Off Records Conversation

April 09, 2018:

Nathaniel goes to Tony for plot help to save the world, and tells him a few VERY important things. But Tony does not like plots.

Stark Tower, New York

Rising high into the skyline with the name of it's Lord and Master for all to see, the Stark Industries Tower is the most visible component of the Stark Industries complex centered in Midtown Manhattan. Manufacturing, office space, power generation and even some inventory is housed in the tower and its associated subelevels. It also contains guest housing and, at the top, the penthouse suite that is the domain of the Main Man himself, at least, when he's not at his Malibu home.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Captain America

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Stark Tower has recovered, its taken some time and the scars are still visible to those with the eyes to see but for the most part the Tower stands strong once again. Its damage repaired. Its defenses restored and increased. Its presence against the skyline of the city undimmed.

…at least until Tony blows part of it up again.

I mean really the property value of the surrounding area is pretty poor at this point.

Property value aside the man himself is tirelessly at work as usual. Mostly because if he slows down he might go insane from everything thats happened. So he is busily at work on one of the top floors, working with a small 'vat' of gray liquid that he is trying to get to take on different forms. Living metal is a pain in the ass to try to develop, but he's sure if he can get there…

Well he'll just need one suit then.


Nathaniel called yesterday to request a meeting with Tony. They communicate often enough by media and VR, so it is unusual for the young man to ask for a chat in person. Unnecessary and kind of last century, right?

But this time it is a bit different. This time he requested privacy, and even offered the Mansion. Not that the Tower is not just as secure from the current age standards. So, fine, he is here.

"Good morning Mr. Stark. Tony," he offers the second the elevator brings him to the labs level. Well, one of the labs levels. "Off records conversation, please," he asks.


"I love it when you start a conversation like that, Nate." The engineer replies wryly as he looks up from his experiment and smirks towards the other Avenger. "JARVIS. Freeze us out."

"Of course, sir." There is a moment of silence and nothing really changes outwardly in the lab. Though screens do shut down, experiments slide back into cubbies in walls and workbenches. In general things shut down just a little bit.

"Done." JARVIS' voice comes.

"Right, go help Pep with that last batch of reports would ya?" Asks Stark before he wibes his hands on a cloth and turns towards Nathaniel.

"Alright, what is this all about?"


Nathaniel arches an eyebrow, apparently surprised at the 'living metal' experiment that he glimpses. But in that particular issue he bites his tongue. No, he came from other reasons.

A large holographic display of a high-tech collar device appears between both men. "Inhibitor collars are a fact, and pretty much at the right, wrong time," he starts. "It is one of the hard-set elements in my psycho-history analysis I had expected to delay at least a few months. This is extremely bad news Tony. The Armageddon Clock is ticking and it looks I am not doing enough to disrupt the mechanisms. I need help."

He finds a tables to lean on, "sit down, and get some drinks, I have a… complex explanation coming. There will be math. And it is also depressing."


"First I always have drinks," Stark replies with a smirk as he turns to pull a pair of glasses and a bottle out of a cabinet near him that he puts on the counter. Pouring two glasses as he quirks an eyebrow as he looks over towards the younger man.

From the future.

"You mean Trask's slave collars? We didn't know that Genosha had them. I've been working on a work around since I found out about them. I'm going to take it they aren't the best of news from your reaction and the word Armageddon you're throwing around there."

He waves Nate towards one of the chairs in the lab. "Go on then, math away."


"Slave collars?" Is that how they are calling them? Nasty. Not really what they are for. Collars negating powers do not make useful slaves from mutants. The Genoshans had far more cruel methods for that. Torture, mind-wipe and brainwashing. But that is also beside the point.

Nathaniel shakes his head. "Fine. Yes, Trask collars. They are a step into the control of superhumans. All superhumans. Mutants are just convenient scapegoats."

