What I Learned From Nanotechnology: A TED Talk by Tony Stark

May 03, 2016:

See title

Empire State University, NYC

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NPCs: None.

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Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Empire State University hosts TED Talks, but they're not usually this… busy. That's because tonight's talk is celebrity capitalist Tony Stark, known by folks in 'the biz' as Iron Man. "What I Learned From Nanotechnology" is the title of tonight's talk, which is being streamed online and also sponsored by BMW, whose logo is prominently in the background while Stark speaks.

Stark is a good orator. His talk is a summary of the state of nanotechnology, and he frequently makes asides to talk about his own views on things, and his own ideas for what might push the field forward and what might hold it back.

"Remember that simple truth, and the rest falls into place," Tony ends his monologue with. "Thank you." Then, because he's Tony Stark, he drops the mic, and a million iPhone flashes go off in unison.

After the talk, there's a mixer at the science building, which is also packed because word is that Tony Stark himself will actually make an appearance. He's wearing the same clothes as he wore for the talk, just versions of them that are somehow nicer than before, and he's got sunglasses on indoors. When he walks in, the whole room goes still. I don't know to explain this, but he's kind of a big deal.

Noemi Nogueira is here, not as a mutant, nor even as a representative of the public, but because this nanotech shit has something to do with inorganic chemistry, and she's on the department mailing list. She'd put on a relatively non-shitty blouse and some flattering slacks for the purpose, because she'll be damned if she'll put on a dress for Tony "Blood Money" Stark.

Unfortunately, Blood Money Tony was talking about some actually interesting things. So Noemi finds herself at the mixer drinking a cheap beer and trying to relax herself so she doesn't actually call him Blood Money Tony.

And then he comes in and the room falls silent as if everyone was shot with a repulsor blast. Noemi tightens her grip on the glass bottle. Ugh!! she thinks.

He changed clothes and I noticed!!

She finishes the beer.

Within five minutes of the mic drop, she's picking up the fresh upload of the .webm of the mic drop and saving it to her phone. Sloane Lynwood, daughter of Wall Street investment manager Jeffrey Lynwood, is on campus for entirely separate reasons from the presentation on nanotechnology— she's coming into the /end times/ of her time at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, and that means planning for the future— regardless of what her parents may or may not think of her.

She would have loved to have been able to attend the conference— she's eighteen, so why goddamn not, that's like a grown-ass adult!!— but it's hard to say if she would have wanted to go for the subject matter or just to be able to run back to the school and say that she had the opportunity to actually see Tony Stark /in goddamn person/. The mental gymnastics aren't that bad, either: She's thinking of majoring in biochem, and nanotechnology involves biochem, so it would've been totally okay for her to go, right?!

Right.

The /actual/ grown-ass adults that have been corraling her around the campus all day with the advisors have also decided that it might be a good idea to take a pit stop to shake hands with some of the others there; while Sloane is a prospective student, the staff there also understands that her family could also become future donors! And often times, money speaks louder than mutation.

To her credit, Sloane is dressed fairly nicely— a knee-length skirt and blouse, though she wears a slightly off-style hoodie pulled up just enough on the head to hide the tips of her ears, though she can't do much about the scales hooking across her cheekbones. In one hand is a low glass of orange juice with a flimsy red stirring straw, while in the other is a synopsis of the presentation.

It looks like she gets it. … Part of it.

When the room goes still, her eyes tilt up from the papers and /oh my god that's Tony freaking Stark/.

Tony Stark shakes hands like he was running for President. "Steve! Mitch! Rodney!" These might actually be these men's names, but it would be very Tony Stark for him to simply be making men's names up and shooting for something like fifty percent accuracy. He even poses for a few selfies with students, with stern warnings beforehand like "No duckface." (Then he makes a duckface when it's photo time.)

Tony's path through the room finally brings him to the area that both Noemi and Sloane are in. He looks to Noemi (is he checking her out? Hard to tell, sunglasses) and then to Sloane. "…Winewood, right? Tell your father to stop emailing my people, his stock will stay just fine. Hey, I see glasses in your hands, do either of you ladies know where a guy could get a Pepsi?"

