It's Cold Outside

December 15, 2018:

Avengers bring a Spider-Gwen back to base for some rest.

Avengers Base

Characters

NPCs: HOMER, SIRIN

Mentions: Peter Parker, Tony Stark

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

When Gwen decided to leave, obviously not understanding what another timeline meant, Nathaniel considered for three seconds what to do. Contrarily to the DEO he is not very worried at all about alien plagues or contamination. Well, she seems slightly radioactive, but it would require a blood transfusion to slightly raise the chance of cancer in another human being.

But she is the only person from a parallel Earth that has come from a rift that he knows. That makes her interesting and someone to watch. So he sent a mini-drone after her. A quick, wasp-sized robot with about 24 hours battery and some clever tracking software. -Technically- it is 21st century technology.

Then he gave her 12 hours to find out the truth.

It is now pretty late in the night. But he has invited Caitlin to come with him to find the visiting spider. She gets to drive one of the Avenger Skycycles, they keep three of them in the Mansion.

And the wasp-drone took them to… here? Behind a billboard midtown and what seems a web-hammock. Weird. At least the billboard keeps the wind away, but the truth is the temperature is under freezing and unless that outfit has a very good insulation this Ghost Spider lady cant possibly be comfortable.

*

It's been an interesting twelve hours for Gwen. First the rift, then Captain Stacy's house, and then meeting a Peter Parker. It's obvious something crazy is going on. The police also didn't try to arrest her at the rift. After her encounter with Parker, Gwen put her costume back on and ended up where she is now: In wifi-range of a coffee shop, suspended in a hammock behind a billboard.

"It's -freezing-." Gwen shivers to herself. Newspapers and some random blanket are tied up in the web and providing some modicum of warmth against the elements, but her suit wasn't sewn for this kind of weather without physical extertion. Her smartphone is connected to her white earbuds as she thumbs over news. She's not mentioned anywhere.

Her detective work is coming to a close. It's very different here. This isn't her dimension or her time.

*

Caitlin borrowed a helmet from the Avengers. Not that she couldn't survive a pretty hard tumble onto her head, but the visor's indispensible for high-speed travel. She wears a similar outfit to the one the day previous, though her new one is navy blue with white trim in the same cut and style. The same light tactical gear is worn low on her hips, though it looks largely scientific in nature.

She glances at Nate from behind her visor and banks the bike around, making a clear approach so she doesn't 'sneak up' on Gwen. Caitlin revs the repulsors twice, making a buzzing electronic noise, and Caitlin lifts her visor and waves at Gwen. "Hey there, Spider-Lady," she tells the white-clad visitor. "You doin' okay there? It's kinda cold out, we thought we'd come check on you."

*

The turbines of the Skycycle arent particularly noisy, but they are not as quiet as Iron Guards armor anti-gravitation system. Unless Gwen is in deep concentration she will hear them coming. See him coming, as Nathaniels armor seems to be made of metal and light. It is flashy at night, even in New York.

"Good evening," he greets, letting Caitlin talk first. "I am sorry, the cellphone you gave me was of little use. It lacked the correct transmission software to communicate with the local network." And a valid SIM card. "I have fixed it for you, though," he offers her the burner, so at least she has a working cell. "I imagine you must have found some difficulties with the, ah, alternate dimension deal. The invitation to settle at the Avenger Mansion for a few days stands. We might be able to return you home once we understand the rifts better."

*

Gwen isn't startled by the bike, that sort of tech exists in her world too, and even with the music blasting in her ears, it's not hard to see coming. Once the bike banks around and approaches, she pulls the buds out from under her mask and sits up. The phone is caught when tossed to her, and she nods. "Just your average M-monday," she repeats back.

"I d-don't suppose that room has a warm b-bath?"

*

"Uh, knowing Tony, it's got a walk-in sauna and a hot tub," Caitlin remarks, wryly. "Actually, I'm *sure* it has both of those, come to think of it. They call it a mansion for a reason."

She wheels the bike closer, hovering under the billboard, and beckons for Gwen to jump onto the back of the vehicle. "It's not that far away. Let's get you there and get a hot meal, shower, maybe find a spare bed for the night? You'll feel a hundred percent better by morning, I guarantee."

*

"It does…" Nathaniel looks at Caitlin, "I see you know Mr. Stark. Yes, all of that, unless he felt he needed more lab space this week. But he has not caused catastrophic damage to the building in over a year. More or less since he moved to Stark Tower."

In fact few Avengers use the Mansion as a residence nowadays. The place is empty most nights but for HOMER, the virtual intelligence that runs the building. He is like a more boring version of JARVIS or FRIDAY.

*

It's hardly a thought. A palm pointed at the backpack that's plastered with webbing to the back of the billboard gets stuck with another rope of webbing. With a yank, Gwen pulls it off the board and into her waiting hand. Both phones are jammed into the back pocket for the backpack as she slings it back over her shoulder.

"Thankyouthankyouthankyou." Gwen says, hopping from her hammock onto the back of the bike. She quips jokingly, "I don't need my new n-nickname to be 'Ice Spider'."

