Consulting Partnership

August 24, 2016:

Liz Allan returns to Stark Industries with a very, very interesting proposal (emits by Paradox)

Stark Tower - New York


NPCs: Liz Allan



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The last time Elizabeth Allan had been in Pepper Potts office, the visit had been sort of 'officially unofficial'. It was kind of a 'one CEO to another' kind of thing.

Today Elizabeth Allan has business. The kind of business that Brinley Meyers might have some insight into - Biomedical business.

It's actually something of a curiosity that Miss Allan does have business here, actually. Stark Industries is known for many things, but a focus on the biomedical business is not one of them unless its through subsidiaries. Nevertheless, Miss Allan promised that what she had to propose would be of great interest to Stark Industries in general and possibly Pepper in particular.

And today Miss Allan isn't alone either. She's brought two others with her. One is a sharply dressed brunette with a tablet, the other is an older man with a briefcase and the air of a lawyer about him.

Once again, Pepper has scheduled this meeting for one of the ground floor conference rooms and asked Brinley to be there. She moves to greet Ms. Allan and her associates when they arrive, and invites them to sit.

"I do have to admit, Ms. Allan, I was suitably intrigued when you asked to meet again." Already seated at the conference table are a tiny, dour-faced, older Japanese woman and a chipper-looking blonde with decidedly ecclectic fashion sense, right down to the pale green legal pad and fluorescent orange feather-topped pen.

Brins rather intrigued by the request as well. Elizabeth Allan has somewhat of a reputation and that she's approaching Stark on Biomed business is interesting.

Dressed in a smart business suit, pants; jacket; and blouse, the small X-Red is standing to the left of the blonde when Ms Allan enters and holds out a hand.

"A pleasure to see you again, Ms Allan. Brinley Myers." she offers with a smile. "Would you like tea?" It's part of the gig, she'll act as Peppers PA, read the emotions in the room and even get involved in the conversation.

Liz Allan herself reads quite confident. As well she should be after the press conference she had this afternoon. To say that it had gone well is something of an understatement. Her companions are more reserved. The woman is full of nervous energy. Not nervous per se but she's definitely antsy. Excitable. The man? He regards everything with a sort of cool, calm reserve reflected in his emotions.

"Tea would be lovely, Miss Meyers, thank you." Allan says as she sits. "Allow me to introduce Grace Nguyen, head of pharmatech R and D and Victor Cross, from legal." Both nod to Pepper as they sit.

"As you have no doubt heard, the merger I spoke to you about a little while ago was approved by Federal regulators and has gone through. As of today Allan Chemical Company has acquired Horizon Labs and all of its research, patents and projects. We've renamed the company 'Alchemax'." Liz smiles, seeming pleased. "As part of our new direction we're restarting the approval process of two new anti-cancer treatments that have shown tremendous promise in trials. Unfortunately previous management at Horizon had let the process with the FDA drag out. We're pursuing these as a top priority and barring any serious problems should have them ready for approval quite soon. Grace, if you would?"

Grace transfers a mass of data from her tablet to Stark's systems, that is to say to JARVIS and FRIDAY - which ever one of them is helping Pepper at the moment. "As you can see we're pursuing a new round of clinical trials to clear up any possibility of data rigging or malfeasance by previous researchers or management, but the results speak for themselves. This has potential to be a legitimate cure for cancer. At the very least it will significantly reduce mortality rates on almost all forms of the disease."

Pepper Potts nods, and gestures to the two women on her side to introduce them as well. "This is Nakamura Saori, head of SI R&D, and this is Heather Ramirez from our legal department." The former merely nods, her displeasure at being pulled away from her research projects likely VERY clear to Brinley, and Heather's cheerful attire perfectly matching her equally cheerful demeanor, with a very sharp and alert mind there as well.

As the data is uploaded for FRIDAY to peruse, Pepper glances over the quick overview bits she can see as the iniformation flashes past. "How are these cancer treatments administered? They must be truly revolutionary to be showing the results you've mentioned."

"A pleasure Ms Nguyen, Mister Cross." Brin greets the other two before setting about to make tea for the group. It doesn't take long before mugs are transferred to the table and the brunette is taking her own place at the table.

