Marvel-ous Curiosity pt 1

March 01, 2018:

Sally Stojespal welcomes Sloane Albright to her potential second home, and bribes the Inhuman with mexican food in exchange for intel on Ms. Marvel.

Rusalka's family's apartment floor


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Ms. Marvel, Tony Stark, Phil Coulson


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Sovereign. One of many highrise apartments in New York, though this one nicer than most on the East Side of Manhattan. It's the home of the Stojespal family in New York, primarily Rusalka though there's others always present. Close enough to the river for nice views, close enough to the city for nice views, and high enough up that even a super-strong endurance-boosted metahuman will still appreciate the elevator service. Seriously, who takes sixteen floors by stair!?

It's evening, the bustle of New York's sundown traffic wonderfully normal. The city bounces back from all kinds of things, and the fact that it's actually warming up some - into the 50s, even! - has breathed life back into the Big Apple. Winter is over, the blizzards mere memory, and so there's a more joyous sensation on the crowded streets than usual. The last rays of the sun slip below the western horizon, and Sally Stojespal grins, waiting at the elevator on the ground floor.

It's Sloane's first visit to the new family digs, so maybe the young Sokovian's just a bit excited. It's only fair!

Of course, her reason for the invite is a little more business related, but they'll get to that. There's also a proper private dinner for the two of them, since she's been busy as hell and can guess the Inhuman has as well. Not that she's dressed for anything terribly fancy, easy to spot in the black and red Ferrari shirt, denim shorts, and knee boots. For the moment, sitting around the lobby in one of a dozen plush chairs killing time.

The entire flight back from Genosha, Sloane was a gigantic knot of worry; she did her best to cover or remove SHIELD emblems from her attire, but she's been in the news before. She was consoling Kamala Khan for part of it, as well. The other part of it … standing in the back of Tony Stark's hyper-sonic jet and getting the first round of dressing-down by her superiors for being dragged off on an illicit operation by Iron Man.

And then came the paperwork, being buried in work, and then a little bit of personal nosing around, taking a ride down to New Jersey. At the end of the last couple of weeks, she just looks … rough. She could use a couple of nights of sleep, and a mountain of tacos.

Still, she's done her best to punch herself up a bit for the occasion, though she's still in loose, comfortable jeans and shoes, stylishly-fit biker jacket worn only half-open and the collar of a t-shirt underneath.

Blinking as she looks around with fiery orange eyes, she might miss Sally at first pass, but it's hard to miss the Fish Girl of SHIELD. "I couldn't afford a place like this if I saved up all my paychecks until retirement," she remarks to herself.

Somehow she'd been missed for the Genosha trip - and from the word that had come from on high, that was a good thing. Stark's sudden, downright impetuous choice to go haring off to the war-torn country for reasons God alone knows is still a tornado that she'd managed to find herself in the eye of. Which, of course, simply meant that she hadn't been hit by the storm yet, and any movement in any direction means going face-first into the worst of it.

Well, that just means she has people to protect then.

Besides, it's dinner night. And so, feet in black boots swaying like a bored child, she's hanging out - ah! There is her target. Who is conveniently looking the other way, and giving Sally the perfect opportunity to test just how quiet her boots are. Sneak…sneak…

If she manages, both arms get thrown around the fish with a cheerful "Dobryy vechir!" Good evening. If not, of course, Sally will be the perfect host, totally not trying to surprise her friend and just saying hello properly. This totally will not get her thrown over a shoulder onto the ground, of course. At all. The thought of it never even enters her mind.

Muscle density roots Sloane and makes her a little harder to topple; were this the music student that she knew only a year and change ago, it would've been enough to send her flat on the ground. "Oompf!" Twisting just enough, one arm comes up to throw around Sally, giving the Sokovian a faint grin, flashing the faint tip of a fang.

