STEM is So Exciting!

March 10, 2014:

A number of unique individuals are gathered at the Metropolis University for a science expo.

Metropolis University

The one, the only, Metropolis University exposition hall.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

There's still a huge push for students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields and so today is the Metropolis University's annual STEM Expo. While yes, it's just a University affair, it's also seen as a marketing opportunity by a lot of different high-profile companies and people to be a part of. Because of that, there are some high-profile speakers on an array of subjects to draw in local experts. There are also a lot of companies here to both look to recruit students as interns or employees or to try to rope in new clients that happen to be attending. All in all, there is a huge mix of people here, and everywhere you look there are flashy tech displays and background conversations that are so technical they'll make your head spin.

Angela Spica is here as one of the speakers, and having just finished her presentation on nanotechnology she's currently answering questions from everyone from Freshmen to PhDs while dressed in a skirted business suit.

Yet another one of those jobs where Shift has to show up dressed nicely.

He'd much rather lounge around in jeans and a t-shirt, but after U. Samuel Kathman, his lawyer, informed him of the job, he couldn't pass it up. And so it is that Kwabena Odame is present, wearing a fashionable suit of light tan sans tie. It's bound to be stuffy, and the whole 'sport jacket without tie' thing is popular in yuppie America, which is one small upside against being surrounded by bubbly college students.

Upon Kwabena's lapel is a name badge reading 'Michael Ankwasa', and brown contact lenses conceal the clearly metahuman silver eyes that are his natural form. As he walks amongst the displays, he keeps a close eye on the speakers as they come and go, while partially conscious of the college students that pass by. It would be a real shame for one of them to peg him as their old drug dealer or something.

Bruce Banner has a Yankees cap pulled down low and a pair of sunglasses. Even if his identity isn't publicly known, this is exactly the kind of setting where someone might go, "Hey, it's Bruce Banner!" Then he ends up on social media and then he has suits and khakis breathing down his neck, probably with machine guns and tanks and, at the very least, with a nice cage and a sedation drip to put him on. No thanks. So, he keeps to the back of the lecture, listening to Angela's speech and making a few notes on his iPad, the scuffed nature of the thing showing its salvaged nature. Anyone looking over his shoulder would also quickly realize that whatever OS he's running, it's nothing available on the regular commercial market. He's impressed by the woman's intellect and ability, that's for certain, although he's still not certain how he can apply nanotechnology to his own unique situation. But you never know where a road leads unless you travel at least a little ways…or, at the very least, get a good map.

Why on earth would Pepper be at a science and technology event sans Tony? Simple. There's a push to encourage the sciences in education, and she's all for that. Closer to home, the R&D budget has enough room to allow a few interns this year, and it was decided that this would be the best place to find them. So, in the flashy Stark Industries booth that of course has the requisite eye candy girl pointing out stuff as well as the friendliest member of R&D she could kindly guilt into volunteering to speak technobabble to the masses, Pepper stands to one side with a girl from Legal she's not entirely familiar with, in case any of the passers by do decide they'd like to apply for one of the internships being offered. They've already got a few good names on the list, so it should make for an interesting selection process.

As a presentation finishes and people leave the auditorium area, she says aside quietly to the girl from Legal, "Heads up, here comes round two."

Said girl from legal, a redhead named Natalie, holds a clipboard loosely in her hand and smiles lightly, curls framing her face. Her white blouse is wide-collared, her skirt an attractive, dark, a-line that comes just above her knees. The matching jacket is open to project a slightly less intimidating look. But, let's face it. She's from ''legal''. That her blue eyes never quite stay still is just a personal quirk. There's so much to see.

She glances to Pepper and nods her head once in response. "Yes, ma'am," she says softly in return.

This isn't really Emma's choice of venues — an Expo, at a university. However, she is known for her electronics prowess — not on par with, say Tony Stark, but her own field of electronics is impressive enough — and it's important that she keep abreast of things like this. So, instead of attending, she stays at the office, doing work, and has Kingrow arrange for someone to go in her stead. Someone she can ride, to skim, to get the important bits.

As Kwabena scans the crowds of people walking to and fro, Emma sees something that catches her attention. Without really thinking about it, she guides his eyes back in the direction of….yes. Dr. Bruce Banner. There, taking notes, in his 'disguise' outfit. She purses her lips and plants the suggestion in Shift's mind that staying at distance, but keeping an eye on Dr. Banner wouldn't be such a bad idea. — Other than that, oh, there's Pepper. A few other people she recognizes from the field, but nothing that stands out quite like Bruce Banner does.

Angie's been answering questions for a while now, and so she's making a break for it! "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a drink. Thanks so much for coming." She gives those around her a bright, sincere smile before she makes her way over towards the refreshment tables. Once she does have that drink though, she tries to find a quieter spot amidst the crowds so she can take a few minutes to look around. She knows the names of the big players in the field, nodding a bit to herself as she picks out their booths.