Saori gets a small smile. Yes, Brin can detect her annoyance, something similar to working with team mates who hate doing admin … they'd rather be out in the field.

"That's very impressive, Ms Allan" the Empath murmurs, waiting for the data to appear on the screen "You said you were clearing the possibility of there any many malfeasance and data rigging, was this an issue with the previous Horizon management?" Brin knows, from her own personal experiences lately, that some clinics test drugs illegally. Not that Alchemax would, but it's caught her interest. "Oh, and congratulations on the merger."

Still, even with these questions, the brunette does wonder, what does this have to do with Stark Industries.

Grace continues, answering Pepper's question. "You're aware that cancer is, at it's base, a harmful mutation. A cell's DNA is damaged in such a way that it reproduces out of control, creating more diseased cells around it until it becomes a tumor. The therapy that has been developed uses a natural process - a viral one in fact - to inject 'clean' DNA into diseased cells, halting the process and even causing them to reverse tumor growth through natural apotosis."

Liz takes it up from there. "We can't be certain that any particular study was tainted, of course, but there was enough shady business and loose ethical practices that it's good to be sure. So far, though, everything looks on the up and up. That's where Stark comes in, actually."

Now it's Mister Cross' turn to open his case. He slides a folder across the table. There's drawings inside, each watermarked with the new Alchemax logo.

"These viral treatments are most effective when delivered directly to the infected site rather than via traditional innoculations. Doing so without overly harming the patient requires higher precision surgery than most hospitals can offer. But we don't think that has to be the case. Our biomed team has roughed out the requirements for an entirely new computer assisted surgical suite that would let surgeons in less well equipped and staffed hospitals offer the same level of service currently available only in the nations top medical facilities. Unfortunately while my people are biomedical experts, they are not mechanical experts. We simply don't have that kind of expertise in house…" But Stark? Stark does in spades.

Pepper's eyebrows go up at the explanation. "You're talking about reversing the mutation in the cells." And yes, her mind DOES instantly go to the OTHER kind of mutation that people might be trying to figure out ways to reverse.

The foldr from Mister Cross is promptly handed over to Nakamura, who starts studying the information contained within, nodding to herself on occasion. This, this she can understand. Heather, in the meantime has been jotting notes for herself with her feathery orange pen. In shorthand.

After a brief glance at Nakamura and seeing the nodding going on there, she looks at Ms. Allan again. "I suspect a delivery system will be a fairly straightforward build. I'm honestly more concerned about the ethical ramifications of a therapy that reverses changes in human DNA." It's a veiled way of saying she's worried about anti-mutant research. Likely not from Ms. Allan and her company, but from someone that sees the more … xenophobic possibilities in this new therapy.

Funny how Pepper picked up on that. It was probably the first thing that Brin heard. Reversing Mutations. Yet, it's a damn valid application of the technology and she can't fault that.

"It's a big undertaking, Ms Allan." the brunette says as she glances at the plans. "And certainly a worthy one. We've been searching for the cure for cancer for a very long time." As Pepper raises the most pertinent point as far as Brin can see, she nods slowly, choosing to say nothing at the moment.

If Allan has done her homework, she'll know that Brins a mutant and the technology might well be a cause for concern.

"A valid concern." Grace nods. "It's not quite the same thing, though. In theory, sure, the same general technique could be used to suppress an X-Gene complex, but the cancer mechanism is relatively well understood whereas the number of people who 'understand' mutant genetics is… very low. Moreover, it affect that manner of change across someone's entire body would require a series of tailored viruses to be delivered in concert in absolutely massive doses. The chances of it working with all those interactions I couldn't begin to calculate. But they're pretty low."

Liz and Cross simply watch Pepper and Brinley, waiting to see what they think.

Pepper Potts nods slowly at Grace's words, still not completely convinced. Dr. Erskine and Howard Stark were able to successfully create Project Rebirth in the 1940s, after all, and they hadn't even begun mapping human DNA at that point. "The potential repercussions for the mutant community can't be ignored here. But at the same time, we can't abandon this potential breakthrough. I think as long as both of our companies maintain as much transparency as possible to reduce the X-gene supression potential, I think we're already off to a good start."

She looks at Nakamura, Ramirez, and Brinley. "Does anyone have any other questions or concerns?"

