Interstellar Proposal

August 16, 2015:

Reed Richards begins his fundraising for his latest project

Baxter Building

A 51 story building of science and industry in the heart of Manhattan.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Miss Bishop is most likely used to careening through fancy buildings, but the Baxter Building seems to obsess over technology like few others she may have come across. Everything is automated, of course, even the robot that welcomed her in. The floors, walls, and fixtures are all either white or silver with blue trim, giving the skyscraper the looks of a sci-fi movie.

Kate has been asked here for lunch which might be a bit odd, but once she's filled in about the topic, it makes sense. Foundations ask rich folks for money all the time. She is probably very used to this sort of thing.

As she is led by Feminine Robot Voice With English Accent to the 51st floor, brilliant sunshine will hit her eyes as the door opens. Half as tall as the Empire State Building, she's at the top and at a beautiful penthouse with a ceiling made of glass. Only the far end has a wall, and that's to separate the top of the penthouse from the bay doors for the rocketship launching bay and where the Fantasticar is also held.

"Miss Bishop!" Reed exclaims as he hops to his feet and sets his unlit pipe upon the table. He sits at the head, which is angled in such a way that he is able to look out towards the East. Forward, as he would say, and how he likes to feel in the mornings.

He glides over with an outstretched hand, eager to shake hers. He's wearing blue dress shirt and charcoal pants and it may be odd not to see him in a suit, the Fantastic Four costume, or a labcoat. "I wasn't sure what you wanted to have, but our automations have a wide selection and I think you'll find the cooking process most expedient."

The Baxter Building is a very different sort of official than the Hall of Justice or the Triskelion. A little bit more free. A lot more hopeful. Kate follows through all the automated functions with an amused, fascinated air until she makes it up to the penthouse. She's dressed simply, in a black, knee-length skirt with a purple blouse and low black pumps. As professional as she can manage, more or less.

"Dr. Richards," she greets as he steps forward, smile flashing as she takes the offered hand in a firm grip. "That sounds…interesting. And worth a try. This place is really cool. Thank you for the invitation."

"Absolutely, and thank you for coming. Please, have a seat," He motions to a chair across from his, about halfway down the table. Close enough to take some of the starch away, but far enough to give her plenty of room. In front of the seat she'll find settings of the highest order, which is to be expected. The datacard tablet beckoning her to fill her meal choice into a search engine is a bit different.

"How are things with the League? I trust you continue to do well in all of those pursuits?"

"Things are…busy," Kate smiles faintly, settling into the seat and picking up the tablet to poke curiously at it. "Always busy. Though at least it seems like some of the heat's turned down since…" She trails off, clearing her throat and tapping out an order for french toast with bananas, a side of bacon, and a side of sausage before she looks up. "Well. A little less heat, at least. How about you? Are you guys working with THINK? Or is there some of that friendly academic competition going on?"

Reed turns his head slowly, "No, we haven't had the opportunity to work with THINK yet. It's not a rivalry, at least not for us. I've never really understood how those who are really into science on a comprehensive level could really care about credit. I had a friend in college who was obsessed by credit and that's, well, that's a story for another time. I respect Howard Stark a great deal and I've read about some of those scientists who work with him. They do great work over there."

For Reed's selection he chooses huevos rancheros, with salsa and hashbrowns, toast and all the fixings. It's a sign left over from his childhood in California, though most who don't know him might think that's the last place that he might be from.

The food is done in less than a minute, and brought to them on rolling tables. The entire thing would be very smooth, until the very end, when the machines sort of plop the plate down awkwardly. Reed winces and then shrugs his shoulder with a smile. "Still working out the kinks, I'm afraid."

Kate grins as the plate arrives, clearly delighted. "Hey, just because it doesn't put the plate down gently doesn't mean it didn't bring out delicious breakfast food in only a couple of minutes. I'd say that's 99.9 percent perfect." She pauses long enough to tap in a request for coffee too, before settling back in her chair and starting to slice up the french toast. "I visited there a while ago, talking to Howard Stark about some security systems. Interesting idea, pooling resources like they have. Very non-credit," she adds, looking up with a small smile.

"I'm sure my HERBIE mainframe would thank you if he was working in this room," Reed says with a snicker. "It's been a nice change of pace. Most people would probably say they appreciate the variances in food, but I have found that the precision makes for a better, more consistent experience. At least for me. This is, of course, part of the popularity of fast food restaurants in society, I imagine."

Reed begins to eat, pacing himself in order not to scarf it all down quickly. Since he was a boy he learned to take his meals as fast as possible, often times in order to get back to whatever he was working on at the time. It's become a bad habit that Sue Storm never lets him forget about. Once they're done eating, he can go on to his presentation.

