On the End of Things

August 08, 2014:

A meeting in Pepper Potts' Office discusses the end of things.

Pepper Potts' Office

The unofficial center of Stark Industries, this is where anything important gets done.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Fenris had not forgotten the little detail of a certain philosophy bird having dealings with Loki. Well intentioned or not there are some things that are simply too risky to leave at that. So naturally, he came to look in on him later. Mike, it's possible, may be able to handle himself dealing with his father. Pepper Potts on the other hand, she deserves to be warned.

A portal rips open near Jim and Fenris steps out, clapping a hand on his shoulder. "We need to talk," he half growls, hauling him into another portal that opens as the first one closes.

In Pepper Potts office, time and space decide to take a holiday in a spot about three feet in front of her desk. Fenris emerges, accompanied by that feeling of dread that always follows him, hauling Jim by his shoulder.

*

Jim is a robust sort of fellow, to put it nicely. Yet despite that, the handclasp upon his shoulder is authoritative and vigorous. And despite the abrupt nature of the grab by the Loki-child, he finds himself moving to keep pace with the pinnacle predator. He *had* been muttering at himself in the mirror in a bathroom when the dislocation happened, fortunately just washing his hands and splashing some water on his face.

When he finds himself in Pepper's office he panics a bit more than he did with just the presence of the Sun-Eater. He attempts to smooth down his clothes as fast as possible.

*

Pepper Potts is sitting at her desk discussing what look like photography proofs when Fenris and Jim appear in her office rather… abruptly. She startles but manages to keep her reaction to closing her eyes and taking a deep breath for a second before addressing the two men. "Mr. Wolfson. Mr. Reha. This is a … surprise."

*

Sat in a chair opposite Pepper at the desk, the photographer, Dana Maddox-Hunt, turns her head almost the split second the portal opens into the office and deposits the two 'gentlemen'. A soft, eldritch green light glows around her momentarily — an automatic reaction as her shields come up. At the same time, she lays a hand on the desk, the magic crawling over the surface toward Pepper for a brief instance before it all fades to near nothingness as she recognizes the Great Wolf. Her hazel eyes turn toward his companion, however, and she squints involuntarily, her head jerking away briefly.

*

Fenris lets Jim go, turning to see… oh. The Seer is here. "Miss Potts. Dana. Pleased to see you both." Fenris gives a polite little bow. "I apologize for dropping in unannounced but I've been meaning to talk to Jim's… other half. And I believe you should hear this since he's in your employ now."

Jim gets a rather meaningful look.

"I'm given to understand that you've had dealings with the Liesmith?" Jim mentioned as much recently, but it's best to start at the beginning.

*

Jim's reaction is one of utmost terror once he realizes that Pepper is in the office. And the fact that she just used the 'There had better be an AMAZING reason for this' tone of voice. And… that someone else is in the room. How many people need to be around for whatever this talk is going to be about? Jim has a pretty good hunch *what* it is going to be about, but, jeezus, it keeps spawning more and more people at this rate the average person on the street is going to know everything about him!

The strange person at the desk gets his attention as she starts to glow in an eerie fashion then blinks as it fades away. A shout to Pepper seems to be unnecessary, then.

*

To Dana's eyes, there is the weight of epochs from somewhere, even as a disturbing of scene from long ago bubbles forth… some great battle, with a strange winged thing being beaten and nearly destroyed by hundreds of other winged things using strange metal and an over-riding sense of failure at some deep and essential task… then a strange sensation of self re-definition.

Jim, oblivious to the reaction that Dana experiences, takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

"The God of Mischief was not too far away from Stark Tower on the day of the interview and after a seemingly odd series of coincidental events, attempted to engage and enrage The Corvinus — that's the other side there — and Buddha Bird does what it does best. Enlighten and educate. I was trying to get it to leave, honest. That particular deity is really effin' scary and I don't know *WHY* — " The pudgy guy pauses for a moment, tilting his head oddly as if contemplating something. " —oh, fuckin' hell. He was trying to be a 'hero'. Like when I tried to help out with that whole car give-away thing."

Jim's kinda shaking right now. He really doesn't want to lose his job, seriously.

