Hacker is a bad word

July 26, 2017:

SHIELD Agents Rin Nakano and Rusalka Stojespal meet to discuss options for tracking down and dealing with Icarus Dynamics.

Stark Industries

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.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Phil Coulson, Tony Stark, Rocket Raccoon

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Summer afternoon in New York, though one with a surprising shift in the weather - a day of sea breezes and northerly winds give a pleasant bit of cool relief to the city. It shows in the people, much more active, more populous, and one single Planck value politer to each other. Between the mix of clouds and brilliant blue in the sky, the cooler temperatures, and the way that her work has been going…it's actually a /nice/ day.

Sally Stojespal, SHIELD agent and apprentice to Tony Stark, had been waiting for the visit. She'd told Agent Nakano to meet her in the lobby, to retire to a private work room. It lets her keep working on several things at once; Stark's habits are starting to ingrain themselves upon her. Not his fashion sense, at least. She's taking advantage of the day for a proper, albeit quite expensive and fashionably cut business suit and slacks; a bright yellow hairband keeps her hair back and bangs out of her face. Fortunately the outfit makes it easier to find her.

Low mary-jane style heels click on the floor as she taps one foot, waiting - lost in something on her tablet. A holographic display just peeks up over it, Stark technology clearly. Schematics, design notes, and other such things float in midair, barely visible to anyone else…and at weird contrast with the paper notebook held in her other hand.

"<Throughput numbers…da, that should be, but…where is it bleeding?>" Something has her attention, giving Rin the easy drop on her for her approach. Whether the SHIELD agent can understand the accented Ukrainian, well…there are words said that most prim and proper young ladies of one Rusalka Stojespal's age would never say in public. Or even admit to knowing of their existence…

Sure, Rin could have easily had this conversation at SHIELD HQ. However any excuse she can use to walk around Stark's building is always taken. The tech in the parking garge is enough to get her to inwardly swoon, let alone the rest of the building. Sadly, she promised Phil years ago that she wouldn't interfere with anything, or steal anything. So she's reduced to envious looks as she parks her bike and enters the building.

Her clothing is a stark contrast to what Sally is wearing. Since she had to drive herself over, she has dark slacks tucked into knee hight boots and a jacket that zips up to her neck. There is a SHIELD logo on it, and even one on the backpack that is swung over one shoulder. She has a bit of helmet hair that she attempts to smooth out as she passes by a shiny surface, but it's honestly a lost cause on this field agent.

She pulls her impalnt out of her pocket and attaches it it's base on her temple, once it is in place it springs to life, feeding her information as she walks. When Sally is spotted she clears her throat and walks toward her. "Agent Stojespal." She says clearly. "Do we have some where private to speak?" She's very direct and to the point when she speaks.

Unfortunately for poor Rin, Rusalka cheats. Instead of a two-wheeler, and all its acknowledged benefits over four, she has her own car for transport. It just so happens that that car is a four hundred horsepower Lotus, with a quite lavishly comfortable interior, but such is the life of a girl from a relatively wealthy foreign family.

If the older SHIELD agent researched, there's plenty to find on Sally - lone daughter of a baroness, part of a very old Sokovian family that owns and controls a sizeable estate in the north of the country. Initially contacted as a companion of a recent Inhuman, soon decided to join the agency as an engineering specialist out of a burst of youthful optimism and hope. There may or may not be private notes about her driving style from Phil, but those notes likely don't mention how much fun he had with her on the race track.

Needless to say, it's a pretty open book when it comes to Sally.

When she's approached, she glances up, vibrant cobalt-blue eyes taking in the Japanese agent. "Agent Nakano, I presume?" One thumb flicks off the display on the tablet, saving her work and setting it aside. "Yes ma'am. …Um, I don't salute or anything, do I? Agent Coulson and I are a little informal still, I think. And I didn't go to the academy." Protocol's important! Trust a noble-born to ask.

