Denizens of the Tower

August 25, 2014:

Pepper Potts knows and employs some truly odd people. Some of them are in her office.

Stark Tower: Pepper's Office

Located in Midtown Manhattan, Stark Tower is a tribute to science and a poetic ode to all things Tony.

Characters

NPCs: JARVIS

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Fenris arrives by his usual method to Pepper's office. Pepper may be used to that by now. What's unusual about this particular visit is that rather than the usual man, he's arrived as a wolf five feet high at the shoulder and easily twice that long from snout to tail tip. There's bits of what seem to be tree bark, grass, and possibly blood in his fur. He seems… a bit confused. "This isn't my house… oh dear. Sorry, Miss Potts."

*

Pepper Potts has just returned from what has to have been, hands down, the WORST press conference EVER. She's pouring herself a cup of chamomile tea when Fenris arrives like usual, though looking … rough.

"Fenris?" She recovers from her startlement quickly enough and sets the tea down to approach the giant wolf. "What happened? Lay down before you fall down." Uncaring of her even more impeccable than usual business suit, she steps over to help him lay down in the largest open space available — right in the middle of her office floor.

*

Fenris does with a canine sigh. "Apologies for my state. I'm not injured as last time though someone has scrambled my magic. I meant to portal home and wait it off there…" He grunts and shakes his head, looking over to Pepper. "At least it landed me somewhere safe, I suppose. This might have been bad if I'd shown up in the lobby… or the street."

*

Pepper Potts huffs in mock-amusement. "Especially today, considering the press conference that just happened." She moves again, getting out one of those bowls and filling it with water for Fenris before moving to dig that brandy out of the back of her credenza. At this rate, she might as well just start leaving it at the front of the cupboard. "Who were you tangled with that they could confuse your magic so badly?"

*

"A sect of fairly experienced summoners in a National Park north of here. Among the hexes they threw at me was one to confuse my magic. They assumed, I think, that I was a witch as they were. I disabused them of that notion." The Old Wolf chuckles wryly. "But they got that hex to take."

Fenris smiles as Pepper produces a stiff drink. So thoughtful. "Why was the press here? Mmm… and do I detect, or rather fail to detect a certain book?"

*

Pepper Potts waits for Fenris to finish with the water, then replaces it with some of the brandy. "Yes, that damned thing is finally gone. Remind me to return that muffler-bag or whatever it's called to Rune for Wassea." She sets the brandy bottle back on the credenza, and then finally finishes pouring herself that cup of tea. Did she just completely avoid the question about the press?

*

"I shall though she seems to be around often enough, Miss Hunt." Finris pauses and laps up some brandy. Ah. That helps. He gives Pepper a scrutinizing look as if examining her more closely now. "Yes… definitely some kind of magical resonance attached to you. I imagine it first happened via the fae. You did say you'd met Rune's family after all."

*

"Only her mother, who I gathered is a normal human of the magical inclination. It was…" Pepper pauses, trying to think of a way to describe Queen Maeve without naming her outright. Because she's come to realize that names really do have power amongst the Fae. "A, um, woman of royal standing who seems to really want Dana on her side of the fence."

*

"Most with any sense would. The ability to see the true nature of things is very valuable even if it comes with a large side order of everyone trying to control you." Fenris sighs and shakes his head one mroe time, eyeing Pepper. "You seem a bit frazzled this evening Miss Potts."

*

Pepper Potts sighs. "A bit. That is SO an understatement, Fenris. I'm sure you'll hear all about it soon enough. But… Tony made me CEO of Stark Industries." Fenris knows what's been going on with Stark, so that should be enough for the wolf to figure out the rest.

*

"Getting worse is it?" Fenris looks sympathetically at Pepper. "I'd hesitated to offer because he seemed so… determined, but it's possible I could buy him some time. I am versed in some manners of healing magic. I doubt, in his state, that I could reverse all the damage, nor would it be helpful if I did since it would simply happen again. However…" He'll leave Pepper to bring that up to Tony.

"In any case I can imagine there was a feeding frenzy, yes?"

*

Pepper Potts nods to Fenris. "Anything that'll give him more time to figure this out." Heck, if the wolf could just pluck those damned bits of metal out of Tony's chest, that'd be even better. Of course, she knows better than to ask on his behalf. Tony's stubborn that way. "I'll talk to him about it."