*

Pepper Potts looks from Fenris to Jim, then moves to stand, stepping over to help Jim sit in the nearest chair, the one in front of her desk not currently occupied by Dana. "Jim, I need you to take a deep breath for me." She gives Dana an apologetic look, then looks at Fenris as she asks the shaking man, "Would something to drink help?"

The hand-thrown teapot is there on the credenza, currently holding some mint tea and stylishly dressed in a hand knitted wool cozy whose colors honestly clash rather badly with the teapot's glaze.

*

As the vision of The Corvinus assaults her, the True Seer's hand on the desk flexes and the hand on the arm of the chair squeezes it tightly, her knuckles and fingertips turning white in each case. The witchshield flares around her involuntarily, proving that it has encircled Pepper protectively as well — though it fades from around the redhead as she rises and moves away from touching the desk. The energy swirls and rolls back around the witch. Her eyes glow silvery white, until she closes them, a wisp of ethereal light escaping the corners for just a moment before they scrunch tightly.

As the vision passes, Dana remains still for a moment or two. Her body relaxes, the shield fades, and she takes a slow, steadying breath. She hears Jim's tumbled explanation to Pepper, but it is only when he's finished that she dares to open her eyes again. They remain tight and a little squinty, but at least they're not glowing. She raises a hand to lightly press a pair of fingers between her brows for a brief moment before she rises and steps away from the desk into a more open area of the office.

*

"Old Wolf," she greets Fenris as courteously as she may, under the circumstances, but isn't quite sure what to make of Jim. So, he simply gets a second evaluating, squinty glance instead, before she says dryly to Pepper, "You know, for a temple devoted to technology, you attract a prodigious amount of magic in this place."

*

"Loki is frightening because he is capable of almost anything," Fenris sighs. "Tea, Miss Potts, would be lovely. I apologize for interrupting you and Miss Hunt, though on balance it's good she's here. She might as well know about this."

Turning back to Jim Fenris folds his arms. "What, specifically, did he say to you? What did he want? And did Corvinus agree to do anything for him? I do not think I need to underscore how dangerous Loki's attention can be not only for you… but also for Miss Potts."

Fenris blinks after a moment. Ah, yes. Shaking man. He pours some tea for Jim in an unused cup and hands it to the shaking man. "If that doesn't work we may need to find you something stronger, mmm?"

*

Jim sits down quietly, still trembling a bit. Wait. The boss just told him to sit down and take a deep breath? Huhwah? Well, it sounds like a fabulous idea so he takes first a real quick one, then actually registers a *DEEP* breath by inhaling, then letting it out slowly. He gives a bit of a nod over to the teapot, not really caring *what* is in it at the moment, just the idea of something warm in a teacup to hold onto sounds very comforting right now. Oh, hey, cup of tea in hands. He holds it sort of like a drowning man might hold a thrown line, and sips at it briefly. The shaking subsides a bit and he tries another deep breath. Oh, hey, it seems to be calming him.

"He wanted to build an army, the select best few. Corvinus believes that every life is important because there is something big and bad coming and essentially told Loki that everyone was important, then tossed some koans and some other deep insight at him. It was… please pardon the language… fucking surreal and terrifying at the same time for me? And then he pointed out to Loki that cleaning up stuff welll… that it'd be unpredicable as befits the legendry of his tales? He didn't give specifics of anything he was doing but he agreed to help clean things up. And… well, the fact that he was in the neighborhood… well, that can't be a good thing? I mean, his tales are something about shapeshifting to anything or anyone?"

*

Pepper Potts smiles her thanks to Fenris when he (slowly) gets her silent message and gives Jim some tea to help calm him down. "All right. So, Corvinus had a talk with Loki and somehow convinced him to undo some damage to the city. Well, I'll take that at least as a positive." Stepping back around her desk, Pepper opens a drawer and pulls out a smallish gift-wrapped box that she slides over toward Rune with a small shrug and nod at her comment about the Tower attracting so much magic. "Happy early birthday," she tells Dana softly, before turning her attention back to the men.

"This army discussion, though, that is definitely something to be concerned about. Since he's already got a line of communication open with Loki, would it be possible to ask Corvinus to try and find out who else Loki already has on his list of 'army' people? I have a feeling this might turn into a recruitment race."

