Function and Utility

August 29, 2018:

Caitlin has an idea that she tests out on her boss. Because Tony will try just about anything once.

Stark Tower

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Caitlin Fairchild's been throwing herself into her new job as Assistant Director of R&D. It's a big job for a woman who is probably new to renting cars; the Skunkworks for Stark Industries produces some of the most innovative, bleeding-edge tech in the world.

Which is why Caitlin's a bit nervous as she heads to Tony's office, with a small box in her hands. She's wearing a knee-length navy skirt, teal blouse, and stylish but practical heels. A lot like what Pepper would wear, in fact. It's all under an immaculate white lab coat. Lab coats aren't really necessary— but she's found that a snappy uniform does help sell her as a professional, and not the new coffee girl.

She knocks twice on the open door and flashes a dimple-cheeked smile at Tony as she heads inside. "Hi boss. Is this still a good time? I've got that new prototype I wanted to show you," she says a little shyly, and hefts the small box in her hand.

*

Anyone who made to mistake someone like Cait for the new coffee girl would be in for a shock, at least Stark has a feeling.

Tony's office though is a expansive affair. Technically it /should/ be an office. I mean Pepper helped design it to make it look professional. The big modern desk. The comfortable furniture. The pricy and elegant pictures on the walls.

This lasted all of about a week.

Now there is a door to some his labs in one wall, little bits of drones and dodads scattered over the desk. Pictures of Tony himself taken from the front pages of world magazines or sketches of him as Iron Man doing…well…Iron Man things. A little snapshot of him doing a victory sign surrounded by awestruck insectoid figures. All sorts of stuff that can't really be real.

There is no responce from Stark to her query though. But the door to the lab is open.

Silence and then…

FWIP!

A strange ball of brightly lit goo, what looks like LED lights embedded it it comes flying out the door to impact the far wall. Stick for a second. Then slooowly ooze its way down.

"Dammit, targeting is off…" A beatpause. "…JARVIS I thought I heard someone, did I hit anyone?"

"No, sir." Comes the ever patient voice of JARVIS. "But Miss Fairchild is waiting in your office."

"Oh yeah, something something meeting." Then a raised voice. "Just a second!" And there is the sound of metal boots…well walking.

And Stark soon appears, hanging from the ceiling. Pockets strapped down so nothing falls out, but arms crossed over his chest and a smirk on his features.

Welcome to working with Tony Stark.

"So! What you want to show me, Big Red?"

*

Caitlin waits very patiently despite the flying debris. The odds of her breaking something valuable by ducking are pretty high— the odds of something actually doing her more than passing harm are pretty low. So she just sits and hopes nothing gets on her ridiculously overpriced shoes.

When a girl weighs 350lbs, titanium insoles become a serious component in the design process!

She flashes that smile when Tony shows up (nevermind his spatial orientation), and after a moment's hesitation she beckons him. "I, uh, I kinda need to demonstrate this on you, actually," she says. "If you wouldn't mind being my guinea pig. Please! I promise it won't hurt," she assures him, and pats one of the stylish Herman-Miller style office chairs. "And it won't take long, either."

*

"Alright, I'm game for anything once." Stark replies with a smirk as he reaches to his belt and touches a control. He starts to fly but hidden repulsor pads blast just enough thrust to catch him before he faceplants.

He's had some experiance with this sort of thing.

Still, Caitlin can see just around the corner of the door the figure of Dummy the robot holding a fire extinguisher at the ready.

"I know you're there, don't think it."

The little bot slooowly lowers the extinguisher.

Strolling over he has a seat though and smirks. "Alright, wow me. I'm pretty sure you're not going to kill me since I'm paying your paycheck so I feel safe."

*

Caitlin laughs at the implication, wrinkling her nose at the idea. "That's ridiculous," she agrees. "That being said, your life insurance /is/ paid up, right?" she remarks, eyes dancing mischeviously. She moves to the left side of the chair and kneels down so her head is on level with Tony's, and opens the box. Inside is a marker and a few silvery pieces of metal. "I was in the field and trying to explain to someone what the tactical situation was," she says. She cracks an alcohol wipe and carefully sanitizes an area over Tony's left eyebrow and just to the side of it. "And I was thinking 'golly, a HUD and a remote camera would be handy'."

