Hello~! Most of you probably were not expecting me to update this, but here we are! This chapter is set in Thor: Dark World but it also goes into background information for Inez and my other OC. As always, I own only my OCs and plot twists- NOTHING ELSE.
Also, a warning: there is swearing and violence so be prepared for that.
Now, I hope you enjoy this dose of chaos and silliness~!
"I continue to judge your choices, Ri." Inez deadpans as she follows Arianna.
Her partner rolls her eyes, easily maneuvering around the avid gamblers. Arianna Jones is a shorter than Inez, about 5'3", with thick midnight hair pulled back into a bun and wearing an emerald cocktail dress. A striking woman with hazel green eyes, her heels give her the additional three inches needed to maneuver through one of Las Vegas' most popular casinos.
Inez, unwillingly, had forgone her usual look in favor of a metallic copper dress to blend in. A necessary evil, but not one she submits to easily. Arianna glides past a table of blackjack, where one of the gambles is on a hot streak; Inez stops and pretends to examine a table of dice, giving Arianna space. Arianna brushes past the gamblers and Inez feels the change in the air as Arianna flares her talent gently.
The hotshot loses the next five rounds, much to the crowd's disappointment. Inez smoothly rejoins her best friend, linking arms as they make their way to the bar.
"Never gets old." Inez murmurs.
Arianna smirks slightly, drinking a glass of flavored water- no drinking on the job for her.
"I have another two hours then we can go relax- got to say, if J&J ever becomes boring we could make a damn decent living here."
"You could- I would go crazy." Inez retorts dryly, sipping her martini.
Arianna chuckles then tilts her head, listening to what the floor manager is saying through her com; Inez muffles a groan.
"Already? Can we at least bring our drinks this time?" Inez complains as Arianna purposefully walks away.
Soon enough they pass another table and once again a hot streak dies as Arianna flares her talent. Inez occupies herself with watching Arianna's back as they circulate the casino floor. As a 'cooler' or someone with the ability to nullify paranormal and normal energy, Arianna has an open door to any of the casinos in Las Vegas. Most of the gamblers who run hot streaks have some version of heightened intuition or a psychic ability allowing for manipulation of the odds.
Casinos, on the other hand, don't want too much money lost- they are a business after all. So they found an off-beat answer to the paranormal manipulation from their gamblers. Their solution? Talented psychics; specifically psychics known as 'coolers', of which Arianna is one. Coolers are rarer than nearly any other psychic talent Inez knows of- and one of the most valued by casino owners. Since coolers can nullify others' psychic talents, any 'hot streaks' will die a quick death once someone like Arianna is sent in to negate any psychic influences.
Admittedly, Arianna doesn't often work for the casinos, despite the benefits; the lure of fieldwork for Jones & Jones is more enticing for her. For which Inez knows she will be always grateful- Arianna is pretty much the only J&J agent able to work with her. Inez lets herself smile as they finish Arianna's shift, grateful they are done with prancing in heels. Arianna notices and smirks, wagging her finger.
"Ah ah ah! I have to get my paycheck then you can go back to your uninspired clothes, Inez!" She reminds her.
Inez pouts, leaning against the wall of the private elevator as it ascends to the top floor.
"Dammit, Ri." She grumbles as they exit, Arianna being greeted warmly by the security guards.
Inez ignores how they shift subtly away from her and doesn't react to the faint stench of fear oozing from each man. They all knew her by reputation as Arianna 'Icer' Jones' bodyguard- and thanks to one memorable incident, they all knew better than to get between her and Ri.
"Aw, they're still scared of you," Arianna murmurs to Inez.
She snorts softly.
"They should be." She reminds her partner dryly, motioning for her to pause.
Arianna rolls her eyes but obliges: she may hate the pre-established rules Inez and Fallon created two years ago but knows if protocol isn't followed, everything can go FUBAR. Inez steps into the room first, locating all dangerous personal and weapons. As always, Drake Aerosi has his personal bodyguard next to him, positioned to kill threats to his boss. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Inez gives Drake a nod of greeting before motioning Arianna in. Arianna saunters in, cool and elegant as she smiles at Drake warmly, who reciprocates.
"Miss Jones, it was a pleasure to do business with you." He tells her, nodding to his bodyguard.
He walks over to Inez and hands over an envelope, which she examines before giving it to Arianna. Arianna checks the amount then smiles brightly at Drake.
"It's nice to know I can always change careers, Mr. Aerosi. I will let you know the next time I am available." Arianna says calmly, putting away fifteen thousand dollars into her purse.