Meanwhile there's a nod given to Rin's question. "Sure. I felt my workshop would be best; it's secured and JARVIS keeps track of that." She'll lead Rin to the elevator, but doesn't hit a button, instead addressing the air. "JARVIS, please take us to the workshop? And enact privacy protocol. SHIELD business."

A soft male british voice answers back. "Protocol established, Miss Stojespal. Welcome, Agent Nakano. A pleasure to meet you." …Clearly Tony's been poking the SHIELD database again.

Once they're there, Sally leads the way in. It's…practically the antithesis of Stark's own setup, but just as highly advanced. It's simply organized precisely and carefully, tools laid out just right. It's almost like the room's a surgical tray, every instrument just at hand but ever so meticulously cleaned and arranged. And once they're alone, Sally turns around, eyes almost sparkling.

"Before we start, if you don't mind? I've got to know what that is, that…mm, scanner? Display?" She's immensely curious about that implant of Rin's.

All Rin would have pulled up out of the file would have been the important information. Name, location, Rank, age and anything else related to the job. She could have easily pulled up more but she's been told that it's rude to do so, and that stops her. Most of the time. When Sally looks unsure, Rin shrugs her shoulders. "I only stand on ceremony when I have to, and I'm not some high raking agent." She says casually as she crosses her arms over her chest. "I don't go by ma'am either, just Rin is fine." She attempts a polite smile but it's obviously forced.

When she's lead to the elevator she nods her head at JARVIS as if he can see her. Well he probably can but either way the gesture is there. "Absolutely facinating to meet you." She says, her voice actually showing a touch of emotion for a moment. "By the way, you have people on the third floor bypassing your proxy servers, you might want to look into that before they do something stupid." She can't help but to see it in this intracate web of technology before her. It's almost dizzying the amount of data she can see, but she forces herself to focus.

Rin's file in SHIELD is rather boring. Save for testing for a high IQ, graduating high school early and being pulled into SHIELD midway through college it's pretty unremarkable. Once she gets into the shop she looks around, appricating the organization before she is greeting with the eager questions.

"Uhm. Yes. It's whatever I need it to be at the time. A scanner, a display screen… occasionally I stream YouTube videos in really boring meetings. I'd get into the schematics, but then we would get off topic and Agent Coulson has me on a deadline." She doesn't touch anything, understanding how annoying it is when someone comes into her space and messes up her organization. Letting the backpack slide off of her shoulder, she pulls out a tablet of unknown origin and opens up a file. "He has me digging into Icarus, and has me building multi-layered cyber attacks against them, however he said that you and a few others are the point of contact for this mission and wanted your insight as to what would cause the biggest hinderance."

JARVIS, of course, is polite as ever. "And you as well, Agent Nakano. And I shall investigate that. Thank you for your tip." Whoever is getting in trouble at Stark Industries is going to get spotted; the latest edition of Galaga Online is hardly going to be permitted…without Tony's name atop the leaderboard, that is.

The basics would have been checked, just to make sure she's meeting with the right person. Anyone can make a SHIELD badge, after all; it's harder to fake being in the system. It was enough to verify the woman in front of her is who she is, at least. Sally gestures to a stool, offering a spot to sit, before retreating to a fine samovar tucked into the corner.

"Rin it is." The smile is returned, but she can see that her companion's not much for formality…or informality it seems. "And, Sally, please. Tradition is annoying, sometimes," she adds, in a vague handwave about her name. "Would you like some tea? I keep it warm through the day, to help me think."

Sally can't help the moment of amusement at Rin's admission of meeting distractions. "I can see the usefulness. Especially as a diagnostic tool, but you're right. Business." The tablet gets a glance, before the SHIELD agent fills her in on the situation. The jovial attitude dissipates like steam from her teacup, and Rusalka takes a sip to gather her thoughts as it's explained, before giving a long thoughtful stare at the ceiling.

