What Could Go Wrong?

January 26, 2018:

Tony Stark wants to borrow the Titans' Speedster for a bit. Red Robin tags along to provide technical feedback.

Stark Industries


NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Hulk, Owen Mercer, Professor Zoom, Zatanna Zatara


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…



Speed Force even.

After talking to someone from STAR Labs, it would make sense for him to leave this matter to the experts. To work on his own projects. Leave the speedster problems to SHIELD or the JLA. People that didn't have multiple broken bones and could actually do something about it.

Which is of course why that is the exact opposite of what he actually does.

The day after that meeting he had called the Titans. One of the few local groups that actually had access to a speedster of their own. Set up a meeting. There were a few things he wanted to try after all. He invited anyone who liked to come to come along.

With the warning that that tower was a mess.

Which is still is.

But the representatives would be shown up to an elevator. Whisked up to the top of the spire of technology where the view is spectacular.

It is probably not fun being stuck with a speedster in an elevator. -correction, it is probably not fun being stuck with a speedster who at his worst has the attention span of a gnat and would have preferred to race the elevator by taking the stairs, if only the damage in areas of the building weren't questionable. That's not to say that the trip up is a long one. It just is to Impulse, because….well, Impulse.

There's a lot of foot-tapping, pacing and probably a fair amount of handprints within the elevator's confines. It seems like hours before their floor is pinged, and the teenage Speedster is already out the door before the thing slides open completely. And if no one intercepts him once he's out, he's ready to give himself a tour of the floor. Was there something about meeting protocols? Or maybe this is why they don't usually bring him to meetings. Of course, when he's specifically asked for, well, what can you do?

Fortunately, Red Robin has a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with Impulse. If there's anyone who can deal with being stuck in a confined space with the speedster from the distant future, it's the former Boy Wonder, who treats the whole thing with exactly the sort of zen-like calm you would expect from someone who's managed to be friends with Impulse and Superboy for years without going completely insane.

The secret is meditation. Calm focus to blot out distractions, to let any traces of annoyance as Impulse practically climbs the walls of the elevator flow through him without gaining purchase.

Also, a quiet, soothing 'sounds of the forest' audio track playing on his earpiece.

So when they get to the top floor, Red Robin's relief is honestly only slightly more muted than the speedster's, in that he actually waits for the elevator doors to open before he heads inside, looking around carefully through the featureless white lenses of his domino mask, the onboard computer and AR HUD merrily tagging away.

"Impulse, be caref—" Nope he's gone. Though the odds on any automated security having survived demonic computer viruses or the Hulk do seem kind of on the low side. It should be fine.

Thankfully for all involved the security systems are down. Either knocked out or turned off by someone who watched videos of Impulse fighting and figured out just what was about to happen.

That someone is standing by the elevator, out of the way as Bart tears though to give himself a tour.

It's a hell of a lab really. Though most of the supertech is still put away and a good bit of it is messy from the visits from multiple villians, the workshops are filled with gadgets to touch and poke, holographic images and drones, lights and music and sounds enough to satisfy the senses.

And a massive tea maker and coffee machine and expresso maker in one corner.

Those are on every floor really.

Tony Stark just smirks as he watches Bart zip around the lab. "…well…that's kinda what I wanted him to do anyway so…I suppose this works." A glance back towards Tim. "Thanks for coming."

If you can play video games on these things somewhere then Tony might make himself a new friend. If Impulse had heard Red Robin's warning then he's either dismissed it or figured it's just Tim being Tim…which is the same as dismissing it, really. Aside from the breeze that picks up when he runs by, the only real sign of Impulse's movement from place to place is when he stops to eyeball something up close or poke at things, probably hoping something might reveal itself to be a private arcade.

-oh wait, they're here for a reason, huh? His thoughts catch up with him although it's too late to say before he can get carried away, but the Speedster is back and over beside Tim as though he'd just stepped out of the elevator with him. He grins a bit sheepishly at Tony.

There are times, you know, when Red Robin honestly regrets listening to the people who told him he was getting too distant and isolated. It's easier operating by yourself, not having to wrangle a whole team of people. Especially when one of those people is Impulse, who requires an awful lot of wrangling.

Sometimes, he wonders if Max Mercury still had dark hair before he started looking after his speedy protege.

"Mister Stark," the young vigilante offers by way of a greeting. No voice changer on this costume, as opposed to the heavier, caped and cowled affair he prefers when he's working solo: Just that focused, confident tone that belongs on someone older than 'barely out of high school', quite unlike any perfectly normal college-aged billionaires out there. "Like what you've done with the place, it's very hurricane chic. You needed some help with your, uh, Banana Flash problem?"