Drake nods and sighs mournfully.
"Are you certain I cannot change your mind, Arianna? We would love to have you join us permanently." He coaxes, eyes glinting.
Arianna smiles brightly and laughs gently, shaking her head sadly.
"Mr. Aerosi, I am flattered! One day I might change my mind, but that day is not today. Have a splendid evening."
Arianna sweeps out and Inez follows, giving the security guards a brief nod. When they get inside the elevator, Inez groans and yanks the heels off.
"I need a foot massage or something- I don't understand how you can run in those things." Inez grumbles, wincing as she tries to stand.
Arianna muffles a giggle, smirking behind her hand.
"Practice and grueling effort." She replies, sauntering out as the doors open.
"Ri! For fucks sake," Inez snaps, racing out so her carefree partner isn't alone longer than necessary.
Arianna laughs as she saunters towards their hotel room, expertly ignoring Inez's over-protective tendencies. She slides the keycard and opens the door, Inez rolling her eyes at Arianna before locking the door behind them.
Arianna sit primly on her bed and crosses her legs innocently- Inez isn't fooled, folding her arms.
"Seriously, Ri, please don't run off like that. Last time-"
"Last time was an accident!" Arianna protests.
"An accident? Is that what you've been calling it?" Inez asks in disbelief.
"Yes! Because it was!"
Inez rolls her eyes heavenwards then glares at her loveable if occasionally dense partner.
"The bastard ran you over and was going to shoot you! How, exactly, is that not deliberate?!" Inez demands.
Arianna opens her mouth, pauses, and then pouts. Inez groans before sitting down next to her.
"Look, Ri, I'm sorry I'm a hard-ass. But we- we almost lost you. Is it too much to ask for a little more caution?" She pleads.
Arianna winces before sighing loudly and nodding.
"I can do that. So, where did Fallon assign us this time?" She questions, changing the subject.
"London." Inez answers, standing and stripping off her cocktail dress.
Arianna sighs and follows suit as Inez takes over the shower.
"What time do we have to be at the airport?" She yells over the cascading water.
"Tomorrow, ten o'clock flight in the morning!" Inez answers.
"Huh, that's surprisingly late- is it not a high priority gig?" Arianna pushes, swiping off her make-up.
"Fallon's worried and he wants extra hands on deck- something's going on in London. We're to scout and report back- and 'no funny business', to quote." Inez calls back.
"Oh boo- that's no fun!" Arianna pouts.
"Honestly, if neither of us gets hurt, I'm cool with a hopefully boring gig." Inez says dryly.
"Aw, where's your sense of fun?" Arianna teases.
"It died." Inez deadpans, opening the shower.
Arianna sticks out her tongue, tossing Inez a towel, which she catches easily.
"I wonder how that happened~?" She teases, closing the shower door.
Inez rolls her eyes as she dries off and retreats to the bedroom.
Twenty-four hours later…
"So… instead of recovering from jet-lag we're wandering London?" Inez questions, arm linked with Arianna's.
"Mhm, might as well- it's not like our sleeping schedule is going to be fixed anytime soon." Arianna answers absently.
Inez rolls her eyes, shifting her carryall to a more comfortable position. Arianna notices and groans.
"Did you have to bring your entire armory?!"
"I didn't." Inez corrects her.
Arianna gives her a disbelieving stare.
"I only brought the important stuff." She amends, ignoring the increasingly judgmental expression on her partner's face.
"How did you even get that through airport security?" Arianna asks with unwilling curiosity.
"Permits." Inez answers, amused.
Arianna gapes at her before snorting loudly.
"You- you actually use permits?!" She snickers.
"They're occasionally useful," She allows, gently tugging Arianna out of the way of a gaggle of pedestrians.
"Well, that explains the mystery of why no one at airports ever stops you-" Arianna quips before freezing.
Inez, sensing her tension, opens her mouth to ask what's wrong when the world shifts. One moment, they are on a sidewalk in London. The next, they are separated in a confusing whirlwind of kaleidoscope colors. Inez barely keeps ahold of her carryall and slams violently into a marble floor, grunting.
Shouts ring out around her.
"Who goes there?!"
"Who is that-"
"Capture her!" An authoritative voice rings out.
Inez snaps her head up, scanning her surroundings. A stone-cobbled courtyard with vines and carvings on the surrounding walls and a large number of men in golden armor. Amongst the men a woman with dark hair stands off to the side, frowning. Inez ignores her, drawing her kukri knives from the holsters strapped to her legs. The bystanders hiss as Inez kicks her bag out of the way, making room.