"Admittedly…" Her voice is softer than before, still quite intelligible, but the Sokovian accent is always present. "I preface this with the fact I am not a programmer or cybersecurity expert. I'm more of a mechanical engineer, and still in college. I'm good with computers, but no 'hacker' or anything like that. That said." She drops her eyes, meeting Rin's gaze with that blue stare of her own.

"Chitauri." The word is foreign to every tongue in human history, an alien species from the stars. "Icarus Dynamics is using their technology, namely a fuel derivative of some sort, to power the Tchernobog. It provides extremely high performance even in standard turbofans, but obviously…" She pulls out her tablet, looking up some loose estimates. "Chemistry is neither mine nor Mr. Stark's strong point, but this is what we think the properties are. Whatever is used to transport it, it's volatile. Much more so than regular jet fuel. We thought that might limit its utility, but…perhaps you can track fuel shipments that way. Strange chemicals, extreme protocols."

A finger flicks a hologram on her tablet, the file transferring electronically to Rin's. "This is what we think - I stress, these are just estimates - the properties are. Somehow they're getting fuel for it from the Chitauri, so…" She shrugs. Find a gas station that has a UFO fill-up pump, it seems.

"The materials the aircraft is made from, carbon fiber and other metamaterials, I'm not sure they'd be trackable. This is what we know about that for sure, though our information is limited." Another file is sent over, before Rusalka smiles. "Now this, however…" An entire folder of information is dumped across the connection between the two tablets, and she smiles.

"Icarus uses some sort of drug cocktail for its pilots. They have advanced medical facilities, but they're abusive to the people in the aircraft." There's a momentary flicker of anger in her eyes, a number of reasons behind it. "I don't understand the medical side of it myself, but again, like the fuel? These should be easy to find. I can't think of anyone else using these things, what they do to the pilots is…terrible. It makes them mad. Insane."

Sally shudders a little, looking up at the other woman. "If I were going to start hunting them in the digital world, I would start there. Obviously, it needs a runway, so…" Shrug. "If these things start appearing in shipping orders, perhaps. That would very likely lead you to them. As for what would hurt them the most?"

She takes a long sip of tea, thinking about that one. The engineer's answer is the easiest, but…what would hurt Icarus the hardest? There's a lot to consider.

Rin looks at the tea and nods her head. It's not her normal method of liquid fuel, but it was offered and she's trying to be polite. After all, Sally looks to be passionate about her work and that is something Rin can get behind. "Thank you Sally." The tea is a little on the bitter side for her, but she takes a few polite sips.

When the files start trasnfering to her tablet, her fingers begin to dance over the screen as she sorts the data where it needs to go. Some of it flashes on the screen over her eye, reading it quickly while she speaks.

"Technically I am not a hacker either, it makes the higher ups twitch in their eye when I say that. However this is very valuable information, I will keep it secure." Though finding out those locations are important, and of course anything that can slow them down and hurt them is great.

"Still, looking at this from an engineer's perspective will help. I know a little, and mostly related to computers."

A small jar of strawberry jam is added to the pile of tea accoutrements. It's a different way of sweetening things, as Sally stirs a little into her own cup before taking a long sip. Certainly different than the western style of straight sugar.

The engineer watches that implant-scanner-reader device carefully. Something like that looks like a fantastic piece of hardware, and…with the demonstration of its ability to sense computer networks and usage, extremely interesting. And then Sally can't help but giggle a little at the observation.

"I suppose the H-word is something they avoid, yes. Information Security Specialist, I suppose. And, that is good to hear." She nods at the usefulness of the data. "I'm not sure what will be the best way to go about searching for it, but…that at least is a solid starting lead." Sally flips through her own tablet, tapping buttons and looking for other useful notes. Somewhere in there, she's got something certain written down.

