Power Supplies and Leylines

March 19, 2015:

Simmons visits Stark Industries and gets the low down from Jim Reha.

Stark Industries - New York City


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Thursdays around Stark Tower are usually about as sedate as a work day can get… so long as things are not venturing out of the ordinary. And so far this week, things HAVE been staying in the ordinary for the most part. Of course, the longer things go on without incident, the more Pepper worries. Because the quieter things are, the worse they're bound to go wrong.

"Cricket, have you heard back from the office in Malaysia yet?"

Dr Jemma Simmons, biochemist and SHIELD agent, has been tasked by Agent May to find and locate one Mr Jim Reha and talk about power supplies, Metropolis and translocation.

Simmons, as directed by Agent May, has headed straight for Stark Industries and is entering the building now. Dressed in a tailored skirt, blouse and jacket, some may not pick her for the scientist she is. Walking to the reception desk, Jemma smiles "Good morning, I was wondering if I could speak to a Mr Reha."

Cricket comes in from her adjoining office when she is called. She holds up a finger, looking off into the middle distance but not really seeing anything. She is speaking Malaysian as she walks over with her tablet, typing something in english for Pepper. "They are saying the delivery will be delayed by 4 days due to the incident in the Pacific." She tilts her head to one side as the cameras throughout the building alert her to all the comings and goings of the building. She and JARVIS work together to make this building as secure as possible. "Ms. Potts, a SHIELD agent is in the building," she tells her boss, remembering Jemma from the mission in Greenland.

Jim has been laying rather low for the past few days in the guest quarters. He hasn't had a chance to talk to Pepper about his little 'field trip' to the Hall of Justice to let her know what he was trying to do to help the winged woman that was hunting him just a few short weeks ago, and after the airborne fiasco with what seemed to be half of Metropolis' flying heros — and turned out to be a couple — he's just been the typically good worker that he is, not straying, not pushing any sort of limit.

Ever have a kid or pet that knows they've done something wrong, but they have a good though obscure reason for not wanting to 'fess up? Yeah, it's kind of like that. If there's one bright side to it, Jim tends to be right out in the open and not hide or prevaricate when he's screwed up something, unlike some other noteworthy people that Pepper watches out for…

He's over in QA right now, going over the latest feedback on the last Starkphone patch, making huge red marks with a Sharpie on certain customer complaints.

"Phone shut off in middle of call, refused to reboot"

"Tech Support offered to buy new phone, no explanation."

He grumbles a bit as he makes the circles, putting friendly words like 'WHY?" and "WHO WAS THIS?" in the margins.

He's not a manager, but part of his job IS Quality Assurance, and this most definitely doesn't help improve the Quality or Assure it…

Pepper Potts breathes out slowly at the news that Cricket shares with her about Malaysia then nods. Not much they can do about that, really, so best to just accept it and be patient. But then there's mention of a SHIELD agent in the lobby and that makes her look up at Cricket sharply. "There is? Who is it?" She's now really really hoping it isn't that surly man with the eyepatch.

So as not to be rude to Malaysia, Cricket just connects to the tablet in front of Pepper with her mind and keeps talking on the phone. On the screen pops up the images that were stored of Jemma from the trip to Greenland, as well as all files that she and JARVIS have on Ms. Simmons. Her tone of voice with the Malaysia department one of eternal patience.

"Did you have an appointment? And your name please." The receptionist looks up at Jemma's request.

"Ah well, no, I didn't. And I'm Dr Jemma Simmons." A polite smile, as the biochem begins to look a little flustered.

On the receptionist's screen, a quick message blips onto it saying that if a Dr. Simmons should arrive today to send her straight up to the executive floor and directly to Ms. Potts office. "Oh.. here you are. You do have an appointment. Take the last elevator on your right. It will take you straight to the CEO's floor. Have a lovely day.

Just as the receptionist is getting that message, Jim too is getting a message flashing on his screen. "Please direct yourself to Ms. Potts office at your earliest convenience. Ms. Schodt." Ooooh. Message directly from the CEO's PA hacked onto his computer. Earliest convenience must actually mean now.

Blinking a little in surprise and thanking the receptionist "Oh, someone must have rung ahead. Thank you." Simmons takes the elevator as directed. Waiting patiently till it reaches the CEO's floor.