When no one moves, Inez quirks her eyebrows.
"I had no idea I cut such an imposing figure… are you going to do something or continue your impression of statues?" She asks coolly.
That incites a reaction, judging by the various expressions of rage and affront she is witnessing. Five soldiers charge her while the rest fan out. Inez pulls on her talent, assessing their micro-movements and readies herself for a dance of death.
Loki is bored senseless. Books are only so intriguing after two years of imprisonment. Which is why the highlight of his day is when the guards bring in new prisoners or when Frigga visits. Rolling his emerald eyes at the newest bunch of malcontents, Loki retreats to his bed and opens yet another book Frigga had generously offered him.
He flips the pages idly, not really reading the words. Absently Loki wonders when something interesting will happen- really, there is only so much boredom he can take.
The universe answers by dropping a Midgardian woman from a dimensional rift in the roof of his cell onto one of his side tables, breaking it. Loki is on guard instantly, watching the woman warily as she drags herself to her feet, clutching her head. Blood drips onto the floor, nearly hidden in her mess of midnight hair and running into one of her hazel eyes. She blearily scans the cell and spots him, grimacing in pain.
"Do you have something to stop the bleeding?" She rasps.
Loki quirks his eyebrows at her.
"And if I did?"
"I would love to stop bleeding on your furniture- and myself." She adds as an afterthought.
Loki cannot help himself; he chuckles, delighted by this twist of fate. The woman arches a dark eyebrow but silently allows his amusement run its course. He gives her a curious once-over, taking in her features. She is petite, barely reaching his shoulders, with angular cheekbones and bright hazel-green eyes. Her hair is a thick and dark curly mass cascading down her hips.
His eyes sharpen when he spots tells of at the hidden knife strapped to her ankle as the woman stumbles.
What's a little thing like her doing with a hidden knife? An assassin like Romanoff? He wonders as he observes her more closely.
The Midgardian woman is clearly concussed from her lack of balance and terrible coordination. Eventually she decides to sit on the floor, swaying slightly as she applies pressure to the cut on her forehead.
"So… whom do I have the pleasure of sharing a cell with?" Loki inquires.
The woman's hazel eyes lock on him and her mouth quirks in amusement.
"Arianna Jones. And since we are introducing ourselves… what is your name, sir?" She requests, wincing as more blood drips into her eye.
"You are in the presence of Loki, God of Mischief and rightful King of Asgard!" He declares dramatically.
Arianna blinks and sighs softly.
"Inez is right, my luck is atrocious. Oh well. Do you have any bandages?"
Back with the guards…
"GET BACK HERE!"
"And why would I do something so stupid?" Inez mutters, hiding behind a column.
The troop of guards rush past, breaking into groups to search the T-junction of corridors. Inez waits for the footsteps to fade and takes a deep sniff.
One person; wariness, curiosity, annoyance and exasperation. Huh. Not a complete dolt then. Inez thinks wryly.
"Come out." A woman's voice orders.
Inez considers her options and shrugs; one guard versus twenty something is a no-brainer for her. Silently Inez steps into the open and observes her opponent. A dark-haired woman in her twenties wearing armor and holding a small shield and spear glares at her. Inez keeps her expression impassive but her knives at the ready.
"Who are you?" The woman demands, shifting her grip on her weapon.
Inez tilts her head, amber eyes glittering dangerously.
"Who wants to know?" She counters.
"Sif, Goddess of Honorable Battle and warrior of Asgard!" She snaps, glaring at Inez.
Inez blinks, blinks again and groans, resisting the urge to face palm.
"Oh for fucks sake!" Inez hisses under her breath, exasperated.
Sif is clearly offended by her language, tightening her grip on her weapons and glaring at Inez warily. Inez counts to ten in her head to control her temper then sighs loudly before carefully laying her knives on the floor. She stands and keeps her hands where Sif can see them.
"Sif, right? I just got swallowed by a portal along with my best friend and got spat out here. My name is Inez Sweetwater and I fought with Thor back on Earth when Loki was being a dramatic bitch. Can you get me in contact with him or someone with enough authority to send me back to Earth?"
Sif narrows her eyes, not lowering her guard.
"Thor never spoke of an 'Inez Sweetwater' fighting alongside him on Midgard." She counters.
Ines nods in understanding.
"I worked with him under the name Pesadilla. If you do not believe me, ask Thor."
There is a pregnant pause then Sif nods stiffly.
