Pizza over Sturdy Stools

May 20, 2019:

Pizza is eaten while Danger Room maintenance is tested

Xavier Institute, Salem, New York

This room is bordered by a walled and windowed off control panel, where either someone can man the settings of what projects for the competitors inside, or set it to a random scan with multitudes of varying scenario selections, down to ones that truly held a past with X-Men missions.

The Room's World View Model Library has digital models of over 50 million objects and their attributes, including weapons, vehicles, buildings, and aliens in order to make the scenario's laid out true. Although everything is an illusion within the Danger Room's arena, the way it is projected seems near to realistic within the heavy metal bunker that is meant to withstand up to atomic levels of blasts from within, or without.

The Arena of the Danger Room itself bears a hardened floor that even bears the 'X' shape within ridges, but every small nook and cranny bears a porpose from image projection, gravitational irregularities, and effects that can even be felt as their true to nature texture and atmosphere.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: iron_man howard_stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's been a month or two since Caitlin Fairchild was last out in Westchester, New York. Last time, a broken computer system had called her out. Being one of the few people at Stark Industries with high level clearances and expertise intersecting to service the Westchester simulator systems, she was then assigned as a point-of-contact for the Westchester crew.

Another day another dollar; good customer service is key. She's driven up in a black SUB with 'Stark Industries' on the side. She parks it with a little lurch— Cait doesn't drive much these days— and gets out of the car. Shocks groan in relief. The ginger engineer's in tan shorts and a pink camisole with low athletic kicks. It's casualwear, for sure, and she pulls a duffel bag and a heavy plastic case out of the back seat. The door's knocked shut with a swing of her hip and Caitlin walks up to the door, squinting up at the noon sun. She lifts a hand with the case dangling from two fingers and buzzes the doorbell, waiting patiently for someone to fetch her.

Hank McCoy has beenv ery busy with school things, so he was out of the loop on that breakage. But he's back into a normal routine now, so he comes out to meet the technician, and invite her on into the elevator to bring her down. "Good afternoon. Thanks for coming out here. After the recent issues it only made sense to look into some follow-up maintenance, and make sure the last fix was everything that was needed."

Caitlin comes up a little short when she meets Hank. It's not much, not enough to be deliberately rude, and she pinks a bit when she realizes she staring. "Oh gosh, hi. I'm sorry. Caitlin Fairchild," she tells Hank, and juggles her load around to offer him a handshake.

She takes the elevator down and follows him into the simulator room. "It's okay. Those 9000 series Valor type controller chips are pretty squirrely," she reassures Hank. "It's not that they're badly made, it's just one of those issues with, y'know, voltage mitigation an' stuff," she clarifies. "I know this is a full custom system and that always pushes things to the breaking point."

She walks behind the main console, pulls a few plugs, and then carefully lifts the 500lb device and shuffles it a few steps so she can get behind it. The redhead starts whipping her hair back behind her head in a ponytail to get it out of her face, and pulls some small service tools out of her duffel bag.

Hank McCoy looks down at himself, then back to her as he does offer his hand in return. "Yes, I'm blue. And I'm over 400 pounds." He smiles as he lets her into the elevator, and waits for the long tripp into the sub-basement. Listening to her explanation. "It can have a design deficiency without being poorly made." He'll try to help lift the 500 pound gadget if she'll let him. "Do you have a plan for mitigation?"

Once they've got it out, Caitlin lays on her side and starts pulling out screws with a little driver kit. "Well, yes and no. I've got a feeling the problem is the master voltage regulator," she tells Hank. "If it is, then I'm gonna install a stabilizing circuit ahead of it and see if that won't fix the problem."

A coverplate clatters on the ground and Caitlin sets the screws in a small plastic tray to keep track of them.

"But on the other hand, it might be something a lot smaller. I won't know where the problem is until I hook up the diagnostics kit and we run it through a few power cycles to diagnose the fail point. That's gonna take a few hours," she admits.

There's a few seconds of work as she gets into the guts of the machine. "I'm three hundred and fifty-five. Pounds," she clarifies for Hank. Glances up at him from her sprawl on the floor. "Sucks, finding good chairs to sit on," she says, with a tone of wry humor.

