Solexia - Recruiting Away

February 22, 2016:

Pepper gets notice that Lobotech are hiring away the newly acquired Solexia staff … and what the Solexia tech might be usuable for.

Stark Tower - New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Things with Solexia have gone… interestingly. Pepper's people have back engineered the Solexia solar tech to remove any traces of anything litigateable. In so doing though, they've let Lobotech claim that technology without challenge and word is that they're hard at work making use of it.

Of course, they had that, presumably, before. So what's the catch? Well… that's just walked into Pepper's office while she's talking to Brinley. Stewart, one of her legal team and he looks like he has bad news.

Pepper Potts looks up the moment she sees movement in her peripheral vision, and breaks off the conversation when she sees Stewart looking rather like he would rather be anywhere else. Offering Brin an apologetic glance, she then nods to Stewart. "You have news?"

Brins … recovering but when Pepper asked to see her, she didn't think twice. Sitting quietly, the dark eyed mutant looks up at Stewart offering a slight smile and a nod.

Of course, she'd been interested in what Pepper had decided to do with Solexia and perhaps why Lobo was so interested in the tech. But for now, that can wait.

"We received word that Lobotech has hired away half the senior engineering staff from Solexia. They're under a non-disclosure agreement of course but since our legal strategy basically ceded the Solexia technology to Lobotech…" The NDA isn't going to do anything. Stewart looks apologetic. This isn't even the worse part of the news.

"Also the Board is calling a meeting. They're… um… they want to know why we acquired a startup with no business value." At a not inconsiderable cost. Not an insane cost but enough to turn heads.

Pepper Potts has to work to not sigh loudly. She thought the whole reason for acquiring Solexia the way they did had been to protect the jobs of people like the engineering staff that Lobotech has already stolen away. Well, hopefully those engineers won't suffer the consequences.

"Thank you, Stewart. Please have the Board admin contact my assistant to schedule the meeting. And, as much as I hate to do this, have Solexia management inform their remaining staff that if they choose to accept employment opportunities with Lobotech, they can't be guaranteed a chance to return to either Solexia OR Stark Industries."

Brin looks questioningly at Stewart and then at Pepper. "What on earth could they offer that Stark didn't or couldn't?" The brunette is perplexed by the thought. Lobotech doesn't have the greatest track record for employee satisfaction and in her experience, most engineers go where the 'excitement' is. Stark had certainly offered them that. "Did Stark make any further counter offers?" She ask looking apologetically to Pepper.

"I'm guessing a lot of money but I wouldn't know obviously." Stewart says. He hands over a folder. "This is the science department's report on the possible applications. Some of them are… er. Just, you might want to have a read. I doubt it's anything Mister Stark would approve of." Which means weaponized, most likely. Very, very weaponized. Well, Lobotech does do defense contracting.

Pepper Potts accepts the folder and nods agreemeent with Stewart's basic assessment of why the engineers would jump ship. "Thank you again." She's already dreading reading what this folder contains. She just knows it's going to be all kinds of bad. "I'm pretty sure if we'd been given any notice by any of these former employees, we would have at least tried to offer them something to stay." She shakes her head. "This stinks of dirty dealing."

Brin doesn't doubt it, but still, she wonders what Lobotech could have offered, or threatened, to take such a number.

Reading the contents of the file over Pepper's shoulder her eyes widen. "Most of these applications are for weapons." Now that's interesting "Given the number of Defense contracts, Lobo has, I can see why he might want the tech and the staff."

"Pepper, can we track any of that tech? I know you've removed it from Solexia's work, but … can we track it?" She's an inkling here … a lot of Lobotech equipment has been stolen in the past.

"I'm pretty sure we can," Pepper replies. "Are you thinking there might be a pattern to Lobotech's acquisitions? Thank you, Stewart." Yes, that's a dismissal for the young man from Legal. Sorry. "I could get JARVIS to start digging more than easily enough, but I worry that even he might leave enough of a trace for Lobotech's hired dogs to sniff out." She doesn't even hesitate, reaching for her phone and sending off a text to someone.

Stewart leaves, leaving the folder. It's kind of chilling stuff when someone with a technical mind goes over it. The form of solar energy collector they've envisioned is very efficient. Very efficient. It could power a whole new generation of solar technology. Or a new generation of energy storage for orbital directed energy weapons. Handheld lasers. Vehicle mounted anti missile systems. Some of the possibilities are further out there, but this is a break through of horrifying potential.

It's times like this that Brin misses Bobby being around. He's good with understanding tech and he's been across Lobotech. Sure, she could call him and discuss what they're seeing, maybe she'll do that later.

"Thank you, Stewart." Brin calls after the man, feeling slightly abashed for having ignored him. "I haven't really looked at the aquistions, Pepper, but as you know some of Lobotechs older tech has been stolen and showing up with the Reavers."