She offers a hint of a smile. "They tried to start a feeding frenzy, but that I know how to handle."

*

That gets Pepper a wolfish smile - quite literally. She may be a polite woman in most circumstances he's seen her in, but he's positive she's the Alpha Wolf of the board room or the press conference. "Well, glad to hear that at least. How are you feeling now that there isn't a leaky faucet of dark magic in your office?"

*

Pepper Potts sips at her tea. "Tired, honestly. I hadn't realized how draining it was to have that stupid thing here all the time and having to ignore it. But, better too. That feeling of, well, like a thunderstorm is about to roll in… I don't feel that anymore.

*

"Let me know if you start feeling irritable, headachy or… acting irrationally. It's not common, but mana withdrawals do happen from time to time amongst those not acquainted to long term exposure." The Old Wolf seems confident it won't be too bad though. "So, CEO. What does this mean for your duties? I was under the impression you more or less ran the place to begin with."

*

"My duties? Pretty much the same, but now everything's going to have my signature on it instead of Tony's, and all the blame will fall on me instead of him if something doesn't go to everyone's satisfaction." Like the current huge plunge in stocks. Pepper shrugs again lightly. "I'm really more worried about Tony than anything."

*

"Tony seems like a man apart in many ways. I would not worry for his opinion of the matter…" There's a short pause. "Or perhaps you mean his health? That is… rather unfortunate." It's times like these that it's most evident that Fenris isn't human. He's removed from the mass of humanity particularly in this, the ability to empathize. He can be surprisingly caring toward the few he knows and values, but people at large simply don't register to him.

"However, he isn't dead yet, Miss Potts and the man is nothing if not resourceful. If he will permit me I shall buy him what time I can and we shall hope that resourcefulness is equal to the task." At least he's trying to be reassuring.

*

Pepper Potts nods. "I'd appreciate that." She refills her cup then settles into a chair where she can easily keep chatting with Fenris. "Well, I'm thinking of ordering dinner in, because I really, really don't want to try to head home right now. Would you like anything?"

*

"I wouldn't mind something to eat to be sure. Deli, perhaps? Or Chinese? Your pick though really, Miss Potts. In two thousand years I've learned there's little I will not eat." The Old Wolf closes his eyes and colored light ripples over his form. They open again slowly. "Ah, still hexed I see. Well it should wear off in an hour or two. I do apologize for the intrusion."

Fenris shifts himself over to one side of the room, near the couch so he can still watch both the door and Pepper. "May I ask you a personal question, Miss Potts?"

*

Pepper Potts nods. "JARVIS, would you please order my usual from Phara's? Make it …" She looks at Fenris for a moment, "two orders and add an order of lamb la zeez."

"Right away, Miss Potts."

"Thank you." Then she finally nods at Fenris' request to ask a personal question. "Sure."

*

"Is there something between the two of you. Your devotion to him is admirable, but it somehow strikes me as more than the loyalty of an employee to an employer, even a cordial and long standing one." Leave it to Fenris to get right to the meat of the matter. Especially with those he feels can handle it he doesn't often bother with niceties.

*

Pepper Potts stares at Fenris for a long moment. "Don't beat around the bush, do you?" She shakes her head, smiling without any humor behind it. "Some days I think there is, some days I wonder if I'm imagining things. When Tony told me that his arc reactor is killing him, he said outright that he loves me, but…" she hesitates, then admits quietly, "I'm too chicken to find out if he meant that platonically or otherwise."

*

"It would hurt a great deal to find out otherwise…" It's not a question. "I hope you find the answer to your liking, Pepper. I can see he values you. I hope he has sense enough to see the treasure the Norns sent him." Fenris lowers his head onto his paws, resting, tail swishing back and forth. He dislikes being locked into this form. He likes the form, of course, it's his native one, but being trapped feels wrong.

"Where is he no- wait. Do you hear something?"

*

Cricket walks in, a tablet in one hand and a leather bound folder in the other. She is looking over the tablet as she enters. "Miss Potts, your 5 o'clock has asked to be moved till Thursday. I have him rebooked for 3. Accounting has asked for your signature on a few items and will you be having dinner here or .." As she finally looks up from the tablet, she stops dead in her tracks. Huge wolf. Her eyes scan the beast. All seems normal, except for its sheer size. She turns her head to Pepper. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had guests. I'll come back at another time?"

