Preparedness thy name is Stark

September 02, 2016:

In light of recent events, Tony has made some special provisions for Pepper, and reveals the likely first of many.

Characters

NPCs: JARVIS

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"Pepper. One other thing." It's already been yet another late night in the lab, but we'd be lying if any attempt were made to imply that one last thing didn't have a tendency to come up even at the roughest of times. This amendment drives Stark to search his lab thoroughly, hmm'ing softly to himself.

"Now where did I put those—-" he trails off, pokes about a bit more, and then Jarvis uses the room's holographics to highlight the devices Sir is searching for, unbidden. "Thanks Jarvis."

"My pleasure, sir." The unearthed gadgetry appears to be a headset Pepper would recognize as one of the neural-interface computers Stark produces, and interfaces with all night long, alongside a set of futuristic bracelets.


Pepper has taken to doing some of her late evening paperwork in Tony's lab every other evening or so, partly because then she can get signatures as she needs them and partly because she can get him to eat and maybe even call it a night and rest if she's here to pester sufficiently.

This evening, her suit jacket and skirt got swapped out for a pair of black yoga pants before she came down, and has been sitting at her claimed workstation with her legs crossed in the chair, as ungainly as that might seem.

"Hm? One other thing then you're going to actually go get some sleep?" She finishes typing something on the wireless keyboard she insisted on bringing to use even if her 'monitor' is one of JARVIS's holodisplays and then turns to see what Tony's doing. Her eyes land on the interface and the bracelets for a moment, almost questioningly.


Tony treats it like it's no big deal. "One on the wrist, one on the ankle. Press the button to connect the exoskeleton." A metal framework that locks into place around the user's corresponding limbs, fully articulated of course. "The headset's already synched up. Jarvis and I have a pool on how long it takes you to stop staggering into things like a drunk toddler."

Despite already looking down at another monitor, something about energy emission and field integrity, Tony seems to anticipate some degree of incredulity. "What? You had all kinds of complaints about the suit having to pilot you where you needed to go, but those things are expensive. You can't just go careening into things if you need to be saved again." Utterly deadpan, just now.


Clearly, it takes Pepper a moment to catch up to Tony's train of thought. "Wait, what?" She's still all pretzeled into her chair, and looking at Tony like he just started speaking to her in Romulan or Tolkein Elvish. "The suit? Did you…" She stares at Tony for a second. "Did you create an armor interface for me? Why? The armors don't fit me." She knows they're all built to Tony's specifications.


"The armors fit basically anyone who's not bigger than me." Stark patiently reminds her. "Internal gel layer? Shock absorbent and ergonomic, conforms to the user?" He probably got into this one of the times she wasn't really listening to him, or was talking to himself.

"Most people are just useless in them, even if they somehow get past every security check." Rough watermark, that. "It takes practice, lots of practice. It's like learning to walk all over again. Unless you're Rhodey." Stark mutters an expletive under his breath. Rhodes has some kind of unnatural affinity for weaponized hardware, only explanation. "I know, I know, they chafe. They pinch. One thing at a time, Pepper, jeez."


"But… why?" Maybe it's worth noting that Pepper's not refused the items, she merely seems confused. "And no offense to that internal gel layer or whatever it is, but our legs are not the same length, and there's only so much compensation that can be done there." Most likely unconsciously, she lets one of her legs dangle off of the chair she's in, her currently bare foot still a good few inches above the floor where her shoes rest.


"What?" Tony inquires, looking back to Pepper at last and arching his brows, "Various life-threatening scenarios on your agenda every day, you don't think you should be prepared in the case of an emergency?" Which, to be fair, is definitely an answer that tends to confirm Stark's up to something beyond what he's saying.

The other concerns are waved off, "Each joint's seal has a bit of wiggle room, Jarvis knows how to set it up." She's not really wrong on any key point there, either. 'It works' is as much of a defense as Tony can really muster.


That statement earned a lifted eyebrow from Pepper. "So, you're planning on having one of your armors follow me around everywhere from now on? Doesn't that seem a bit… blatant?" Oh, and lame excuse about joints is lame. "Tony, I happen to know that your inseam measurement is four inches longer than mine. There is no way a 'bit of wiggle room' is enough to compensate for that." Maybe if she's caught wearing her heels inside the suit, but that has its own set of complications.


"Hence the pinching and chafing." Tony concedes, as if it were his point all along. "They're usually closer than you'd think." Squirreled away here, waiting to deploy there. Preparedness thy name is Stark; or maybe he's just a little obsessed with building suits of power armor. "Look, if you don't want to learn…." There's a hint of a smile on his face, now. He can't really help himself.


Whoa. He's giving her the chance to LEARN to control the armors instead of just having it catch her like Karen Allen caught in a woven basket? Act cool, Virginia. "Well, it can't be any worse than learning to walk in five-inch Manolos, can it? Sure." She finally drops her other leg out of the chair and hops to her feet. "What's the worst that can happen?"


"Fractures. Concussion." Tony helpfully answers the question. "Contusions and injured pride are much more likely, however." The smile comes to fruition, and he taps a few buttons on the display to run another analysis. "In my experience, Pepper, I've got to warn you, the stilettos are easier." Which is a way of saying good luck.

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