Math, okay. "Sociology is a young science nowadays. But it will take us pretty far, and it is quite well developed in the distant future, often used as a tool to avoid pitfalls. So I came from… I have to admit now. Not the 30th Century. Considerably further in the future, Tony. The 21st Century is ancient history for me. Some data was lost forever and the exact events that brought the so-called Second Dark Age of Humankind are speculated and not truly known. What happened/will happens soon, was… well, near total social collapse. The rise of totalitarian regimes worldwide. Genocide against mutants, metas and aliens. Massive ecological disruption. At the beginning of the twenty second century Earth was a wasteland and humanity is reduced to a few tens of millions."

Equations fill a giant holoscreen behind Nathaniel. "When I got here I talked to some people, and I fell in love with this era. I decided I would not allow the Dark Age come. I would use my science and my genius and make sure the Heroic Age did not end in destruction and tears. So I took a few months to analyze current society and found that I faded really bleak odds. Social inertia is quite frankly enormous. I had a daunting task ahead and one of the first things I did was reform the Avengers. I picked up the framework Captain America had formed to fight Zemo and presented a viable project to Director Nicholas Fury. The rest went quite well. But not well enough."


Tony is already drinking even before Nathaniel finishes talking. In fact almost as soon as he mentions how this century is ancient history for him he starts drinking. As Nate winds down the inventor just looks at him. "See, this is why I hate time travel. You do realize that by doing all this you've screwed up your own timeline and likely started about a half dozen splinters right? I mean just kinda an academic question at this point but yeah…time travel is always messy. Especially when you start messing with it."

The Avenger sits back for a moment, eyes flicking though the holoscreen then back to the other engineer. "Though I like that I'm part of the Heroic Age, makes me feel all important." He drawls for a moment before he draws a deep breath. "So these collars are a part of this big doomsday equation, and they are already out in the world, can't really put that tech back in the box."


"Strangely I seem to be immune, or at least highly resistant to paradox," comments Nathaniel. "Since I am absolutely, completely unable to develop super-human abilities I expect this near immunity is some kind of technology I will eventually develop," he grins to Tony. "But that bit of knowledge is not very useful right now."

As for the rest, he steps back from the table. "Please, do not lecture me in the consequences of time travel. I know considerably more than you do in this regard. Splinters are irrelevant as both the future and the past are in constant flux within parameters that allow for a broad degree of divergence. Believe me, you are not creating a divergent timeline by deciding to have pineapple juice instead of orange juice for breakfast. Conservation of energy still applies, and it is related to the problem. I want to force this timeline into a very unlikely path, a bright and prosperous world ready to join the galactic civilization in just one generation."

He turns back to the holoscreen. "To do so I need to stop the rise of the multinational organizations that will usurp the power of the nation-states in the next few years. Ultimately they are the ones that are pushing the whole anti-mutant, anti-meta and anti-alien agenda. They are the ones that benefit from a controlled, meek population. Just what heroes are not." He turns back to Tony, smiling coldly, "yes, of course it is all a power struggle. All wars are a power struggle originated by the necessity to control resources. Racism is a tool, an illusion."


At this point Tony is into his third glass, though his eyes remain sharp. Either he's good at holding his booze or he's taken something to thin out the mix so it doesn't effect him as much. Which is quite likely considering he was working on his personal experiments. There is a quirked eyebrow though as Nate continues to talk, one that is joined by the other as he continues as Stark turns to set the glass down with a clink.

"Kid," Tony begins as he focuses on the other Avenger. "Did you start drinking before you even got here? You know who you sound like right? Magneto, Doom, any of those 'I know better than you do so just let me do what I want' type of guys that you apparently created the Avengers to /stop/. I mean I like the sentiment. The sentiment is good. Save the world, that is kinda what we do but declaring general war on everyone that might not agree doesn't seem the best way to go about it."

He tap a finger against his knee, nervous tick and everything. "You're talking about a shadow war here. Not against Hydra and AIM and all of them, because that's fine. That's what we do. You seem to be talking about some kind of fight against any kind of multinational organization that threatens what you're thinking should happen. I mean come on, that is a bit too much."

A pause again before he adds. "I mean Avengers protect, not /force/. You're sailing into dangerous territory with that whole 'I know better than everyone else' thing." A slight frown. "So…if conservation of energy still applies…and you're trying to force a result /way/ different than what you know…doesn't that mean the explosion to fix is and even things out to a balance will be even worse down the road?"