The portly fellow isn't aware of any other reason why Pepper would want to see him other than him sneaking out. Or the Corvinus and its flight issues over Metropolis. Still. When he gets an email saying 'earliest convenience' from Pepper's assistant? Well, that must mean he REALLY messed up. Because Pepper didn't even call him.

Ah hell. I'm screwed.

He's starting to compose his resignation letter as he steps into the stairwell — just because it means 'now' doesn't mean 'yesterday' and well, it's only a couple of floors. It'd probably take him as long to wait for the elevator…

Cricket finishes her phone call and turns to Pepper. "The SHIELD agent is here to see Mr. Reha, and both of them are on their way up here as we speak. I suppose I should have told Jim what he is being sent up here for. I wonder if he thinks you are about to fire him?"

Pepper Potts looks at her tablet's screen, quickly tapping over to a security feed (yes, something she asked JARVIS for, even if it drives the head of security nuts), and after looking at Jemma for a moment she gives Cricket a mock frown. "Stop doing what I want before I think of it myself." She then smiles amusedly and stands to quickly start a pot of tea, Jim's favorite blend. And no, she doesn't need help, she can wrangle a teapot just fine. "How quickly can you end that call, Cricket? I'd like it if you were close by while that SHIELD agent is here. Just in case." It's not that she thinks badly of Jemma per se, it's just that with all of the stuff Jim's been through lately, she's become a little protective of the man. And the bird too, to be honest.

Cricket chuckles softly. "The phone call with Malaysia is finished. And just in time too. I am fully at your disposal." She picks up her tablet again and flips through some more of her work. Paperwork that needs Pepper's thumbprint is layered on the screen, ready for her when she can get to it. "Dr. Simmons, from my previous experience with her, is not a hostile force. She is more about the science. Her mind would be most intriguing if her focus wasn't on biology."

The elevator opens out onto the CEO's floor and Simmons steps out, pausing as she looks around. Seeing another desk, Simmons steps up to it "Hello, I'm Dr Jemma Simmons, I got directed to this floor."

The salt and pepper'd fellow makes his way out of the stairwell door and into the small atrium, adjusting his shirt and tie, attempting to smooth them out as best as possible while taking a few deep breaths. I'm going to face this standing straight and let the chips fall where they may.

It's probably for the best that he doesn't know of the collision of folks being masterminded by Cricket.

He glances at 'Doctor Jemma Simmons' and immediately his brain sort of goes to mush. Not because he knows her… but did Pepper bring this physician in to verify that he'd recovered from being shot? Or is it the exit physical? Million thoughts going through his mind, and not a one of them related to worthwhile issues at the moment…

Pepper Potts nods to Cricket to greet Dr. Simmons and let Jim in while she finishes getting the tea ready and steps back over to her desk to lock her computer and tablet. Thus, when Jim sees her, she's standing at her desk instead of sitting and seems a bit rushed. "Jim, hello. Come in."

Cricket smiles to Jim when he comes over to the CEO's office. She likes him, and the Corvus that resides in him. When she had JARVIS living inside her head, he seemed to understand what she was going through. She stands at the open door and ushers them into the expansive office suite.

Recognising Cricket, Jemma smiles and let's herself be ushered inside. "A pleasure to meet you again, Cricket. I do hope all is well?" Looking at the redheaded CEO, Simmons appears a little uncomfortable.

Jim enters the room slowly, carefully. Yes, he's got some things on his mind. He makes his way into the office while setting his tablet to a 'secure' mode. He doesn't recognize the scientist from a hole in a wall, but he will give her a polite nod and clears his throat.

"You, ah, wanted to see me, Pepper?" If there was ONE saving grace about working for Miss Potts, it was that the informality of using her name was the surefire way to signal that nothing was amiss, and he did not want to advertise the risk he took heading down to Metropolis the other day. His eyes glance over the tea set curiously, before returning to his boss.

Pepper Potts smiles as Jim and then Dr. Simmons and Cricket enter her office. She gestures for all of them to sit at the small conference table with the steeping teapot in the center. "Please everyone, have a seat. Jim, Dr. Simmons asked to speak with you, and I thought this might be a better venue than in your cubicle."

