June 30, 2017:

Nathaniel Richards and Jessica Jones run into one another in the Stark Industries sub-basement where the remains of Holmes' portal still lie in pieces on the floor. Jessica receives an offer.

Stark Industries

Arc power make go.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Thor, Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The sub-sub-sub level of Stark Towers where Tony had told Nathaniel Richards he had a portal stowed is not a place that just anyone can get without some kind of clearance. Without a lot of clearance, in fact.

So it might be reasonable to assume nobody is down there.

Nevertheless, someone is down there. A woman comes clomp clomp clomping up a pair of iron access stairs from one floor below, with what looks for all the world like a sleeping bag under her arm. She's scowling as she uses her free hand to fiddle with some sort of device. Black of hair and sharp of eye, she doesn't even look like a normal Stark Industries employee…ratty jeans and a green tank top account for that.

The bedroll is of no consequence; she drops it in favor of leaning against the wall to study the device some more. She happens to be leaning next to the portal that Tony told him about. The thing is pretty smashed up— it took some big huge doses of 'Thor's Hammer', but it obviously is powered on arc reactor technology. Those who know what to look for would know that it at least used to be capable of traveling to alternate dimensions.

Mr. Stark invited Nathaniel to study the portal, so he got the clearance. What he didn't have was the time. Stark had him working all the week in a Spoiler's graphene-based light armor. Maniac. Stark is a maniac. But it was fun. They just have to develop in a week the technology it would take 50 years to develop under normal circumstances.

Very fun, Nathaniel rarely has his brain challenged like that.

But finally, today, he had an afternoon free. So, he is here to work some more. Because crime never sleeps and so he needs to, uh, examine an alien D-Portal. Right. Avenger business as usual.

Armored in silver and red and pools of golden light, Iron Guard steps are clearly audible as he comes down to the chamber. A cursory scanning reveals Jessica's presence. "Good afternoon," he greets, pulling off his helmet. "Ms. Jones," he adds.

Jessica Jones frowns at Nathaniel and says, "Do I know you?"

The tone is wary, guarded. The guy is obviously in some sort of Iron Man armor, but that, in and of itself, doesn't mean a whole lot. Still, the armor, the presence down here and his knowledge of her mostly blunt the suspicion. She pauses in her study of the thing in her hand, but she doesn't push off her casual spot on the wall.

"Wait, I do feel like I've seen you somewhere. That science fair, right? Princeton?" Man, this would make him the second person in as many days that she's run into again from that fair.

"Yes, May 27th," confirms the young man. He has a faint but unrecognizable accent in his speech, which seems to avoid all contractions. "But I did not recognize you then. I am Nathaniel Richards, codename Iron Guard. One of Mr. Stark teammates in the Avengers." He offers her his hand.

"He told me about this device," he continues, frowning at the battering the gate has suffered. And Arc Reactor technology. He expected something more complicated from Stark's words. Still, he needs to perform a throughout analysis. "Tell me, do you know about this machine?" He asks, his eyes back on the woman.

"Why would you recognize me now?" Jessica asks dryly, taking his hand and shaking it. "I'm just a god damn PI. Nice to meet you, Mr. Richards. I'm glad to see the Avengers are taking this seriously."

That's nothing but genuine. Her shake is firm but not overly so, and she steps back from him shortly thereafter.

"Uh. Well. If you're looking for the technical details…arc power make go. If you want the story behind it, that, I can give you. What would you like to know specifically?"

She's learned asking that question prevents her from full scale infodumping.

"Everything," of course, he is a scientist! He wants to know everything. "I see the Arc Reactor variant tech, but it has taken damage from an Uru weapon with some… esoteric proprieties." He sighs. It probably means an Asgardian, and it probably means magic mucking everything up.

Still, the young leaves his helmet on a table, and the helmet shift shapes to reconfigure into a sensory array that looks like something like an upside down metal spider with luminous tendrils extending halfway to the portal.

Holographic screens begin to pop up, one every few seconds, showing graphs and schematics, the lettering in strange glyphs that have little resemblance to any current human language.

Jessica scrubs her fingers through her hair. "Okay," she says slowly, trying to figure out where to begin. The best and most succinct way.

"The Uru weapon was Thor, smashing it up cause we thought an army was coming through it, and yes, it's powered with Arc technology. A refugee from another universe slipped into ours and built it. He was trying to save his family and a bunch of other refugees from this world eating machine god calling itself Decimux. He was originally a SHIELD agent over there, and came here and used those fake credentials to inspire 4 Stark employees to steal tech for him and design the thing. When he didn't need them anymore he used his mind control powers to force them to commit suicide."

She kicks the bedroll and says dryly, "Stark hired me to find the murderer and thief. Never thought I'd find him camped out in Stark's building, but he was using the arc reactor to hide from Tony's satellite scans and from Decimux. Tony, Thor, Peggy Carter and I came down and confronted him. He opened this thing. We got the nasty experience of watching the earth in that other universe die before the portal collapsed."

