Made to Measure Power

Summary:
January 30, 2015: Argyle gives Hill an update, and a demo, on her requested piece of equipment.

The Triskelion

Somewhere beneath all of the usual foot traffic and surveillance.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
None


The message to Maria was passed the old fashioned way - that is, a note under the door with a time and a place. That time is, 'at her earliest convenience' (as one does not assume to dictate the time of a meeting to the Deputy Director.) The place is a testing range deep in the bowels of the Triskelion, away from the general flow of scientists. All the recording equipment that's usually used to document tests has been disabled. Inside the black soundproofed room, Argyle's making adjustments to odd equipment he has strapped to his body.

*

With all of the trouble happening on the home front of late, Hill's actually at her desk more often than not! Getting the note is trivial enough, then it's just a matter of shifting her schedule around in order to make this previously unseen piece fit in with all of the others. This is why she gets paid the big bucks.

Or at least why she happens to have more paperwork of a sensitive nature to file through.

It's also handy having a building as large as the Triskelion, there's always somewhere quiet to lurk for an undisclosed amount of time. She practically walked for five minutes without seeing another soul before arriving at the testing room in question, eyeing the lone weapons designer already inside with a glance both critical and appraising in nature.

"Did you finish it already?" she asks, honestly a little surprised by the thought.

*

"Naw, not finished," says Argyle as he tightens a strap on his wrist. "But I thought I'd make sure I'm on the right track before I lock anything down. But it's been a fun project. Motivating. C'min, please. Latch the door?"

He's wearing what looks like body armour that riot police might wear. The mechanisms attached to his hands look a little rough and cumbersome, as do the mechanisms currently strapped between his shoulderblades.

*

Yeah, no way Hill's going to leave the door wide open here even if it is quiet out in the halls. Something about indoor weapon test firing making people a bit jumpy, particularly of late. She makes sure the underground box that's serving as their testing facility is fully sealed before making her way closer, frowning slightly as she so often does when wrapping her thoughts around a peculiar new concept.

"It's somewhat more bulky than I had anticipated," she admits while giving the prototype a closer examination. "Not so sure I could see a superhero foiling a bank robbery with it."

White gloved knuckles rap against a shoulderplate as she asks "Is all of this necessary for its operation?"

*

"Well, see, the thing is…" says Argyle as he turns to the laptop that is currently wired to the devices on his wrist. "…I went with non-custom accessories. I stuck to stuff you could mail order. I could custom fit the body armour to absorb the shock, but then I'd need the person I was custom fitting it to. It'd also look not quite so homemade. You could get away with lighter armour, but not with the force these babies are currently kickin' out. Besides, this is just the beta version," he flashes a grin. "Proof of concept. I can slick it up."

*

Hearing the explanation given in the armor's defense brings a thoughtful "Hmm" from Hill, shifting hands onto her hips simply to give them something to do. "I like your approach. In theory it should then be fairly simple to repair while out in the field. Size-adjustable, as well?" she inquires. And, perhaps of equal importance, "Just how much force are we talking about here, Argyle?"

This is where things should start to get real interesting.

*

Force is, well, kind of Argyle's thing. Once, on a mission, he got to blow up an entire freighter. He was positively gleeful as he calibrated the yield and set the charges. He gets a similar look now. There's a twinkle in his eye. "Well now, that's the fun part."

He detaches the cable from the arm braces and goes to pull a pair of targeting dummies into place. Then he tosses Maria a pair of safety goggles. He slips a pair on for himself. Because safe science is good science.

He lifts a hand, makes a fist, then holds his arm out. The fist drops and the device starts to whirr. "Now, you've got the first setting. This'll knock back your average eight year old girl." He demonstrates by firing a concussive blast. The dummy barely moves. "Now, you adjust the force here," he shows her a throttle that rests across his palm. "You gently turn it up, like a motorcycle throttle. You gun it, and…" He lifts a hand and fires. The dummy? What dummy? Oh, you mean that thing with a giant concave dent it in now lying flat on the ground with some bits missing?

*

'Force' is also nothing which Hill is going to complain about. As one of a very few number of people that can point a Helicarrier or two at anywhere on the globe, force and her have a very special relationship. "You have my attention, Agent."

The goggles..are unexpected. It would make more sense to include them while donning the device, itself. But as a bystander? She almost looks puzzled while fitting them into place.

The first demonstration is ..quite lackluster. "In case I feel the need to moonlight as a leafblower," she rather flatly remarks.

Her concern is quickly erased with the sudden repositioning of the dummy. It's a completely different expression, her very body language betelling of a 'holy shit' encounter. Even better, it didn't seem to break Argyle's arm when he used that level of power.