"Hey, Sals! Sorry I've been … ugh. Work. Buried under work," she says, giving a nebulous gesture with the other hand. "Work, and work, and… more … work. This place is nuts. Who'd you have to defenistrate to get it?"

A year ago they would have both ended up on the ground…if they'd managed to survive the madness of the last year. As it is, Sally almost bounces off the ginger's body from her attempt to tackle-hug her. It's salvaged when Sloane gets her own arm around, and Sally laughs when the fang manages to catch the light just right. Come Halloween, Sloane's going to make the best vampire costume ever.

Vampire-fish-dragon-rusalka something.

"Hey yourself. I heard." She'll steer the other girl to the elevator, waiting for it to arrive. "Projects and assignments, too. Stark is…a fascinating teacher." Putting it mildly, the girl's accent making the sarcastic syllables a lot more amused. "When we both joined SHIELD, I never thought - at least - that there would be this much paperwork. For a country that is so electronic, they outdo mother's airbase for things!"

Finally the elevator arrives, and Sally grins as she waves Sloane in. A key gets slipped into a lock next to 16, and Sally hits the button - the only way the elevator will go to anywhere on teh whole floor? "I, nobody. Fortunately. Baba, I think…perhaps one or two. She visited at the end of the year, apparently, and spoke to Agent Coulson about things. Apparently she also decided to have, ah. What was it. 'More permanent presence for the family' or something? So."

Shrug. "It is not entirely me alone. Andriy and Bohdan, and Lena, as well, though you might not see them. Baba took the whole floor." She fishes a second key off the ring, doing a momentary finger trick with it before proffering it to the Inhuman. "And I was instructed to make sure that everyone in the family has a key."

'Stark is a fascinating teacher.' Sloane laughs, though it's somewhat incredulous; her fingers lift to pinch the bridge of her nose. "Yeah, that's … definitely one way to put it."


Sloane steps inside the elevator, shifting her weight to lean against one of the back corners, arms folding as she tries to get comfortable for the ride. Sally's got a key, too? Jeez, this place is … yeah. It's a far cry from the loft and she hasn't even been inside yet! And Coulson…


The key is offered. Sloane grins faintly, taking the key before rubbing the broad end of it between thumb and forefinger. Her voice carries a bit of weight to it; tired, but happy and a little bit sappy. "Thanks, Sals. That does mean a lot."

The corner of her mouth pulls back a bit. "You nerd."

"Hectic, infuriating, incredulous, generous, and absolutely he is very frustrating at times. But." She laughs a little, thinking back to other professors. "It certainly beats out arguing lectures with Professor Balman. So much gets done, so rapidly, just. Fascinating!" Rusalka can't help but laugh, just being at the center of another little tornado…except this one tends to put things together as much as it blows them apart.

It's not the poshest place, of course. Nothing like the zillion-dollar single rooms in downtown Manhattan, but there's definitely some major cash that went through whatever transactions Dragana Stojespal managed to arrange on what had been a remarkably short visit.

There's a bit of sappiness in her own voice as well. "Nerdnik. If you are to be one of us you will learn to speak properly." And then Sally just laughs, before hugging Sloane and planting the faintest of kisses on each cheek. A cultural thing, rather than romantic; the gingerhaired girl would have gotten plenty of that on her short trip for Christmas. A proper greeting, as it were.

"And yes. But…whatever happens? You are of us, as well, and are always welcome. Now, let's see-" Ding. "What is left for dinner to be ready, and then we must talk. Business, for some. I apologize, but it would not take long." Through the mix of apartments she'll lead the other girl, following that glorious smell of enchiladas. A lot of enchiladas, by the smell of it. As well as a host of other things to go with.

"So! We will have supper, and then I must ask a few questions, and then…I suppose show you around. You should see the music room."

There might've been a lot of cheek pinching and scale-touching, too. A lot of getting translations whispered in her ear, as well as the Magic Glass of Water for the kids. Sloane sighs, slipping into a small laugh with a shake of her head. Oh, this girl.

