Sokovian Summit

June 15, 2015:

Howard, Tony, Peggy and Steve meet to see if they can plan a way to figure out what's happening in Sokovia.

Stark's Penthouse

A penthouse, owned by Stark.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Stark Tower, tall and gleaming in the noonday sun, is still under some repairs from when Nyx ripped a hole in it a week or two ago. One side of the building has seen better days, but the structural integrity is still intact and the only thing left to do is replace the patches with fresh new glass. Currently a lot of that side of the building is covered with blast shields.
This is not the case, however, up in Tony's penthouse. True, he could always have used a conference room down in the tower, but this is personal. It's not Stark Industries business. It's just Stark business. Rather than using his dining table, Tony's just set things up in his living room. There's no need for formality. Steve's one of his closest friends. Howard's his dad, and Peggy is closer to being real family than some actual family members. There's even tea and coffee and liquor for Howard and peggy and, for Steve, there's Coca-Cola in the glass bottles without a hint of corn syrup. As the others arrive, Tony is activating the projector in his coffee table to allow them to pull up maps, schematics, and the like.

Steve leans forward with elbows on knees as his blue eyes stare intently at the information. "Fancy doo-hicky, you got there, Tony," he says absently about the projector before looking back towards his friend and shifting slightly on the couch.

He's looking forward to getting all the information about this issue Tony and Howard seem to be having and eager to seeing if he might be of some assistance.

Peggy rests on the couch next to Steve, looking every bit the SHIELD Agent, even if she is out of her business clothes and in more informal attire. Her legs are crossed at the ankles and she's paying close attention to Tony and the projector. There's a bit of a grin given to Steve at his comment. A cup of tea rests steaming on the table in front of her: she'll most likely have some in a bit. However, for now, she does not interrupt.

"You're going to like this fancy doo-hickey, Steve. No more shoving little army men around on a map with a shuffleboard paddle; this is the real deal. We're even past whiteboards." Tony claps his hands and rubs them together quickly, glancing over at the elevator. Of course Howard's late. And of course Tony's going to start on time anyway.
"So the short version of this story: someone's trying to set up Howard to look like he's funding arms manufacture. Who and why are the big questions, as well as how we're going to stop this. An old friend of mine — " Tony waves a hand. A picture of Anatol, the guy who had the repulsor vest strapped to his chest, appears in midair. "Brought it to our attention. Forcefully. Says the old factory Stane used to use out there, the one he and I decommissioned ages ago, is back up and running. Anatol figured it was Howard, since it happened a couple of weeks before Howard came out to the world, but I'm pretty confident it wasn't him. What's more," he adds, reaching out and grabbing a small spinning cube that turns out to be an old schematic of the factory, "I don't even know who owns the place anymore. It used to be one of our holdings. It was sold off after it was decommissioned. Then, you know, Eastern Europe happened to it. The town's name was changed at one point; I had to find the current location by coordinates."

"I own it," says Howard. He appears at the entryway, hands in pocket, expression a little hard to read, but it's firmly in the 'troubled' territory. He walks in and towards the gathered three. "Sorry I'm late. I kept checking and re-checking this to make sure it's true. The factory is part of a package deal of holdings I picked up a few months back to help put THINK's products into production. I didn't even know what I was buying."

"What's a white board?" Steve asks dryly.

Steve nods after Tony finishes, "So, it's remote. Remote is good. I hear Eastern Europe is wonderful this time of year." He leans back and looks toward Peggy to gauge her thoughts. Doing something out of the ordinary would be a nice distraction from the business with the government.

"Beg your pardon, Howard?" Steve says with a raised eyebrow. His eyes go from Howard to Tony, then back to Howard. "That would have been good information to have. A week ago."

"It's more than he thinks that it was Howard, Tony," Peggy tells her friend's son, tone serious, business mode activated. She looks over to Steve, having discussed a little of this with him previously, but then her focus is forward. "I interrogated him myself. He truly believes it was Howard. That it was Howard who visited the factory where he worked as a child and that it was him who was responsible for the multiple deaths in his village. The man thinks he is doing a just cause - he still spoke quite highly of you." Despite his actions otherwise. "We seem to be speaking quite a bit of Howard without him being, here," she starts to observe before the man himself appears at the most dramatic moment possible.

The information that Howard actually does own the place in question brings a distinct frown to her face. "I've been tracking down my own leads on that matter, but am still caught up in quite a bit of Cold War Red Tape, it seems." Her clearance isn't what it used to be. "Yes it would have been, though I believe Howard is saying that he didn't realize it was in his possession until just recently," she says firmly, giving the man in question a sharp look as if to ensure that what she's said is true. "Has it always been in your possession?"