Cricket nods her head to Jemma. "It is good to see you again as well. You seem well, I detect no illness or injuries. I hope Dr. Fitz is also doing well. He never did call me back after Greenland." She walks into the office gracefully and makes herself comfortable. She keeps herself unobtrusive, her fingers quickly typing away on her tablet.

Simmons, still looking a little uncomfortable, takes a seat at the conference table. "Last time I saw Dr Fitz, he was well, Cricket." She smiles a little "I'll be sure to chide him for not calling you."

Looking to Pepper, the young biochemist, looks a little lost "Thank, ummm, Miss Potts. I did wish to speak to Mr Reha. Agent May asked me to drop by, in fact." Glancing to the only other person in the room, the scientist bobs her head "I'm Dr Jemma Simmons, I take it your Mr Reha?"

The words are mouthed to Pepper and Cricket as Dr. Simmons sits down. "Doctor Simmons?" as he raises both palms up briefly, a look of confusion on his face as he moves his hands to the chair, waiting for Pepper and Cricket to sit before he does. Who says Chivalry is dead? He gives what is his best effort at a winning smile.

"Well, Doctor, I'm Jim Reha, what can we ah, do for you here at ah, Stark Industries?"

It's very much a mystery to him, and one that isn't doing any great shakes for his confidence. On the plus side, it doesn't seem to be termination proceedings. He thinks. "Or in particular, what can I help you with?"

Doctors show up out of nowhere asking questions that apparently he can only answer? Mind. Blown. He's not used to that kind of attention!

Pepper Potts settles into her chair, then reaches to pour the tea, filling four cups without asking. There are small cream and sugar dishes already waiting on the table. "I don't think I've ever met Agent May."

"Agent Melinda May, I'll have her dossier on your tablet in just a moment, Ms. Potts," says the over efficient personal assistant. She takes a moment to glance over to Jim and give him another comforting smile. If the doctor has any plans on poking her friend to find out what makes him tick, she'll come to his defense. After all, she's only wearing a Liz Claiborne outfit today. If one is going to ruin a designer outfit in defense of their friends, at least it's not a high end designer.

"No, you haven't, Miss Potts." Simmons starts to relax a little and directs her next comments to Jim "Mr Trent suggested that you might be able to help us." She shrugs a little, unsure of how much to reveal but May had said 'get in contact with' and that's what she was doing.

"We understand that you discovered something different in the Metropolis power grid and that it may be connected to ley lines." The scientist looks extremely uncomfortable discussing magic. "We've reason to believe that it's construction may have a use." she shrugs once more as she looks around the table "Agent May was wondering if you could share your understanding of it's construction. It is a matter of import."

Cricket perks up with interest when Jericho's name is mentioned. "Oh, you were sent here by Dr. Trent? I'm certain that if you were sent here by him that you are definately in the right hands." Magic usually has very little interest in the android, but she listens attentively all the same, if for no other reason then to be able to repeat everything back should it be required

Jim will wait quietly for his tea. Well, at least there's that portion of this meeting. And Pepper was willing to have tea with him, so it's highly unlikely he's being fired…

The assessment of Cricket's wardrobe defining her action parameters probably would have made him laugh, if the situation didn't seem somewhat serious but not firing-serious. He glances over to the visiting scientist thoughtfully, trying to gauge what it is she needs to ask about.

Oh, hey. Another scientist looking into ley lines! This… should be a bit easier than he thought, then. The portly fellow smiles to Doctor Simmons. He makes a few adjustments to the tablet he was carrying to access the files he'd scanned in and then compiled with a 3-D modeling program during his off-time.

"Pepper, do you have a projector or screen I can put this to so I can show a bit more detail? It beats the pants off of that clipboard."

While Pepper and possibly Cricket work on that side of matters, Jim offers a bit of a preamble.

"Imagine a system in place that follows not the traditional wiring diagram of a given place, but instead the 'magic' flows of one. Simple enough to consider, it's just another type of energy, different sort of circuit, slightly different rules. Now imagine that someone had managed to create a near-perfect copy of it with traditional energy service and supply means. Normally, magic and traditional power grids get on about as well as oil and water… BUT… under the right circumstances, they could be used to harness each other in a mutually supportive network. This wouldn't be such a matter in an ideal system…"

He trails off as he stands up and walks to hopefully what is the screen while pulling a couple of things up on the tablet, keeping an eye on his audience as he does so.

