8916/The Road of Life

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The Road of Life
Date of Scene: 03 December 2021
Location: Nadia's Porsche Panamera Convertible
Synopsis: Melina lets herself into Nadia's car and gets far more than she bargained for from the youngest Ex-Widow.
Cast of Characters: Nadia Pym-van Dyne, Melina Vostokoff

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
Nadia Pym-van Dyne is a difficult G.I.R.L. to pin down. Busy as a bee would be a vast understatement. As a Titan, a sometimes Avengers sidekick, and the leader of a bleeding edge thinktank and laboratory, as well as sometimes Super Science consultant, she rarely stays in one place for long.

It's not only the constantly shuttling between different locations that makes her difficult to get facetime with though, it is the locations themselves such as Titans Tower, the Pym Technologies campus, Avengers Mansion, and even the Triskelion, that are both not open to the public and known for their advanced security.

Of course there is a weak link in all of this if one could figure out the contours of her schedule, she still has to travel between all of those places. So it is that the young Pym-van Dyne scion, dressed in her usual red and black fashions that straddle a line just shy of punk and goth, finds herself sitting in her shiny cherry red 2021 Porsche Panamera Convertible at a red light. Obeying traffic laws is a new phenomenon for her, the Red Room certainly never taught her any, but the last thing she wants is another lecture from Bobbi or more FAA complaints.

Nadia drums her fingers on the steering wheel waiting for the light to change, as her head bobs up and down to the beats of the newest Dazzler album.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
The girl was, by far, the hardest to find for even high trained, decades old Black Widow Melina Vostokoff. It was the girl's connection to Janet Van Dyne which finally gave her a lead and, following that, the car that Janet gave her. Melina has spent weeks being certain of the girl's routine, timing stoplights, figuring out the most likely place to get in where they will have long enough time to talk as she drives. Which means, now is the day.

Abruptly, seemingly out of no where, the passenger door to Nadia's sleek car opens and a slender, muscled woman with a crown of dark braids on her head is suddenly there in the passenger seat. "Do not panic. I just wish to talk." She states flatly, her accent clearly Russian behind her English words. She isn't bothering to hide it. She also isn't holding a visible weapon, but the tone of her body and wary, exhausted eyes says she all together is probably a weapon,

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
Surprise is evident in Nadia's expression when the door suddenly opens and someone unexpected enters her vehicle. She blinks a few times looking at Melina, but at first doesn't seem terribly concerned otherwise.

"Umm hi, can I help you?" There is a cheeriness there that begins to drain away somewhat when she picks up the Russian accent, though that in turn sends her mind in over-analysis mode. There is no reason for an agent of the Red Room or Department X to actually betray an accent, what does it mean? Then again the last time they tried to manipulate her into coming back of her own will. Everything is lies within lies she reminds herself.

"You want to talk? Okay, I'm listening." Nadia replies, putting the car in gear as the light turns green. "You can start with who you are and why you are in my car." To her credit, or perhaps the Red Room's credit, she doesn't seem to be panicking.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
The question of who she is gets a flicker of emotion across her features -- a dark smirk and a bit more exhaustion in her eyes. "A dead woman, likely." She deadpans, in that tone of voice that is absolutely Russian humor. She then lets out a slow breath through her nose, "But, they call me Melina Vostokoff. I am in your car to ask you a question. Maybe two. You are very hard girl to find..."

Tired hazel eyes flicker back towards Nadia again, studying the young woman head to toe, as if she were piecing some bits of a puzzle together just by watching her. Or, more likely, building a profile of the girl at her side. One of the only ones she never knew at all.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
"You don't seem dead to me." Nadia comments still retaining at least a little bit of that almost infectious cheer. "I had a dead girl come and try to join my lab recently, it was fascinating." Somehow if she were to offer her worst enemy cookies, it'd probably be believable.

She nods a bit at the name and what comes after, keeping her eyes on the road but tracking Melina with the mirrors and her peripheral vision. "Nat told me about you, I figured you might appear sooner or later. You know it took me awhile to figure out what was in that vial you gave her, partly because they never used control toxins on the Science Class. They were afraid it might impact our ability to develop advanced weapons and other technology for them. They're probably regretting that now."

She guides the car on to US-22 West heading south. "I had to dig into all the old reports and papers that I took with me when I escaped. Your work is brilliant, if sinister. To think our free will, who we are, almost everything that makes us us can be overridden just by using the right combination of chemicals. It's pretty scary, fascinating, but scary. So, what are your questions?"

Maybe it's because of the special allowances the Science Class was given once she was transferred over there, maybe it's the age at which she escaped, but Nadia is not only not like other girls, she's really not like other Widows either. At least on the surface she seems less broken. Or at the very least the most chatty.

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
The chattiness is almost overwhelming. Melina is not used to this from any of the Widows, much less a young one. She is silent for several heartbeats, processing the fact that Nadia hasn't tried to shoot her and they are simply having a conversation without threatening each other's lives. This was going very strangly.