Tony's head snaps up when Howard walks in. He nods once to the man. "To be fair, I think I have some buildings lying around that I've forgotten about. But Howard, being dead — sorry, Dad — couldn't have owned anything until after he was legally alive. That would almost certainly have been after he bought a bunch of factories. We sold the place off years ago. Who knows how many times it's changed hands since? And if we can find any legit documentation?"
He nods to the intelligence Peggy gives, adding: "He's not easily fooled or led, either. Anatol's a brilliant engineer and a good friend when he's not trying to off my family members. Which… I should say there was no real danger of. It looked bad, and it was designed to. I'm not sure if he did it on purpose or if he copped to you," Tony goes on, looking back down to Peggy. "People were wondering where he got the repulsors. I took the ones apart that he wore. They look like mine and they even halfway work, but they're knockoffs from broken pieces of an old suit of mine. Theoretically he could have blown some stuff up if he put them all into overdrive, but he, uh. Never took the safety off. Not that we were to know."

"Yeah, I didn't know until an hour ago. I've been chasing down my own leads. Finally, I decided to check my own holdings on a whim." Howard scratches the side of his nose. "The holdings used to belong to Stark Industries. But after the whole mess with Stane, it was sold off. Stark did some liquidating after my son started flying around in a metal suit and the company needed to restructure away from arms manufacturing." He glances sidelong at Tony.
"So," he clears his throat. "All of it is looking to be a pretty neat setup. The question of 'who' is a bit too broad. I have my share of enemies. The question is, who in Eastern Europe? Because frankly, no one in the States gives a shit what I might be doing over there."

Steve looks to Peggy, "That reminds me, have you seen my skyscraper? I've been looking for it all day. I must have misplaced it right next to my squadron of personal jets. I'm always doing that."

Rich people problems.

Steve gets more serious and then looks back to the Starks, "Only one way to find out if your friend wants to come out and play. Go over to his house, and knock on the door."

"Yes, he did say that the repulsors were not activated and would never have exploded." By Peggy's tone it doesn't show how she finds that much better. "It remains that he terrorized a group of people for dramatic effect and attempting to kidnap the pair of you." While she's sympathetic toward his personal story, that doesn't excuse his actions. She frowns. "He had access to one of your old suits?" she asks Tony with a bit of a curious tilt of her head. "What else did he have access to?" It's not accusatory, it's an assessment.

There is quite a bit of information flying about, but Peggy is used to that. Organizing it all and asking the proper questions is what he's trained to do. "So, someone put the building back in your name? Or are you saying they inserted it in other things you were buying?" She frowns. "Either way, it means it they must have had the proper names and numbers to do so."

Despite the seriousness of her situation, she gives Steve a raised eyebrow and a bit of a smirk. She nods once. "Yes, it seems the easiest solution is to find out who actually is running the show there. I've managed to come up with quite a lot of nothing on my end of research."

"Broken pieces of an old suit. The man's an engineer and worked for my company; he's no slouch. We actually worked together back when I was carving my company back out what Stane made it into." Tony's still on his feet, apparently too wired to sit down. "For a full list, we could pull up what that factory was making before it was decommissioned. That, at least, we should still have some records of. If there ever were any. Obie probably kept a lot of things hidden."
When Peg goes on, he adds: "They also had to know he was alive as much as two weeks before that was made public. That means some kind of leak. Someone had to know before the official announcement. Otherwise, what point would there be in making it look like Howard was behind it?"
He turns to Steve then: "I know you like the direct approach. So do I. But I get the idea that not everyone in that factory wants to be there. I don't want to go charging in to what's clearly a trap. Why else make it look like Howard's behind this if they don't want him to react?"

"I was basically saying I think we should check it out. I didn't /literally/ mean we….knock…on their door," Steve says absently. "I like the direct approach, mostly because there's a lot less technobabble. Have you got any satellite imagery of what's happening there now?"

"My guess? Someone bundled that factory in with another set of factories and then made it a deal too good to resist. My buyer couldn't help but jump on it." It's a fact that annoys Howard, but really, how could his buyer have anticipated a set-up this well thought-out?
"Whoever did this is smart, resourceful and knows how to manipulate people. They also have money and spies. This is a dangerous combination, especially since we don't know why the hell they're doing this. Whatever we do, we have to do it on the ground."

Peggy nods, attempting to put this all together. "Just trying to put all the pieces together," she tells Tony with a nod. The unable to sit down while working on a problem is something she's used to when dealing with Howard. "Then we attempt to find the leak and lock it down. Can we backtrace when this transaction happened? If so, we could also attempt to narrow down who it was that might have been able to do such a thing."