"Something like that," Stark replies as he glances between the pair of young heroes. Shaking his head the doesn't even seem bothered by Impulses…well…Impulses.

"So because I'm feeling generous I turned off the biometric security scanners on this floor. Though I'm going to assume that your suit has ways around those." He adds towards Tim with a grin.

"All these secret IDs. Ah well, at least you don't have people turning your house into hurricane chic. Right?"

The inventor waves his hand towards them as he starts to lead them forwards, towards the centerpiece of the lab. Where Banana Flash happened to be. "I can't even claim that name either. That was all Owen. But I'm totally using it. The name I mean."

The lab he leads them to has a large device in the middle of it. Comfortable size for a coffee table. It looks like a scanner of some sort.

"But yeah, I do. Been trying to figure out a early warning system, trace system, that sort of thing. Kinda hard to just scan for things doing Mach 5 all the time. By the time I'd see him he's gone again. Right?"

He pats the device though.

"Thankfully I had this guy from STAR Labs, did you know they have a Speed Force Team there? I sure didn't. Anyway this guy, Eobard, which is a weird name if you think about it. Said that Speedsters that use this Speed Force thing leak energy. And that energy is traceable. So…" He gestures towards Impulse. Then pauses. "…you do use the Speed Force thing right? Else I'm going to look really stupid and I hate that."

"Well um…secret IDs…kinda go with the whole heroing gig," Impulse says, shrugging. Even if it's sometimes more of a headache to deal with. "Owen, huh. Guess I'm not surprised at that. So ummm, why the 'banana' part?"

He wanders along after Tony, moving closer to have a look at the scanner thingy. "They do? Wow, when did the Speed Force even become something so….I dunno. Known? I mean, even Batman said he studied it." A glance is thrown towards Red Robin as if to ask if he knew something about the Speed Force too before he glances back at Tony with a barely stifled snicker. "Eobard? Wow, that sounds like something from a video game. What was his last name? 'The Scientificator?' ….that's kinda funny though. Batman kinda mentioned the same thing. I mean, I only ever hear Speedsters talking about the Speed Force, so." He shrugs.

Tony gets a grin. "Well yeah, I do. What's the plan?"

The mention of an 'Owen' doesn't go unnoticed, but, well… There's plenty of Owens in the wide world. Red Robin hardly seems to react to the name mentioned - or, really, most of the other stuff, he's a pretty cool customer - until his shoulders lift in the faintest of nearly imperceptible shrugs.

"That's the whole reason we've got the T-shaped tower. Somebody wants to rumble us, they know right where to go." You could argue, of course, that having your name written on the side of a building could have much the same effect for Tony, but… His is probably a lot less intentional. Titans Tower is in the middle of the river, where there's no civilians around, and it's not like the place has any staff beyond the Titans themselves.

He has another shrug, this one in a more helpless flavour, when Impulse looks his way after mentioning the Dark Knight. As though Red Robin kept track of his (former?) mentor's comings and goings!

"It's important to study all the angles," he offers by way of explanation. "Though most of what I know about it comes from observing Impulse directly." So that he can analyse his friend's strengths and weaknesses. For better strategizing, obviously.


"We have some contacts with STAR Labs, but this is news to me. Still, it would be interesting to come up with a reliable mechanism for detecting and tracking speedsters." Interesting… And dangerous. Especially with those rumblings about metahuman registration.

"Yeah, I prefer direct observation. I mean I could go to STAR Labs and listen to theoretical lectures on the nature of blah, blah, blah but what is the fun in that?" The inventor replies with a shake of his head. "Yeah…Eobard Swenson or something, thats what he told me. It could be 'The Scientificator'. He looked like one." A shake of his head again. "Funnny all these Speed Force research things popping up right when we have a new speedster on the rise."

A helpless shrug then. "STAR Labs has one they are perfecting. Something about reading transdimensional energies. Though they couldn't pick up the guy who was here. Likely cause he's from the future, possibly different world future." A beatpause. "Time travel is just mind bendy ain't it?"

A glance at the sensor. "So I built this to detect transdimensional energy. Filtered out all the extra that's lying around my house, and can use it to set up a baseline. Then adjust the frequency of the thing up or down from there to try to suss out our Banana like friend."

A blink at Bart. "Oh! Yellow suit, red lightning. Kinda like a reverse Flash. And he's kinda a jackass so I think it's right to make fun of him."