"That, and the delicious salt and fat," Kate chimes in with a wry smile, digging into her own food. She eats quickly herself, though it's tempered by a need to do so politely. "And the low cost. And the convenience. But I think the delicious salt and fat are definitely a factor either way. Sometimes you just really want those french fries." She looks back up from her food, smile quirking.

Reed nods and can't help but grin, "I ate fast food all of the time, especially before the accident. Once Sue took a look at my diet, she's been making me eat more healthy, though I'm not sure what effect it really has on my body these days. Either way, I think you're spot on, Miss Bishop."

"Tell me, what news of your father and the publishing business?"

"According to the quarterly reports, it's going well," Kate shrugs. "Dad diversified when the book business started to get a little more complicated. Textbooks are steady, and there's a lot of money to be made in digital subscriptions these days. Especially academic ones, I'm sure you're familiar with that. And media. Media's only getting bigger." She takes another bite, looking up with a quirk of her brow. "I don't actually work in the publishing part of things, you know," she points out. "I mean, I keep track of the quarterly reports from the accountants and the lawyers." Just because she didn't go to college doesn't mean Kate isn't smart.

Reed nods, "Well, I'll discuss more when I get into my presentation, but I simply wanted to know how Mr. Bishop was doing and how business is. I hope you'll forgive me; small talk is not my strength."

He sips at some sparkling water and leans back, putting one leg over the other. "Another topic we could talk about is the dissolution of the potential legislation regarding superheroes. I assume that is a great boon to many people you work with."

"It's cool," Kate smiles easily. "You actually don't have the worst social skills among my circle of friends," she chuckles. "I was just saying. The registration dissolution's a relief, sure," she agrees with a nod. "Though with what's been going on in M-Town, I'm still a little nervous someone else'll pick up the cause, you know? And it's not that the idea of registration is inherently bad," she adds, taking another bite. "People need training. It'd be a hell of a lot easier to coordinate if we were organized. But forcing people to do it, that's another matter. Especially when it's genetic for so many people."

"I think it's tough for me to understand. On our team we've never hidden our identities and we have taken on all the dangers that that includes. We don't know any different, I suppose. Nevertheless, it has been fascinating to watch from afar."

By now, Reed has finished his food and sips at his water, ready to get to the meat of his presentation. Once it appears that Kate is close to finishing, he presses a button on his armrest and the windows that lead to the view of New York begin to darken as several lights begin to project in from different rooms.

"The reason I've asked you here is to listen to my presentation about opening interstellar travel up to more than just the superpowered, alien community. As you no doubt know, NASA budget cuts have created a market for private space exploration. Companies such as Virgin have led the way in their research. I would like to go over some of the ideas with you, but must ask that you sign a non-disclosure agreement. Though, I personally do not care who knows about my work, the foundation here at Baxter requires it any time I make a pitch. They feel it protects them and helps keep the doors of this place open."

Kate's plate is clean in short order, and she pushes it aside to pay attention to the presentation as the lights dim. "That's, ah." She pauses, tugging at her earlobe. "I can sign, sure," she says first. "Though, you know. Like you said, these things usually go smoother if people work together, rather than trying to keep it quiet. That sounds like a hell of a plan, though." She looks to the screen, head tilting. "What's the goal?"

"You're absolutely right. At issue is that our secrets could be sold with others who would not be willing to work with us. I can think of a few off hand right now. In any event, if that were to get out, the Foundation would want to be compensated in some way."

After Kate signs a datapad, brought to her by another wheelie robo, the presentation begins. Cut to a grainy picture that quickly sharpens. A fantastic land that looks what Earth may have appeared to be before the dawn of animals and plants.

"The Negative Zone. Last year I uncovered a parallel dimension where negatively charged particles are the norm. Science there works on its reverse in many instances and many of the resources found within have properties we are only beginning to understand."

"One of those properties is an energy source, not unlike what we would think of coal on this planet and in this realm. When charged with large amounts of electricity this mineral creates an an energy vacuum, not unlike a mini-black hole. My belief is that charging an assorted or created wormholes in space, could actually pull a spacecraft through and out the other side. The long term goals are to create a system of satellite buoys that can allow interstellar travel to become a reality. Aside from that, we would have to rely on Superman to push us around in space buggies. And I hear his schedule is pretty busy."

"I would not recommend super-travel," Kate agrees ruefully, scrubbing a hand over her face. She's gotten the flight experience from Kara a few times. It is not always fun. "You're talking about what's essentially teleportation, right?" she asks. "The, ah." She snaps her fingers, dredging up what she's heard. "Folding together the fabric of space and time. the wormhole's like a needle that passes through, connecting the two different place by sort of folding them together."