Sloane's low impact positioning doesn't mean she goes unnoticed. Noemi looks at her but doesn't have time to do more than nod, pause to lob her empty into a recycling-probably container set out for just this purpose, turn around AND THEN there's Tony Stark.

"Yeah, off campus," she tells Tony. "We have a - hold on -" She clears her throat, and then her tone brightens three notches. "Exclusive arrangement to share all the Coca Cola Brand Family on the ESU campus!" Her voice returns to normal and she points at a blue cooler. "It's in there. They threw in some Soders if you want to be indie about it." To Sloane she sounds like sixty percent less bitchy: "You from out of town? I don't think we've met."

The look that Noemi's firing in her direction isn't noticed at first. Rightfully so, there's generally a small gap around her to the nearest person that hasn't approached her about the benefits of the university's education or any of her family's money. That, and it's markedly about four degrees colder when anyone stands adjacent to her. When she catches that gaze, though, she meets the nod a little awkwardly before her head turns and OH MY GOD IT'S TONY STARK.

The paper crinkles a little in her right hand, while a slight frost creeps across the surface of the glass in her left, eyes a little more wide than before. "I just— over there, I— uh." Wait, she recognizes her? But /holy crap/ why is she not recording this entire thing. "Lynwood, Mister Stark! I— and yes, I'll let him know, I'm really sorry."

Her finger extends to point in the same direction that Noemi's indicated, too, her gaze caught by the other woman. "Oh! Yes, sorry," she hurries out, tucking the paper under her left arm and offering a hand. The expectation of it being taken is only about 50-50, considering how her day has been. "Sloane Lynwood, I'm— well, I was taking my tour but I'm not sure where my guide went…"

Tony gives Noemi a smile. Not one of those faux-pleased, patronizing smile. It looks like he actually finds her sass funny, maybe even charming. He tilts his sunglasses up over his forehead and walks over to the cooler to grab a Coke.

"No need to apologize," Tony says. "I knew you looked familiar. Back in my drinking days, your dad and I were snowed in at a Four Seasons in Chicago once. We opened up more than was probably sensible at the hotel bar. It was the two thousands, people still did that kind of thing back then. Lost your tour guide, though? Well, this young woman here seems to be up on the school's corporate partnerships, at least." Tony gestures to Noemi. "I'd offer to help out, but I'm pretty sure wandering off with Tony Stark is grounds for losing a scholarship."

Noemi looks like she's frowning, but at least it ends up looking vaguely pleasant on her face. It's the lips and the cheekbones mostly. "Oh, cool. Are you thinking of going into chem? I was in inorganic but the program's really great, even with those problems they had in the adhesives workshop -"

TONY OCCURS AGAIN. Noemi's face tenses a little as the whole thing comes in about being snowed in at a hotel bar. A hotel bar! Which they went through! Well, so much for her hopes of similar class backgrounds. She's about to do a slow doubletake on Sloane when Tony speaks unto her directly.

"Ha ha," she says. "Here, let me introduce myself. I'm Noemi Nogueira, I'm actually a graduate -" Noemi stuffs a hand in Tony's general direction. "So you don't have to worry about MY scholarship. I'm surprised you two know each other though," this latter towards Sloane again. "Small world, huh?"

AND FINALLY back to Tony again. "So that was actually a really good talk on nanotechnology you gave, is your company getting into it or do you just follow the field?"

The stories of her father lead Sloane into looking away— just a little— with a bit of red hiding somewhere on her face. "Oh jeez… I can't imagine what he would've said," the ginger says, trailing off a little. The thought of it is … somewhat intimidating; she'd frequently been under the impression he didn't talk about her much. Maybe, just for a minute, she was wrong about them? The looks shoot between Tony and Noemi, trying her best to keep a smile poking up the corners of her mouth.

Looking down at the paper on the nanotech talk, she looks up at Noemi. "Nice to meet you. I was thinking biochem. I would've liked to have seen your speech, sir, but they," she says, nebulously gesturing, "were busy showing me the historic halls of the halls of the… hall…"

She hopes the joke doesn't fall too flat, pulling a small sip of the orange juice through the mixing straw. For a moment, she lets Noemi do the talking, though she looks between both of them with a rather curious gaze— this will definitely be a story to tell later!