Nathaniel keeps working while Jessica summarizes the story of the portal, up until the end, when she mentions the portal collapsing. "Stark mentioned a few refugees," he comments. "I suppose this portal was pointing to specific space-time coordinates. Which no longer exist in a recognizable form. Not delving into the Bleed, after all." Which is almost a relief. But dangerous super-tech is still good if, as Tony sad, 'we get it before they do'.

"Still, it might be possible to realign. Even having a gateway between two fixed points could be advantageous," he considers. "The Justice League has teleporting systems between their embassies." He smiles as his devices finish the mapping of the circuitry and internal mechanisms. Ping.

Ok, back to Jessica. "Recognizing you from historical records. It involves Time Travel so you might want to avoid the issue." He grins, "in my experience most people end up with a headache and some variant of 'I hate time travel' comment."

Yeah, he's saying a boatload of things Jessica doesn't particularly understand. Bleed?

"I suppose teleportation would be handy. Would sure save a lot of driving."

Recognizing her from historical records? She pulls a slightly skeptical face. Not at the time travel bit, but for other reasons. "Yeah, I'll just take your word for it. Time travel, it's a thing, I believe you. Anyway, the solving mysteries part of this seems to have progressed to the 'need to punch world eating god in the face' part of this thing."

The thing in her hands pipes up as she accidentally flips a switch.

"Authorization accepted: Agent Jones," says a voice, and a hologram pops up, a file. "Oh. Huh."

She decides some explanation is in order, and jerks her thumb at the portal. "From over there. Agent Jones. Dead now, but I guess biometrics are biometrics."

Nathaniel looks somewhat distracted, as his armor is feeding him an alarming amount of information directly into his brain. And it can wait. He closes his eyes briefly and then looks at Jessica's device. "Is that the portal controler?" His own holoscreens are blinking out, and on the table there is again a silver and red helmet.

He might have wasted some time with the scanning if there is a control unit that can perform diagnostics by itself, so he is quite curious about the message, so he maneuvers around Jessica to read what it says.

"No, it's just some sort of PDA device with a personell file on it. Looks like my perpetrator was in some sort of massive SHIELD foster care program over there, which explains a few of his comments."

The message seems to be some kind of identification cylinder.

Adam Michael Holmes - SHIELD ID 72863775


Wife - Emma Holmes

Children - Anna, Jordan, Edward Holmes

Parents - Unknown, SHIELD Foster Class 11828

SHIELD Foster Batch - Tony Mengucci, Adam King, Abdul Khalid, Moshin Habib, Kinsey Sheridan, Catherine Craft, Ola Norogo, Jane Battle, Javier Hernandez.

Graduated SHIELD Foster program for orphaned youth 2011.

Assigned to Spec Ops Division 2012

She chucks it into a plastic bag. "It doesn't tell us much we didn't already know. Useless evidence. I think I crushed the thing he was using to control it, actually. He was wearing a watch; it was generating some personal forcefield for him too. Sorry…I didn't really think about anyone needing it later. Tony does have some smaller portals recovered from Decimux's servants though, you could ask him about looking at those too."

She doesn't seem to mind the distraction in particular.

Nathaniel memorizes the information regardless. Massive foster care programs do not seem SHIELD normal operations, but there are hints of special 'orphanages' operating in the US. One never knows.

"No, no problem," he notes about the watch. "It might be useful to examine the remains. But I have enough research material for now. Building a dimensional portal device using current Starktech is a remarkable achievement." It will keep him busy for a while. "Now… I assume you are working for Stark short term only? You mentioned to be a private investigator." He asks. "Has he offered you permanent employment?"

Who knows what they did on the other side? And that bit definitely is from there.

"Permanent employment? No, I don't think that's on the table, though he's set up some sort of…I don't know, Jess helps kick Decimux in the nuts fund that I haven't really touched yet cause I'm not sure how to use the thing correctly. I guess I'm on that for 'as long as it takes.'" Jessica says with a faint frown, tilting her head at Nathaniel. "Why, you got a case for me?"

She takes out a small notebook, just in case he does, and just in case she needs to take some notes.

"The Avengers always have cases," replies Nathaniel, thoughtful. "Spoiler is a competent enough detective. But there is always more to investigate, and she is from Gotham." And he really should talk with Captain Marvel before offering. But…

"Pending on finishing your business with Stark and Captain Marvel approval, but I am quite sure the Avengers would greatly benefit to have you hired on a semi-permanent basis," he explains. For historical reasons. "You are a metahuman, correct?"

Jessica Jones does a double take.

The Avengers want to hire her.

On a semi-permanent basis.

The Avengers.

She bites back on her standard replies, that she's just some dumb B-lister. Isn't this something very close to what she wants for Alias? Isn't this something she's fucking daydreamed about like a 12 year old? Being an Avenger? (Kind of?)

"Uh. Yeah. Yeah, I sure am," Jessica says, flabbergasted. "Um yeah, you…I accept. I mean. Pending. On the pending things."

Because that's her. Jessica Jones.

Smooth as silk.

Smooth as silk…but damn sure saying yes.

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