my own to be done.>"

With that, and one last cool, measured look at Tony Stark, Isa Reichert turns and strides purposefully out the way she'd come… but not so purposefully that she outpaces Rusalka, of course.

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