2007-09-12: Where Does She Get Those Wonderful Toys?

Starring:

Aspen_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif

Summary: Mariska meets up with The Company's version of Q Aspen Saint James. They play with toys.

Date It Happened: September 12th, 2007

Where Does She Get Those Wonderful Toys?


Hartsdale, NYC - Somewhere Beneath Primatech Research

There is an office in the Primatech Research building belonging to one Dr. Eames, reputed psychologist, respected man. It's a small office, functional; his main office is outside of Primatech's walls. The door is open, and the lights left off, letting grayish light filter in. The building is so quiet you'd almost think there had been an illusion cast to hide its busy inner workings. There is a request lying on the desk of Dr. Eames to contact one Mariska Dmitryeva, and it is this simple sheet of paper that is now plucked up and idly examined. However, it's not the heavy, dark-skinned hand of the psychologist that handles the paper and sets it back down, but a pale, delicate, feminine hand. She returns it to its place and trails her fingers over various objects on the desk: an old-fashioned rolodex, a set of handsome pens, an antique lamp.

Aspen St. James, so she's known, is not a familiar face around this particular building. Of course, that fact means nothing to a newbie such as the woman she waits for. Aspen stands in front of the desk, leaning against it as if it's the most natural thing in the world for her to be here. Currently, she wears a dark wine-coloured shirt — sleeveless, with a V-neck, along with neat black slacks and red high-heeled sandals. A small diamond sits around her neck. The woman looks very put-together.

Cue the noob. As Mariska arrives to darken the doorway of one Doctor Eames, the camera angle cuts to a full length view of the Russian from over Aspen's shoulder. By contrast, Mariska looks like she was very well put-together about four hours ago but… now? Not so much. Coffee black hair set with unraveled curls hangs loose to her shoulders, unencumbered by any sort of plastic clip or elastic band. Those pale green eyes sport only the faded dregs of liner and shadow while her thin lips have long lost the lipstick that might have been applied during her morning routine. Her clothes are nice, name-brand examples of what happens when you sleep in a black, silk-blend pants suit.

With the lights in the office, Mariska is left to wonder if she's either very late or very early. In her heavy accent she drawls, "Hello. I'm, uh, here to see… Doctor Eames?"

"Dr. Eames? You've certainly come to the right place — but I'm not Dr. Eames," the woman answers in a prim, proper Londoner's accent, smiling in a friendly manner. There's a hint of mischief behind her polite demeanor, all the same. She has her legs crossed at the ankles, and she holds the edge of the desk behind her. "The doctor's a good sight taller and more masculine, and I daresay a bit more intimidating than the likes of little old me. Count yourself lucky today, hmm? Aspen St. James," she offers, flashing white teeth and extending a slender arm and hand. "I'm an… associate of his. A study, you could say. Mariska, I presume? Full name Mariska Dmitryevna Mikhailova?" Her pronunciation of the Russian name is flawless.

In all likelihood, that's the first time Mariska's heard another person rattle off her full birth name in almost a decade. It almost seems… alien; someone else's name and not her own. She hates that name. And it makes her blanch mildly, pale as milk for a moment before the color returns to her cheeks as she steps into the little office proper. "Da," she replies, fingers curling into a greeting grip around Aspen's palm before withdrawing again and returning to hide beneath her bicep as she crosses her arms over her chest. «Your pronunciation is good. Do you speak the language?» That'd certainly make things easier.

Aspen's grasp is smooth, soft, seeming easy to slip out of - but she keeps her grip firm, for the extent of the shake. "«I've been known to speak when the occasion arises. Which is to say, occasionally.»" Occasionally? So precisely? "«What name do you prefer to go by?»" The woman, who seems to be younger than Mariska, uncrosses her ankles and sways ahead as if she's going to approach, but in reality she simply hops up on the edge of the desk. She sits there so neatly, so clasping her hands around a singular knee, it might not as quite out of place as it should. She might as well be using a proper chair.

The younger woman's linguistic skill is not lost on the real Russian in the room but rather noted wordlessly with a small smile. «Misha Dmitryeva, if you please. I have not been Mariska Mikhailova in many years…» Of course, that's not entirely true; she's always been Mariska Mikhailova and, technically speaking, she still is — she never officially changed her name so much as just manually readjusted it for the sake of a new life. But, Aspen mentioned she was a study and this prompts Mariska to inquire: «What sort of… study?» Is she an experimental human being?

"«A study in the way of me being his student, though I think he studies me more than I study him. Truth be told, I'm hardly a student, but we all play our parts, don't we? Do not tell that to NYU, though.»" Aspen winks conspiratorially, her smile still in place. "«I hope you don't mind that he's not in today.»"