Hank McCoy smiles at the revalation, having stepped back to let her work. He'll helpw ith the heavy stuff, but he's not going to get in the way of the person who's here to do a job. "Sounds good to me. And while you are tall, well, I'd never have guessed hwo much mass you have. You carry it very well. And trust me, while this diagnostic runs, we can find you something to sit on in my lab, while we have food brought down, if you like."

"Yeah, well. Can't all be Supergirl. You wanna talk about ridonkulous, how does anyone who weighs a hundred and twenty pounds wet manage to push around aircraft carriers?" Caitlin snorts loudly. "For the rest of us it's all mass-to-strength ratios, right?"

"Hand me that dipolar voltmeter, please?" she asks, wiggling a finger at the layout of her tools.

"I never am one to pass up food," she informs Hank cheerily. There's the sound of metal clicking and she throws something out from inside the machine. "That doesn't belong there," she mutters. "And this isn't— why is this here?"

She pushes out of the machine and scowls up at Hank suspiciously. "Why is there a Hammer Industries T500 dynamo in here?" she asks. "You know Hammer Industries makes… *airsoft* toys, right?" Ooh, Caitlin's showing her Stark Industries team pride here.

Hank McCoy snickers at that. "I've seen weirder, but usually it involves mental powers. Not alien mass." He'll grab the tool, and gently toss it over. Well, gently for them, since the thing probably weighs more than most would gently toss around. Then he goes to put in a request for someone to ship some food down while he's overseeing maintenance. Laughing at the comment. "We'll use whatever we can get. The Professor has money, but it doesn't mean we want to spend it all."

"Yeah, well…. it's still badly made," Caitlin grumbles. But she doesn't mess with it, and slides back into the machine. She works quietly for a few minutes and then kicks out from under it again. "Okay, I think I got it hooked up." She hooks a few cables back up and hits the power button, kneeling behind the machine. The device is examined and she nods. "I'll run this for a few hundred power cycles on low to get a baseline, and that should give me an idea of where we're at. Then I can patch in the regulator, and we can see if that smooths out the power spikes." She rocks to her feet and dusts her knees off. "Did you say something about food?" she asks, and looks around hopefully.

Hank McCoy nods. "Today is pizza day, so that's what we're getting. It should be better than your standard cafeteria pizza day, since we're getting staff food, but… don't get your hopes up." He'll guide her down the hall and into his lab. "Every stool here is built for my weight. You'll be fine."

Caitlin follows along obligingly and hops onto a stool. She's wary, but it holds, so she sits more comfortably and crosses a leg at the knee to balance a plate on. She's stacked it with four slices and grabbed a cold soda from a cooler and a napkin on the way.

Cait's a tidy eater, but she plows through the four large slices pretty fast. "This is a nice lab," she compliments Hank, and seems to mean it. "But it looks like you're mostly using this for research, not design?" she hazards. "Ooh!" She hops off her stool and moves up to a heavy scanning device. "Is this the new Teledyne XV STEM comparator?" she inquires. "I was working for Dr. Richards when he was coming up with the idea, I'm so glad to see it in the field."

Hank McCoy did have two of his own size meals sent, so yeah, four pieces EACH should do it. And three cartons of apple juice. Sitting across from her at the same bench, he unrolls some paper towels for each to use as napkins, then sits down himself. "That one is on loan from him in fact. Very fun to play with. We get to try it in return for me pointing out all the small flaws, and giving actionalable writeups for the second version."

"Mm—" Caitlin starts to speak, but holds her hand polite in front of her mouth until she finishes chewing. "Watch out for the gibbs on the upper transit assembly, they're a little wonky and it was the one part that we never really found a good workaround for," she advises Hank. "If you start getting a lot of runout errors, that's probably what it is."

"So you're the, uh.. science teacher here?" she hazards, looking around the lab again. "What do you teach these kids about science?" She can't be even out of her mid-twenties yet. "I mean, uh, you've got metas who can literally break the laws of thermodynamics, how do you get 'em to sit still and learn about… reactionals and stuff?"