Before he can divert himself, Shift is locked down by a trio of Asian girls who are attending the university. They begin peppering him with questions, and it would simply be too rude to back out too quickly.

"No, I am not a student. — No, not faculty. — No, but I am a teacher."

Think fast, Kwabena! They're pestering you for a school name!

"Saint Ursula. Cincinnati. We are…" Think! "intahrested in…" Harder, Odame. "learning about how dis all works. See if we can't incorporate it into our educational arsenal."

Educational arsenal? There's a visible wince, but before any of them can notice, the leftmost student is distracted by the bellchime notification of her phone. As she pulls up Instagram (and a photo of an impossibly skinny, Philippine hipster boy), they go scurrying off in gigglefits.

"Saved by de bell," he murmurs ruefully.

This is when his eyes are drawn back toward Bruce Banner, and there's something about him that… well that just doesn't make sense. Shift is a stubborn son of a bitch, but he's got no power against a telepath of Emma's magnitude. He'll probably lose sleep about this later, but the idea is firmly planted. Keep an eye on him, but keep your distance. Check!

Bruce has been on the run long enough to know when he's noticed, although Kwabena's quite good at hiding it. Noticed isn't the same as recognized, however, and there's nothing to attract attention like quickly bursting into motion and trying to run for cover. And maybe he's just being paranoid. Actually, he -is- paranoid, he knows that perfectly well, but, then, they really are after him, too, so it seems fair. Nonetheless, he tries to read the name on Kwabena's badge, plugging it into his search algorithms to see if anything comes up about the fellow in question. Bruce doesn't allow himself to be distracted by the trio of girls, or by the general bevy of attractive young women around. Well, he tries not to allow himself anyway. As he looks away, he catches sight of the Stark booth, a picture of Tony's grinning face planted right there and staring at him. Can't get away from the man…

Pepper Potts takes a breath, then smiles and steps forward to greet one of the seemingly endless groups of college kids meandering about (when they all start looking so YOUNG?) and try to answer as many questions as she can about working for Stark Industries, the particulars of the internships being offered, how often they'll get to hang out with Tony himself… yeah. The usual.

Natalie finds herself watching the crowd automatically as she greets a couple of students eager for a shot at a Stark intern position. She gives them the paperwork, and even a clipboard to write on, but always has half an eye on the people that pass by. And, she's had 70-some-odd years of practice at this, after all.

Her eyes flick briefly over Kwabena, picking him out as 'hired help' just by the way his own eyes flick through the space. They also skim over Banner, who gets a second look a moment or two later as something jogs in her memory. Beyond that brief flash of curiosity, however, she is careful to return the majority of her attention to the kids pestering the R&D fellow and Miss Potts.

"Ew," Emma says aloud to herself at the sight of the too-skinny Philippino hipster boy. Not her tastes. Not at ALL. Not Shift's either, she notes. But, the fact that the girls go scurrying off after they receive the image is a relief for both of them. She can't help but skip out of Shift's mind for a moment to check in on the general timbre of Bruce's disposition. She extends her consciousness toward, around, and into his head, staying away from the lava-like thunderclaps of danger that lurk therein. What's Bruce thinking? What's he up to? Could she, perhaps, tweak his dopamine levels without touching him? She's never tried it without having contact, before… Would it hurt? Could it? She gently begins to insert her control into the various portions of Banner's mind — withdrawing, immmediately, if she senses anything off-color or odd.

Engineer keeps to the fringes of the room because after the presentation and the questions, well, she could really use the quiet moment. She's been out of the speech and academic circles for a while, and there are some things she doesn't miss. Like, oh, these heels. One of which catches on the set of wires taped to the floor to keep them from being a tripping hazard (that worked so well) and sending her crashing into one of the other people lurking on the fringes of the action, spilling her drink all over them. "Oh! OhI'msosorry!"

The name 'Michael Ankwasa' does, in fact, come up on a number of Banner's searches. And he is, in fact, a real teacher, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Whomever planted this false identity covered a lot of bases, and though there is a Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, there is no mention of Ankwasa working there.

Kwabena simply goes back to his exploring, though he's been keeping an eye trained on the speakers every so often. So it is that he noticed Angela tripping, and duly turns about to watch with a worried expression. His eyes pan back and forth, looking to see if anybody did that on purpose, but when he comes up empty, it's back to a display on aerogel that he goes.