*

Pepper Potts starts to nod to Fenris, but then looks toward the door when he asks if she heard something. "Oh, Cricket. Yes, but it's all right. This is … Fenris Wolf. He's a friend of Tony's and mine." And harmless, really. Don't go all killer robot, please. "Fenris, this is my new Executive Assistant, Cricket Schodt. I stole her from OsCorp." Please don't bite the killer robot.

*

Cricket draws an eyebrow raise from the god-wolf who is, indeed, huge even reclining as he is. "I see. Hello Cricket, pleased to meet you. I had not heard that Pepper had acquired a golem." Because, you know, soulless. Fenris' magical senses may not be as keen as others, but he can absolutely sense a lack of life.

"I'm going to assume that by 'stole' you mean 'hired away' Pepper?" Actual theft seems out of her character.

"Well, don't stay out on my account. I'm just an Old Wolf, after all." The ancient chuckles at the word play on one of his given names.

*

Cricket takes a moment, her brows knitting together. "Fenris Wolf. Fenrisulf. Fenrir. Old Norse for the legendary first born offspring of Loki and the giantess, Angrboda. Prophesized to grow large enough to swallow the sun itself during Ragnarok. So fiersome that the gods decieved him into captivity, where he bit off the hand of Tyr, the god of Justice." She looks over the large wolf, sizing him up. "Considering your size, I am guessing that Ragnarok is a long time away?"

Upon being called a golem, Cricket's eyes narrow. She's still dealing with being a construct without it being thrown in her face. "Cybernetic Intelligence, if you must refer to me as artifical." She crosses the room, handing Pepper the leather folder for the papers that need to be signed.

*

Despite the recent announcement that Stark Industries has a new CEO, and despite the fact that Jim had been courteous enough to offer a reduction in hours or reduction in pay or even outright dismissal, Jim finds himself approaching the doorway to Pepper's office with a stack of legitimate bona-fide TPS reports from the daily compilations of R-QA. Being the new guy, well, he's the one who gets to schelp the heavy stuff. He's no dummy, though. He's managed to commander a rolling desk for the two foot thick pile of reports on all the nifty things running through his department.

Why he has to bring them up to Pepper's office he has no clue, but he's not questioning the boss. Nuh-uh.

And he was ten minutes early for work today, quite the accomplishment given crossing over from Jersey and the other gig.

*

Pepper Potts accepts the folder from Cricket and signs the documents inside with the ease of familiarity, considering she used to have to fight Tony to get similar things signed. "I just ordered Mediterranean, Cricket, if you'd like to join us. I think JARVIS can add to the order still." And then she leans a bit to look out her office door at Jim and his rolling STACK of TPS reports. The heck?

*

A large black mass is laying by Pepper's couch. Then it moves and looks back at Jim with amber eyes. "Ah yes. You would be here." He rumbles, sitting up a little and turning to look back at Cricket. "Intelligence, then, it is."

Those amber eyes slide over to Pepper, amusement dancing in them. "So let us count, then. Tony employs Lucky as your bodyguard and hires a modern day Daedalus as a medic. You find a go- er, Cybernetic Intelligence and employ a philosophy bird? Are you trying to compete with the Market, now?"

*

It could be a practical joke on the new guy. Entirely possible. Equally possible is that JARVIS is being a stinker again. Or that Admin somewhere along the way had a melt-down. Or some combination of the three. Nonetheless, the portly fellow is hustling the cart up now, one hand on top of the pile to keep it from going everywhere. He sure as heck doesn't want to have to pick these up and put them back together. That'd take days.

He manages to dodge a hapless secretary along the way without losing the load but nearly twists an ankle in the process. He recovers… well, about average for the course. By the time he gets to the door he's panting a bit. Tired enough from the push that he doesn't have the energy to have his normal fear of Fenris. Man must really be running ragged.

"Here's the TPS reports, *wheeze* Pepper."

*

Once the papers are signed, Cricket takes back the folder. She smiles and nods her head. "I would love to have dinner with you, if you wouldn't mind the company." She nods her head politely to Fenris as he corrects himself. "Is your name Fenris or Fenrir. The legends aren't quite clear if Fenris is your name or your title."

Her hazel eyes turn to look over at the new arrival. She nods to Jim, seeming friendly enough. "The Market?"