Tony does manage a slight look of concern, like he recognizes when he may have unintentionally made a faux pas. He has a sip of Coke instead of trying to deal with the situation.

"Noemi, Sloane, I'm Tony Stark," he says, giving Noemi's hand a firm shake, not the kind of hand-turn that sometimes happens when guys don't want to bruise the delicate dandelion sensibilities of gentle females. Someone snaps a photo of them shaking hands, Tony grinning at Noemi, and in the photo that will eventually find its way online, people on Tumblr will grouse about how he's such a creep, preying on grad students. "And Stark Enterprises is in a little bit of everything nowadays. We're trying to move away from the whole 'guns and Iron Man' thing and more into a 'benevolent technology solutions and Iron Man' space."

Noemi actually looks pleasant in that picture too. She'll be annoyed at this later.

"Ahhh, the infinite recursion hall, that place is rough," she says to Sloane, but it's with a grin. Then back to Tony, as she decides to go in for the … needle, "Oh, yeah? Are you going to develop a suit to… I don't know, reforest the Sahel or something? That'd be pretty cool." After this she runs a hand through her hair. "Sow hat got you into biochem?" she asks Sloane as she pivots around and flips open the '21+ ONLY WE MEAN IT' cooler, which is also helpfully colored red. This is for beer #2. (She may have no idea about Tony. Free beer.) "That's really crowded, actually. Like if it's your thing, do it, but the other fields are kind of starving for grads in some ways."

At least Tony and Sloane are both mature enough to handle their problems by looking the other way instead of actually talking their feelings out. At the very least, she'll look pleasant enough when Tony and Noemi are photographed shaking hands and looking friendly and /oh god her parents are going to see that newspaper/.

It might be noticed that Sloane's hand is not quite like touching a sheet of ice, but certainly cool— but the scales that lick across the backs of her hands and down her knuckles are definitely cold to the touch. "It's very nice to meet you, Mister Stark." She says it kind of like a shambling fan that didn't expect this at all, if it wasn't obvious.

"And the Iron Man thing is definitely pretty cool," the student adds quietly, chipping in on Noemi and Tony's exchange— pun unintentional.

"I guess," Sloane replies to Noemi. "I was interested in it for some … well, mostly personal reasons," she says, shifting her weight from one leg to another. She indicates to the synopsis flyer sticking out of her hoodie's pocket. "I kind of wish I could've gone to the nanotechnology speech, but… I'm pretty sure I'll be able to watch it online later."

"Well, I'd thought about it, but doing that with one armor honestly sounds pretty inefficient," Tony says, taking her sarcazzing of him as if it was a serious suggestion. "I mean, I could program an army of them to do it remotely. But when you send an army of what become essentially unmanned drones into another country it creates a lot of political red tape. Still. Something to think about in the bath tonight, thanks for the idea."

Perhaps that's Tony's revenge: giving Noemi the idea of him sitting in the bath. He doesn't seem to mind that she goes for a beer. He must be one of those COOL recovering alocholics. "Yeah, it'll be on Youtube for free," Tony notes. "You might have to sit through a BMW ad or something, though, but hopefully it'll at least be a nice BMW."

Noemi has a sip of her beer. She glances then towards Sloane again — and Sloane may have a sinking feeling because she's got a look that says she SAW something. NOTICED something. But then —

She winks at Sloane. "It'll be good to have more folks around anyway if I get into the grad program. I wanna introduce you to some people later." UH OH! Then, back to Tony.

Her expression flattens as the question of drones comes up. This is partly concealed by having her lips around the fluted rim of a beer bottle, which she tips up. After that, she says, "I guess while I have you here, Mr. Stark — What do you think of all this Knightwatch sh - ahem, /stuff."

(ed note: Knightwatch is some kind of 'let's put people in power armor to suppress the criminals with powers and stuff!' initative that scrolled off the boards! It's possible Stark got mentioned in it but we can't remember! It probably won't lead to some sort of preposterous crossover event this summer. - Lyin' Larry)

The politics of unmanned drones being flown into the airspace of other sovereign countries does not go over her head, but she does not engage there— just giving a slow nod to agree with what he's saying. With the over-eager attitude of a teenager, Sloane lets the smile flop sideways into a sharper sort of grin. "They got you on the clock to say that as much as possible, huh?"