*

Rune dealt with Loki once. Once. And indirectly, for the most part. She's not keen on facing off against more 'gods' of any sort. She has enough hassle with the Celtic pantheon in the guise of the Sidhe. Thus, as the conversation very obviously turns to talk of recruiting armies, she can't help but frown.

However, as Pepper passes her the small box, a brow arches quizzically, but she takes it regardless. "Thank you?" Her birthday isn't until next Spring.

Bringing her attention back to the matter at hand, however, she cants a head slightly to one side and reaches out her fingers to curl them loosely into the fur of an invisible dog. "I feel like I'm missing something, here."

*

Fenris sighs and finds himself a seat on the couch. "Let me try to clarify Miss Hunt. Jim, here, has a rider. That rider engaged Loki which gained his attention which is both silly and dangerous. I wish to know what he's up to so that I know if I have to be worried about it. It sounds like I do. I thought Pepper should know because being connected to Jim and prominent herself, the association might put her at risk."

*

Jim starts to relax, calm even.

Well, until Pepper starts raising the idea of Corvinus going to talk to Loki again.

"Corvinus would love the challenge. It needs to help people gain Enlightenment. I really don't think it's a good idea at all? I mean, uh, This fellah that you want to spy on is one of the greatest spies ever. He'd see through such a thing in a heartbeat, right?" That is punctuated by a glance to Fenris for a moment before the portly guy glances back once more. "Do you all really want it up top right now? At least to get perhaps a less muddy idea? And… if that happens, can we kill the cameras for that? Less recordings, less chance of word getting out I mean."

At the mention of 'a rider' Jim shakes his head. "Not so much a rider and mount sort of relationship as some sort of bizarre symbiosis? We're equal partners, as much as that can apply?"
*

Pepper Potts looks at Fenris and Dana for a moment, then nods. "JARVIS, could you please set my office to that same privacy mode I know Tony uses in his workshop when he doesn't want me to know what he's working on?"

The AI's response is, if it's possible for a computer system to have emotions, is amusedly sarcastic. "Of course, Miss Potts. Privacy mode activated."

"Thank you, JARVIS." Pepper then looks at Jim again.

*

Dana slips the giftbox into her satchel and cants her head as she regards Fenris. "I brushed up against Loki, once. Nearly burned for it. I'm not keen on repeating the experience." A beat. She looks at Jim, squinting again. "Your 'Other' is older than the Great Wolf," she notes. "That's… impressive." 'Frightening' would be a better word, but she learned long ago not to show fear, if she can avoid it. And she's very good at avoiding it. "If you're equal partners, how closely are your personal goals and attitudes aligned?" She suspects not quite as closely as they could be.

*

"Corvinus insists that he'd otherwise spend a long time getting Jim to the point he's at with other hosts." Clearly Fenris isn't quite happy with that since it suggests a bit of subtle coercion. Or just… endless 'enlightenment.' "And I do not blame you for being wary on the topic. That's only good sense. It's part of the reason I thought to have this conversation to begin with."

*

Jim glances to Pepper and nods. "Thank you, Mister JARVIS." Hey, even though he hasn't met the guy yet, doesn't mean he can't be polite to him, right?

He peers at Dana. "The best way to describe that would be… 'complicated.' But you'll get your chance in just a moment to ask it yourself." Jim stands up and stretches a bit before nodding to nothing in particular.

It isn't a painful transition, though it looks like it should hurt, as limbs sprawl out of the fellow then become wings, then various other features reshape and reform. The obsidian bird-thing cracks its neck, then fans one wing then the other as if stretching from a long nap.

"This one does not understand the fear of the sentient in question. He was most polite, observant, and respectful in conversation and action, despite his reputation… ill-earned or not."

It pauses for a moment, then bounces a bit, clapping almost as if party to a joke that only it could understand.

"This one respects those who learn from their mistakes, and seek not to repeat them." What's gotten into it? "Ahem. This one apologizes. This one is Corvinus… or The Corvinus if one were to be formal. What might one wish to inquire of this one? This one was in a rest state when prompted by Jim."

*

"Certainly, Mr. Reha," JARVIS says, and then the speakers go rather conspicuously quiet.