A smirk. "As for what to do…well…" He taps a wall and a beanbag chair raises up from the floor. A wall panel slides down to reveal a massive TV screen and a table slides out from the wall with a game controller on it.

"I built that thing to be able to allow speed play. SIRIN should be able to keep up with ya."

"I'll do my best!" Comes the perky voice of the AI. Before there is a crackle of static and the voice slips into sarcastic. "Try not to burn out my processors."

A pause.

"In other works, pick a game kid."

A glance at Tim. "As long as he's functioning at super speed he should be releasing energy that is traceable for the baseline."

Strategizing. Riiiight.

"Doesn't Cait work there? At the Labs?" Impulse asks, although otherwise he's right there with Red Robin on this all being news. It's mostly thrown him for a loop, because suddenly it seems like the Speed Force is the new Thing to talk about and he's only used to that talk being done by fellow Speedsters.

Impulse's eyes widen a bit behind his yellow-tinted goggles at the mention of time travelers from the future, abruptly turning his head back towards the scanny thing with a cough. "Er, yeah. That's pretty crazy, haha…hah." Smoooooth.

He's mostly listening to Tony's explanation of how the sensor thing's supposed to work, but once he shifts directions and goes back to describing the so-called 'Banana-Flash,' Impulse frowns. Yellow suit, red lightning, yellow, red, reverse… Professor Zoom-


Whatever revelation that's just dawned upon him doesn't much get expounded upon, and who's to say except for a daring telepath what just went through his mind at a flurry of images per second.

"-huh, who wha-?" He blinks and looks over, staring a bit at the set up before his expression lights up like it's Christmas. "….I knew you had to have a sweet gaming area around here! -who's SIRIN?" Beat. "Oh. Er. No promises?" That'd be to the burn out. There have been many stacks of burnt out video games at the Crandall house in the wake of Bart Allen's turbo thumb-tapping skills. It doesn't take much more invitation than that, and in the next second Impulse has flung himself onto the beanbag chair and grabbed a controller. "Got any good fighting games? Your pick, SIRIN!"

Doesn't Cait work there?

"No, she works for Starrware, they're different," Red Robin explains, with the kind of offhanded patience that suggests he has to explain stuff a lot. "Starrware is a for-profit corporation, STAR Labs just does research for its own sake. The names are kinda confusing," he does admit, grudgingly.

The talk about trans-dimensional energy and seeking out different frequencies just draws a nod out of the young man, the almost-impatient kind that says: Yeah, I follow, get on with it.

"Isolating dimensional harmonics, sure. There's no way movement between realities wouldn't create all sorts of unusual phenomena, even before you bring time travel into it as well. If you could figure out the correct vibrational frequency you could find him or… Really anything from his reality of origin, as well as send him back, hypothetically."

That turns his mind away from concerns that Tony's speedster detection experiments might be used to track down fast metahumans for nefarious purposes, and reminds him of the other extradimensional refugee he's aware of. The one he promised he'd help find a way back. Maybe, with whatever Stark was working on…

The young man's arms fold across his chest, but otherwise he takes to observing silently. He has to proceed carefully, here. What Tony was doing was potentially an enormous boon… And just as potentially a horrible danger.

"Oh thank god I can talk to you like I talk to Banner." Tony says with a sigh of relief. "Most peoples eyes glaze over when I start going on about trans-reality harmonics. So get baseline from Impulse and I should be able to lock onto the right harmonic in a day or two with SIRIN working on it. I figure once I lock that down, I can create a field around the tower to zap him if he comes close enough." A smirk. "I could do that to all Speed Force users but I'd rather just lock down his specific signature. Wouldn't be very neighborly otherwise."

A pause again as he looks away, towards Bart as he plops down in his chair. "Thanks for helping Phil get JARVIS back."

It's muttered, half under his breath. A beatpause in the stream of chatter that is Tony Stark.

"As for sending him back? I'd love to. If you have any way of actually luring him though a portal I'd love to hear it. Though I don't think he liked where he was from much. Kept going on about how our heroic arrogance destroyed the world and gloating about the fact he uses Kree tech."

Bart will find the controller and the TV keep up with his moves. Which…makes it entirely vertigo inducing to watch. Just a blur of colors and motions.

"I am an AI, built to handle a fighter jet going hypersonic speeds!" SIRIN replies happily before there is that tone shift again. "So bring it on, chump."

What loads up is the newest DBZ fighter.

And Tony can't even look at the screen.

So much movement and colors, and he likely still should be in bed with the wounds he has covering him.

Tim and Tony talk science and Bart listens for all of five seconds before tuning out. Science? Not really his forte. He's the one that pokes at stuff to see if it'll do something and try everything until he gets the wanted effect.