The look Noemi gives her is the kind of look that leaves her a little bewildered, wondering— like did she notice the physical aspects of her mutation? Or did it take her /this long/ to actually notice? Whichever the case is, she takes an awkward sip from her glass of orange juice, bypassing the straw this time.

She'd get to /meet/ some people? "Oh, really?" she asks, sounding a bit excited. "That'd be great! I'm actually really considering coming here."

Tony Stark's stance on mutantcy and Sloane's specific mutantcy remains mum, though perhaps not calling attention to it is his way of not walking up to someone with a hook and immediately asking 'So how'd you lose your hand?'

"The Knightwatch thing… I haven't had time to really dig into that one deeply, but from what my assistant tells me, it sounds an awful lot like a misguided attempt to do some kind of superhero PMC. Which, don't get me wrong, I support our troops, and I also support our vigilantes — within reason — but this really sounds like it could end badly. But maybe it won't. I guess we'll have to find out." Tony shrugs.

At least that's better than 'high five! No, I didn't say high one -'

"That's kind of cavalier, isn't it?" Noemi says, perhaps to see if she can make ANOTHER rich guy feel guilty in the bathtub. "Like I always wonder, is this just some way to try and go back into Qurac, or is it just so they can crack down on folks." After this she sips the beer again. It's a lingering thing. She then drags Sloane into this, asking her, "What do you think about all that? I dunno, I'm just thinking they're gonna give it to the cops."

And from there, well.

To Tony, she asks, "Have you ever had to wrestle with cops?"

Sloane looks vaguely uncomfortable by this, but takes a moment to think about her own answer while pointedly buying time by taking a large enough sip from the glass of orange juice that she can finally see the bottom of the externally-frosted glass. Swallowing, letting it settle, and then looking up, knit brows lead to a pursed lips and a frown, and …

"I think if you break the law, you should face justice for it." She says it with all the straightforward idealism of someone that has yet to face down the ugly side of this world, right down to the strong gaze that shows she's firm in her belief. "And if they give it to the police to protect people, they should use it responsibly."

And then the awkward look toward Tony— toward Iron Man. Is he technically under any jurisdiction? Is 'I'm Tony freaking Stark' enough of a reason to keep him from getting in trouble for vigilante justice? But then there's other factors to consider, aren't there…?

Then, her gaze turns down to the glass, like she's attempting to eke out the last few drops. "I guess. That's what I think, anyway."

"Probably," Tony answers. "If I did, I was too drunk to remember it." He says it in a flip way, but there's obviously some truth to that answer.

"I agree with Sloane," Tony notes. "I believe in justice, which is more than just 'who has the guns.' That's why I'm not selling Iron Man suits to every Mugabe who can cough up the money for one. I'm as fallible as any man — see previous statement regarding recovering from alcoholism — but I'm still the man I trust the most with my armor. If I make mistakes, they're my own, not dictated by policy or corporate economics. And since the suit's my intellectual property and all the trademarks are in my name, I'm not subject to getting fired from being Iron Man if I don't tow the line for the White House — not that they've asked, recently." Tony breathes out, and has a sip of his coke.

"This is an age of miracles, Noemi. Technological, biological, and on the macro superheroic level all the way down to the way we think about our next door neighbors. People still think you can 'catch' mutantcy if you're pregnant, like the Zika virus. People still think Reed Richards has a flying bathtub, so of course he must be hoarding the cure for cancer to himself. We're evolving, as a planet, and right now we're in the rough patch of that. I can only speak for myself, but what I want to do with my suit and my money and my company is help the planet through that process, to keep it moving forward into a better state, not backward so that we're a global Syria situation. I hope Knightwatch is on the same page as me. If not, me and my friends with shields and hammers will help set them right."

After Tony speaks, Noemi is silent, eyes wide, for several seconds.

"You're way smoother than the last rich guy to chat me up," Noemi says after. It comes out without hesitation or, apparently, conscious thought.

Then she laughs, tensing up. She looks over at Sloane - "Yeah, going to school here, you get a lot of weird shit happening." Beer #2 apparently broke the cussin' barrier. "I live in M-Town so that doesn't help anything, but, you know how it is. I hear the NYPD actually tried to arrest a mailman the other day."