She uses the marker to draw on the back of her hand to demonstrate the color. It glitters for a few seconds, then dries virtually clear. Caitlin carefully draws on Tony's face, holding his chin firmly with her free hand. "Then I started thinking 'Okay, the Iron Man armor already has a linkup. I could use that.' But! What's the first thing that gets knocked off your face in a fight? Your glasses," she says, a little rhetorically.

She picks up the silvery metal and presses it to Tony's face, two-inch silver crescent over his eyebrow and a smaller one that rests just on the periphery of his vision on a cheekbone. She presses both firmly into place, one hand holding his chin and the other pushing on the flat, silver doodads to keep them flush. "The adhesive takes a minute to cure," she explains.

*

Tony Starkeural induction pen system then?" Stark asks as he sits there. "Sends signals to the systems…holographic display I'm guessing?" He asks as she sticks…things on his face. There is a touch of an thoughtful look on his face before he smirks.

"Usually I have to take someone on a date to get this close to them. But I'm good with it." Stark will be Stark. The incessent flirting and prattle that comes from the man is a constant stream. Turning it off is pretty much impossible for him.

"But you're right though, my glasses always get broken."

*

"Neural induction pen system then?" Stark asks as he sits there. "Sends signals to the systems…holographic display I'm guessing?" He asks as she sticks…things on his face. There is a touch of an thoughtful look on his face before he smirks.

"Usually I have to take someone on a date to get this close to them. But I'm good with it." Stark will be Stark. The incessent flirting and prattle that comes from the man is a constant stream. Turning it off is pretty much impossible for him.

"But you're right though, my glasses always get broken."

*

Caitlin wrinkles her nose and laughs again, a little uncertainly. "Uh… thanks, Mr. Stark, but being honest, you're not really my type," she admits, sound a little apologetic.

"It's an adhesive I've bonded with microfilament induction coils wrapped in carbon nanotubes," she explains. "It'll pull a lot of passive energy just from your body temperature and kinetic motion, which helps sustain the batteries on a longer charge. That means I could make the carriage sturdier, /and/ more flexible. I put it on Wilson" the dedicated and long-suffering crash-test dummy "and it took me a few solid hits to do real damage to it."

She pulls up her phone and taps on it. "Okay, initializing the system… Sorry, we're having a little trouble with the mobile unit, so I just crammed an app into my sPhone and called it a day. It'll run on a shortwave in a pinch, but ideally you'd have one of these bad boys on your belt or on your neck." She produces a small thing that looks like a flattened pod, a bit bigger than a silver dollar. "Run a path of induction gel to it and you've got a mobile brain. Handles the high-draw stuff, secondary computer systems, that kind of thing."

"Uh, anyway— initialize, and…" There's a fluttering of light at the corner of Tony's eye, and an augmented reality view springs into life. It's all hazy orange and it takes a few seconds to focus properly, but it starts picking up items in the room. Caitlin and her ID number, a connection to the Stark Mainframes nearby, and a few other flickering things.

"How's that, are you seeing it OK?" she inquires.

*

"Oh I know," Stark replies with a grin that shows both no shame and no worry as he lets her work. "Besides, I don't really date employees." It is just too awkward. Seeing them every day. They ask how you're doing. Just…awkward.

Better not to just do it.

"So for the most part it is self sustaining, expect at points of high draw." He says as he flicks his gaze around, testing the AR systems. "I'm seeing it. Start up takes a second, but this is just a prototype." Start replies as he looks around the room. "Giving me your ID, I see the mainframe connection. Does it respond to faux keypad commands or is it optical based?" He asks as he holds his hand out for the pod. "…some kind of solid state system in miniture?" He asks. "…something with the computation power to keep up with a real world problem?"

*

"Optical based," Caitlin says. She shakes her head when he holds his hand out, and instead draws carefully with the pen once more to near Stark's temple, then past his ear to the back of his neck. There, she scribbles with the 'pen' and pushes the booster module in place. "It's all sodium atom microprocessors," she confirms. "It'll record video footage and it can run a basic OS that'll do optical tracking for simple commands. 'Record', 'Message', that kind of thing. Once the booster initializes, though" There's a flickering and a subtle *bdeep* of something coming online "You can upload a really, really stripped down version of FRIDAY into it. I mean, bare bones, boss," she says, seriously. As the system comes online, the familiar Iron Visor HUD flickers to life. "Oh! Forgot the earpiece," she says, and adds a tiny piece of metal behind Stark's ear, right on the bone.