Reed grins at the super-travel comment. "Yes, I suppose you could call it teleportation, but under this idea it is not instantaneous. You would need to be close to a wormhole and close to said buoy. When I say close, I should state that I mean relatively speaking, of course. But you have the general idea. When I was a child I played Super Mario Brothers for an afternoon, and it would be not unlike 'warping.' You would still need to get to the jump point."

"The plan is for the project to go in stages. First we would need to send up automated satellites and get them a safe distance from Earth to begin testing. Afterwards, we would send an object through. Eventually we would work towards getting a craft through."

"Setting up satellites could take a long time," Kate muses, staring at the screen as she thinks things through. "Especially if you need platforms to go from one place to the other. But it means you'd have plenty of time to work out the glitches before everything was where it needed to be."

"Much of the theoretical work is done. I've been at it for the past few months, and I'm confident we'll be pretty close once we get to testing. We're at the point where we are to begin building models. From there it's not too terribly long."

Reed tilts his head, "And we can begin working on all different parts at concurrent times in order to cut down the time."

Dr. Richards neglects to say that the engineering is already completed and done so by himself in advance, which saves a ton on conceptualization costs.

"Well, it sounds interesting to me," Kate muses. "Are you talking just space travel?" she asks. "Or more short-term, short-range applications? It seems like it'd be huge for shipping, for example. And travel in general, of course. Space travel might be a harder sell all around. Without a goal, at least. Though I'm sure you could get the corporations looking for resources."

"All of the above, really." Reed takes another sip of his sparkling water. "Resources would be the initial push. That's what those who sign the checks want to talk about. Conceptually, for me, it's about exploration."

Reed then drops the anvil, "We're looking to get 100 billion dollars worth of funding from assorted sources. We believe that the total investment will be repaid within 5 years and the resources options are endless. Any monies that are taken in will be split between the companies who invest, with intellectual rights and patents will stay with Baxter."

Kate whistles low at the number, brows rising. "That's…a lot of money." And Kate does know money. "I don't even…" She runs the numbers quickly through her head, considering average donations, likely donors, major funding sources. "That's a lot of money," she repeats herself after a moment.

"It certainly is. We understand that it will need to be a combined effort. The remaining value will be roughly 75, as the Foundation has already put up 25 percent of the costs. We feel as though no matter how we get to that 100 billion mark, we will be able to make everyone's money back and still provide a service to human kind." A moment later, Reed adds, "For those who give more than 10 billion, we are offering a choice of one crew person. Such person would need to be trained here at Baxter, but we figure that will sweeten the deal for some companies."

"So, you're seriously willing to put up with Tony Stark on a space mission of undetermined length? Because you know he'll sign up for that. I mean, I don't think he's so bad, but I'm not sure I'd spend a few months locked up in a space shuttle with him." Kate rambles a moment, then cuts herself off, clearing her throat. "I, personally, don't have anywhere near that kind of cash. Dad…might be able to do one, but that'd be assuming he could see what he'd get back out of it. I mean. I'd be happy to help you talk it up to people?" she offers. "But you should really think through the sort of people who have ten billion dollars and want to go to space, and whether or not you want to be stuck on a spaceship with them."

"I imagine that when Tony gets a full grasp of what I'm intending he will either jump on board, or he will attempt to do it himself," Reed says with a laugh. "There will be a vetting process, of course, and if we do not want someone on the mission, we don't have to take the money if it becomes a line in the sand. Those things are frankly worked out by the people with the pencils. What I want, more than anything, is to take what I've learned through the Negative Zone and make it applicable and beneficial to mankind."

"I could probably scrape up two million," Kate admits with a rueful smile. "So I'm not going to be too much help on the fundraising front. Not personally, at least. My money powers are sort of like my super powers, in that I'm pretty awesome, but I'm not actually super powered."

"Well, every bit counts. And if you'd be willing to work as a mouth piece, perhaps that would help increase the ability for us to make money. You have a large presence both here in America and throughout the world. Your help could be invaluable," replies Reed.

"Now that," Kate grins, "I can help with." She leans back in her chair, eyeing the screen. "I'll help pitch it to whoever you want," she promises. "Help translate things down from genius talk to rich people talk, if you need," she adds, smile flashing. "Tricky thing, that."

"It appears we have an agreement, then," Reed says with a smile. "And yes, I'd prefer not to even be at the meetings. It never seems to work out. If Sue is available she'd be better." He almost shudders a bit at trying to meet with that many people.

"No meetings for you," Kate echoes, nodding once. "We can work with that." She stands up then, offering over a hand. "Sounds like a deal, Dr. Richards. And I can't wait to see how it all turns out."

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