Hank McCoy actually will pull out his phone and takes down a note on that. "I'll test that." He'll then dig into the pizza himself, large bits easily disappearing before he can answer. "Chemistry. I don't get to do much biochemistry with little kids, but it is what I've done professionally. Which is hwo I ended up… anyway. Most mutants are far less… uh… flashy than the ones you see on TV. They have something a little different about them. Sometimes it makes them social outcasts. It's those kids, more than anyone, who can benefit from what they now call a STEM Education."

"Oh I know," Caitlin says, wagging her chin. "I've got a few friends who are mutants. Mostly metas," she allows. "The Titans are pretty heavy on people who've had bad interactions with lab equipment." She frowns. "Which doesn't set the best set of role models up for kids learning STEM," she allows. "I mean, it's hard to say 'hey wear your hair up, use goggles' when you also go 'and then my powers are the result of screwing around with lab tools'."

Hank McCoy laughs. "Whereas I'm a great example. Do an experiment on yourself, turn yourself blue and fuzzy." A second rectangular piece of pizza disappears quickly. "It also helps they know that I get gawked at the same as some of them."

"Right?" Caitlin laughs, but in sympathy. "My last two years of college were terrible. I wanted to drop out and find some way to work from home," she admits. "I had to sit in the back of all the lecture halls and couldn't afford anything better than old army coveralls for clothing," she says, wryly.

"So you're not like, you're not just doing engineering stuff, you're doing research," Caitlin says, looking around again. "I heard someone say 'Dr' McCoy, what's your PhD in?" she asks, and glances up from another big bite of pizza. She's almost done already.

Hank McCoy sits back and dabs his mouth, before counting off on his fingers. "The first one was actually in biophysics. But I have others. I've been fortunate enough to be able to spend plenty of time in schools. The Nobel and the MacArthur grant also helped wiht that. When you don't work in a tradtional lab, the Nobel prize money matters more than you think."

"Mm, I know that feeling," Caitlin mutters. "I've been lucky, I got picked up by THINK early on. I loved working for Re— Dr. Richards, but he was always real short on funding at the end of the fiscal year. So it was a lot of stuff just left unfinished, y'know?"

She tidies her plate and wipes her fingers, then diposes of both in the trash can. "Starr Labs was a lot more commercially focused so anything I came up with had to have a cost analysis attached. Tony— er, Mister Stark, he just lets me preeetty much go wild," she says. "I'm freaking out because Dr. Nakamura's ready to retire any day now, and when she does, I'm not gonna have a safety net anymore. The budget for the R&D department has more zeroes than a phone number."

Hank McCoy snickers. "Tell you what, if they ever lay you off, you come here. I'm sure we could find you a job. IT wouldn't be glamorous, but it'd be a backstop." His last piece is up now. "Sounds like you've had some fairly comfortable working relationships. That's good. Any lab worried about titles and formalities is getting less work done."

Caitlin considers this, then nods a few times. "Yeah, I'm … I mean, I've been real lucky. Dr. Miyazaki and Miss Tamagi were awesome, I met them at THINK. Then— well, honestly, Sue and Karen both taught me more about running the business side of things than anything else," she admits. "It's not as fun, doing all the paperwork side. Cost projections, logistics, all that. I love my job now, nine-tenths of my time is just… sitting around tinkering with stuff. But once Dr. Nakamura's gone, then I guess it'll be less time in the lab and more time yelling at people for setting things on fire."

Hank McCoy nods. "THINK. Well that whole family has talent. I do not put it past them to nurture talent for great profit. And I see what you mean now. It's a promotion. Look at it as new challenges. And having the opportunity to tell minions to do the tinkering for you. You could have several projects going at once!"

"That's the funny thing, it's all… distributed," Caitlin says, and wrinkles her button nose. "No one has projects anymore. It's all collaborative. Oh sure, I keep track of top contributors and stuff, and there are bonuses for breakthroughs. I'm trying to make a game out of it so people feel an incentive to do development instead of just like, trying to out-compete one another," she explains. "Works for Warcraft, it oughta work for the corporate world, right?"

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