*

Jim slowly manages to catch his breath, nodding to Cricket and only just catching the conversation about Fenris. He gives the Sun-Eater a bit of a polite nod then glances to Pepper hopefully, warily. He really doesn't want to have to trundle these things back downstairs. That would suck. A lot.

He hears 'The Market' and immediately his brain goes to the prospect of the stock taking yet another hit, and has the grace to look embarrassed, a different kind of flush to his face.

"Bad time?"

*

Fenris smiles at Cricket. "I am properly called 'The Fenris Wolf.' However I go by Fenris to those that know me and other names that I cycle through to those that do not. As for my size…" There's a sense of power in the room. Not electricity but sudden potency as the wolf begins to swell. Seven feet at the shoulder. Ten… Before he knocks anything over, he stops and shrinks back. "A courtesy to Pepper and her office furniture. And also to the city. If I assume my full mantle it comes with certain drawbacks."

Jim gets a look. "Has Philosophy Bird never been? I speak of the Nowehere Market. You lot are starting to resemble the vendors there."

*
Having no soul means that sense of godhood cannot be felt by the robot as she stands looking at Fenris. No matter how human she looks, how well her creator made her to pass as human, in some ways, she can't deny that she is not human. So she just watches as he grows with friendly interest. "Like certain dietary requirements? Luckily, I'm not solar powered."

The petite young woman looks to Jim. "Would you like some help with those? They look terribly heavy."

*

Jim stares at Fenris, then doesn't give a damn. If the End Wolf is going to go for broke right here and now, not a damn thing he can do about it, not even with Buddha Bird. Or Philosphy Bird.

"He starts the end of the world and has to eat the Sun without any Prilosec to make it easier. Then the World-serpent allegedly wakes up and we're all toast."

The portly fellow lets out a slow sigh of relief as he waits for Pepper to get the electronic documentation of the side sorted as he assesses the room. "Please be very careful with them, they're stacked in order and if the order gets disrupted we'll be picking up the pieces down in QA for months."

He glances over at Fenris.

"I've heard rumors but no, haven't been. Thought you were talking about the stock market."

*

Fenris chuckles. "As the man says. And no, not drawbacks like that. Drawbacks like a crazed desire to flatten everything accompanying the power to actually do it." The Destroyer Wolf is a terrifying creature. So terrifying, in fact, that Fenris will not call on him save in dire need. Doing so even for short periods almost guarantees a localized apocalypse.

"Ah, well if you ever go, Jim, do not sell your soul or anything else you might value. Is the Bird asleep? And are there no side effects from… your brush with the Elders?"

*

Having been told it is alright for her to help, Cricket walks over to the cart with all the papers on them and picks up an armload effortlessly. She places a hand on top, just to make certain that it doesn't get blown away with an errant breeze, but then takes the forms over to Pepper's desk. "Would you like me to go over these and see which ones actually require your attention, Miss Potts?"

Fenris' conversation with Jim is frankly going right over her head, so she decides that it is clearly none of her business and ignores it.

*

Jim gives a brief sidelong glance to Cricket and Pepper at the question about the Elders, then shrugs. Damns, giving, he's out of.

"Funny you should mention that. Got jumped on my day off yesterday. Something orange, wearing plaid, and fouler than a homeless person that has not bathed in ten years. Had a deus ex machina drop in, thankfully, because it wasn't looking good. Apparently the Bird needed to do a patch update, something about 'Death to the Demon Possessing Scum' or somesuch? And… I really wasn't expecting that. Still, had quite the adventure and I'm really really glad to be at work right now." With Cricket taking over the paperwork, he relaxes a bit.

*

"Yes, you mentioned to me. More like a Dea Ex Russia, actually, but I'm glad all was well." The wolf rolls onto his side as he waits for food, watching Cricket efficently do her thing. Golems. Who knew they'd changed so much. He'd only ever met one that was quite that touchy about the name though and Galatae was a bit of a diva.

*

Pepper Potts finishes signing the documents Cricket brought her and looks at the stack from Jim. "Cricket, remind me at the next Operations meeting to make the first order of business updating QA's systems to join the rest of the twenty-first century." She starts slogging through the reams of paper, though does so with familiarity. "Oh, and Jim? I am not going to have time for this anymore after today. Who do you recommend from the QA group to take over for me?"