"Captain America formed the Avengers," points out Nathaniel. Actually it is more complicated than that, but history and the news say so. And that was before Nathaniel returned to the 21st Century, anyway.

"AIM and Hydra are part of the problem," he admits. He has already told Tony once or twice his concern at AIM having better technology than SHIELD. "But the multi-national organizations I mentioned are the mega-corporations, Tony. They already hold a good deal of political influence. They often can dictate laws on smaller countries and certainly try to dictate laws in America. Roxxon… looked like the main problem."

Which explains why Nathaniel has been leading the Avengers to oppose illegal Roxxon operations. He had his eyes there. "But there are others, subtler. Cyberdata and Alchemax are also a serious concern. And now Trask."


"You said you were the one that brought the suggestion to—you know what. Nevermind. Not really important." Stark says as he starts to fidgit, turning to pull up a piece of equipment from his table and tweak it slightly. Then he sprays his glass with it, and a freeze beam chills it right down.

The chilled glass he raises to hold against one temple for a moment before he takes a deep breath. "AIM and Hydra are always a problem. They have entire banks of scientists and aren't nearly as ethical as I am, and that is saying something." Since Stark is known for just…doing…things. "Alright. So we already go after Roxxon when we can to minimize the influence. The question remains I guess what do you want to do about it then? Curtail the illegal bits and reverse engineering Trasks' collars is something I'm fine with." Something he's already started in fact.


"That was after Captain's team," points out Nathaniel. But yeah, unimportant details. Hey, he is rightfully proud he managed to get an amazing Avenger team himself. And also the Avengers One hypersonic airship. Really good anti-grav aircraft. If Tony can be proud of his armors Nate can be proud of his plots and airplanes!

"Yes, me too. I think I can design a microchip that distorts and falsifies mutant power signatures. Once implanted on a mutant it will make the collars very ineffective," he offers. "It would be nice to have a chance to examine one of the collars, but I think I know the basics."

Handwave. Not important. "No. I came here to teach you the basics of psycho-history and see if we can come up with more clever scenarios to delay and disrupt the incoming events. I need to pick your brain for some world level social engineering."


Tony raises a hand to summon a holoscreen, cocking his wrist to type at it. A new holograp screen pops up with detailed schematics of the collar all already laid out. "Have at." Stark says lightly as he starts to lower the iced glass…

…and then he thinks he might need something stronger than just whiskey as Nate continues.

"Look, I said I'll help stop the problem groups. I'll work at curtailing them, but I'm not going to be party to global manipulation of the entire population. I mean come on Nate! That is what we were created to stop and now you're asking me to go against all of that?"


"Where did you… no, it is perhaps better if I do not know," considering the likely source is a certain now blown-up-to-hell Trask installation. "I will fine-tune the chip and send you a blueprint. I think Billy and Tommy should wear one."

As for the rest. "Look, you need to approach this problem like a businessman, not a hero. We cannot walk into a Roxxon corporate meeting and punch the executives even if they do deserve it. But we can undermine their business and make their highly publicited and crappy products less competitive. We can have people audit their taxes and send the police and the law after them. We can also watch their lobbies and counterbalance their every move. We can do that through political and social connections. Most of the other Avengers cannot."


"What you really think I went all the way to Genosha and /didn't/ find time to hack a database?" Stark replies with a smirk towards his fellow Avenger. "I mean I didn't get everything, but I got enough to extrapolate most everything else."

Give him some credit here. He /is/ the worlds greatest multi-tasker.

"You're still thinking like one of the people we usually punch. You know that right?" Stark points out. "I'm not going to be party to manipulating the world, and I am going to talk to a few of the other Avengers about this. That said, I think that Roxxon are assholes and Trask is a complete problem. So I'll get Pepper on at least working on curtailing them. She's better at that sort of thing anyway. Those are my terms man, I can't condone some kind of shadowy behind the scenes manipulation of the entire freeking world. That is what we were put together to /stop/. Alright?"


Nathaniel sighs, looking down. "Yes, I understand…" then looks up. "But at least, check the math." He thumbs back to the holoscreen over his shoulder.

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