When they arrive, she can't help but comment, "Even the hallway is rich."

"You didn't say what was for dinner, I'm betting some big Sokoviohhhhhh my god I smell Mexican food," Sloane says, starting with snark and ending practically salivating. Suddenly with new vigor and life to her, she waits by the door for Sally to key in.

"Music room, too. /Music room/. Jeez. A'right, let's do this."

It's a very short hallway that leads right to a door, actually - and that leads into one of the various foyers and other halls. It's tastefully done, a bit understated, but not too different from how the castle back home looks. Outside of not having a giant stone fortress built around the lower floors, anyway. "The key is for the elevator; it will not bring you to 16 without it. The rest is, well. Mostly open."

The snark in her friend's voice is playful, but it disintegrates quickly - and Sally laughs, letting them into the core of the apartment floor. "Alright. So. The kitchen is that way, dining rooms are there and there, for formal events. For informal…" Shrug. "I have not been scolded for eating where I please, and I doubt anyone else will complain either." Grinning, she leads on - mexican food is waiting.

"Martin is our chef, though I believe he's left for the night? I did tell him to make extra. Come, let us eat first!" She doesn't have to drag the other girl through to gather their own piles, and a nod of hello to the others in the apartment before ducking back out to a more private spot. In, specifically, said music room - appointed nicely, with thick walls and a mix of instruments. Not many, in honesty; Sally herself doesn't play.

There's other reasons for picking this particular eating spot. Namely the quiet, and the fact that they can speak about things without risk of being overheard. After helping carry a spare plate for the Inhuman, Sally plops down in an open spot and goes to work on her dinner. Sokovian fare it's not…but there's something to be said for the cosmopolitan, world-spanning tastes of New York.

She wants to ask questions, to find out what happened…but first, dinner. And a little quiet. And a lot more dinner, probably, knowing Sloane's appetites.

Sloane is nothing if not ravenous; though she's normally fairly polite, there's no eyes on the Inhuman and a home cooked meal is second to none. It also helps that the food at the Triskelion varies wildly in quality; most days she's just so tired it's easier to eat at the on-site cafeteria rather than cooking.

"Moohmhf— yeff. I'm movin' in."

And god yes does she have some extra. There's a few murmurings and utterances about taking a doggy bag along for the ride home, or at least for a late night snack. Breakfast, maybe? It's okay to microwave an enchilada for breakfast, right?

It doesn't take too long for her to eat, setting her plate to the side while making herself comfortable. She takes a drink of iced tea, keeping it all washed down. "So. A'right. Sals."

"What's the other shoe and when's it dropping? 'Cause when you say something like 'I want you to come over for a proper dinner,' usually that means the thing that isn't what it sounds like and there's a thing with …"

"'What is up,' is what I'm tryin' and so spec-*tac*-ularly failing at sayin'."

Sally remembers the Bad Days of College Cafeteria Food. Granted, it wasn't as if she didn't have the theoretical budget to duck out and eat, but back then things were just…more downplayed. Less of an investment in America, and more just a useful place to learn. These days, there's much deeper roots being grown. And if some roots require ostentatious amounts of quality food, well, the lesson that Noblesse Oblige goes two ways has been pounded into her since birth.

She can't help but snicker around the mumbled words from Sloane. "As you please. There's still plenty of rooms available, including one with a garden tub." Just in case the Bostonian ever wanted to spend the night forever.

"I do n-" Hmpf! She'll eat a bite of her enchilada just for that, and stare at the other girl. Once chewed and swallowed, chased with tea of her own, Sally sighs. "Alright, perhaps this one time yes that is true. But you still needed dinner. And your key." See, there, everything is fine.

And then she leans back and sighs. "There have been…developments. In Genosha. Agent Coulson is still trying to piece together everything, and is there now, actually. I was told, through Agent Carter, that I needed to find out what Stark was doing. That day you and the others went. Also to find out more about this Ms. Marvel, as well; Coulson is concerned for her." She looks down at the mostly-eaten enchilada, then turns an apologetic gaze back to Sloane.

