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February 06, 2018:

Batman comes to give a warning to Rusalka Stojespal that she's being hunted…a warning that's a bit late.

//An apartment on the Upper East Side, //

Rusalka's family's apartments in a high-rise in New York City. Large, moderately opulent, and fortunately big enough to keep a private meeting private.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Joker, Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Sovereign. A curiously appropriate name for the building, one that had brought a smirk to her great-grandmother's lips when she'd orchestrated the purchase of the massive apartment. Plural, really; a good chunk of two floors are under the ownership of one of the last branches of ancient Sokovian nobility. It's a fairly opulent place, all things considered - not the greatest location in Manhattan, but for what it is it serves its purpose. And it serves it quite well, in an older, more appropriate style.

An extension of the Stojespal family, a finger upon the pulse of New York. After recent events, a little extra muscle and protection for the daughter of the baroness. And of course proper house help. Between her mostly-remote course work at Columbia, all of her applications work at Stark Industries, and serving as a standing agent of SHIELD in Phil Coulson's back pocket, there's no way a single girl on her own could have managed such a thing without at least some help.

But considering what that family owes to both SHIELD and Stark, no investment is enough. No investment ever can be - so they do what they can, and watch over their own, as the Stojespal have since the Founding of the World.

It's one of those late nights that finds the engineer-aspirant half-awake, looking out over the side of the city that faces the river. Kometa lives again, the engine repaired from the grenade fragments that had shattered the fuel system and left fragments all through the rest of it. Other projects continue afoot, new discoveries leading to new ideas. She's got no idea how Stark deals with the constant onslaught of math, of theory, of concepts, but somehow he does in his way. Her?

Lying back, wearing a Columbia sweater and jeans, contemplating the cityscape and listening to Debussy, the windows shut tight against the cold outside. Decadent, but with what she's been through she deserves it.

Then, some shrapnel is tossed down next to Rusalkas' chair. The source being the Dark Knight, who is standing behind her. His cape wrapped around his body like a cloak, giving him that intimdating air he's well known for.

Out of nowhere.

"We need to talk." Batman gives in a statement, not a question.

The clatter of metal parts against the wood floor gives a clank far too loud for her. Jumping up out of the chair reflexively, the book forgotten and thudding to the floor alongside the shrapnel he'd thrown, Rusalka spins - and then screams just a moment seeing the silent, towering figure. The shriek brings a thump upstairs, the sound of someone moving, and a man's yell in western Sokovia's dialect of Ukrainian.

"Pani Rusalka, chy dobre ty?"

"Tak, tak!" Deep breath. "U mene buv koshmar. Ya ne odyahnenyy! Ne pidnimaysya vnyz!"

Whoever it is upstairs, the cook or the thugniks, just chortles a little, then offers a teasing "Mriyte spokiyno." in return. Sally glances down at the shrapnel, kneeling down to take a closer look wondering just what it was. Then those cobalt-blue eyes turn back up to meet the Bat's own gaze, as she takes a deep breath to settle herself.

"It is the wise man who knocks at the door of his friend, my Baba says. Andriy and Bohdan will not bother us," she adds casting a glance upstairs. "But I have not yet given you permission to enter my home. Tell me why I should." Arms cross over her chest, nudging a little leather pouch worn on a cord around her neck. "Even as I admit I must thank you for your assistance with defending Stark Tower. For which the Stojespal clan offers you its gratitude."

And then she just stares at him. Daring him to come up with something good, especially for sneaking into her private room like that.

"The Joker is trying to kill you, possibly Tony Stark." Batman gives with his head down to the shrapnel, "That was a sample of the rounds he was shooting at people during the circus massacre. They're depleted uranium… and much more." Batman looks to her eyes, then… those red eye lenses betraying nothing of his expression, "His gun had 'it's wabbit hunting season' on the side." She's a smart woman, he knows she can put two and two together. "I originally thought the Joker was up here for black market smuggling… but he has a new fixation."