"Fine. But I want all of your weapons at your feet before we go anywhere."
"All of them?"
"All of them."
"… Ugh, the things I do to not scare people…" Inez groans, pulling out various knives until a small pile lays at her feet.
Sif's eyebrow shoots up in surprise and grudging respect when Inez steps away from her weaponry and into her spear's range. The goddess huffs then gestures for Inez to stay in front of her.
Inez ambles through the gilded halls of what she presumes to be a palace, due to the absurd number of guards. Sif's presence gets them past the other palace guards with only suspicious stares and tightening grips on their weapons. They stop before two imposing doors, which open at Sif's knock with a profound groan. Inside is undoubtedly a throne room with a large golden throne in a fat U shape as the center focus. An older man with a single eye observes their approach, a bronze spear resting in one hand. Beside him is a mature auburn-haired woman wearing a regal gown that enhances her form nicely.
Sif stops just before the steps leading up to the throne and Inez also pauses, flaring her talent slightly to gain an understanding of the people before her. The woman is welcoming outwardly but has some wariness and curiosity in her aura. And power- lots of it. It reminds Inez of Loki's, and she notes that they probably share a similar talent. The older man, on the other hand, reeks of hostility and aggression. He also has power but it feels more akin to Thor's with greater refinement.
Sif breaks the silence, addressing the royal couple.
"My king, my queen. This is Inez Sweetwater, a Midgardian that appeared in the middle of the training grounds."
Inez inclines her head politely. The queen smiles warmly while the king frowns harder.
"And how did you come to Asgard, Midgardian?" He demands coldly, his fingers tightening on his spear.
Inez quirks her eyebrow at him.
"Well, since it wasn't the Tesseract or the Bifrost I honestly have no clue. One moment I was in London with my partner, the next we were separated and I fell into a courtyard full of yelling people."
The king's frown grows even darker at her mention of the Tesseract.
"How do you know of the Tesseract? Speak!" He barks.
Inez keeps a grip on her temper, reminding herself that if she pisses him off he could order her killed or locked up.
"I worked with the Avengers to retrieve it from Loki. Thor can verify my identity if that is such a concern, your majesty." She states flatly.
"That will be difficult since Thor is off-world currently." The queen interrupts.
Inez suppresses a sigh of annoyance.
"That's unfortunate." She remarks bluntly.
The queen nods and descends the stairs to approach her. Inez stays still and watches her, noting her possible reactions.
"My name is Frigga, Queen of Asgard. Welcome, even if your arrival was by accident." She introduces herself.
Inez inclines her head in greeting.
"A pleasure." She says, keeping it short and sweet.
"Forgive me, but you seem worried Inez."
Inez has to fight back a sarcastic retort because of course she's worried but pissing off the Queen of Asgard isn't a good idea. Instead of giving in to her urge to yell, Inez keeps her tone bland and mild.
"Considering I am in a foreign realm and I have no idea where my trouble-prone partner is, I am a bit on edge."
Frigga raises an eyebrow.
"Very. I honestly would not be surprised if she appeared in the dungeons or some other equally troublesome place. " Inez says heavily.
"You don't actually think she would show up in one of those places, do you?" Frigga asks.
"Not on purpose, no. But her luck is decidedly on the 'unlucky' end of the spectrum." She explains.
Frigga nods understandingly.
"Well, until Thor returns perhaps we shall go look for your partner."
"Frigga!" Odin barks, his lone eye flashing.
She looks at him and her expression becomes stern.
"Yes, dear? I would think you would want the other Midguardian found before she could potentially cause trouble." She says sweetly, but Inez can hear the iron in her voice.
Her eyebrow quirks in amusement.
So she is no trophy or wilting flower after all… interesting.
Odin frowns but nods. Frigga beams in triumph and gestures for Inez and Sif to follow her. Inez walks alongside Sif but behind Frigga as they head downwards.
"You truly think your partner is in the dungeons?" Sif asks.
Inez nods without hesitation.
"Oh absolutely- and probably in the most controversial cell you have at that." Inez remarks.
They are met by a frantic guard, who greets Frigga and requests (although it sounds like pleading to Inez) that she come quickly. The guard leads them past cells made of some golden energy before stopping in front of one in particular. Inez deadpans.
"Ri, you really need to do something about your bad luck." She says flatly as she beholds Arianna sharing a cell with a certain god of chaos.
Arianna shrugs, holding a bloodied cloth to her forehead.