*

"I should hope so," Caitlin tells Nate, wryly. She adjusts the flight trim when Gwen lands on the vehicle, restabilizing the nose to account for the imbalance. "He's my boss."

"Ok, hang on," she tells Gwen, looking over her shoulder. She takes off her helmet and offers it to the Ghost Spider with a friendly smile. "And wear this. Safety first, right?" Her own hair's piled in a messy bun at the base of her head, so at least Gwen won't get a faceful of ginger hair once they're in motion.

Caitlin wheels her cycle around so the nose is aimed in the right direction, and nods once at Nate before moving with towards Avenger's tower with a surge of acceleration.

*

Her boss? Interesting. Filed for future reference. Then again Fairchild probably does not have a secret id.

At 300 mph the trip to the Mansion takes barely five minutes. The building seems dark, hiding behind a tall fence, but lights turn up as the Skycyle approach is detected, and the door of the top floor hangar opens quickly. It is comfortably warm inside, at least.

"Welcome to the Avengers Mansion," says Iron Guard, pulling off his helmet. He is a young man with dark hair and eyes, without the mechanical distortion a faint foreign accent can be detected in his voice.

"HOMER. This lady is Ghost Spider. Grant her temporal access to the public and living quarters of the Mansion, please." A synthetic voice replies. "Acknowledged. Ghost Spider identified. Visitor clearance granted."

*

Gwen takes the helmet when offered it and plops it right on her head, there's not really any time to argue when the bike basically takes off just as soon as she puts on the helmet.

As the bike settles down, she spritely hops off while removing her helmet. With the helmet comes her mask, letting her blond hair loose and hood down. After fishing her mask out of the helmet, she looks around the hangar in awe. "Wow. I've only like.. seen this place on the news."

As HOMER acknowledges her, she says back clearly, "Hi, HOMER!" Turning to look at Cait and Nathan, she offers the helmet back. "Step 1: Study rifts. Step 2: Travel back home? Step 3: Everything goes back to normal, right?"

*

"Hi HOMER," Caitlin says, greeting the AI. "SIRIN's requesting permission to initiate an uplink," she informs the house computer. "Don't let her browbeat you into accessing system controls, she's been warned about jumping non-permitted networks."

"Sorry," she tells Nate, wryly. "SIRIN's been a bit starved for company since my trip to Greece. I've told her to stay strictly airgapped on guest networks alone."

Caitlin reaches for her slingpack and carries it lazily in one hand rather than tossing it across her shoulders. A touch to her belt and her clothing slowly rearranges itself into jeans, sneakers, and a blue hoodie. "It's nice, innit?" Caitlin asks Gwen, gesturing at the Mansion. "Not as big as the Hall of Justice, but… I think it feels a lot more like home. Y'know?"

*

Poor HOMER is an old, old virtual intelligence. Well, old as Startech VIs are aged. He has whole years behind. SIRIN is probably going to bully him pretty badly.

Fortunately HOMER is the stoic, silent type. No complains.

"It was the Starks residence before he built the Tower," mentions Nate, inviting the women into the elevator. "Now this level is just for the air transports. The first floor are suites. You will be given a guest one, Ghost," he looks at the maskless young woman a bit surprised at her openness. And youth, she seems his age. "Ground level there are common living rooms and a kitchen. We better go there first. And yes, once we figure the cause of the rifts I hope we can reverse them and return you to your world. Although I am beginning to suspect it is a living entity, not an organization or a device."

*

"It's elfin' great!" echoes Gwen, slightly distracted by just the hangar. "Much warmer than outside, too." She remarks while entering the elevator, leaning up against the inner handrail. Listening to Nate while he talks, she nods in understanding. The last sentence draws some confusion from her, however.

"You can just call me Gwen," she pauses momentarily, " — when I'm not like.. in mask." Once the elevator stops moving, she follows both Nate and Cait out, "What do you mean like living entity? Like the portals are some .. intergalactic dimension-chewing worm beast? And how can I help?"

*

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Gwen," Caitlin tells the blonde girl. "Unofficially, this time." She flashes a dimple-cheeked grin and rests her hips against the elevator wall behind her, fingertips slipping into her jean pockets (yes, they're real pockets!)

"Nate, if you've got stuff to do, I can get Gwen settled on the hab level. I think I remember where all the facilities are, unless you've rearranged it all since I was here last."

*

Intergalactic dimension-chewing worm beast. Noooo. Maybe Interdimensional worm beast, though.

"I suspect the power signature of the portal to your dimension was bio-generated. Also the patter of the rifts looks like a living vector, it is not really random," explains Nathaniel, as the elevator opens to the ground floor. The mansion is not as large as the Hall of Justice, but it is still very large, the rooms and hallways are spacious, the furniture classical early 20th Century and expensive.

When Caitlin mentions helping Gwen to settle, Nathaniel hrms. "Actually, yes. I need to send research updates to Stark Tower and Pym Industries as soon as possible. Thank you, Fairchild. I hope to see you in the morning, Gwen. Have a good night," he will remain in the elevator, to go down to the mansion sublevels, where the real Avengers work, including science work, takes place.