"...What do you ...*want*? Now that you are out. What will you...do with it?" Melina asks quietly, giving no comment about her expertise in neuroscience, but the drug she developed was utterly terrifying. Yet, for some reason, she is here. Free of it. Seemingly rebelling. Or possibly spying for them on an entirely different level, but that would make giving the antidote completely senseless. And it *was* an antidote. Not some trick.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
"What do I want?" Nadia repeats the question. At this point she hasn't really relaxed but her broad smile has returned at least. "At first I wanted to find my father. I dreamed about that ever since they told me about him, trying to inspire me to crack Pym Particle tech for them. He wasn't quite what I expected, but I still think he is a hero. Then, I wanted to make up for lost time, after spending most of childhood I missed out on so much. Have you tried pizza? It's the most amazing and perfect food. But over time I realized that in a way a piece of me was still trapped there. I was still trying to fit into the spaces created by others, still looking over my shoulder all the time, the only thing I really truly trusted was science. And that's a terrible way to live. It's not really living at all, I had to go to the Erebos, the Greek Underworld to figure that out." She doesn't sound like she's kidding.

The vehicle weaves through cars. On the highway, a teenager's speed demon tendencies begin showing through. She's really good at it too, clearly having passed the Red Room courses on getaway driving. "In Erebos there were these stairs that didn't want anyone to climb them, they mess with your mind. Everyone see's something different as they try to convince you to turn back. They showed me a lot of things from my memories, and it made me realize a lot of what I'd been doing, I'd been doing it all for others, what they thought I should do, and to help others, I wasn't really living for myself, I wasn't growing. So that question, it's been a constantly evolving and changing thing, but at this point I want to live. To live for myself and do the things that I want to do. To grow as a person achieving everything that I am capable of. I want to change the world for the better." She pauses before adding, "And I want to trust people."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
There is a sweet, sad smile that crosses Melina's face as she hears the entirity of the answer. She listens patiently, not daring to interrupt in the least, the smile only growing more sad and proud at the same moment. When the girl is finished, she gives a slow nod, "Good... very good. You could do with teaching the others. None of them have answers. I wish I had answers to give them... Maybe you do. All I could give, I gave. And you cracked it... Good."

That seems to be all Melina came for. Her expression goes from proud to resigned. She looks from Nadia to the road beyond, watching her weave in and uot of traffic without any fear. "When you stop next, I will...leave you. I am glad Natalia gave you the antidote. I... could make no more. They took that from me. From my... mind. But I knew one of you would. That is... that is all that matters."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
Nadia, too, is actually pretty good at listening and she listens intently to Melina. "Nat... is making progress. Trying to live, in her own way. You should try living, too. I don't think you're dead at all. Until you're a corpse, a real one, there is always time to change. What is it that you want?" The young woman asks turning the question back on its asker.

The Metropolis skyline begins coming into view and in the distance on St. Martin's island, the giant 'T' shaped building that the Titans call home. "I don't think you're a bad person."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
"Oh. I am. Even if I stopped. I still am. I did too much." Melina isn't looking at the girl now. She got her answer, the things she needed. She's now waiting for her out, so she can escape back to... She's not certain. Her expression is quiet and resigned. A dead woman, already, in her head. Or maybe that's just the easiest way to feel.

"Natalia will kill me for talking to you. She said it already. It will be better than back home doing it. Maybe it will give her some peace." And possibly talking to Nadia had been the final part in Melina's plan of self destruction. She talks of it matter of factly. Distant and objective. Like a scientist.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
"You're wrong." Nadia says firmly, her smile wavering. Somewhere in the back of her mind she can already here the lectures from Natasha for even talking to someone from the Red Room. But 'we should all kill each other to be safe' has never sat well with Nadia. "If that were true then there would be no hope for Nat either and there is. It's taken so long, but under the right circumstances she can actually enjoy a hug now." This is clearly a major and important achievement in Nadia's mind.

"You're only dead if you choose to be, to wallow in self-pity rather than atoning, to trap yourself in the past instead of moving forward. I lead a lab that scouts young female talent trying to change the world, to make the future better. Going off and dying is the easy way out. You are brilliant, your work no matter what it was turned to is incredible. You could help shape a new generation of brilliant female scientists to do incredible things for good." The car pulls up at the Metropolis Hyperloop station. "Or you can go off and die. But that is a choice. And also an offer."

Melina Vostokoff has posed:
Those very kind, but rather insistent offers get a confused, pinched look from Melina. She came here to finish the last piece of business before dying. She thought this would be the easiest one, since she never even knew Nadia. Why would someone who never crossed her path even care? Now she's being offered a second chance. Her eyes are wide, heart quickened. Being given another chance is, by far, entirely more frightening than being killed by Natasha Romanova.

She stares hard at Nadia as the car stops, lost for words for a few moments. Finally, she manages. "I will.. take your words into consideration. You are too kind. It will get you killed some day, young one. Maybe listen to Natalia more and hug a little less. It is safer." With those guarded words, she pops the door open and moves to slip out. But the look on her fact is clear -- Nadia has planted something.