*

Cricket is looking over the TPS reports, reading faster than is really humanly possible. She was hired with full knowledge of her robotic nature, so why limit herself to human standards? She pauses for a moment to look over at Pepper. "Miss Potts, if you like, I don't technically need sleep. Jarvis and I could update the QA's systems in a matter of hours, I'm sure. If… he wanted to work with me, that is." As Cricket starts getting awkward when talking about Jarvis, she blushes and goes back to her work.

*

Jim nods to Fenris, then glances to Pepper. "I'd say Angelique DuBois, just shooting from my hip. She's got her stuff together, and she knows how keep the system running even with networks going down and other issues? I'm too new to the department to say anyone else at the moment."

He glances over at Cricket's comment. Is she an AI? He might have missed that on his way in… wait… is JARVIS one, too? This is getting very interesting and suddenly Buddha Bird is awake and pushing buttons.

"This one apologizes for the intrusion and the momentary borrowing of the partner. This one would also be very eager to assist in the project of the other Created Intelligence in the building. We now return one to one's regularly scheduled student-learner."

Jim reels a bit and shakes his head. "It didn't swear or say anything inappropriate, did it?"

*

Fenris grins suddenly, his look saying that he hadn't missed the way Cricket spoke of House Stark's resident helper spirit. Or AI as Pepper liked to call her. "No Jim. A bit eager but not inappropriate. I forget, sometimes, that you do not share your body with a spirit, per se." Tech-Spirit, perhaps.

Office work is not something Fenris has ever really done in any lifetime so he watches with some mild interest. "What a great deal of paperwork goes into running a kingdom like Stark's…" He muses.

*

Pepper Potts can't help but smile a bit as Cricket gets all bashful whenever JARVIS is mentioned. It's … cute. "That would be wonderful, Cricket, but it's not just developing the system that has to happen. The affected departments have to be notified ahead of time so they don't get blindsided by it. You know?" She nods to Jim's assessment, then against asides to Cricket. "Draft up a memo to Ms. DuBois indicating her additional duties, with appropriate increase in her salary." And then Buddha Bird speaks up through Jim and draws her attention. By the time Jim's back and asking if the Corvid said anything inappropriate, she's chuckling softly. "You're fine, Jim. And, since this may take a while even with Cricket crunching data like popcorn, do you want to join us for dinner? If I'm correct, JARVIS probably ordered about twice as much as I asked him to, because he's a devious little jerk that way."

She then smiles to Fenris. "You have no idea." Cricket is probably finding out the hard way.

*
Jim ponders for a moment. The consideration of the paperwork weighs in his mind, but then the fact that he just essentially pushed someone up the chain in the department that *wasn't* him would be a VERY good reason to have had this 'meeting'. While not on JARVIS-level deviancy, he's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Yes, please, may I join you and your guests for dinner, Pepper?"

It was probably JARVIS that had Jim bring up the reports, then. Because he's devious like that.

"And yet, the paperwork is much more orderly than my last place…" The former retailer shudders. "We could barely work with all the stupid paperwork we had to do. All the time. And when they DID use stuff like the Internet, they were… doing it wrong."

*

Cricket nods her head as she is told that people need to actually be giving advanced warning before they can adapt. She takes a moment to puzzle this out, why the human psychology needs to acclimatize to changes. Even she, when she believed herself to be human took this time, though on reflection she probably could have done without. The great philosophical debate goes on for only a mere second before she is on to the next task, linking herself with her tablet to create the memo. It's just faster that way. A pair of thin cables snake out of her wrist and into the tablet in her hand. Almost with no time at all, she unlinks and hands the tablet to Pepper for her approval before printing. Having a PA with Cricket's speed is making the paperwork part easier at least.

Jim offering to join in with her and Jarvis gets a momentary frown, there and gone again. But yes, paperwork. Read and sign. Read and sign. Well, not her to sign, but to read over ever last detail and make sure it is all up to spec before handing it to Pepper to sign. "This would have been easier if it were on the tablet. Then we would only need a thumb print."

*

Fenris smiles and rises to his feet. "Ah… I do believe…" There's a crack as if of glass from his form and multicolored motes of light fly everywhere. "Ah, much better." In an instant the large lupine form shrinks down to again become 'Jeremiah Wolfson.'

He examines himself carefully before nodding. "Well, that's a relief. I was concerned that it'd be a few hours yet."