"Neeerds," he mutters, maybe to SIRIN as he waits anxiously for the game to boot up. "-oh hey, no prob. Was kinda expecting a demon overlord at the top of the tower to beat but instead the secret boss was underground." Shrug. Sigh.

"-but isn't Professor Banana from like, the past? Or- erm. This time?" Or did someone else screw around with the Cosmic Treadmill? That thing's so annoying. Surely the Flash could have come up with something cooler to travel through time with.

It's not long before Impulse's attention's completely on the game. He's impressed that SIRIN's processing keeps up with him. It's almost like playing with his cousin Jenni. "Oh, it is brought." And he's not about to take lip from an A.I. He'll take SIRIN's challenge. Hopefully nothing implodes if he pushes near-lightspeed, but then he's not even been able to do that with regular videogame systems. Probably because they'd explode. But this one…. Oh ho ho…. It begs to be tested.

Wouldn't be very neighbourly, the Iron Man says.

"Potentially dangerous, too. There could be people out there who don't even realise they have access to the Speed Force, or can only use it in very minor ways. You've probably got enough of a PR problem as it is without somebody's grandmother keeling over from your anti-speedster field." That was, Red Robin supposed, part of why it was so easy for the general populace to get worked up about metas: You never knew how many there were out there. Especially after the trouble with the Terrigen Mists. Metahumans seemed drawn to New York, in far greater numbers than Gotham, or even Metropolis.

Which had its upsides and its downsides.

"Honestly it was half luck that we were there to coordinate with SHIELD in the first place. Zatanna noticed the magical miasma around your tower, and wanted to investigate it, but we weren't going to let her go alone." Because, he leaves unspoken, Impulse might've been right about the demon overlord. Or he might've been right about Tony Stark, mechano-emperor. Or maybe the bug guys?

There's a faint, pensive sound from Red Robin as Tony explains the outrageous claims made by Banana Flash, a destroyed world and the Kree.

"It could be his own timeline doesn't synch up perfectly with ours, Impulse. It could be any number of things. But if he is from the future of an alternate reality, then his knowledge of the past is pretty much useless here." He turns back towards Tony, at that. "So he did the villain gloating thing, huh? Did he give away his master plan, it's really helpful when they do that."

"No…but…" Stark walks over to a panel on the wall. A few button presses and a usb drive is spit out. One that he tosses towards Tim. "That's the security footage of what happened. Bastard wanted to be filmed. Since he figured no one could actually stop him. But…he's definitely from the future. Talked about reading about me in the history books. He could have been playing mind games, but didn't strike me as the type."

Though the drive is for Tim, the words are angled at both of them.

"So either he's completely delusional or he's telling the truth. Least that's the read I got off of it." A smirk crosses his face though. "No he didn't though. Beyond 'be evil' and 'humiliate us all'. Which he declared he would do. Repeatedly. Or something to that effect I stopped listening at some point. But those were the bullet points."

His own mind is already off though on different tracks about what Tim said. "Yeah, ruined enough peoples lives. Don't need to add more work to Pepper and Murdoch." He agrees.

There is guilt there. Under it all. That caviler and offhand comment, guilt that he couldn't do more. Do better. That he hadn't prepared for it. Even if it wasn't something most people could or even would prepare for.

He's Tony Stark. He needs to be better.

He doesn't seem to dwell on it though. Instead he just smirks. Casual as ever, as if self recrimination isn't his constant companion. "I'm glad you all were in the right place right time, love it when it works out like that."

Impulse will find that at least at first the controller, screen, and AI all keep up with him. Though as he slowly ramps things up there are more stutters. More hitches, only for a split second but still noticeable to someone like Bart. Finally around match something thousand there the smell of something familiar to both the gadgeteers and the speedster in the room.

The smell of circuits melting.

Sparks fly from the controller gives way and just vibrates half way apart.

SIRIN? Well…

"I think I can feel my circuits burning, sir." Comes the sardonic voice. "Keeping a fighter from burning up wasn't this difficult." Fizzit. "Do I level up now?"

Tony is staring bemusedly at Impulse. Either because of his timeline slip, or because of he just burned out a controller that should have been able to survive re-entry.

"Ugggh I hate alternate timeline things," Impulse groans as he continues to tap away, as though he's had personal experience with those. "Oh, well that sounds pretty typical for villainy. Did he laugh? They always laugh, right? At least the ones in movies. And the Joker."