"Not quite the same thing, no." Brin murmurs, listening carefully to Grace and assessing the womans' emotions. "If we did nothing with our ideas because someone might do something wrong with them, then we'd do nothing, wouldn't we?"

Whilst not much is known about the X-Gene at the moment, it won't always be so. Brin knows that. And in that time, this type of technology will have evolved, and could well address a 'whole of body' treatment. But these are problems for later.

"I'm interested, Miss Potts, in what Alchemax are actually proposing. They want Stark Industries to create the facilities, but what's the business arrangement to be? Is it simply they buy the 'product' from you, or are they proposing something … more?"

"Well, we're going to create a product, a cancer treatment if the FDA approves its production. But if we do under present circumstances it'll only be a treatment option for people who can afford to be at the best of hospitals. And charity cases I'm sure, but…" Liz shakes her head. "Far better for them, and far better for us if it's more widely available, but to do that more hospitals need to be able to conduct the surgery."

Liz gestures to Mister Cross who produces more papers. They're drafts and clearly marked as such but they're drafts for a consulting partnership… with Alchemax doing the consulting. "So what I'm proposing is that we work together. My company can provide all the medical expertise you'd need to build a computer assisted surgery and trauma suite capable of making it to the mass hospital market. Your company has all the technical expertise necessary to pull it off, and the computing expertise to boot. Why not let us consult for you as you design a new Stark product, one that would be of great service and I think great profit for you whether or not our therapies are approved?"

She's sincere at least.

Heather reaches to accept the drafts, and starts leafing through them. It might look like she's only idly skimming the documents, but Pepper chose her because she mentally processes data nearly as fast as Tony does. While she does so, Pepper poses the next question that occurs to her.

"If I may ask, why structure the partnership so Alchemax is the consulting partner instead of the other way around? I can't say that this kind of quantum leap forward in medical technology would not be a huge feather in Stark Industries' cap, but why would you not want that credit?"

It would be unusual for Liz Allan to turn up with lawyers and tech people in tow, for it to be a simple transaction. Brin knows.

Settling in to listen, the brunette sips her tea. "It's a good approach, making the technology accessible." And Stark certainly has the wherewithall to do it.

Peppers question has Brin looking between the group, wondering. Why? Maybe Alchemax needed the gravitas someone like Stark brings or maybe, the lead time for the construction was such that the equipment could well be advanced by the time the FDA approval is received.

"Quite simply because we can't." Liz admits. "Believe me if we could do this in house I'd have people working 'round the clock on it. But this technology can't become reality without a lot of expertise and work on someone else's part. I figured the best way to entice you to do it would be to make it a good deal for you. Alchemax will reap the benefits, of course, if our therapies go through. So how to get Stark Industries to put work into building infrastructure for us?" She smiles. "Well the only way I can think is if you also reaped the benefits."

The blonde CEO smiles at Pepper and Brin can practically feel the sincerity flowing off her. "As I said, I don't think we need be competitors, Miss Potts."

Pepper Potts finally honestly smiles back. She doesn't voice it aloud, but she would have agreed to being the consulting partner for this venture if that was what Ms. Allan had proposed. "I don't think we need to be competitors either." She glances to Nakamura and Ramirez one more time each, getting affirmative nods from each of them. "I think we're on the cusp of an excellent partnership." She stands, offering Liz a handshake. It's not set in stone yet, of course, but it's the agreement to get the process started.

Clever woman, Liz Allan. Brin smiles as well. This is going to be an interesting time with an excellent outcome.

Still, she'll be watching this gene therapy closely and doing her own research. Can't hurt to be cautious, can it?

"Sounds like it, Miss Potts." she adds as she stands as well. If they're done here, she'll clean up. She's still work in the office to do.

Liz stands up and accepts that handshake. "Wonderful. Mister Cross will be in contact with your legal department soon to go through the details. It's been a pleasure Miss Potts. Miss Meyers."

That seems to have gone well. They'll be on their way out in just a moment and all smiles.

Pepper Potts smiles and nods to Liz et al, and moves to walk them out. "Likewise, Ms. Allan. I look forward to working with you more in the future." She tosses a smile toward Brinley as they go. This really does seem to be the beginning of something very good for a LOT of people.

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