T.D.B.R.A.

Summary:
January 26, 2015: Work continues on Operation: Wand, with some help from Stark Industries. (Warning: technobabble-gasm)

The Triskelion - New York City

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention
Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable
tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary
intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all
housed hear, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the
place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay


Characters

NPCs

  • SHIELD R&D Interns

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


Its been a very long, very exhausting day. Emmett Argyle and Leopold Fitz have been hard at work in one of the R&D labs, reverse engineering the trans-dimensional barrier reinforcement amplifier prototype. The two have managed to go over every piece of material, down to the nanotechnology that truly constitutes the mechanism' score function. This… is why there's pizza.

In the background, The Talking Heads are playing over the radio. Two pizza boxes are open, and the table where they sit has some dirty napkins strewn about. The pizza, of course, is not permitted to leave that general area, and Fitz quite literally has an intern decontaminating every surface nearby. Nothing disturbs his pristine laboratory, not even sustenance.

"Mew mow," Fitz murmurs, before swallowing a mouthful of food. "It's bollocks that we can't bring in beer. Pizza is always better with a nice, cold ale." Bite. "Mm allo ink we eed uuh ome up mim a medder mame." Swallow. "For the prototype. I mean… T.D.B.R.A. doesn't quite have a ring to it. Tuhdurbra. Teh'dbra. Wait.

The slice of pizza, half eaten, gets thrown back onto its paper plate. Fitz leans forward, eyes bright and excited as he snaps his fingers. "That's it! Debra! We can call the bloody thing, 'Debra!'"

Because breaks are important, people.

*

Socks is not exactly an engineer at Fitz' level, but he understandsenough of the base science to be a useful lab assistant, especially given the poor Scot only has one good arm. He's also pretty insightful and tries to find the most direct route through any problem. Probably why he's also good at demolitions. There's a wall? BAM. Blast right through it. It's surprisingly effective as both a tactic and a scientific strategy. For the most part.

"See, if it was up to me, nothing'd have a good name. It'd all be 'Project X-TZ-13-blue.'" He grabs up a slice and takes a big bite. A little tomato sauce dribbles down his chin and he wipes it off with a finger, then licks said finger. Because a napkin is too much work and wouldn't result in said sauce getting into his mouth. "Look, it don't matter what we call this thing if we can't get it to work. They'll be calling it our asses in a sling. And that's not catchy at all." Chomp.

*

Labs are properly never places for food. Or drink. Especially chemistry or biology labs, which have rather a potential for dangerous cross-contamination. Getting pepperoni in your slime mold is bad enough; getting smallpox in your nachos? Even worse. But at least the pizza is sequestered.
It is not quite this that astonishes the visitor who's ushered to the lab's door. At least this room HAS a door; the Triskelion is not in the best shape just now. It's partly that. There's also the music. When the lastthing you listened to before your nap was Frederic Chopin, The Talking Heads can be a little surreal. More surreal than usual, even.

The woman at the door is… odd. For a start, she clanks when she walks. There's a faint scent of ozone around her. She is wearing a lab coat and a long, full skirt, but even though it's buttoned up there's still quite clearly brass-toned armor underneath. There's also a brass helmet under her arm with a placid, Roman-statue-like face with blue crystal eyes.

Most modern people wouldn't recognize her. There is a small exhibit about her at MIT that includes pictures and old prototypes of the armor she wears, but Dr. Themylthorpe and her suit disappeared in 1895, so almost the only people who know anything about her are those who have researched the early history of particle physics, robotics, and wireless electricity.

Nerds, in other words.

"Perhaps I may be of assistance?" she inquires.

*

"Director Fury is calling it…" Fitz's eyebrows fall, and a rueful expression crosses his face. "Operation: Wand." Pause. "That's right. Wand." He retrieves his slice of pie and stuffs the majority of it into his mouth, chewing relentlessly.

"Here's the thing." He must have learned how to swallow. "Power. Powering the li'l bastard is gonna be a real pain in the arse. I mean, do the math. We're looking at a fifteen cubic meter radius, and we're dealing with subatomic particle manipulation. If we start with the Avogadro number, and a solid has an atomic mass of X, then there are 6.022 * 10^23 atoms in X grams of that subtance. And that's just the solids. Ramp that up a notch by taking the whole equation and multiplying by fifteen hundred and…" His eyes dance about as he does the complicated mathematics in his head, and his eyes go wide. "Crikey!" He looks back to Emmett, and is about to reveal the number, when someone (something?) else enters.

Eyes still wide, Fitz looks at the mechanism with curiosity. Nobody would have gotten into the Triskelion this deep without clearance. Right now, outside of SHIELD assets, the list of people who could send someone through the first layer of security and onto the background check process is very, very small. Plus… background checks tend to come up pretty clean when one does not have a birth certificate.

It takes a moment for Fitz to piece it all together, but he certainly has been a 'fan' of particle physics ever since he knew what a particle was.

"Bloody… mother of… I don't believe my eyes!"