"I would have been there too, but…it was all so sudden. I was working in the lab, and came out, and…" Her hands spread apart suddenly. "Poof, you and the rest had just vanished. I did not even know they were there." There's a momentary flash in her mind of a young man beneath her, her legs halfway entangled around him and her arms shoving a rifle and bayonet through his chest. The blue takes on a sadder tone as she shakes away the memory.

"You are okay, though? After all of that?" More than the job, it's the concern for her unofficial sister that really moves Sally in this. Especially after her own mission earlier that year had not gone nearly as cleanly as it should have.

The G-Word. "Oh."

Sloane sighs, instantly bringing her fingers to her temples. "Yeah, so … I was just there. In the building, I mean. 'Cause of the whole 'hey we have to babysit Iron-frickin'-Man until we're satisfied he's safe and his building is secure' thing. Mister Stark didn't send down his little robot drones or had me paged over the intercom or something, he came down in person."

She leans back a little, hand gesturing to the side. "So we're all packed on this jet and the next thing we know we're in the air going Ludicrous Speed. It was me, Bucky Barnes, Ms. Marvel, a doctor lady, Mister Stark, and Atli Wodinsdottir," the Inhuman continues, counting off on her fingers.

There goes Rusalka with the round-about apology for not being there— or at least, as it sounds to the fish-girl. "Look — don't worry about it. It was … rough. And yeah, I'm fine. Just … rough. I might have to come back for the tub."

After a pull from the iced tea, Sloane itches at her cheek. "We all got out, so … for now, I'll call that a 'win.' I found out what getting hit by a robot whip-thing full of electricity is like. Spoiler: Not fun."

"As for Ms. Marvel… She's an Inhuman, too. It's not much of a secret, the robot down there kind of blurted it out to everyone. She's a good person, though … she just wants to help. 'Course she was the one asking me questions and I barely had any real answers to give her. Only stuff I know came out of a SHIELD database."

In person? Sally reaches out, patting the other girl on the shoulder when Sloane rubs her temples. "That is … not like him. Not typical, that he would just. Well. That he would just suddenly do anything, yes, that is entirely Tony Stark. But in person like that, and to Genosha?" There's something there that she can't put her finger on, but it's simple - why would Stark suddenly care that much that he'd grab a team in person, fly them out, and not just…do it himself as he always has?

She snorts a laugh at the Ludicrous Speed comment. "At least you were not surrounded by assholes, yes?" Spaceballs is always funny, and the two of them had loved it. The list of people she names off gets a nod, checking each one against the list she'd been given. "Atli…she is, ah, the Asgardian? With the goat, and spear, and thinks you are the silly daughter of some giant snake?" There's probably worse things to consider, but at least she's been around SHIELD long enough to have run across them at a distance at least.

The robot? Hrm. Oh, the giant machine that had ambushed them. "The Sentinel, yes? I've read a little, and was told some of what happened. But it is Ms. Marvel, specifically. Coulson is concerned for her, and what she might mean to SHIELD. A little like you, at first." There's a soft nod as the Inhuman explains further, and Sally smiles. There's a moment where she snorts a hard laugh, as Sloane mentions the spoiler behind electricity.

At least she can stifle the amusement. "I have found that out. I made stun-gloves for Ms. Jones, and well. There was no one to try them on, so. I found out the gloves worked, and that I should not do that again," she adds with a burgeoning giggle.

As far as Ms. Marvel, it's simple. "That is what I am supposed to do. Find her, give her answers, and if she needs it…help. Though, I suppose Ms. Marvel is certainly well enough established where she is, but. Her presence…I think Coulson is worried for her safety, in the….damn, ah, the big leagues. If you know who she is, or can find her? I would like to talk. Just talk, is all."