The controller's certainly gone up in temperature, and the faint smell of something smoking is definitely a scent that the Speedster's used to. His lips twitch in a more lopsided grin as he notices the slight hiccups in the game on screen, and it only serves as encouragement to keep at his current pace. He'd keep going if only the controller didn't start falling apart in his hands.

"-oh, whoops!" he blurts, juggling the controller as it sparks and then goes clattering to the floor. "Um. Do I win?"

The USB drive is caught easily out of the air; once in Red Robin's grasp, it vanishes as if by magic. It's not really magic, of course, he scrupulously avoids that sort of thing despite his close association with certain magic users… But still, the tricks and sleight of hand he learned in his training always come in handy, stowing the small drive for later.

If he sees the guilt that Tony's hiding under his typically glib manner, the vigilante doesn't show it. It's something he could understand, of course: The self-recrimination, the punishing drive to do more, to be better, to have considered every possibility no matter how improbable. For all that he and Stark seem quite different on the surface, there might be some surprising similarities in the drives that push them onward.

Instead, though, his attention is caught by Impulse nearly burning down the tower (again?) by overworking the controller. And SIRIN.

"Yeah… That's about what I expected," Red Robin notes. "Once he went through three phones in a day when he got way too into texting."

"Yeah, kid." Stark sounds amused more than anything else. "I think that means you win." He watches the controller smoke on the floor a moment before he shakes his head slightly. "Tell ya what. I'll improve on that model, reinforce things. See if I can get one that'll stand up to speed for twice as long. If you don't mind coming over on occasion and helping me a bit on this. I don't like the idea of this guy getting back in here, possibly hurting my people."

A beatpause.

"And all the pizza you can eat while you're here." A longer pause. "Just stay off the 16th floor, Hulk is there and might want to play catch with you. Like literally."

It's a thing.

A glance at Tim again and a smirk. Yes under the surface they might be similar, but that surface, that mask to the world is different. Tim's is literal. Stark's is…more in his personality. Which seems to work out for him. At least somewhat. Its when that mask shatters that things get dicey.

"You're invited too, and Fishnets." A smirk again at that. "I need her to come by anyway sometime. To figure out if I can ward this tower so demon-magic doesn't happen again. I do not want a repeat performance."

A pause.

"Just, don't be like Batman and leave bat-a-rangs everywhere. I was pulling them out of the walls for days."

The device on the table beeps happily away, processing the information on the energy that Bart was putting out. Starting the computations. He should have something workable in a day or two.

But right now, its processing. As it seems is the verdict on the device itself from the Red Robin.

It could be a powerful tool to help, but at the same time…

…that seems to be a theme with Tony Stark.

"Hey, that was only cuz you guys take forever to text back," Impulse says, because that is totally the point here. (No it isn't.) He grins at Tony, springing from the beanbag seat.

"That sounds awesome, Mister Stark. It's been a while since I've been able to play at-speed against anyone. And if it helps not get people hurt, even better." And as though his grin couldn't have gotten any wider… "-and free pizza? This'll be the best j-" His expression freezes and immediately sobers at the thought. No, he'd had a pretty cool job. There's another loose end that he's not sure what to do with because people had to deal with things themselves and patching up something like that isn't nearly so simple as beating a video game level or baddies. "Um. Yeah, sounds good. And stay off floor sixteen, got it." Whether he takes that to heart or not, well…

"Guess we should go?" Impulse glances at Red Robin. Seems like they're done here for now, anyway.

It seems like Impulse's exuberance has really made the decision for everybody, here.

Red Robin lets out a rueful sigh as the speedster volunteers himself, which of course means that he'll need at least one or two other Titans to keep an eye on him just in case… And, also of course, Tony mentioned two other Titans in particular. Well, it's hard to imagine how much trouble Impulse could really get into with Red Robin and Zatanna around, right? Sure. Of course.

"Sounds like a plan, Mister Stark. I'll let Zatanna know."

There was a time where he would've called her 'Miss Zatara', to try and create a further distance between his costumed identity and the Princess of Prestidigitation, but that sort of went out the window when he brought her onto the team. And given her refusal to take up a codename, or even wear something approximating a costume…

Guess we should go?

It doesn't escape Red Robin's notice that Impulse's manner changed, that there were hints of uncharacteristic solemnity in the normally heedless speedster… But he's not about to ask about that in front of Tony Stark. The guy's an Avenger. It'd be the next best thing to having the conversation in the foyer of the Triskelion.

"Yeah, okay. And don't worry, Mister Stark," he calls back towards the inventor, as they head to the elevator. "I'm much more likely to start throwing bombs around!"

It's a joke.


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