As for knocking on their door, the spy raises an eyebrow. "The pair of us work for a spy agency, Tony," she tells the man with a smirk. "I believe we can infiltrate without harming civilians. If not Steve and I, than certainly someone else within SHIELD that we trust." She looks to Howard. "I would be glad to go in. I've recently come into possession of one of those face chameleon gadgets. That might help the cause." She smirks. "I have always believed that when money and spies are involved, a good tactic is to use money and spies as a countermove. Luckily, we all have both."

"I'd say that I would ask Pepper to look into it," Tony replies dryly, "but I caught her trying to organize an actual op to, as far as I can tell, drop mercenaries on the factory to make sure no one ever found out about the place. I need to have a word with that woman. Seriously, though, SHIELD should have some forensic accountants."
"If we go sauntering in," Tony goes on, clearly assuming he'll have some part in this, "we need to know as much as we can first. Who's in there. If they're present against their will. What sort of face will be let in. Less Berlin, more Occupied France, dig?"

"//What?! Jesus christ," mutters Howard when Tony explains what Pepper was going to do. "Since when does running Stark Industries involve fronting merc teams?" He exhales and goes for the bar, finally. "Going in quietly is the best way to do it. Obviously this is some sort of trap. They must know we're on to this whole business."

"I wasn't at Berlin; it was liberated by the Soviets. But your point is noted, Tony," Steve says. "Do we have any intel so far?" His question about satellite feeds went unanswerd, and for a moment, he's a bit shocked that Tony didn't have some computer program that hopped up at the snap of a finger.

Peggy raises her eyebrows at the news that Pepper was arranging her own op into the factory. "She doesn't have the authority to do so, does she?" She's a CEO of a company, not a member of a government agency. Giving Tony a look, she adds, "I've worked in Occupied France, Tony. And we had far less information going in than I think you believe we had. It was quite an improvisational operation when it was necessary. We never knew when the Nazis were going to raid a safehouse of ours."

Settling her shoulders, she looks to the others. "I say the best chance of us learning exactly what is going on is to send me in. Put me in that mask and let me work my way into the factory. I'll be able to get the intel we need in a few days and then I'll pull out. I'm sure Anatol Erben would be able to give us contacts to use that would give us access to the building - or at least a credible cover."

"I'm sure he could. We just need to talk him into doing that. How much luck have you had in getting through to him?" Tony's looking over his shoulder at Peggy as he says so, but he's fiddling with the holographic display as he does.

"Right, satellites. Coming right up. JARVIS, would you — "
"Pulling up the drone footage now," the disembodied voice replies. It's clearly not Jarvis, but JARVIS has his own pleasant English voice.
"Google Earth. Always watching. Actually, this drone has been on its way to the area while we've been having this conversation. Satellites don't give great images, not as good as this solar-powered baby does. Controls are here and here," he adds helpfully, swirling his hands to create a pair of discs in midair. "You kids have fun."
At the moment, the drone is soaring toward what appears to be an abandoned town. Certainly there are no people there, no one living in the buildings.

When the image comes up on the screen, Howard stands and moves towards it. There's suddenly a rather haunted look in his eyes. He sweeps his hands over his hair. "I know this place," he murmurs. "It's…really fuzzy, but…" He shakes his head, then presses his fingers against his temple. "Goddamnit."
He looks like he's fighting off a bit of a headache, but he forces himself to re-focus. "Is that thing cloaked? Those are surface-to-air." He points at the barest outline of weaponry on the ground. Peggy and Steve will know he's right. The things you learn from war. "Probably means they're expecting you." He looks to Tony.
"Peggy, I don't doubt you can talk your way into anything, but that's really damned risky. That looks like a work camp to me. There's people being held there against their will."

"Get the drone low," Steve says quietly as his eyes never leave the screen when Howard speaks. His hand comes up to grip his lower lip lightly. His mind wanders towards analyzing everything about the images—looking for points of attack. Weaknesses. Anything he can use.

That's not the voice of JARVIS as she knew it the few times she was here. There's a moment of disjointed wonder before she's back focusing on the drone and what it is showing them. As for them having fun, she raises an eyebrow, certainly not able to drive this thing herself, "You seem quite capable of driving yourself. And you're far less likely to draw attention to us as you've used these things quite a bit and I'm still learning the basics of the laptop computer." She's a quick study, but there are a lot of hurdles.

Howard's comment is met with a level stare, "If they are holding people against their will, that only proves how much more necessary it is to move as soon as possible," she tells Howard. "At the very least we will be able to see what we are getting up against. Remote access can only get us so far. Mr. Erben said they were willing to kill to keep the secrets that were inside. That means we need to infiltrate."

While her mind is thinking of the land assault, her look moves to Steve's slightly at his suggestion to lower the drone and get more information.