"At least I don't need a hospital this time." She answers, ignoring how Loki is staring between her and Inez calculatingly.
Inez face palms.
"Ri, you're bleeding like a stuck pig." She corrects her.
Arianna waves off that comment breezily.
Inez sighs and folds her arms.
"Head wounds aside, how have you been?" She asks.
Arianna hums, thinking.
"Company isn't bad, despite his narcissism." She replies.
Frigga quirks her eyebrows and Loki is flummoxed.
"Excuse me-?" He starts to say when Arianna shoots him a dry look.
"You know exactly what I am referring to, sir. That said, I'm fine here, Inez. But bandages would be nice. And pain killers." She adds thoughtfully.
Inez rolls her eyes.
"Or we walk you upstairs to make sure you don't have a concussion from hitting your head." Inez counters.
Sif, Frigga and Loki watch in a bemused manner as the two banter back and forth.
"If I may-?" Frigga interrupts.
Arianna arches her eyebrows at the sight of the Asgardian queen.
"Yes ma'am?" She responds politely.
"That wound does look worrisome- we do have healers available for treatment." Frigga offers.
Arianna hums thoughtfully before nodding with a heavy sigh.
"I suspect if I do not accept Inez will simply drag me there anyways, so yes, I would appreciate it ma'am." Arianna answers.
Loki glances from Arianna to Inez with a sneer.
"I must say, I am surprised to find out that you have such a well-mannered partner Inez. I thought you would be paired to another bloodied monster instead of this charming lady." He provokes Inez.
Inez and Arianna, in complete synchronization, look at each other then back at Loki and promptly burst into laughter.
"Well-behaved? Oh hell Ri, that's hilarious!" Inez sniggers.
Arianna smirks, standing gracefully as she chuckles herself.
"I did tell you manners have some value, Inez- so few people look beyond them. But really Loki, what makes you think I am harmless?" She asks, tilting her head.
Loki narrows his emerald eyes at her question, Sif tensing while Frigga watches their interaction with a sharp gaze.
"I never said that, Lady Arianna, merely which you are not a bloodied monster like your friend." He retorts smoothly.
Inez laughs harder and Arianna's smile grows.
"And how do you know that, Loki?" She says calmly.
Loki frowns at her.
"Oh please, like a human such as you can amount to anything that can hurt me." He scoffs.
Arianna quirks her eyebrow in amusement.
"My, what confidence- or is it hubris?" She muses politely.
Loki glares at her scornfully.
"You are no warrior, despite that knife of yours. It would be a work of an instant to take it from you and cut your miserable throat." He menaces her.
"Loki!" Frigga reprimands him sharply.
He turns his head away and scoffs, folding his arms. Arianna hums in agreement.
"You are right I am no warrior of the traditional sort- but neither are you, from what I've heard and yet you are still dangerous. So again, I must ask is it hubris that makes you believe I cannot harm you?"
Loki opens his mouth to reply when a guard rushes up to Frigga.
"My queen, there is an emergency that requires your presence." He tells her.
Frigga frowns, turning to go but she pauses before rushing off to look at Sif, Inez, Loki and Arianna.
"Pardon me, I will return soon." She promises before leaving the dungeon.
Inez glances at Sif, who shrugs and they both look at Arianna.
"Ready to go?" Inez asks.
Arianna chuckles and moves towards the cell wall closest to Inez and Sif.
"Yes. And thank you, Loki, for sharing your accommodations while I was here. It was pleasant." She tells him.
He snorts and turns away while the guard lets Arianna out, refusing to look at her as she walks towards freedom with her partner. His lip curls at Inez and Sif, especially when Inez pauses to stare at him for an unreadable moment.
"… Nice to see you're not a puppet anymore." Inez tells him quietly.
He barely suppresses a flinch but he knows she saw that moment of vulnerability despite his efforts.
"I don't know what you are talking about." He snaps defensively.
Inez cocks her head, amber eyes staring steadily into his green ones.
"Really now. You've been keeping it under wraps for two years and no one else figured it out? I'm impressed."
His face transforms into a snarl but Inez is already leaving to catch up to Sif and Arianna.
"What was that about?" Arianna asks her as they walk down yet more hallways.
"Him being mind-fucked two years ago." She says nonchalantly.
Sif blinks at her.
"What?" Sif demands, confused.
Inez sighs, stretching her arms.
"Two years ago, I fought Loki one-on-one and had an up-close look at his aura. It wasn't normal and I'm not talking about insanity; something was warping it, affecting his thoughts and emotions. His staff seemed to be causing it but beyond that I had nothing else to go off of until now. His eyes were blue back then, not green."