Oh, Jericho referred Dr. Simmons to Jim? Pepper's demeanor changes almost the instant the biochem utters Trent's name, and she nods to Cricket to help Jim however he needs to display the data he has.

Standing up as soon as Jim makes his requests, a screen starts to emerge from the ceiling. She heads into her office and comes out soon with a projector that can be attached to a laptop or tablet for ease of use.

Simmons has to smile as Jericho's name unlocks 'doors' so to speak. As Jim begins to speak, she pays attention, nodding as he explains. "What do you mean, that it wouldn't be such a matter in an ideal system?" She's really trying to suspend her disbelief and understand how magic and technology could be combined.

While not quite the same reaction as Pepper's, Jim does give a bit of a nod as he realizes that Jericho was mentioned as well. Guy definitely turns up in the most distinct of places… and he's a lot handier than their first meeting would have implied. A few files are put onto the holographic projector via the tablet, and then the portly fellow begins opening them, slowly, so Jemma can see. The most simplistic of the old power grid designs was Metropolis, at least initially, and it is then shown in a side - by - side with the ley line maps. Even an inexperienced eye in terms of magic yet skilled in pattern recognition can see that the designs… are very close to each other, somewhere in the 90th percentile of overlap. To provide a contrast, he then pulls up Gotham, which has about a fifty percent overlap, and New York City, which is about sixty - five percent overlap. He then turns each of these so they can be seen from 'the side'. This was something he wasn't able to impart before, but is much more obvious now.

"With all three of these grids combined, it seems to be some sort of 'magic slush fund/storage pool', for lack of a better term." He pauses to make sure he hasn't completely lost his audience.

"The thing that made me hit a wall and set this to a back - burner was the fact that I couldn't find or figure out *what* this amount of power would be used for. We're talking a… significant amount of juice here. Especially after we got some hints with the terror attacks a couple of months ago. The thing is theoretically capable of 'running away' with the power put into it, but… due to the inefficiencies here — " He points to various sections of Gotham " — and here — " Likewise with New York " — it appears that any overflow would be shunted into alternate locations. Whoever designed this or put it into place has been working a long time on it, and they've been building for some singular event. Now, Doctor, you were saying a matter of import — do you have an idea of what the thing might be used for?"

He hopes his explanation wasn't too esoteric, and practical enough for the scientist to understand.

Standing there, Cricket crosses her arms as she cants her head to the side, looking at the holographic display. Her brow furrows as she starts working out calculations that would take a bank of computers. Her mainframe back in her penthouse apartment is working overtime, whirring in the empty room.

"Well, if the people making this are doing so for altruistic purposes, it could easily power the entire state. It makes the arc reactors look like…. well, Mr. Stark wouldn't like me saying it, but it makes his reactors look like a child playing with fire."

Pepper Potts studies the images much like Cricket does, though she's not crunching data. She's simply studying the shapes. And, yes, the thought of how much power is stored there is frankly disturbing.

Jim points at his nose then to Cricket. He must have gotten that habit from Constantine at some point.

"Okay. Now that's the conventional power. If you add in the mystical component on the 'other side' which is a different scale and method, we're talking about the sort of theoretical things that could sink large islands or rip controlled holes in space - time… or other planes. And someone was trying to do exactly that using a horrible mix of blood and hermetic magics along with witchcraft, almost like they were cherry-picking for the most power output in the shortest time period."

He glances over at the scientist to see if she has an idea of what this might be used for…

Simmons is sitting forward, looking as Jim builds that model and speaks. The others in the room forgotten as she takes it all in. Her eyes widen as each part of the map is revealed and she begins worrying her bottom lip as Jim asks that question.

Glancing around the table, Simmons considers. It's not really a SHIELD project, it's something that Jericho bought to them… Taking a deep breath and blowing it out slowly, the biochem looks to the others one at a time "A question of you first, then I'll see if I can explain it. I'm sure Mr Trent won't mind me doing so. Does the term 'Dimensional Translocation' mean anything to any of you?"