Pepper watches the transformation with a fair bit of fascination, then tries to reply to the avianoid's inquiries. "Corvinus, hello, and thank you for agreeing to speak with us. We were wanting to know a bit more about the conversation you had with the individual named Loki. He has proven to be … somewhat mercurial in the past, and we worry that this tendency will result in him doing more harm than good, regardless of whether or not it is intentional." She glances to Fenris and then Dana to see if she explained that well enough.

"Oh, and I am Pepper Potts, this is Dana Hunt, and you know Fenris already, yes?"

*

Dana inclines her head lightly to the bird thing, her eyes half-lidded during his transformation to avoid the disorientation the shifting of «shadows» brings her. She moves towards one of the windows, now, eyes sweeping the sills and frames — particularly the corners. Apparently satisfied, she turns and leans back against a bit of wall beside a window. Rex, a rather large, white hellhound, moves invisibly with her, his as yet intangible body between her and the others.

She gives Pepper a minute half-shrug at her explanation. It's good enough as far as she's concerned, given her limited knowledge. Fenris may be more particular. She'll let them take the lead. Her thoughts dwell, instead, on the incredible pooch screw that would result if Loki and Maeve ever decided to get together…

*

The god-wolf makes a sour face. "Some of it will be intentional. Not all of it. He's… inconstant, though I would not say mercurial. All of what he does is with a purpose. Though what his purpose is in recruiting an army, I could not say save that he is not the kind to collect things that he does not use."

*

The avianoid twists its head back and forth as it appraises the individuals in the room, then considers Pepper. "This one is always eager to aid those who would seek Enlightenment, in whatever form they may seek. Said sentient in question stated that his intended mission was to cull the weak and useless from the population, that the remaining would be a 'stronger, more resilient army'. This one respectfully and politely countered with the inalienable resilience of the whole of Humanity, in that in weakness there is strength. This one also noted the paradox of attempting to cull for an unknown quality, namely that by seeking one form of strength, many others might be lost."

The bird-thing pauses momentarily for that to sink in. "Both he and this one have seen Storms coming. His was not the same as this one's, but nonetheless, it would appear that he was preparing for it by having a force to array against it. He inquired as to whether the times make the Man, or the Man makes the times, to which this one noted it was a false equivalency and that to remove one or the other would incur a paradox. A 'chicken and the egg', as it were."

*

Storms. Interesting. "I agree with your assessment, Corvinus. Culling those whom a single person feels is not useful is … well, in my opinion, it is evil, even if the underlying intentions are good. Would you perhaps know of any other individuals that Loki has contacted to invite to join his 'army'? I want to make sure that he is not promising falsehoods to these others."

Pepper sees that Dana is still struggling with Corvinus' appearance and touches her elbow lightly. "You should open that gift," she offers in a near-whisper.

*

Dana frowns faintly at Corvinus' words. "There are always Storms coming," the Seer notes. "I've «seen» more than my fair share of them, recently." Some of them particularly horrific, though she doesn't mention it. "Loki is of Asgard. That means Norse mythology," which she silently concedes may or may not be accurate in this case, "so I imagine the biggest Storm he'd prepare for is Ragnarok. But, I'm not up enough on my Norse mythology —" she eyes Fenris a moment, — "Prophecy, if you prefer, to know how close we are to that. I think if we were very near to it, I'd have «seen» something about it by now. But, most of the world-ending visions I've had lately have more to do with demons marching out of hell and turning the world into their personal barbecue smorgasbord than world devouring serpents."

She arches a brow lightly at Pepper's suggestion and slides a hand into the satchel to retrieve the gift box, plucking at its wrapping with her fingers as she splits some of her attention from the others. It just seems to her that they need to know more about just why Loki wants this army, before they go jumping to conclusions. And for that matter, she's still not sure it's a fight she wants to engage, herself.

*

From the door to the office comes a low knock knock knock. On the other side stands a man with a horrifically scarred face, in a black suit, with a small CIA style earpiece who happens to go by the name Jason Lucky. By the looks he's rather calmly holding a large tray of various drinks, coffee, tea, what have you. He knew full well no one had asked for something to drink, but hey, even business tycoons need a drink every once in a while, and he wasn't really doing much of anything, other then trying his best not to go to sleep. Jason looks about as muscular as ever, but at least he doesn't look as angry as he normally does, his face more just a sort of flat scowl of a resting face.