*

Pepper Potts is apparently mentally catching up. "Oh, Fenris, sorry I didn't answer you sooner, of course I didn't actually steal Cricket from OsCorp. She applied and I hired her." Yes, she is careful to not say exactly why Cricket chose to leave OsCorp, that's her story to tell, not Pepper's.

"And that's what we'll take up with the department heads at the Operations meeting, Cricket. In fact," she replies to the smaller woman's comment about tablets and thumb prints as she looks at Jim again and gestures for him to have a seat, "if we can borrow last year's documents to use as an example of why we need to move away from paper, that would really bring the point home." She startles and turns to look as Fenris becomes Jeremiah again.

*

The rotund fellow actually has a response for Cricket's observation.

"As long as there is power. In the event of a power outage, having analog data storage in hard copy is invaluable. It's what keeps your business running when things are falling apart around you. It also keeps your records safe in case you have a data breach, too."

Jim is totally willing to play devil's advocate for keeping some of the old ways.

"Oh, hey there, Mister Wolfson. Fancy meeting you here." That's a bit of a smirk there

After a moment, Jim takes the indicated seat.

*

"Mister Reha." 'Jeremiah' shakes his head with a smirk. "Ah, well now that I have hands again that will make dinner a bit easier at least. Pepper, would you mind if I had a look in your desc? Specifically at the drawer you had that binder in?" The former wolf is already moving toward said desc. He plucks the sliver necklace from his neck. An instant later it's a knife.

*

"Ah, but Stark Industries is run on an arc reactor, which is able to recharge itself. If the company would switch to a double reactor system like I am run, then there would be no worry of power outages at all. And think of all the room that would be saved? Instead of a filing cabinet filled with almost an entire trees worth of paper, you could use a single USB key. Which is also faster to make multiple copies of, should it be required." Ah yes, the new and the old, an arguement that has been bandied back and forth even in the days of Aristotle.

Cricket looks over to watch as Fenris changes to a humanoind form, watching, gathering information.

*

"Oh, um, sure." Pepper turns from where she's seated at the round conference table to gesture at her desk with the tablet Cricket just handed her. "It's the bottom drawer there on the left. The bag that Rune loaned me is still in there." She then smiles as Cricket takes up her side of that age-old argument, then glances over and signs off on the tablet before returning to the paper documents. "But you have to admit, there's just something about the feel of pen and paper. She gets up momentarily to retrieve a pen from her desk and starts using it to sign the reports instead of the ballpoint she'd been using. The pen from her desk is very clearly one of those ungodly expensive things, and a fountain pen to boot.

The R - QA guy squints at Jeremiah's motion towards the drawer with the suddenly appearing knife. The magic doesn't throw him off-guard, but where his mind goes considering the potential things the wolf is doing. He gets shaken from his reverie briefly by Cricket's comment.

"This all is predicated on the premise of having a reactor system online. All mechanical things have their limits. Having a physical hard copy helps circumvent those limits. Now, nothing saying that the hard archives have to be kept *here*. I'm sure there are plenty of buildings and communities out there that would love to have a secure data repository in them. That would reduce the vulnerability of the system to hackers, as well."

Pepper's pen causes an eyebrow raise. Yeah, that's the Executive Pen.

*

The drawer opens and Fenris carefully pulls out everything in it. At the very bottom there's a blackened stain, not unlike a coffee stain, but one with a rune carved into it. "Ah. Thought as much." Reaching in gingerly, the Old Wolf starts to scrape it off. It wouldn't work for an ordinary knife but the Moonsilver Shard is not ordinary.

*

Cricket can't help but smirk just a hint as Pepper asks her to admit that there is something about pen and paper. "I might be biased, but pen and paper really don't have much in the way of appeal to me. As to mechanical things having limits, so do biological things. Paper rots and burns and is susceptible to insect infestation. Paper also attracts dust. And longevity is not necessarily a limit of the mechanical. Look at Big Ben. True, he needs regular maintenance, but then again, so do biological things."

Jim tenses. When things get scraped at with a silvery knife, they sometimes have a habit of exploding or even summoning something. His paranoia isn't unwarranted as he quietly communes with his partner and indicates to have the Bird warmed up, just in case. He's also plotting out how hard he'd have to get up and jump to throw his body between Pepper and the drawer.