"That's why you paused; you wanted to see if he was still affected." Arianna realizes.
"Yup. And he's not so he's back to his regular self- whatever that is." Inez shrugs.
Sif glances between them in confusion.
"I thought you were mortals..?" She questions them.
Inez nods while Arianna smiles at her.
"Oh, we are. It's just we have something extra-" Arianna starts to explain when both Midguardians stiffen outside the healing room's doors.
"Ri-!" Inez hisses at the oppressive and malevolent energy on the other side of the doors.
"On it. Lady Sif, please open the doors and step back." Arianna requests coolly, standing straight.
Sif almost balks but then another wave of chaotic energy changes her mind. Arianna strides through the doors and pulls hard on her talent, creating a sphere of calm in the midst of the rampaging crimson energy as she walks over to the woman lying on the table. Odin, Thor and the healers watch with disbelieving eyes as Arianna smiles reassuringly at the brunette.
"Hello, my name is Arianna Jones. I can help you but I need to touch you to do so- do you consent?" She tells her, ignoring how the energy intensifies even more violently as if in protest.
The woman nods weakly and Arianna reaches out and holds her hand- the energy storm stops with a startling suddenness. Inez walks in, sensing the danger is over, nodding to Thor and Odin as she goes to check on Arianna. Arianna lets out a sigh and presses a hand to her head, which is still bleeding sluggishly.
"Easy there," Inez murmurs, leading her to a chair.
Then she looks at one of the healers.
"Can one of you check her head wound?" She asks.
They stare at her, mute. Inez narrows her eyes fractionally.
"Some time this century please?" She barks and they jump.
Odin shoots her a look but Inez really doesn't care at this point- her priority, as always, is her partner. Thor checks the other woman, who is sitting up and appears better than earlier before approaching Inez.
"Sweetwater? You are on Asgard?" He says, confused.
"Nice to see you, Thor. Although the timing could be better…" She quips.
He smiles at her then looks at Arianna, whose head is finally being looked at.
"And this is-?"
"My partner, Arianna Jones. We work together." She explains bluntly.
He nods and Odin breaks the silence.
"Thor, you know this woman?" He demands, gesturing towards Inez.
Thor nods again.
"Aye, she killed many a foe in the battle for New York and fought against Loki alongside the Avengers." Thor answers.
Odin frowns and looks speculatively at Inez, Arianna and the woman who introduces herself quietly as Jane. Inez glares at him, amber irises seeming to burn with an inner light while he seems to weight something in his mind. He notices and seems to think better of it, sighing heavily.
"You three, Thor, come with me." He orders.
"So what you're saying is Jane," Inez nods to the scientist, who blushes.
"Has an Infinity Stone inside of her, like the Tesseract and the glow-y blue stone in Loki's spear except this one's base form is liquid so it's not exactly a stone, but semantics. And it was slowly sapping Jane's life force until Ri," Who smiles warmly.
"Countered the energy of the stone and temporarily balanced it out, giving us more time to figure out how to remove it without killing or maiming Jane. Oh, and there's Dark Elves that probably want to take it back by force so they can plunge the Nine Realms into infinite darkness. Did I get that right?" Inez inquires, folding her arms.
Odin nods, reluctantly, but nods.
"… Okay, so that explains the Ether- but how exactly did Arianna do what she did? Are you two aliens too?" Jane asks, her scientific curiosity burning.
Arianna laughs, shaking her head.
"No, no, we are human- it's just we're a little different." She explains.
Inez rolls her eyes- Jane, Thor and Odin are not satisfied with that explanation. At all.
"Ri, we have to start with the basics, remember?" She reminds her dryly.
Arianna sighs but nods, leaning back in her chair. Inez takes up the thread of conversation.
"Right, so let's talk about energy and how it interacts with us specifically. Humans are born with intuition- it varies from a vague sense of something is wrong to someone like me who can accurately predict an enemy's next move. Most of humanity is on the lower end of the spectrum and don't really interact with paranormal energy at all. Then there's us." Inez gestures to Arianna and herself.
"Our intuition evolved in specific ways, which we can use to harness paranormal energy to perform certain feats. Ri is what we call a 'cooler'; she can neutralize any and all types of energy if she focuses hard enough and has the mental strength to focus it."
"Inez is what we call a para-hunter talent," Arianna seamlessly takes up the explanation.