Once again, the crust hits paper plate as the scientist scoots to his feet and continues to stare.

*

"Kee-rist. Why not Operation: Harry Potter? Operation: Ollivander? Operation…uh…I got nothin," Argyle scratches through his hair and thentosses up a hand. Then he snaps. "Operation: Voldemort!" Then he listens as Fitz starts with the math, chewing thoughtfully. He actually manages to follow the other man's math, but just barely. When he yells, he totally loses his ability to computer. "Damn, I was going to see if I was r…"

He's a gunsmith, a demolitions expert, and a mechanical engineer. Particle physics are a little above his pay grade. But you don't need to be a genius to understand 'pretty cyborg lady with a fancy helmet.' "Uh. Hi. Can we help you?" he elbows Fitz, then leans in and murmurs, "Close your jaw, man. You're gonna start slobbering in a minute."

*

For a moment, the lady is lost for words. Astonished. Possibly even delighted. Actually blushing. But she clears her throat and raises a gauntleted hand.

"The most flattering thing in the world, I have found, is quite certainly discovering that I and my work have not been forgotten. The fact that people recognize me — "

Aethera shakes her head. She steps forward, extending her hand to each gentleman in turn. "Dr. Josephine Themylthorpe. I was informed by Ms. Potts of Stark Industries that you had need of an energy expert. In the absence of either of the Doctors Stark themselves, I believe I can be of some service. The problem does seem to be twofold, at least: generating enough power and keeping such a dimensional disturbance unnoticed."

*

Oof! Fitz darts his head toward Emmett. "Oh, come off it, Argyle! She's a cyborg for Christ's sake. And I…" His head lolls back over toward Aethera. "… just called it a 'she'."

Simmons would have utterly chastised him for his lack of manners.

When she speaks again, Fitz, for a moment, seems starstruck. Or is it adoration? Soon enough, he finds himself blushing, especially when she offers a hand. "Fitz." He immediately pulls his hand back before contact can be made. "Aaauuuuhhh, Doctor Leopold Fitz" His hand goes under a device, and a white mist sprays upon it, completely eradicating all signs of grease, cheese and meatstuffs. Only then does he take her hand. "SHIELD R&D and weap, uhhhh, technological engineer."

Had it not been for the cyborg-lady's immediate foray into technical speak, he might have lost her at 'Ms. Potts'. Instead, the language draws him back to Planet Earth-626. "Well, yes, that's exactly right. Spot on, in fact. Not only generating such power, but channeling it into the nano-circuitry without frying those little, expensive buggers, and without blowing up the neighborhood or causing another city-wide blackout."

Bless you, Miss Potts.

*

"Well, you must be somethin' special, Miss. Cause there ain't much that gets him to lose focus like that." Argyle chuckles and slides off the stool. "Hi, I'm Agent Argyle. I do what he asks me to do," he thumbs towards the Scott.

"Yeah, that's right. We don't wanna explode things. We want to stop things from getting exploded. So you're here to help, Doctor…Themylthoo?" He doesn't mispronounce her name on purpose. Honestly.

*

"Ah. Well. 'She' is perfectly fine. I was at least born human, even if I am quite dependent upon — " The lady clears her throat. She does have a human head, at least, that suggests she's a woman in her twenties. At least, her head's a woman in her twenties. Who knows what's going on under all the metal. "Yes. Irrelevant. The relevant point is that I am coming from very much an alternative perspective from Doctor Fitz — a pleasure to meet you, Doctor; I hear you're one of SHIELD's preeminent engineers, and may I say it is an honor to work with you?"

Her eyes flick to Argyle. Up and down. She smiles very briefly. "If you can pronounce 'Aethera'," she says, "that might be easier. I believe we can stop things from… getting exploded."
It's not that her tone is dripping with disdain. She's really being reasonably polite. But when you talk to mad super-science-geniuses all the time, sometimes you have to ratchet your expectations down a few notches.

Clapping her hands together — which makes a lovely 'clang' — she strides to the table. "Nanotechnology! I've been studying this since I reawoke. It may have some utility in my own situation… in any case, subatomic particle manipulation. You've certainly considered an arc reactor for a power source, yes? Though that's rather tricky to build on short notice. As far as your nano-circuitry is concerned, we might be able to create an impossible alloy. Not in very large amounts, but you wouldn't need so much. What are you using to conduct your electricity?"

*

"Doctor Themylthorpe -" Did Fitz just smirk at Argyle? "- was a leader in human biological studies during the late 19th century. She worked with… well… the list is very long, but, perhaps Nikola Tesla rings a bell?"

The Scott turns back toward Aethera, and positively blushes again. "I should say that Miss Potts is being generous." Of course, in truth, he really does hold himself in high regard, something he's had to learn to do through his young years being so short and geeky.

"I had considered the use of an arc reactor, but properly assumed such technology would be unavailable. Here, come inside, I'll show you."