"There are ways to preserve solid data without paper, but even with paper these days there are silicates and plastics that can dramatically increase its lifespan. And the Big Ben analogy is a little bit loose, there."

"I doubt, Mr. Reha, that you will be able to change my mind about the advantages of technological filing. I also doubt that I will be able to have you see things my way. So, shall we agree to disagree on the matter of which is better, books or computers? Even if my viewpoint is clearly the superior one?"

*

Pepper Potts just chuckles softly as Jim and Cricket continue their debate as to the merits of paper vs. electronic file storage. And, of course, as serendipity (or more likely JARVIS) would dictate, the food arrives mere moments after Pepper finishes signing the last paper document. And yes, there is more than enough for four people. Devious AI.

*

Fenris deftly helps set the food out. Which is to say he does so via the agency of the gale rod which floats everything into place on air cushions. "Aaaah. Now this is a proper spread. You're a generous host, Miss Potts…" The Old Wolf grins at the politely bickering pseudo AI's. He knows how to end this argument. "You're both wrong. Acrano-etheric storage is superior to either." There. Problem solved. He winks to Pepper.

*

"You're attempting to have a 'Heads I win, Tails you lose' equation there, and you can't have your cake and eat it too, miss. However, for the sake of peace in the family and civility in the workplace I'm cool with setting it to the side for the time being. We can always come back and re-visit it later if we have to. And the Bird really wants to talk to you now, but I'm on the clock so it'll have to wait."

He's still watching in case he needs to jump. Paranoid, much?

"That only works if you're in a mana-rich environment. If you're in a mana-poor environment, then that can destabilize. But since we're setting it to the side, it's set to the side."

He waits for a few minutes for everyone else to go ahead and get things to eat, even as his stomach rumbles.

*

Getting up to help with dinner, Cricket shakes her head. "No, I just feel that you are incorrect about the limitations of electronic storage. Of course, I am biased, being made up of electronic storage." Fenrir's comment causes the robot to stop and look squarely at the man. "Well, now you are just playing devil's advocate. Not to mention that not everyone has access to Arcano-etheric storage. That sort of storage requires some amount of learning of the magical arts and not everyone has the skill to do so."

Cricket too waits for others to get their plates first. After all, she doesn't technically *need* food.

*

Pepper Potts laughs softly at Fenris' way of trying to shut down the friendly debate between Jim and Cricket, moving to get plates and silverware (actual silver-plated brass silverware, not stainless steel) from the credenza for everyone before serving herself from one of the containers. "Help yourselves to beverages, there are sodas in the fridge as well as waters, and I can start a pot of tea if anyone wants that. Let's leave the paper versus USB discussion here."

*

Jim peers at Cricket, then places the palm of his right hand against his forehead and brings it down.

"Pepper, could you please punch me out for lunch? I'd do it but I don't have a tablet, still using the dinosaur phone. The partner is chomping at the bit but it respects the fact I'm on the clock and won't jump in unless it gets excited or there's an emergency and right now it really wants to talk to this young lady. And yes, tea, please."

*

"Of course, Miss Potts. Mr. Reha, you are now listed as at lunch."

Pepper simply smiles at Jim. "I told you about JARVIS, didn't I?"

*

Pepper gets another wink as Fenris leans back with a plate full of food. "Benefits of being up in the Boss' office. Also the benefits of having an ancient alien computer in your head." Also the benefits of not being made a pawn of the Elders. "How's life in QA Jim? I assume it suits the Bird?"

*

"Only in passing when I got hired and that I would have to meet JARVIS at some point? Just… give me a minute. The bird won't shut up and it's getting REALLY annoying." He smiles weakly to Pepper. "Just be a second."

Given the warm - up and prep time, it's almost an eye-blink as Jim's form almost flickers and reshapes itself. It takes a step or two, cracking various limbs as if waking up from a long sleep. "This one humbly submits that the partner is finding the work in the QA department rewarding and fufilling for the mental-health cycle."

*

Cricket makes a brief curtsy to Jim as his tips his unseen hat to her. She grabs her tablet, never far away from her side and starts to quickly key in something when Jarvis speaks. She smiles up at the voice above and chuckles. "You beat me to it, Jarvis. No fair, I was using my hands." She starts to get herself something to eat and then explains to Jim. "I don't actually need the tablet, but it lets people know that yes, I actually have done the work and am not just looking into space and then saying that it's done."