*

Fenris turns to look at the newcomer. "Ah. Lucky." A more sadly misnamed man there never was. "Apologies for dropping by unannounced. We were simply questioning the Philosophy Bird here." Yes, that is Corvinus' new name.

*

"Loki is likely to attempt to 'recruit' me. Out of some sense for how useful I could be of misguided family sentiment I'm not sure, but I am fairly confident on that point. Beyond that? Well, he is very persuasive. Certainly this project of his bears some looking over."

"Evil and good are moral terms applied by a limited frame of perspective in the picture of space-time. Arguably, this one may be 'evil' by attempting to save as many as possible. Contrarily, the Mischief God may be 'good' for attempting to find a solution in a way that involves a minimum number of sentients. No absolute should ever exist, though certain actions against one's fellow sentients defy even this one's ability to comprehend. Is it not true that this nation incinerated several metroplexes to end a war? That aside, there were no specifics mentioned. However, a recent assessment of local resources indicates that there are several prime locations for individuals who may feel they are disenfranchised and/or powerless to create a change in the 'status quo', and as a result may be more willing to at least consider options that a greater entity might consider insane. This one would also humbly submit that these are areas which are already in public knowledge, yet little is done about them. Without opportunity, repressed entities revolt."

It peers at Dana briefly, then squints. "This one did make a reference to Jormungandr's awakening, but it did not evoke the sort of response that this one anticipated. Probability of the significant End Event is low in whatever scenario is currently in play. This one is willing to be of service to deal with such entities as would seek to eliminate the defenders of this world. All will be needed soon enough." It doesn't mention that 'soon' for it can sometimes be measured in centuries or millennia.

When 'Lucky' arrives the bird-thing spins a bit and nods to the new arrival.. "This one may resemble such a comment, but this one is The Corvinus. This one is not a terrestrial avian by any definition of the term. And this one would caution at the behest of one's partner that one realize that any such overture is perhaps already foreseen and calculated for. The term… 'Xanatos Speed Chess' is unfamiliar to this one, but seems to have much bearing for this one's partner."

It takes a skipping hop back to keep the entire room in view, yet its stance is relaxed as it assesses the room.

*

There's a chair in the corner under the wall-mounted TV set that has an excellent view of the entire room. Just don't get feathers all over it.

"Well, I suspect that it's still too early yet to really tell which way the bones will fall, but, Corvinus, would you perhaps be willing to continue to share with us any information you might glean from Loki about his intentions and contacts? That would aid us greatly in making sure his efforts do not severely unbalance matters."

*

When Lucky enters the room, Pepper offers him a smile and nods to the small conference table closer to the door for him to set down the tray of beverages. "And Jason proves my lack of manners. Would anyone care for a beverage?" She knows that one of those was already slated for Dana, why the recently hired bodyguard volunteered to go and fetch the beverages.

*

Dana takes the lid off the gift box and looks inside. She adopts a quizzical expression and glances briefly to Pepper, lifting out a light pair of glasses and looking at them. At least the frames are copper and not steel. She glances to the security guard as he arrives with the tray of beverages, but opens the glasses and peers through them. A brow arches again. She puts the glasses on and regards Fenris for a moment. Then, her head tilts down slightly and she peers over the top of them. "Huhn," she grunts thoughtfully, apparently impressed somewhat as she nods her head up and down a couple of times to switch between looking through the glasses and looking over them. A small smile touches her lips. "Thanks," she says softly to Pepper.

*

At a decent clip Lucky sits down the tray of drinks where he's directed taking a quick look around at the various faces in the room. Once he's sure the tray won't tip, he grabs his own mug, filled to the brim with pitch black boiling coffee. He's never been one for cream or sugar, but he loves his coffee by the looks. Taking a few steps back from the tray he remains silent trying to figure out what people happen to be talking about at the moment.

*

Fenris is momentarily distracted from his mild brooding by Dana peeking repeatedly over the top of her glasses. Then he smiles a little, likely able to guess exactly what they do. "A rather thoughtful gift," He murmurs before returning. "Loki is not evil, I'd agree. Not innately. He's too chaotic to be pinned down. However, on this realm as on Asgard, chaos is destructive in the extreme and from that point of view he may be safely regarded as evil insofar as he spawns destruction but does not rebuild. And he is not, I might add, sane. Not in the traditional sense anyway and so dealings with him must be approached from that perspective."