With her brow still furrowed, Cricket frowns. "If I'm correct, if just the slightest thing goes wrong with this system, it could split the very planet in two." She looks over to Reha with a brow quirked. Magic is definitely not her forte and a lot of magic doesn't like math. Cricket loves the magic that does like math. It makes sense. When Dr. Simmons asks her own question, Cricket's eyes go wide. "Sending this planet somewhere else? Or bringing something here?"

"This is where science and magic overlap in a little place we call 'No Man's Land'." Jim notes to Simmons as he pulls up what looks like a hypercube roughly modeled. "Bear in mind, I'm not an actual practicioner, so if you find one, they might be able to give you a better idea. But imagine for a second that we're on this tine of this axis… we'll call it 't' for time. And then you wanted to shift from this spot — " he pauses then points to a different axis that is really hard to model in three dimensions. " — That's effectively your translocation. It's a two-way equation, so whatever gets sent there would conversely replace what gets sent here. The only problem is, you need some sort of resource to attenuate the power flow. If you don't have something equivalent to the control rods of a nuclear reactor, then you either can't start it in the first place, or can't stop it once it gets started. Neither one of these is a desirable result on either side of the equation. If I had to venture a wild ass guess, I'd say a good two thirds of all this juice is used on *containment* and the other third on whatever is actually being done. But you need a controller, you need a way to manipulate that controller, and you need the item that would cause this to happen. And you'd probably end up with peturbations of space - time along the side, as well, from the residuals…

Simmons nods slowly to Cricket and then looks to Jim "That's a good description, Mr Reha. As Mr Trent explained it to me 'they take a chunk of our reality and swap it for something else'." Blowing out another breath, the young scientist grimaces slightly "The reason I was sent to ask about the power grid in Metropolis is that Mr Trent believes he's found a use for it. Dimensional Translocation, in fact." She won't mention HYDRA or anything else at this point, she was told to speak to Jim.

Jim takes out a USB drive from his pocket and plugs it into his tablet, copying the files he's presented today as well as several files worth of Basic Occult Study 101 as they pertain to the topic before walking over and handing it to Simmons. "If Mister Trent sent you, this is important enough to be getting out there. Make sure that this information gets to at least another three people that you trust implicitly, and dump one in a computer somewhere that you never use but you have tabs on. Mister Trent knows how to reach me, though just ask him not to show up oh-dark hundred style, okay?"

Does Jim seem a bit relieved at this meeting? Why yes, very much so…

"That sounds… very bad." Pepper looks at the holo images for another moment. "Is there anything we can do to, I don't know, bleed that power away safely so it's not there when the bad giys want to use it?" Pepper's rubbing at her forehead with one hand, a gesture that those who know her well enough recognize as a gesture of mild frustration.

Cricket says, "Do I dare ask what he is thinking of doing with the power?" She looks to Jemma, fairly certain that she won't be able to get a direct answer. SHIELD isn't about direct answers. Luckily, she can ask Dr. Trent and find out that way."

Taking the offered thumbdrive, Simmons nods carefully. "I will distribute these, thank you Mr Reha. And I'll be sure to pass that message on."

Crickets' question gets a wan smile "It's not Mr Trent who will be using it, Cricket. He knows who and why and I believe this gives us 'where'. But," a slightly warmer smile "I'm not at liberty to share at the moment."

Looking over to Pepper, Simmons shrugs a little "I'm a BioChemist with a small knack for technology. That's not a question I'm can even begin answering." Sighing, Simmons looks around the room again "I really must thank you all for the meeting and being so forthcoming, I'm just sorry that I can't share more with you just yet. I will…" beat "ask Mr Trent to brief you all though, it is his project."

Jim gives Pepper a grim glance. "The problem is that right now the energy you'd be drawing away is also what's keeping Metropolis lit. You'd be returning the city back to the way it was a couple of months ago. On the plus side, it's not winter, but on the down side… well, you remember what it was like then. Pepper, If Mister Trent knows what it's being used for, then we can build a means to do exactly what you're talking about, by 'fooling' the system into 'dumping' the excess energy. We'll get this figured out, for sure."

"I may have a different thing for you to look at, as a biochemist, doctor. Not right now, though. This situation should have everyone's attention."

Jim will give everyone a nod of thanks, even though it's not his office.

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