And then she looks back up before waving a hand airily. "Well, I would say…perhaps an apprentice's perspective. I have still a ways to go before really being called that, but anyway. From my angle…oh! That was it!" A snap of her fingers, and Sally dives right back into that tablet. A flick, and new information comes up on Nakano's screen.

"Moyi mizky mozhut' pity v peklo. Computers. This. The Tchernobog has some sort of large computer array - we believe it's here," she adds, before looking around a moment and tapping furiously. From the room's hologram projector, lasers spring to life and a picture of the swordlike jet appears floating between Rin and Sally. The Sokovian points to the strange hump behind the cockpit. An additional hologram shows a smaller, sleeker aircraft with a rudimentary cockpit design.

"This. You mentioned computers, and hacking, and such. The Tchernobog has some sort of drone feature, where it can control at least four combat drones at the same time it's being operated by the pilot. There would have to be a lot of computing power on board for that, plus networking, and security for it all. The drones are all controlled by the main unit, unmanned. Someone has to have written a tremendous amount of code for that, for both the AI and the controller's input, I think."

She's hedging her bets now, but still determined. "Somewhere there is a group of specialists that wrote this code. It's got to be unique, not even Mr. Stark has seen it before in his experience with AI." No offense, JARVIS. "If that could be located and attacked somehow…they'd be completely grounded."

A wry smile crosses Sally's lips as she settles onto her stool, one shoe tapping the metal leg thoughtfully. "As much as I want to say the engines are the heart of the aircraft, and crippling those will be key…I think it's that artificial brain that's the most important. Without that, obviously the drone control is impossible, and even controlling the aircraft at the speeds it's capable of would be…" She shrugs. "A superhuman feat at best."

"I don't have a piece of paper declaring what my skills are, don't let that hold you back." Rin has a feeling that she probably learns more in Stark's labs than she does in a formal education. When Sally has her revelation, Rin tilts her head as the hologram forms between them. For the first time since she arrived, her face actually slows some emotion. It takes a lot of effort not to mess with the hologram, because she's very curious about it. However she remembers her promise and keeps her curiosity to a minimum.

"Seeing the computer array in the cock pit, a sly smile spreads on her lips and she nods her head. "Yes. That would be perfect." Granted getting access to a mobile machine like that would be difficult, but that'll be a problem down the road. "Give me everything you have on that. I'll get working on whatever I can. I know it won't be easy, but if it was, it wouldn't be any fun."

She is also typing quicking on her tablet, moving data around again to leave space for the new information. "If it comes down to it, which I hope this thing never gets off the ground, but if Ii am also in some sort of plane I could access it from there. Maybe I can convince Stark to send me what he has on it, it'd give me a place to start."

Sally gives a half-smile to the agent. "Actually..we were discussing that not so long ago. Mr. Stark and I. He's a bit of a stickler for the formal side of it, I suppose…and well, it'd be hard to claim residence as a student if I weren't getting a degree after all." So that pretty much had settled that debate, even if she is learning much more with the applied side in the labs.

She taps the hologram gently, letting it spin on its axis to get a good look all around. "That I can do. The files, ah, there is a note of what was recorded in communications logs. Data from the radar on the Quinjets - a pair of them went up against the Tchernobog. It was like bringing a station wagon to a drag race." She frowns, remembering Isa in the hospital after that.

"In all honesty, the Tchernobog should have shot them both down, but…it didn't. And we have a little bit of data on it, because of that, thank God." Sally glances up from her teacup and grins at the expression on Rin's face. "That's something…I agree with you, that it may never fly again, but. Just in case it does, Mr. Stark is working on a countermeasure. I believe he took this thing's existence as a personal insult."

And it's not even Wakandan.

"Some sort of high end computer. I'm not sure -" And then there's a shudder from the college freshman as a truly terrible thought comes to mind. "The pilots…suffer, and the machine is there. Khoro help us, what if the twice-damned thing has some sort of Chitauri artificial intelligence? An alien cyber-brain of some kind…it would explain its capabilities."