"Her senses are enhanced; she can sense negative emotions, track killers solely by the paranormal energy residue left behind, discover emotional and physical weaknesses while also speeding up her reaction time. She can see in the dark as if it is daylight, continue hunting someone for days on end and make her target live through their worst nightmares."
"Way to make me sound terrifying." Inez says dryly.
"You were the one that decided to go by Pesadilla." Arianna retorts.
"So, would you say you are on the high end of the spectrum you mentioned?" Jane interrupts the brewing argument.
Arianna sighs as Inez nods coolly.
"We are- well, actually they haven't been able to accurately gauge Ri's power level since she's kind of unmeasurable so they pegged her as a ten with an asterisk…" Inez muses.
"To give an example; an average person would be a one or a two. You I would ping at a four or five, Jane. Inez is also a ten with an asterisk." Arianna interrupts.
"Fucking asterisks." Inez mutters.
Jane and Thor share glances of 'huh?' while Odin narrows his eye.
"And what does it mean to have an 'asterisk'?" He pushes.
Arianna smiles sadly.
"It means they could not accurately gauge how powerful we are- it is also a social stigma, since many people within our community feel threatened by those with stronger talents."
"Wimps." Inez scoffs.
Arianna rolls her eyes before turning her attention back to their audience.
"The higher the number, the stronger the talent and the more paranormal energy that can be generated and controlled."
"And more dangerous." Odin deduces, gaze sharp.
Arianna nods, expression serene.
"Indeed. That is the nature of power." She answers calmly.
Odin frowns and Jane jumps in again with another question.
"Wait, you make it sound like there's more of you- that there's an entire community back on Earth of people like you."
"There is. Forgive me if we don't disclose further information but psychics have been persecuted in the past."
"We would really like to avoid another 'witch hunt' scenario. The seventeen hundreds were such a drag." Inez drawls, leaning on the wall behind Arianna.
Jane winces but nods in understanding. Inez sighs and looks at Odin.
"Given the circumstances, I'm guessing you want Arianna to stay here with Jane in case the Ether decides to act up?" She asks.
Odin nods, gazing curiously at Arianna.
"I have never encountered a being able to neutralize, even temporarily, the power of an Infinity Stone. It is… curious." He admits.
Inez narrows her eyes.
"That's fine and all but when this mess is straightened out all three of us are going back to Earth, your majesty. We have obligations, family and friends for us back there." She says warningly.
Odin glowers at her but Thor nods in agreement.
"She is right, Father, it would be cruel to keep them here." He booms.
Arianna yawns, covering her mouth politely and Inez sighs.
"Jet lag catching up?" She asks her.
Arianna flushes but nods sleepily.
"Need to sleep." She mumbles as she starts to droop in her chair.
Inez catches her deftly and pulls her onto her back, glancing at Thor.
"Can you go ask your mother where I can stash Ri for the time being?" She asks him.
Thor hesitates, glancing between her and Jane. Inez's eyes soften slightly.
"Go. Jane's not going anywhere and neither are we right now." She urges him.
Thor nods and exits, leaving Inez and Jane with Odin (Arianna doesn't count being asleep). There is a long awkward silence before Inez speaks again.
"Given that there might be an incoming threat, can I have my weapons back?" She wonders.
Odin blinks and frowns heavily at her. Jane is surprised enough for another question to burst out of her.
"If you have enhanced abilities, why do you need weapons?" Jane presses.
Inez snorts, loudly.
"Just because I have a psychic talent doesn't mean I'm infallible. Using my talent for extended periods of time isn't advised. So I had to come up with ways to compensate and make my job easier. People always understand guns and knives- vague threats about breaking their sanity doesn't usually deter psychos, Jane. And if it comes to a fight… well, I follow my family motto." She shrugs.
Jane blinks in confusion.
Inez bares her teeth in a terrifying smirk.
"'Talent is good, but never forget your knife.'" She quotes.
And the doors to the study swing open to admit Frigga and Thor. Inez nods to Frigga and follows the Asgardian queen to a comfortable sitting room, Jane walking with them. Thor trails behind while Odin leaves to handle affairs of state (or so Inez presumes). Frigga does pause to shoo Thor away when guards start to rush past.
"Go, we'll be fine. Ah, Sif! Thank you for bringing Inez's weapons." She thanks the other goddess carrying Inez's duffle.
Sif nods and Inez inclines her head respectfully to her as she starts sliding knives into their various sheathes before the goddess rushes away. Her trademark mottled grey hooded jacket is zipped up and she quickly fastens her mask before flipping her hood up, concealing her features. Arm guards are fastened tightly and she assembles her sniper rifle and two hand guns she knows Arianna favors. Jane watches in stunned silence as Inez prepares for war.