"Naturally," Tony replies. "This is hardly more than a camera and hummingbird wings. Too small to be caught on radar, and very well-shielded. It's not literally invisible, but…"
He continues to pilot the little drone, frowning as he observes the same features that the others have been pointing out. "Oh yeah, they probably thought I'd just fly right in. I can put two and two together. This needs to be subtle."
He shakes his head a little as he starts a careful perimeter around the building. "They're armed for bear," he murmurs. "I don't like the thought of anyone going in there unarmed. Unless. We really need to talk to Anatol, get his thoughts on how this could be done. If there's local insurgents who just need an edge, partisans… that's what we really need to find out."
A faint smile reaches his face. "And, I mean. If they're expecting Iron Man to show up, it would be a shame to disappoint them."

"What's your cover for entering a sealed camp, Peg? This isn't the type of place that you walk up and ask for a job in." Howard examines the display and frowns.
It's clear from the feed that there's a lot of civilians - anywhere from 50 to 100 judging by the cluster of shelters. That's in line with Erben saying the population of his village is only a few hundred. Subtract those who were killed or who managed to get away, and well…you arrive somewhere around the number who have been pressed into service. The fence surrounding it looks high, and has regular patrols. There are a dozen armed men on the screen right now. Who knows how many more inside?
Howard manipulates the controls. He's never used this particular drone before, but he's one hell of a fast study. The display switches to FLIR. There's a cluster in the centre of the factory that's off the charts. "What the hell is that? Is that kicking off what I think it is?" He looks to Tony for confirmation.

"Well, I was planning for Erben to give us some cover," Peggy tells Howard simply. "He still trusts Tony and if I bring him in on the interrogation, we may get farther. He believes I am merely your yesman, funnily enough." If anyone knew her well enough they'd know the error of that judgement.

As for what the cluster is kicking off, the woman raises an eyebrow, she's not up to date on whatever it is that Tony or Howard is. "Well, is it? And if it is, what is that exactly?"

"That's — "
Smug and smooth as Tony usually looks, there's an expression of stark horror on his face as he stares at the image. He reaches in to zoom, to analyze the pattern of the sudden bloom of radiation shown on the screen.
"That's. How? They must have been going by some really old plans; that design is close to forty years old. And it's not even well-executed. They're running almost without shielding; that's insane."
Tony takes a deep breath: "That's an ARC reactor. An almost unshielded ARC reactor, which means it's giving off some potentially hideous radiation levels in there. Evidently not enough to just cook anyone working in the factory, but that's… let's just say that's not up to OSHA standards."

"That whole factory could go up at any time. Jesus," mutters Howard. He leans his elbows on the counter and stares at the readout. "We gotta get there, and we gotta do it fast. Peg, Tony, if you think you can get something out of Erben, I suggest you do it fast. I'll get to work on something unobtrusive that will shield you from the radiation. I'll also work on some countermeasures for the tech I'm seeing." He points to the screen. "And I'll go back through my Rolodex to see who hates me, has potential SHIELD or Stark Industries access, and a fascination with ARC reactor tech."

Steve places his bottle of Coca-Cola down upon the coffee table, with half the contents still in it. "Thanks for the drink," he says as he pulls himself up to his feet. "Looks like we're going to get going right away. I need to stop by SHIELD and grab some equipment. Where are we leaving from?"

"If it can go up at any time, then we need to move fast," Peggy looks at the three men and stands up with Steve. "Tony and I will talk with Erben tomorrow. Steve, Tony and I will look to touch down within the next few days and infiltrate. I'll go in alone and Tony and Steve will be there as the back up if it is necessary. But, I think a gentle touch is needed. Erben's village went up against this place and were slaughtered. They have enough technology to make an ARC reactor."

She looks to Tony. "It's entirely possible, though, that they got this technology from Erben while he was working with you and he has ben playing us this whole time, however. We must be prepared for that."

Tony starts speaking rapid-fire, counting off on his fingers. He may run out of fingers. "We still have a couple things to do. Peg and I can head down to SHIELD and talk to Anatol, see what we can shake out of him. Steve, I'll park the drone and let you do another scan of the area: you're the best tactician alive, or close to it; you can run the op and make sure it goes off without a hitch. Peggy's probably the best of all of us at blending in, but the rest of us need to be in communication. Given the radiation out there, we might have trouble with the usual comm units. Still, we can improvise…"
Maybe all this doesn't need to be narrated. He hesitates when Peggy comments on Anatol; staring at her a moment, he nods at last. "That man had my back when he had every chance to stab me in it. Maybe he's playing us? I won't discount it. I don't believe it, but…" A wry smile. "Since when have I totally trusted anyone?"
He doesn't look at any of them as he deactivates the holographic console. Lot of nervous energy there. "Let's keep in touch, everyone. Meeting's adjourned."

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