Watching as Jim changes form, Cricket seems to be interested in it more from an information and science perspective than anything else. She doesn't seem shocked or frightened, just very curious.

*

Fenris has, of course, seen this before. "Oh there you are. I was wondering when you'd make an appearance. Did you have a food coma from too much Denny’s?" That last is asked with a smirk as Fenris puts food away at a relaxed, stately pace.

*

Pepper Potts has NOT seen that before, and is understandably gobsmacked. But only for a moment or two. "That looks like it hurt." She shakes her head then and moves to claim a seat at the conference table with her plate. "So you are Corvinus?"

*

The bird-like thing tilts its head and takes in the information, processing. "Mister JARVIS, thanks for putting Mister Reha on lunch. He is very picky about those sorts of things. Greetings. This one does not believe one has been met."

It bows slightly to Pepper and Fenris. "This one is impressed at the immense level of foodstuffs that are present and will be at them momentarily."

It spins to face Cricket. "Greetings. This one is known as The Corvinus. The partner did not acquire one's name. Who might one be?"

The avianoid's motion is a combination of machine perfection, artistry, and grace, honed over epochs of activity.

It tilts its head to address Fenris. "This one was making essential firmware, software, and hardware upgrades after the Elder entity attempted a subversion of this one's systems. That was exceptionally rude and uncalled for. This one would have been more than willing to share Enlightenment with it, but it tried to steal proprietary knowledge and form. Unacceptable behavior."

Is that a hint of… anger… in the ancient being's tone.

It turns to Pepper. "The rapid process was requested by the partner. He anticipated a threat from the secure drawer and wished to be ready to intervene in the event that there was some sort of summoning or explosive effect."

*

Cricket offers out her hand. After all, it is what one does when meeting someone for the first time. And if fur is a normal thing, why not feathers. Or wires in her case. "I'm called Cricket Schodt, but just Cricket will do fine." Her eyes quickly dart over the body and body language of Jim now that he has changed. Calculating, analyzing. "Do I want to know what this Elder entity is?"

*

"A demon, Cricket." Fenris supplies. "One of several kinds, a particularly nasty breed. The Corvinus had a run in with it. After which, it apparently decided to download service pack 1." Yes, Fenris has tech jokes! He's ancient, not a recluse. "Though I have to wonder from where."

*

Pepper Potts very decidedly does NOT want to know what that means, but then Fenris makes that Service Pack 1 joke. "Wait, what? You're not an organic being?" How many AIs are there in this building now? She stands to approach the raven-esque being, openly curious.

*

Corvinus brings its hand to shake the offered one. It does not use a 'crusher' grip, but instead a respectful measured firm handshake that matches the grip of the hand shaking it. "This one is glad to have met one. Please forgive this one's insistence but one is always eager to see Extrapolated Intelligences. It is a gentle reminder that this one is not unique in the Universe and this is a comforting thought." And in much the same way that Cricket's eyes are analyzing the bird-thing, the bird thing is in turn scrutinizing the secretarial sort.

Fenris' quip causes a quick negation shake of its head. "Incorrect. This one implemented Patch 667.1 : DEATH TO DEMON POSSESSING SCUM." Yes, it's a bit boisterous with the patch title. "Partner terms used: Extreme Unwanted Mental and Physical Attention. Demon not employed. Harassement suit: Not operative."

"This one is The Corvinus, advanced Extrapolated Intelligence requested by the Creators to aid in the Enlightenment of the Client People. Terminology from partner used: 'Clarke's Axiom'. This one exhibits both technological and organic components, but is artificial."

*

"He's been bringing enlightenment to the people of the Greater New York Area for… uh, few weeks now? He only recently popped up on my radar. Catchy patch name." Fenris finishes off his plate of food and rises. "Well, I do believe I've taken up enough of your time. Thank you for your hospitality Miss Potts. I hope to return it soon. Don't forget my offer for Tony." And with that he opens a portal, steps through and is gone.

*

Pepper Potts glances from Corvinus to Fenris and ahs. "You are welcome any time, Fenris, truly. Have a good evening, and say hello to Inara and Cora for me." She waves after the Old Wolf as he departs, then looks back to Cricket and Corvinus. "So." Yes, she's now the odd one out here. You know, being completely organic and all that.

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