*

The bird-thing hops up onto the chair with the lightness of a feather, yet none are molted as it orients itself upon it.

"This one is willing to keep an ear out, but makes no guarantees. The probability of actively encountering the God of Mischief in full awareness of his presence is in the single percentiles. This one also was politely warning said entity that should the line be crossed and he begins assaulting citizens of this world, there will be proper and due force brought against him. He may have missed that point."

"This one will respectfully decline the offer of a beverage. We need to be very mindful of what we consume. Though, Clever Miss Potts, this one notes it was well and wise of one to have a pot of tea. It tends to be very therapeutic and relaxing."

The Corvinus peers at Jason. Is the human ignoring him, is he hiding better than one might think for being in plain sight, or is there some other matter at hand. It is not complaining, however.

It tilts its head at the comment about Loki and chaos. "This one would humbly submit that from chaos comes order and from order comes chaos. It is from such insight that wisdom springs. And perhaps that is why we were en rapport."

*

Pepper Potts stands as soon as Corvinus has settled himself in that chair and Lucky has claimed his coffee, and picks up another of the beverages to offer Dana with a smile and a nod to her thanks for the glasses before claiming another beverage for herself. "I am in the habit of always keeping tea close at hand, Corvinus. The vagaries of my job somewhat demand the ability to stop and calm myself with almost frightening regularity."

Pepper sets her drink on her desk then turns and fishes a bottle of very nice scotch out of the credenza along with a crystal tumbler that receives a few ice cubes before she carries both over to Fenris. He didn't ask, but she figures if he had, that's what he'd want. "Keeping an ear out is really all we can ask of you, and I do very much appreciate that you are willing to do that much for us." She returns to her chair at her desk, looks at Jason, then pointedly moves her gaze from the bodyguard to one of the chairs at the conference table. Sit.

*

Again, Dana gives Pepper a soft word of thanks as she takes the cup from her. But, at this point, she's fallen silent. She moves, however, and finds another seat, more out of the way. The bodyguard, she notes, treats the people in the room much as Maeve's bodyguards do — with remarkable impassivity… particularly where the 'oddities' are concerned. She makes a mental note to ask her friend about him, later. Beyond that, however, there is little she feels immediate need to add to the conversation, herself. Not at this given moment, at least. Thus, she sips her tea lightly, still occasionally adjusting her head to get used to the glasses on her nose.

*

Jason offers a low nod in the direction of pepper taking another sip of his coffee, before taking the hint that he should be sitting down. The moment that he's sat down it's a bit more clear that this man is armed to the teeth, his self defense tools not as well hidden from the sitting position. Why he's so heavily armed is anyone's guess, but he offers a low nod to each person at the table, not really looking too fussed about how any one person looks or acts. His sole concern is making sure that no one gets violent.

*

Fenris himself leans back. "I do not believe you understand Loki. His is not a cycle. Just Chaos. There is a reason he was not well regarded back home. Well, that and he's often prone to stretching the truth whatever matter is at hand."

*

"This one sees in some ways a kindred sentient in Loki. However, his matter and approach are self-contained, whereas this one's outreach is to everyone pending time permitting. And the veracity of statements that are unfounded should always be verified."

*

Pepper Potts nods to Jason and offers Run an apologetic smile as their meeting was kind of taken over by, well, the convention of crazies, it seems sometimes. "So I've gathered, Fenris, and why I think finding out more about what he's doing can only benefit us, as potentially unreliable as the information might be." She nods to Corvinus. "I am a believer in verification as well." She kind of has to be, with the job she's in.

*

All this talk of gods and army's is lost on Jason who just seems content to chug back his slowly boiling cup of coffee. There's no better way for him to keep from going to sleep then to just fill his veins completely with noting but coffee. He looks over towards people as they talk to try at the least to look like he understands what's going on, and while he sort of gets the picture in reality he could not be more lost if he tried.

*

Fenris nods and rises. "Very good. I'll look in on you all later then. Jim, if you require transportation back to where you are I'll take you, otherwise it was nice seeing you all." So saying the Old Wolf opens a portal, herds any passengers through it that wish to vacate Pepper's Office, and departs.

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