Are you kidding?! Mariska's going to get up and go there RIGHT NOW - straight to the Dean of Sciences - do not pass Go, do not collect $200!! Or… not. The sly wink received with lifted brows. What was that about? Mariska isn't quite sure. Instead of tumbling into some sort of interior debate, however, she slides down into a chair situated at an angle from Aspen and uncrosses her arms so as to rest her hands in her lap loosely. «I'm sure he's a very busy man…» What, with the sheer amount of OMGWTFBBQ crazy that Primatech has to offer and all, right?

"«He is. He has an office in a brownstone in Greenwich Village he works out of mostly, it's lovely.»" Aspen spends a few moments of silence smiling and regarding Mariska. Her gaze is certainly calculating, as a psychologist's might be. "«How are you adjusting with the Company, Misha?»" she asks; then, after a quick beat, adds, "«I'm not here to psychoanalyze you. Just a question. Nothing more.»"

To be brutally honest, the Russian woman very nearly looks as if she's two days shy of sleep and undergoing a physical fitness regimen that consists of being kicked down five flights of stairs every morning; drained, weary, bruised beneath her suit and skin. «It's somewhat slow-going but I'm gradually getting used to it, I think.» The job description the goes along with being Something Different Altogether seems to entail very little in the way of actual desk work or office occupying so far but that's not to say that Mariska hasn't been 'on the job'. Somewhere in this place is a giant map of the world with several dozen long-stemmed, red-tipped push-pins denoting all of the locations that she can readily jump to in the blink of an eye — Air Misha's global hubs. «Most of the people I've met so far seem…» Completely untrustworthy and less than sane. «…nice.»

"Don't let them kid you, darling. They're not nice. Well, perhaps a few, but the truly sincere ones are a few teeth shy of a full comb, if you get my drift," Aspen says, dropping back into her neatly accented English without explanation. "Would you like to go for a little walk?" she queries with a little lift of her slender brows and a sweet smile — there is a metaphorical sugar-coating over her snake-like grin.

Is it time for walkies already? Mariska mulls the invitation for mobile meeting relocation for a moment before accepting the venue change by finding her feet again. There's a strange comfort in being actively ambulatory, even if she is all but sleepwalking through the day. "Where to?"

"The belly of the beast, of course," Aspen says with a twinkle in her eye — the colour of the ocean, clich√© but remarkably true, in her case. She glides away from the desk, taking up a cheerfully brisk pace to… a closet door? That's certainly what it looks like. It's opened, a few buttons or levers are manipulated inside by Aspen, out of sight, and there's a muffled beeping answer. "Come, then. An adventure."

A simple staircase leads downwards past the scarce trappings of a broom closet or similar. It's dark, but lit by simple lights along the wall.

Warning sign #1: terminology. Anyplace referred to as 'the belly of the beast' with a smile is probably not somewhere that people want to voluntarily venture. Warning sign #2: disguised entrance. The closet that's not a closet? No one's going to look there if you go missing, Misha. You're not six. Warning sign #3: hidden, encoded lock. Is that to keep people out… or in? Or maybe both? Warning sign #4: dark, secret passage. Seriously. Don't go down there! Poor lighting just screams for screaming later in the scene.

However, despite all of the obvious warning signs that this might not be an 'adventure' so much as a 'bad horror movie setup', Mariska trundles along behind the snake-in-sheep's-clothing named Aspen St. James because, well, the Russian's got all of the good sense of a cat with seven lives left. Besides… she's a teleporter… and she hasn't had anything from the Company cafeteria today so she should be literally free to flee whenever she wants, right? Right.

"I know what you're thinking," Aspen says, her clear voice raised just enough to carry as she leads the descent. Sound tends to get muffled down here, after all. "Spooky secret entryway, it's all horribly clandestine, isn't it? Well, that's quite the point. I've been informed you've a job to do, Misha." The staircase ends in a short corridor. Some of the doors in this vicinity look awfully secured, but it's a more innocuous door that Aspen opens up. She smiles over at the other woman. "Theoretically, that is. I'm not aware of any pressing assignments as yet. But who knows what tomorrow will bring, hm? I'm to prepare you, make sure you don't completely give us away first thing." She steps into the room — small, full of stainless steel drawers and compartments not unlike a bank vault.

It would likely come as little surprise to learn that Mariska Mikhailova has, indeed, been inside of a bank vault before - both during and after regular business hours. Her steps are slowed somewhat by apprehension and she asks, tongue returned to trusty Russian: «And just how do you intend to do that…?» She thinks she might already know, though. Nothing like a little physical torture, perhaps, to compliment the fine emotionally flaying she's already endured, eh? Those pale green eyes think they have Aspen pegged.

Aspen takes great pleasure in having others think they know what she's all about, only to turn everything on its head. She strolls along the wall of compartments and stops just past the middle. She reaches into her pants pocket, procures a tiny key and unlocks one of the compartments. With a mischievous glint in her eye directed at Mariska, Aspen pulls open a sliding drawer. Could be anything in there. It's just high enough that it's hard to peek over the edge. "«By teaching you a few tricks,»" she answers. "«What did you think?»"