And then her hand reaches over and covers Sloane's own. "If you ever need to talk, too. When I was in Ukraine last year, there was a mission…I was caught in a fight, a gun fight, and I took a man's life. Young, like me. He even looked familiar. I did not think, I just…leaped, and then he was dying in front of me. I did not know what to do, after that, I could not sleep. Agent Coulson helped me, a little."

Sigh. "Tomorrow I must speak with Mr. Stark. I do not look forward to it, but…why he went, what his sudden reasons were. So perhaps this is the feast of the condemned, one last meal?" Trying to cheer up, she'll grab a final bite of her enchilada. "And if you want seconds, please, let us partake. There is more than enough…and, Sloane?"

She squeezes that hand once more, feeling the warm flesh and cool scales together, before letting go. "If you want the room with the tub, it is yours. Anytime. Too big for me." Grin. What Sally hasn't mentioned about it are the water jets and the fact it's virtually an indoor jaccuzi, but that's for the Inhuman to discover.

Does Sally really not know? The quizzical expression sets in, lips pursing, then she finally comments, "They had some of Mister Stark's tech. He wasn't happy about it. You know him better than I do, though, so — you could probably ask him about that yourself."

Atli. "Yeah, much as I try to explain it to her. If you end up in Atli's crosshairs, just get ready 'cause I think she's the only one in the world that could could come remotely close to drinking your mother under the table. There's also the goat. Don't try to startle it. You might end up on another planet. I'm pretty sure I visited seven or eight of 'em."

She sounds completely serious.

"Yeah, Sentinels, those. If you've got clearance, I'd say go brush up on the Sentinel stuff. I'm still a junior agent, so everything I do is kind of hung up on the whole 'someone else tells me to do the thing, so I do the thing, but I do all the paperwork too."

"I get it. You gotta talk to her too, it's your job. A'right, so… she's in Jersey City. I have a line to her— I can let her know you're coming if you want to meet up. If you do, though, there's this food cart on the harbor. They sell /beef/ Doom Dogs. One of those, all the fixin's. From Sloane, with love, both of your stomachs."

A thoughtful pause, hand squeezed, and her other hand lifts with a shaken finger. Just once, for emphasis. "And I will /absolutely/ take you up on that tub if-slash-when I bring some stuff over."

Stark's technology. That does explain a lot. If he'd found out, then…that at least fills in a little bit of his motivation. "Yes, that I definitely will do. That was the other thing that Coulson was mad about, why he just…went. Not telling anyone until afterward. I suppose…maybe he thought it was just his own things. I had not yet come across that." She nods, one big piece of the puzzle come together.

There's a laugh as Sloane describes the goat. That laugh strangles and dies after a few seconds, and Sally turns to stare in a mix of horror and confusion. No, she knows Sloane well enough. It's not a joke. The humor turns into a shudder.

"I will never speak of that again."

Sally gives a firm nod at the mention of looking up the Sentinels. Somehow that robot managed to tell what Ms. Marvel was? That's…some scary technology, if it ended up in the wrong hands. "Hey, I am still junior as well. And not even operations, just engineer, but. Coulson wants this done, and Carter said do it, so I ride into the valley along with the six hundred." Or something. "It is just work."

She nods, though, definitely pleased. "That I would appreciate. And, as Ms. Marvel, if she prefers. I suppose SHIELD will eventually need to know her name, but." Smirk. "She has already saved me once, at the science fair. I suppose I can return the favor and take things slowly. Tell her she has a fan?" And then there's a description of the Doom Dog, and Sally's eyes narrow. "And that absolutely I will buy her lunch, if that is the case."


"Anytime you want, the room is yours. Just remember the key before you use the elevator, or it will not go to the floor. Otherwise? The others know you are welcome. And yes they speak English," she adds, grinning. "Andriy and Bohdan, watch out around those two. The thugniks are brutal when it comes to video games."

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