Frigga watches her closely and finally says what they are thinking.
"You think trouble is coming." She states.
"I have a bad feeling- same kind of feeling I had before the battle for New York."
She glances thoughtfully at Jane and pulls out a small knife from her duffle bag; Jane yelps as Inez attaches it to her ankle.
"What are you doing?!" Jane yells, backing away from Inez when she releases her.
Inez rolls her eyes at the scientist.
"I'm making sure you have at least one way to defend yourself. Frigga, I suggest arming yourself- we're going to have company soon." She warns the queen as she senses seething anger, cruelty, determination and bloodlust moving towards them.
Frigga finds a sword while Inez forces Arianna to wake up.
"Wah-?" She moans before Inez shoves a caffeine pill into her hand.
"Enemy. Stick with Jane. Don't engage unless it's to weaken or you have a clear shot." She orders her.
Arianna nods, markedly more alert as Frigga shows the two of them a hiding place and casts an illusion of Jane. Inez nods and stands behind a pillar, kukri knives at the ready as she waits for the enemy to take the bait. They don't have to wait long before a pale man with dark armor walks in, facing off with Frigga.
"Stand down creature, and you may yet still survive this." Frigga offers, spinning her sword into a reverse grip.
"I have survived worse, woman." The elf announces, stalking towards her.
"Who are you?" Frigga inquires walking closer.
Inez narrows her eyes, feeling someone else is coming down the hall- and it isn't back up for them.
"I am Malekith, and I would have what is mine." He announces, pointedly looking at the illusion of Jane.
When the illusion moves to run Malekith tries to intercept only for Frigga to slash his face. They engage in a whirlwind of blows, Frigga displaying astonishing finesse. Malekith is quickly overwhelmed and pinned against a column with a sword at his throat. He glances beyond her shoulder and Frigga quickly turns to see a behemoth reaching for her-!
The Dark Elf roars as she slices one of his hands off with one blade and slashes for his eyes with the other. He staggers away and Inez prowls after him, amber eyes glowing with a feral gleam as she spins her kukri knives. Frigga and Malekith watch in awed silence as she blurs, ripping deep cuts into her opponent's side as he tries to grab her. Inez chuckles darkly when he tries punching her, side-stepping it easily and opens a deep wound in his arm for his troubles.
"What is that creature?" Malekith wonders as Inez hounds his second-in-command.
Frigga smirks at him.
"A warrior." She answers.
"Frigga, move!" Inez roars when the behemoth charges for Frigga, disregarding Inez's sharp blades completely.
She dodges, accidentally releasing Malekith- which apparently was the goal all along. Malekith retrieves his sword and warily watches the two woman prowl between them and his objective. He glances at his second-in-command and nods sharply. The behemoth rushes for Frigga while Inez cuts off Malekith, kicking him backwards. She twists and jumps on Frigga's opponent's back, bringing both knives up and slamming them viciously into the junction between his neck and shoulder on both sides. He bellows, dropping Frigga and reaching for Inez who rips her blades free and summersaults off.
Her eyes flicker to Frigga for a moment, assessing her condition and swears when the behemoth seizes Frigga's sword and goes to stab the queen. Inez pulls on every fraction of her talent to intercept the blow in time, shoving Frigga out of the way. To her relief, she succeeds. Then Inez coughs up blood, the sword driven deep into her side and crimson staining her grey jacket.
Inez can see the behemoth stare at her in surprise but leaves her be to attack Frigga, who had seized Inez's kukri blades to defend herself. Grimacing behind her mask, Inez forces herself to her knees, the sword digging painfully into her as she sways to her feet. Malekith notices and eyes her warily as she staggers but stays standing. Inez draws two more combat knives and steps forward to deal with the menace when a familiar battle cry behind her makes her duck reflexively. Thor blasts Malekith's face with lightning, charging the Dark Elf. The behemoth backhands Frigga and grabs his king, retreating in the face of the God of Thunder. Inez sighs when she sees the threat is gone- and collapses, Arianna screaming her name as she blacks out.
What's this, a cliff hanger? And a TRIPLE UPDATE at that?! Mwa ha ha ha! I hope you all have been enjoying yourselves with this one- if you have questions or concerns about any of my explanations of Inez or Arianna's abilities please message me and I will do my best to clarify it!
Please review and comment, I like hearing from y'all!