Bruce doesn't push too hard at Kwabena's cover, idle curiosity driving the search more than anything. He's fully aware that this sort of thing is routinely covered as part of anything covert anymore, but, still, due diligence. You never know when someone's going to get lazy. He's got a 3-D imaging program up on his iPad, tiny theoretical nano-particles spinning in black space, colored in crimson and green and blue. The first thing that might startle Emma when she first brushes along his thoughts is just how little of Bruce's mind it requires to perform the complex algorithms and mathematics involved in programming the simulation. She's spent time in a lot of minds, and Bruce's…Bruce's is special. More. He's a genius, easily on par with Tony Stark or any other…the scary part is that he's that smart with half of his brain's energy consumed by an entirely other persona. Imagine if he had it all.

As for his mood…he's relatively stable, at the moment, only slightly jumpy, that prickly feeling on his skin from being watched. When Angela crashes into a person only a row or two behind him, though, he does startle momentarily, that dark, roiling maelstrom in the deep of his mind pulsing for just a split second before he settles again, turning back to look as Angela apologizes…

Pepper Potts startles and looks over at Angela tripping over something, then sighs. This is why she has always insisted on any display setup like this current one having a slightly raised platform flooring — to keep cables and cords from becoming trip hazards. "Excuse me," she says to the kids nearby as she nods to Natalie, then steps over to make sure the keynote speaker that just took a spill is okay. "Are you all right?" Out of her peripheral vision she notices the man that is clearly too old to be a student and too plainly dressed to be a teacher, but is preoccupied enough with helping Angela that she consciously dismisses Bruce while subconsciously putting the man's presence on a back burner to possibly contemplate later.

Natalie glances over as Angela trips, but given everyone else's reactions, it's really just more of an excuse for her to get another look at Banner. Yeah. She's pretty sure of what she's seeing now. She turns away and smiles to one of the kids, answering a question with all the awkwardness one would expect of a law clerk in a tech expo, before she excuses herself to check something on her phone and type a brief message. Nothing any of the kids would think twice about.

Angela Spica looks terribly, terribly embarassed and is apologizing profusely to the guy she just spilled her drink on. Luckily it's just water. As Pepper comes over the Latina gives a sheepish smile. "Oh, I'm fine. Thank you. I just… I'm not used to the heels." She admits.

Emma, satisfied that Bruce isn't in a dangerous zone, shifts her consciousness back to Kwabena's mind, finding that riding his brain is a pleasanter place. It's nice and comfy in Shift's mind, compared to the horrors that lie in Bruce's head, outside of the dark places that reside there. Everyone has their demons, though. Emma knows how to avoid them, for the most part.

About the time that she settles back down, she sees Angela tripping and Pepper — ever being the responsible Pepper — goes to see if she's okay. Emma can't help but roll her eyes a little bit, but only because she knows Pepper doesn't like her very much…and she kinda feels like Pepper's a bit of a stick in the mud. Then again, Pepper was very nice to Jherika, so… Phooey. Now's not the time to be hashing this out. She begins paying closer attention to Shift's perspective.

For the time being, Kwabena keeps to himself. There's a lot to be watching here, and he does it without interfering. After all, he wasn't here to cause any problems. This time.

With the commotion around Angela (admittedly, not much, but still kind of close to him), Bruce decides to put a bit of distance between himself and the women, giving something of a shy nod, his "SOY BOMB" t-shirt standing out as he rises, the patched elbows of his tweed jacket already starting to fray. He's kind of itching for a cigarette anyway, and the fascist laws dictating such behaviors, while understandable, still tend to chafe him. A little fresh air probably isn't the worst idea anyway. He tucks his iPad into a small satchel, the strap diagonal across his body…

Angela Spica gives Pepper a smile and nods to Pepper, waving off her concern. "Oh, I'm fine. Sorry. I'm just not used to heels." The downsides of geniusdom. Having to actually get dressed up and stand in front of people to tell them your Cool Stuff.

Pepper Potts smiles and nods to Angela. "They do take getting used to, though exposed cables across the floor can't help." Since the woman said she's okay, she returns to the Stark Industries booth and gives Natalie a quick questioning glance to see how the internship sign-ups are going. At least Mr. R&D seems to be having a grand time, chatting with a few kids about some thing with words that Pepper recognizes less than half the time. The 'bunny' (should she be termed an Ironette?) looks rather thoroughly bored.

Oh, the intern sign-ups are going fine. And by the time Pepper is glancing over at her, Natalie has already slipped her phone back away. Because, she's smooth like that. She catches the other red head's eye and smiles in response, giving a light nod. Then, she turns to help a young man, carefully directing his attention back to the booth babe, rather than her.

Emma, still watching through Kwabena's eyes, is finding it difficult to pay attention. Things are… Well, nothing much is happening and her interest in sticking around is waning. Unless something stands out as interesting, she's getting close to calling Shift off, or at least giving him the freedom to decide to leave if he wants.

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