Tapping the report in front of them, the one with all that lovely weaponisable content "What is this starts showing up soon?" Of course, Lobotech could just be plagued by 'bad luck' when it comes to security breaches.

Pepper Potts considers for a moment, hoping that Jericho receives the text she sent. She knows he's often out of cell signal range. "Maybe we should start playing Lobotech's game. He wants to toss legalities at us, we can do similar. After all, think of how bag it would look to the people that sign his defense contracts if his security is so bad he can't keep his proprietary equipment from ending up in the hands of thugs on the street?"

Brin considers this for the moment and blows out a very deep breath. "I think that has possibilities, Pepper." It really does "We'll have to be smart though. Nearly every instance of those thefts that we found ended up in a middle or senior executive loosing their job or being incarcerated."

Not that Brin believes for one moment the thefts weren't orchestrated - they just can't prove it. Discrediting the company though… if done carefully, certainly has legs.

"What are you thinking?"

Miss Potts. I hadn't expected to hear from you. What can I do for you today? It's a text back. Moments later JARVIS announces over the speakers. "Miss Potts I'm getting a signal from a darknet server that you've placed on the authorized list. Shall I send it through?"

"Well, I do still have lots of contacts in the military defense community." Tony's best friend James Rhodes comes to mind immediately. Pepper glances at hr phone to look at the reply text just as JARVIS speaks up. "Oh, perfect timing. Yes, please, JARVIS." She looks at Brin. "And that would be someone that might be able to help us collect some useful data."

Looking up as Jarvis speaks, Brin smiles towards the AI. What? She can't help it. Such a lovely disembodied voice.

"Contacts are good, Pepper. But we'll need to tread carefully." at the mention of a darknet server, the brunette raises an eyebrow "Data is always useful." she agrees.

Jericho takes over one of Jarvis little holoprojectors and sends through… er, that's not a projection of him. That's a little code imp. One that looks like a demonwolf with wings. It's about two feet tall. But it speaks with Jericho's voice. "Hello Pepper. Like I said I didn't expect you to call today. What's up?"

Pepper Potts smiles at Brin just the tiniest bit evilly. "But didn't you know, Brin? Rumors are vicious, evil things that spring up out of nowhere and spread like wildfire." She looks over the data in the folder, then blinks in surprise at the little winged imp with Jericho's voice. "Hello, Jericho. You look a little … different today. Did you do something with your hair?" She immediately offers an apologetic smile. "I was wondering if you coul perhaps help me with something when you have a spare moment?"

"I thought that's what meant, Pepper." Brins dark eyes rest on the CEO "a very effective tool, when used correctly and I'm sure you know just how to do that."

Staring at the holoprojector, Brin shakes her head. "It's a good look for you, Jericho." Of course she knows him. "A company called Lobotech has some solar technology that Stark scientists think can be weaponised … JARVIS, would you mind sharing these results with Jericho, please?" Anything to hear the AI's voice, it seems. "I was asking Miss Potts if we might track the tech, see if it ends up Reavers … "

"Oh you know. New haircut. Redone subroutines. Manifesting code imp that I send through the internet… I can spare you some time Pepper. Least I can do. Lobotech. Searching now." There's a pause. "Okay. Got some data. What is it exactly you're looking for?"

Pepper Potts actually manages to chcukle softly, though this code imp isn't quite as … personable as the one that usually follows Jericho around. What was its name again? "Well, we're hoping to find evidence that they're selling their weapons technology to illegal groups, like the Reavers and Purifiers. Most of the publicly known reports of equipment found in the wrong hands has been listed as stolen or sold improperly, with various mid-level employess taking the fall for the losses. We suspect that this goes a lot higher up the food chain than some disgruntled engineers looking to make some money on the side."

"There's definitely records of people as high as VP's having been involved in scandals like these." Jericho nods. With Jarvis helping he can cross check and corroborate a lot faster than normal. "But nothing that can be tied directly to corporate HQ."

There's a short pause as the imp projection cants its head sideways. "Hrm. Good catch, Maxwell. This company has a lot of subsidiaries and corporate partners. A lot of things they have a controlling interest or near controlling interest in. That's what usually gets caught up in these schemes. It's generally the same story. Labor laws over seas aren't nearly as tight as they are here in many cases. Unscrupulous employees and corporate espionage. There's also a pattern of economic downturns forcing closures that are then looted before they can be properly stored. If someone's playing a game passing gear to the purifiers, they're doing it through third and forth parties. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence out there, but nothing I'd care to bet on in court. Looks like their last major incidents were in Hamburg and Japan. Recently too."

"There's also a Lobotech subsidiary …" Brin can't recall the name right now " that specialised in medical and biotech. It was sold off years ago, but from what we can see, many of the assets ended up in the hands of Organised Crime…." Brin trails off as Jericho starts to hit that information.