Between the main laboratory (which, in reality, isn't at all where the important stuff goes down, but is more of a lobby or meeting room than anything else) and the actual labs are decontamination airlocks. "One at a time, please!" Fitz enters first. The door locks behind him, and he's blasted with the same white mist that was used to de-pizza his hand. Once he's inside, the process repeats for the others.

"Right now, the prototype is designed using a magnetized titanium-gamanite alloy. Now, I don't think we need something as strong as vibranium or adamantium, but… we should probably try to come pretty close."

Inside the laboratory, the T.D.B.R.A. prototype has been disassembled into pieces. However, a holo table in the middle of room is currently displaying a three dimensional, fully dynamic schematic. A few whisks of the hand is all it takes to zoom in and out, turn, pivot, and upend the schematic to the user's delight.

*

Argyle lifts his shoulder in a sheepish gesture as Aethera chides him on not getting her name right, and then Fitz shows him up in his Glaswegian way. "19th Century, huh? Time travel, stasis, dimensional shift?" he rattles off those possibilities in a casual way. He's read case files of all of those things. "I've heard of Tesla. Weird guy. Moustache. Pretty good with electricity." Forgive him oh, scientists, for he is a mechancial engineer with only a master's degree.

He's happy to let Fitz do most of the talking, both because he lacks confidence, and because he's happy to defer to the resident genius. Well. One of the resident geniuses. SHIELD is rather lousy with them. He lags behind to finish off his pizza, then jogs to catch up with the other two.

*

The pizza is observed but bypassed. Maybe later. It does smell nice.

Aethera gestures for Fitz to lead on, following him and offering Argyle a pleasant smile. "Stasis. Very good," she says. "Rather unintentional, at least on my part." The comment about Doctor Tesla, though, brings a look of surprise to her face — followed by some consternation. "I had heard that Edison won in the end," she says, her tone rather dark. "Disappointing, but not surprising. Commerce often does bypass actual genius."

She steps around to observe the prototype on the holotable. Evidently she's seen technology like this before, but she smiles brightly nevertheless. "I will never find this anything other than elegant and lovely," she murmurs, reaching out to pull a few pieces out to be observed more closely. Her eyes narrow and her lips purse before she goes on: "What properties are the most important, and how much do we need?"

*

"Edison was a bloody tool," quips Fitz. Seems he's one of the Nikolites. Once they are all inside of the lab, he looks from the disassembled device to the holotable. "A high degree if conductivity and energy transfer, with the lowest amount of heat bleed and static discharge. None, preferably, or else I'll have to fashion a very small cooling system. Oh, ah, and I need to have the most precise control over the energy flow. Subatomic manipulation means that the controls must be able to calibrate amperage down to the micro-jule."

Look, the guy writing this has a Communications Degree and works at a bank beyond the fourth wall. Cut him some slack if he fucked it up.

"Oh, and… the research files declare that there's a very small bit of gamma radiation that leaks out. And, uh, we, uh, don't exactly like gamma radiation around here. Even in small doses."

Nick Fury would nail his ass to a cross if Operation: Wand accidentally became Operation: Hulk Army.

*

"Look, I'm not bein' rude here. Y'all just keep on talking and sorting this out. I'm just here to be the hands." Argyle holds up his hands and wiggles his fingers. "I'm not saying I don't understand what you're on about, but anything I have to contribute has probably been thought of and dismissed by the time it comes to me." He doesn't say that bitterly or anything. In fact, it's accompanied with a grin. He's a man who knows his limits and isn't ashamed to admit them. "I'll just be over here calibrating frequencies." He thumbs over to his workbench.

*

"What we'll need," Aethera muses, "is synthesis of our techniques. As far as conductivity and transfer without bleed or discharge — ah, I think I have the answer for you. Superconductive materials do, of course, have that rotten little problem of hardly being lossless. But if we used an extremely conductive, extremely efficient conductor and fused a superinsulator to it — at the molecular level, so we'd have to create a molecular lattice that tesselates perfectly between the two — "

She looks up to Argyle. "A bit like a tiled floor, you see? Where some tiles are square and some octagonal, with the squares filling in the spaces between them."

Back to Fitz: "We could create a superconductor that insulates itself. Let's work on some molecular diagrams. Don't worry too much about valences; we should be able to re-jigger those a bit with sufficient focusing mechanisms. Do you want to take the conductor or the insulator?"

*

Fitz quietly reaches over his good arm, offering a fist for Argyle to punch. If he hasn't already mentioned it, the Scott is quite thankful for the extra set of arms, not to mention the company. His attention, though, remains on Aethera. Eyebrows rise, and a grin forms. "I'm very good with insulators. Remind me to show you my prototype 'Night-Night Gun'." He glances back toward Argyle. "We'll let the energy master do her thing."

Then, with a clap of the hands, he's off to begin putting together some specs. "We can run everything through my simulation program, before we actually begin digging into materials and building stuff. If we make it past midnight? We'll do milkshakes. If we make it past three?" He grins mirthfully. "Ales."

Thank goodness for N.Y.C. and 4am cut off times.


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