A boat's a boat but the mystery box could be anything — even a boat! Mariska'll take her chances with Aspen and the box instead of caving to her cowardly consciousness. «I think… a great many people here enjoy taking the long way 'round with things,» replies the Russian, her tone of voice suggesting that she's not including herself as one of those people. Mariska's a short-cutter by nature, you see; she profoundly appreciates the ability to get directly from point A to point B.

"'Life's a journey, not a destination' — of course, I think it was a rock star who said that. Who knows what kind of trip he was thinking of. Anyway," Aspen withdraws a box from the box. Long way around indeed. She slips easily back into Russian. "«Everything is a test, you'll learn soon enough.»" It looks like a gift box, what she holds. She takes the lid off and reveals… a pair of stylish pink sunglasses. "«This is a hidden camera locator.»" She holds the box out to Mariska. "«Works via high-power pulsating laser frequency beams that scan for camera lenses. Catches them within one-hundred feet. This,» Aspen reaches into the drawer. Another box, another reveal — this one is a Primatech ballpoint pen. "«This disables them.»" She pretends to click the pen, stopping just short. "«Of course, it also disables all sorts of other things, so you've got to know what you're doing…»" She pauses to gauge Mariska's reaction.

True to misconception, Mariska takes pause a moment and then waits for Aspen to, I dunno, suddenly stab her with the pen or something. When that doesn't happen immediately, the Russian reaches for her new toy and then plays a little game of contrast and compare, looking between the pink shades and the clicky stick for several moments before finally feeling brave enough to try the sunglasses on and then have a look around. She regards the room, corner to corner, and then inquires in regards to the device disguised as a pen: «Other things like what? Celphones? Traffic lights? Pacemakers?» Giant, rampaging robot Santa Clauses?

"«It creates interference. It will make static of a football game on the television as much as disable a security camera, but I have no idea about pacemakers.»" Aspen, apparently, didn't ask. "«Toys like these are pretty useful, say—»" She taps the faux pen beneath her lip playfully, grinning. "«If you were to use your ability to pop into somewhere sensitive, to keep under the radar, as it were?»"

«How does it work?» Mariska asks, still sporting her shades, even if they make her look her look slightly ridiculous for keeping them on inside of the Company Q vault. They're comfortable, at least, and flattering to her face; not that Mariska can tell without the benefit of a reflective surface. Brushed metal isn't going to cut it. «What sort of range does it have?» Is there a manual?

"«Here,»" Aspen steps ahead to push a sliding button, quite disguised, on the frame of the glasses. "«Upper east corner, ever watchful eye, you'll see one right there. They look lovely, by the way. I can give you the specifications later, but look here.»" The woman sidesteps to another compartment and goes through the same routine, ultimately drawing out an elegant drop necklace onyx or obsidian, holding it delicately up. "«A camera. Of course, there are more subtle versions, but this is so exquisite…»"

This is like Christmas in… September! (Who wants egg nog?) When Aspen opens her new digital eyes, Mariska places a pair of fingers on the frames and fiddles with the secret switch a few times while staring up at the hidden camera in the corner; now she sees you, now she doesn't. The glasses, the pen, the pendant - it's all very James Bond. «I should make some test runs with these,» she suggests, slipping the shades from the bridge of her nose up onto her head. After she reads the copious volumes of instructions that accompany the devious little devices, of course. Safety first.

"«Fun, yes? They'll kill you if you break anything during a test run,» Aspen points out calmly. She may or may not be exaggerating. She lowers the necklace back into its box. "«How are you with weapons? … for self-defense, of course.»"

Death is the penalty for breakage of high-tech gadgetry? According to the actuary tables, that's only a 20% exaggeration. Mariska has no doubt that the punishment for destruction of Company property is severe. For their next little segment of dialogue, the camera angle goes grainy and fades to shades of gray in order to play the part of the security feed as Mariska confesses, «I carry pepper spray.» That counts, right? Alright, so, 007 (or, more accurately, one of 007's ladies) she's not.

Aspen pulls a face, wincing the way a socialite might when told a lady doesn't know what Gucci is. "«Well,»" she steps ahead and extends a hand expectantly. Toys, please. "«We'll fix that, won't we.» Now, then. Playtime's over."

Aw! No parting gifts?! Mariska somewhat reluctantly hands over the pen and the pendant before gently removing the sunglasses from her hair and returning them to Aspen's open palm. After a moment or two of muted mulling, she wagers, «Yes, I imagine we will.» Aw, lookit that. A self-inclusive statement. She's part of the solution and not the problem.

The Brit beams at Mariska and promptly tucks the technological goodies back away under lock and key. "Close the door behind you, would you?" Aspen says on her way out of the small vault room, expecting the other woman to follow, naturally. There's a minor roll of her eyes out of Misha's sight, marring her beaming expression.

Mariska obediently complies with the younger woman's instructions, following her out of the goodie vault and closing the door in their wake. What a curious little interlude…

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