"Hamburg and Japan?" the mutant sits forward "We've heard there's Purifier and potentially Reaver activity there … all tied up with Operation Extinction, I think."

"I wonder if we can link any other of their losses to Purifier and Reaver activity," Pepper muses. "Maybe if we can find enough of a pattern, it'll be enough to incriminate Lobotech. Or at least get an investigation started on them." She can only hope.

"Maybe. These people are playing a smart game. You'd have to prove that people knew about the losses or stolen items ahead of time. And if you want that kind of information you're much more likely to get it from the Purifiers themselves. If they know it to begin with. They're fragmented and cell based, so a lot of that information isn't in the hands of anyone who can put it all together." Jericho's voice coming out of the imps form is… a little odd. Even by his standards.

"What you might be able to do is make it less profitable. There has to be some kind of payoff for them on this. With a corporate actor there's always at least the possibility that it's monetary. Right now I can't see how they're gaining anything from this but if you can figure out what they want - assuming it is a 'they' and not just a group of people somewhere high up in the company - then maybe you can make it less worth it for them to do these kinds of things." Beat.

"Actually comes to that, if you're going to investigate Purifier activities you might start looking into how they get their funding. Because they're amazingly well funded and I can tell you right now a lot of that money isn't coming from the regular arms and drug trade groups like HYDRA engage in. These people are ideologues. They're getting the money from somewhere. If you can shut the funding down or put a dent in it, it won't matter what kind of guns they have."

Brin sighs, she's been stuck in that loop for a bit. "Mmmm, I know someone who has been investigating a cell, locally. I might try and have a talk to them." The segmented nature of the Purifiers has long been an issue for the mutants.

"Insider trading? Someone within Lobotech on the take perhaps? Even that seems like a longshot to me. But your point is well taken, Jericho." Brin sighs …

Pepper Potts reaches over and refills Brin's teacup. It's not tea, though. It's hot chocolate, of a particularly rich and NOT sweet variety. There's even a little dish of finely ground chili peppers instead of the usual cream and sugar that usually accompany tea. "Lobotech has accused multiple employees of exactly that, Brin, and promptly had them fired or imprisoned. I just… there have been enough of them to make me suspicious. I can't prove it, but I'm still suspicious."

"I promise you all of that money is not coming from Lobotech, if any of it is. Funding the Purifiers and provding them with weapons are two separate matters." Jericho points out, the code imp projection folding its arms and gesturing with the left hand like he does and even standing up straight to lean against an invisible wall. Just… yeah. Imp-Aspect.

"Lobotech may not be guilty of anything other than a bad corporate culture and poor HR practices. It's probably more than that, based on what you're looking at. I think Pepper's suspicions are correct. But if anyone is moving they're doing it so indirectly it's hard to get info on them like this. This is going to be a long game and if you really think Lobotech is doing something shady then you should be prepared to dig in your heels and fight dirty. Or, in the case of corporate high society, put on your heels and fight subtly." Since, you know, corporate politics.

"As for the Purifiers they're a bit simpler. Curtailing their access to weapons is good. Cutting off their funding is good. Both would be ideal but you really have to pick your fights. Look for the one you can actually get done."

Ooooh Chili Hot Chocolate, Brins definitely having some of that. "Alright, Jericho. I've resources I can tap to try and find the funding and the armaments." the brunette murmurs. Wolverine might get an unexpected request, soon.

Imp-Aspect gets an amused shake of her head "There's something about Lobo and his lawyer that hits me wrong. Pepper, if you're ammenable, we'll follow that slowly and carefully … but it's just all rather suspicious to me."

Pepper Potts nods to Brin. "You're not the only one. If I didn't know better, I'd think the lawyer at the very least was either demonic or affiliated somehow. Or maybe part cartilangious shark. She really creeps me out." She sips at her own chocolate briefly. "I had already prepared for the long game with Lobo, I can tell he's more than good enough to take down anyone who isn't careful and utterly destroy them." The kind of corporate behavior she's always detested.

"It'd almost be easier if your lawyer friend were demonic. At least that's a language I speak." That's a joke right? Well… Pepper's seen K'nert. So maybe not. Jericho hasn't had the pleasure of meeting Miss Carver. If he had he'd probably comment on the behavior too. The woman has a very dangerous air about it, and it's not all from the power suits and law degree either. She's got a reputation as a wolf at the door in legal circles. Ruthless, rapacious and utterly remoseleless. It probably comes as no surprise to Pepper since Maximus Lobo has much the same reputation.

"Anyway, sounds like you have some work cut out for you. Call me again if I can help. Always happy to do you a good turn Pepper. Brin nice to see you." The imp straightens up to full height and then the projection dies.

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