There's a flicker of anger in those eyes when he mentions the Joker. There's a very large flicker of anger in her eyes, actually. But she kneels once more, when he mentions what they are, and picks up a small linen cloth from the side of the chair she'd sat in. Picking up one fragment in the cloth and taking a closer look, she feels its weight. "It has the density. Too much for tungsten." Fingers gingerly turn it this way and that, looking for markings. Probably none, considering things.

"The circus. I saw that in the newspaper, yes." She wraps up the other fragments in the cloth, bundling them together and clinging tight. "And I thank you for your warning, though it is…" Her accented voice takes on an acidic tone. "Somewhat late. I have seen that gun, that ridiculous 'wabbit hunting' thing of his."

Good god, does everyone know about that job?!

"And I have already been chased and very nearly killed by him once already. Thank god that…" A few particularly choice words someone of her stature would of course never use get slipped into the Joker's description. "Clown of Gotham cannot drive on ice." Smug, of course, because she grew up doing that. "I barely escaped with my life, my car destroyed, and oh yes. I am very aware he wants me."

There's a feral grin on her face now, one that doesn't at all fit with the young engineer she'd been a moment ago. "I suppose that was simply misfortune, to be at the wrong place at the wrong time." A hand raises. "I do appreciate the warning. And I will inform Mr. Stark of the threat as well, do not fear. But, remove that animal. Absolutely or else I shall do so personally." Because the Joker had made it personal - very much so. And if the Bat had studied her family at all…they did not merely endure threats. Not from terrorists like the joker, not from world-dominating madmen like Hydra, and not even from within their own blood.

Vendetta, like chess, is a very Sokovian game to play.

"Last I heard, The Joker was still in Gotham. Him coming to New York is new for him… and being fixated on someone besides me is unprecedented." Batman notes, before he shakes his head, "I'm not an executioner. I do what I do to make the world a better place. I'll keep working on this, but I have a gang war in Gotham to handle as well." Then, Batman turns, heading for the balcony, "I'm sure I don't need to tell you to not underestimate the Joker." Then, Batman pulls out a phone from his utility belt, placing it on a table as he goes, "if you need to contact me, use that. It piggybacks onto cell networks to be nearly untracable, and goes to a voice mail box I check regularly."

The air at the back of her neck gives that familiar warmth. Rusalka Stojespal takes a long, deep breath, and lets the air out slowly. Aye, his words ring true. Do not bear your little fangs unnecessarily.

A nod. "Yes. He appeared the night of the attack on the Tower; his henchmen. The gas truck." She thinks a moment, then rattles off an address. He deserves the chance to at least track things down further. "There was a construction area there. I had…taken a moment to unwind, after the battle. I saw workers, and light, and thought it was repair crews. The chase started there. Many bullets, much equipment." Might be worth checking out, even this late.

His words on making the world a better place get a slow nod. "As do I. I am SHIELD. But I am Stojespal as well." To be the executioner is not her place. Not here, not now. The high justice proceeds in its own way in this land.

The Batman turns, leaving a phone on the table. Sally plucks a fine wristwatch from her chairside, giving it a soft rub - and a holographic interface appears. A few swipes of a finger finish her work. "I thank you. I will be able to contact that phone, anytime I require." She holds up the watch. "Mr. Stark's work, of course. I am blessed to be his apprentice, and I must return such favor with service."

Didn't she leave Sokovia to get OUT of this net of chains, binding her down? A headshake eliminates the thought.

"I understand. But I also promise you this. The Joker of Gotham will learn that this is not his playground. I do not permit it. Nadobranich, Pane Batman." With a small, barefoot curtsey as best as she can in what might as well be pajamas, Sally bids the visitor good evening. When she looks up, he's gone - silently as always.

Impressive that one can walk upon the snow and leave no tracks. And now, what will you do?

"Pretend to be a rabbit." With that, the entirely awake young woman gathers a pad of paper and begins sketching furiously.

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