(ed note: this actually happened)

This, now, is where Sloane finally looks the most uncomfortable— statements like 'catching mutantcy,' reporting neighbors, and all the worst parts of what's come out of the last eighteen years that she's been personally privy to. The glass shifts to be held with both hands, looking for a long moment at the scales that smooth out over her hands and knuckles before they give way to "normal" skin.

At least Beer #2 has come to save her social experience at the university.

While the thought crosses her mind that Tony Stark knows the Avengers with that last statement, as well, she seems less excited about it and more subdued; facing the realities of the world that exists outside of the stone walls and grounds of the X-school. A handful of years ago, she would have just kept her head down and try to not draw attention to herself.

Now…?

"Wait, arrest a /mailman/? Whatever for?" There's a brief pause, head tilting. "I guess if he was reading the mail or something, but …"

"Wow," Tony says in response to Noemi. "He must have been pretty bad, then, because I haven't even started yet." He grins, and it's to his credit that for an old rich dude, he has a great smile.

Tony glances over to Sloane, and sips his Coke while he waits for the answer, though his hand is over the logo, so it skates by product placement laws.

"Mailmanning while black," Noemi says soberly. Then to Tony, "Oh, Christ, he was awful. He told me about his donations to mutant rights like four times and told me how pretty I was just the way I am, like, six? I actually had the counter lady where we were having coffee give me that, you know, 'do I need to call someone' look."

"Oh. … Wow." It's not said in jest, but with widened eyes and looking down a smidge.

Setting down the empty orange juice glass and instead fishing for a Coke of her own, Sloane takes that moment to think about it. Is Noemi a mutant, then? Or just an ally for the cause? Either way, it's a nice thought to have— someone in the room that she can take solace in possibly being just as screwed up socially as she is. She's a bit careful while twisting off the cap, too.

She smirks a little again, shaking her head before taking a sip from the bottle. "Times like this, I think I'm glad I managed to miss all of Dad's big business dinners." Not that she had too much of a choice, at the time.

"Mister Stark!"

It's the call of someone with a press pass, possibly from the student newspaper, possibly from a real newspaper. Either way, they have a real camera, not just an iPhone. Tony grabs the two girls' shoulders.

"Big smiles," Tony says, more casually than commandingly, and he puts on his Alpha Rich Guy smile again for the flash of the photo being taken — Tony Stark at a mixer with two students, it looks like, except one's a graduate and one's a prospect. "No offense, ladies, but I think I'm starting to attract a little too much attention, so I should probably mingle my way back towards the door." Tony flips his sunglasses down. "Nogueira," Tony says, pointing to Noemi, "and Lynwood," he finishes, turning the finger towards Sloane. "We'll continue this conversation later. Promise."

And with that, Tony starts schmoozing back towards the door, possibly to fly away in armor.

Noemi looks towards the camera with surprise even as she's grabbed. She looks positively starstruck in the moment of Photography.

It may get deemed Problematic later.

"uh," she says, then, "Sure, I guess, see you," and then to Sloane, "Jesus!! OK, do you wanna hang around here or what?"

If not, next stop: the increasingly problematically acronymed mutant rights activist hotspot.

Suddenly, Tony Stark has a hand on her. Two thoughts shoot through her mind— first, her mind reminds her that /holy crap this is Tony freaking Stark/. Second, there's no way that the school and her parents won't find out about this. Smiling brightly for the camera, she's hoping that the scales won't reflect too much in the blur of professional photographers and that she'll just look like some quirky ginger girl.

As Tony meanders through the crowd, Sloane's free hand suddenly finds it's way to her phone, then realizes she didn't ask for a picture with him— at least one that she could slap on her phone later as wallpaper for bragging rights. I mean sure, newspapers and all, but…

Thumbing the phone a bit, her head tilts before shrugging at Noemi. "I think I have another hour before I have to leave. I think my tour guide is stuck to some investor's butt," the X-student says with a mild gesture to the crowd.

Next stop: A really awkward moment where she'll have to confess that she's going to a posh school upstate where she gets to basically live in her own refridgerator.

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