This terrifying thought nets the Japanese agent a hard stare. "Be careful, Agent Nakano. If you do go head to head with that thing digitally, then. All that we have right now is estimates, expectations, performance figures…but." Sally sets her teacup down and wraps one arm around herself in a bit of a gesture of fright. "The idea of that aircraft somehow being truly alien…"

A headshake, to break free of that terrifying thought. "I'll talk to Mr. Stark and have him send you what he can. He's put in a lot of hours on this too, and sometimes I suspect he's already three steps ahead and just waiting for me to catch up to his thinking. At the very least, a more experienced point of view might help, da?"

And then the Sokovian gestures to the rest of the lab. "Was there anything else you'd like to see? I mean, you did come all this way to the building, so." A gesture held out, of sorts, Sally offering to share a few secrets that the public - or most SHIELD agents - don't get to see. Nothing too much, but at least Rin can find out just how many different kinds of snack dispensers there are in the executive employee lounge.

"If it's as advanced as you believe it to be, it might not even need to be in the air, it could do just fine on it's own, planted on the ground." Not that the thought is at all comforting. Seeing the other woman's discomfort Rin looks away for a second before she shrugs. "I fear as we continue to progress and learn what is out there, more and more things are going to alien to us. We're not going to always catch things in time, but we're going to try our damndest when they show up at our door." Pausing for a moment, she shrugs. "Everyone keeps saying be careful as if I wasn't going to be. I know that this is declicate, which is why it's going to take me time to do it. I won't be careless." She says in an honest tone.

"If he feels like sharing he can find my email address, or however he wants to send the files. I'm not fussed either way. Still he knows more about AIs than I do so I'll be glad of the information."

When Sally invites her to look around and see the Tech in Stark Tower, she has a hint of sparkle in her eye. He wants to, oh boy does she want to get her hands on everything, and learn their secrets. She almost looks as if she's going to take the offer before she remembers the reason she's here. "Raincheck on the tour? I need to get started on this, and as much as I find this all interesting, it'd a distraction." Still she looks hesitant, but finally reaches down to finish her tea. "Still, thanks for the information, it's a great start."

The thought is disquieting. The idea of the Tchernobog being the kind of thing that could wreak havoc on the ground, just with its drones and computer systems alone…that's not a kind thing to consider. "I suppose you are right. But that is why SHIELD exists, is it not?" Sally shrugs, then gets to her feet and stretches her arms behind her. "To stand as the protector, against whatever threats there are."

She shrugs. "That is why I joined, at least. And what I will do."

There's a grin that crosses her face at the mild reprimand. "I understand. Mozhe Mudryyvovk keruvatyme tobi, then, Agent Nakano. A saying from home - may the Wisewolf guide your path. I will not say be careful, but I will say be successful." There's a thumbs-up that goes with the idea.

As for Tony, she nods; she understands the feeling. "He knows more about everything than I do. Except maybe driving." Definitely not that. "And perhaps the two of you can come up with a suitable countermeasure as well, something to deal with that computer system. Maybe turn the drones on the Tchernobog?" The idea is mildly amusing, the idea of the devil's own air force shooting down its lead airplane.

There's no hiding the excitement and interest from her. "A raincheck is offered and accepted anytime. As soon as all of this is over, and hopefully in the few minutes we get before some other giant terrible news of…I've no idea what. And I will not make the devil's job easy by giving him inspiration. So."

She'll escort Rin down to the parking structure, of course, light chatter from there on - at least the SHIELD agent gets this part of the tour. Not as if there's much to see. "Good luck, Agent Nakano. If I think of anything else, I will contact you. Feel free to drop by anytime."

And with that…it's time to see how that M-Ship User's Manual is being decoded. Alien language translation is such a pain in the rear, and it's not like she's got clearance enough to go actually climb around the Milano. Even if she did, Rocket would make a rug out of her…

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