"Hullo boss," FRIDAY says, in her calm voice. "It's a little cramped in here, but I'm running."

"Bone-induction microphone," Caitlin tells Tony, excitedly. "Super compact and discreet, and it can run natively even if you don't have the headset. What do you think?"

*

Stark tests it out for a second, eyes flicking in commands that he knows so well by now they come almost reflexively. He is silent for a moment, long enough to possibly make Caitlin just a touch nervous…

"I think you're doing good." He breaks the silence with a nod. "Give me two more prototypes, one that has a removeable system, actual glasses, and one that is feasibility of a subdermal system." A flash of a grin. "This one is nice but it isn't really subtle."

A pause again as he thinks. "And hi FRIDAY, a bit cramped in there huh?" A look back towards Caitlin a moment. "JARVIS? Give Cait here access to SIRIN." Then he looks back towards Caitlin. "I built SIRIN for a aerospace project, she's younger, a touch more stripped down, and designed to work with a full optical menu system from the ground up." So she's smaller, a better fit for the system. "She's…got a personality…" A smirk. "…but all of mine do."

A pause again. "Oh and feasibility study of a stripped down version for larger production runs? SHIELD might be interested in something like this."

*

"Will do," Caitlin says, and pulls out her phone to scribble on a notebook app Tony's requests. It's a laundry list of things that need to be done. "Full subdermal— that's going to be tricky," she admits. "I mean, we can totally do it, BioTech's on it like white on rice," she says. "The question is who will consent to subdermal surgery or implants. I-It won't even work on me, or Diana, or a lot of the Leaguers," she points out. "But I'll figure something out, for sure," she assures Tony hastily.

"I'll start integrating SIRIN into the system tomorrow first thing, and I thiiiiink I can do a glasses prototype by…." She pfffts upwards, making her bangs dance. "End of the week, if you don't need the, uh, designer frame design," she tells him. "But for SHIELD, it'd be super easy to integrate this into any ballistic helmets or goggles, and that's what the tactical folks wear anyway, right?" She smiles at Tony, then looks at the implant. "Oh! Let me get that off of there before I go," she says, throwing her hands up in exasperation at her absent-mindedness. She picks up a little syringe of liquid and pulls on the device while applying it. The adhesive works loose, like tearing off a bandage slowly, and she winces the whole time. "Sorry, sorry. Tradeoff of stability is that baselines can't just put them on/off whenever they feel like it. Doesn't bother me any, but it'll give you a rash if you do it too many times a week," she appologizes. One Tony's new 'hardware' is uninstalled, she boxes it up carefully, and turns to look at him again. "But, uh… well, what's the verdict?" she inquires, hesitantly. Caitlin's first major design pitch as part of Team Stark, and apprehension is written on her youthful features.

*

"Yeah but a lot of the covert types would kill to have something like this implanted where not many people would know. Even just a stripped down system would be useful. SHIELD loves that sort of stuff almost as much as they love the engines on the helicarrier." Stark points out with a smirk. "There are more people doing things out there than just the Leaguers. Gotta think about us normals."

There is a grin though on his face, even as he holds still for the removal process.

"Overall though, I think you're defiantly on a good track. See if you can speed up the application and removal process, that is usually why I use the glasses based system, just convenience. And the fact that I look amazing in glasses. Of course I look amazing in anything."

That humble Stark ego right there.

"I'll get you some of the schematics for a few things that might help speed things up. SIRIN's original systems at the very least." A beatpause. "And make it as hack-proof as you can. There are enough people I know that can get inside my head. Don't need to give anyone else an excuse right?"

*

"Thanks a lot, boss. I'll keep working on this and see if I can come up with something clever," Caitlin assures Tony. "We'll see about minimization and I'll come up with some concept designs. Can't guarantee prototypes without your sign-off," she tells him. "But I'll have renders to you by Monday. Thanks for taking the time, Mr. Stark. I'll get out of your hair." She hugs the box to her chest protectively and flashes a brilliant smile at Tony before turning and taking her leave from his offices.

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