*

Those were.. words. "That sounds like an actual plan." Gwen remarks. It's a nice change. All this time spent being aimless. Or maybe just catching up for now is enough. She waves at Nathan after exiting the elevator, "Thank you." Then she follows Cait for the tour, "If this is the dimension where pants have pockets normally, I might not want to leave."

Spider-Gwen laughs a little, adding on, "It's nice to meet you, too — again. I knew you in my time. Sort of."

*

"I know, right?" Caitlin exclaims, tugging on the pockets to demonstrate. They actually have a lot of stretch to them, despite how close-fitting the jeans are. "I freaked Pepper right the heck out when I showed her my new business dress," she explains. "Buncha little pockets built into it that seal shut when you aren't using them. It's part of the material of the outfit. Not quite as durable as unstable molecules— it's a biomimetic polymer— but it costs a tenth as much and it's real easy to configure into other outfits."

She opens the door to the common area. "Still haven't figured out how to make high heels work, though. Not rigid enough." She shrugs. "Here's the common area, this is where people hang out, socialize, all that jazz. Kitchen through there, and the gym's back that way."

She hesitates, looking at Gwen with a guarded curiousity. "So… you knew me back home, huh? What am I like, there?" she asks, with irresistable fascination.

*

"Aw, please. That's cool." Gwen follows through the common area door, eyes bouncing between the pieces in the room. So Stark used to live here? It's.. not unfamiliar. Her body language seems to ease a bit, looking in the different directions.

The probing question catches her in surprise, "Oh — er.. She was… smart? Like a super-engineering type smart. We didn't know each other that well, but I recognised you almost immediately." After a moment's pause she adds, "But pocket dresses? I think you're my favorite so far."

*

"Oh. Well, that's cool," Caitlin marvels. "Nice to know if I keep applying myself I might have a reputation as being someone smart. Do I work for Stark Industries in your world, or… I mean, I've worked for the Baxter Institute and Starr Labs, so I guess I coulda ended up staying there," she muses.

"Oh, uh, sorry. I get sidetracked easy. If you need some clothes, I can whip you up some," Caitlin offers Gwen. "I've got some base stuff programmed in. Jeans, shorts, a couple dresses. I'd have to calibrate it to your build and size," she says, fretting the inside of her cheek and looking Gwen over. "But it's probably easier than trying to buy a whole wardrobe." She opens a door into the dorms and walks through the hallway, moving to an unoccupied room and waving it open with a pass of her hand in front of the sensor.

*

On closer examination, Gwen's costume is pretty basic. No sensors, no tech, it looks like it was sewn out of a bedroom by at least someone who knows how to sew. The web spitter device on her wrist is bulky and looks like it was made out of hardware store parts. It works is about the highest level of compliment is could receive. "Oh, no. I couldn't. I got a spare set of clothes in my backpack." She puts a thumb at her olive pack. "If I had known I was going to another dimension I would have packed more," she jokes while unslinging her pack.

When the door opens, she flips inside and turns towards Cait while walking backwards. "Besides, I can help the Avengers while I'm here, right? Ghost Spider and the Avengers? It'll all work out. I went through a portal once already."

*

Caitlin hefts her grey slingpack. It was probably black when it started out, and looks like it's seen a few years of hard use. "Food, water, some tools, and dry socks. The HexFlex is pretty much self-cleaning and self-repairing, which is handy. Cuts down on the packing if you stumble into a dimensional rift or alien spacecraft."

"But yeah— the Avengers are good people. But don't feel like you have to pitch in right off the bat, either," she adds, hurridly. "Take some time. Get your feet under you," she suggests. "I'm sure this is all… really unsettling."

*

Catches the heel of her foot on the bed and neatly lands her butt on the soft bed, her pack dropping to the floor near the edge of the bed. "It sounds like you're prepared.." She sighs.

"I saw Peter. Did you know this dimension's Gwen died?" Leaning down and digging out the smartphone from her backpack's pocket, she taps the screen a few times before pulling up the metro post article and flashing the screen to Cait. "I don't even know.." She taps the phone a couple more times, looking down at it before casually throwing it onto her backpack and collapsing fully into the bed. "It's not karoake at all.. And I'm so tired."

*

"I-I don't know anyone named Gwen," Caitlin says, with a softly apologetic voice. "Or Peter. Unless you're talking about Peter Quill, but… he's old. Like in his late thirties," she says, wrinkling the upturn of her nose.

"Listen— I'll let you sleep. But if you need anything, I'm not far away," Caitlin advises Gwen. She gestures at the wall display, and her contact information floats across it. "Gimme a call or text me. I'll come by in the next day or two to check on you, though, okay? Don't feel like you're stuck here wandering around by yourself."

*

"Highschool.. thing — friend," she articulates masterfully. Yawning, Gwen covers her mouth and almost sinks further into the bed. "Thanks, Cait. ..I'll.. get you corndogs sometime." Her words slur a little bit, and in the next few seconds, you're pretty sure she's already passed out in that exact pose on the bed.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License