"Now it's starting to show some promise…"

*

Socks might just be giggling a little bit. In a manly way. But gosh, that was fun. "So that first setting, I call that kitty cat. That last one? Silverback gorilla. So. How about a twofer?" He shifts to stand in front of the dummy. He raises both hand and clicks the devices into place. "I call this one Smaug." BOOM. A concussive wave shoots from both hands, arcs together and smacks against the dummy. It's thrown violently up against the wall and drops, splintering and cracking. That's the reason for the goggles. "That'd take down your average…really big thing, is the scientific measurement. Charging elephant, at least."

*

She knows the next one is coming. She can hear it, she can -see- it, but when the double whammy is unleashed Hill actually flinches and pulls back half a step, both of her arms darting up to shield herself as the next dummy is reduced to kindling.

Across the room.

Standing there like a partially coiled spring and widened eyes, the only word she can summarize the moment with is "Shhhhit..!"

Ahem. Arms are lowered. Composure is regained. Another look is passed to Argyle, who continues to seem no worse for wear.

"Impressive. And useful if the Gotham Zoo ever gets out of hand again. You said this is just the -beta- version? How soon do you think you could have a model ready for field use?"

*

"Welp," says Argyle, trying his best not to look too pleased with himself. "That depends on how many extras you want, and if you want the boots. I'm still workin' on a design for those. And…" he shifts a little closer to her and drops his voice, even though no one's going to overhear anything, "…it'd help if I knew what size I was buildin' this thing for. Cause see, right now I've got it all calibrated for someone my size and weight." And he is neither a short nor slight man. "If I'm calibrating this for someone smaller, I gotta build in some more stabilization, else we might be in a dislocation of shoulders situation. Or worse."

*

It's a matter of patience. Of course Hill wants it ready to go as soon as possible. Why not use what's ready now and add in the other bits and pieces later, as they become available? But..no. In situations like this it's probably smartest to wait and have everything as close to final as possible before taking it out for a test drive.

It's the next part which concerns her more, right along with the thought of dislocated shoulders. Argyle is given yet another look, more of a cool stare this time as she weighs the question given to her. She already said that this entire project is to be kept solely between the two of them. He'd probably come to recognize his work being actively used sooner or later.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

"It's for me."

*

Argyle keeps his eyes on her for a moment. It's not a staredown, but it is a searching look. Then he works his jaw to the side and says, "Well all right then. I can work with that. For one, I'm gonna have to shorten this up." He holds up one of the devices that is clamped to his forearm. "And add a bit more energy displacement. Cause, and I say this with every compliment intended, you don't weigh anywhere near what I do."

Either he has a few guesses as to what Maria might be up to, or else he's decided he doesn't need to know. Either way, there's no follow-up questions.

*

It's for the best, really. There aren't going to be any follow-up answers. There's a moment where the two simply stare at one another, though for much different purposes and with much different meanings. Hill can't stop the guy from making assumptions or drawing his own conclusions, chances are that he'll end up seeing the final product of his efforts on the evening news at some point.

Just in case she needs to stress the importance of this staying strictly between these two.

She has her reasons. Right now these reasons involve turning herself into a tech-based superhero. At least her job isn't boring.

"I would appreciate the focus on sparing my limbs from dislocation," she replies in a completely stoic tone.

*

If Maria's security clearance was anything lower than what it is, Argyle might suspect that he's being used for someone else's gain - something that might not be in the best interests of SHIELD. But Maria is too high up the food chain for him to ever suspect she'd be doing this without Fury's blessing. So he'll mind his own damned business and just build things that can give an elephant a concussion.

"Look, I can give you all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. I can slick this up to look real nice. Or, what I can do is make it look homemade and trick it out with more advanced stuff under the surface. I've been goin' at this like it was a decoy project, like this tech was gonna get out in the world and you were gonna hunt it down to find a leak or somethin'. If no one's gonna get a close look at it, it can work like SHIELD tech and look like basement tech. Just don't get yourself captured."

*

It's one of those ever-classic situations of 'the less you know, the better.' The entire Division is based upon the art of spycraft. Fury's got a near-limitless number of secrets kept from the rest of the world, including Hill. It would be foolish to assume that she didn't happen to have some of her own, as well. One just has to trust her judgement, that it's for all of the right reasons.

"I like that," she replies with a nod. Advanced tech under the surface, there if (or when) she'd happen to need it. "Getting captured is quite low on my list of priorities. You just focus on building this as best you can and we won't have to worry about it."

She's already starting to question how long this particular secret will be kept, especially in light of the current situation they all face.

*

If there's one thing that Argyle is good at, it's following orders. He does have a near-spotless record in that regard. Usually everyone has a moment or two of insubordination on their records, because of very particular circumstances, or inexperience. His is oddly free of those kinds of blemishes.

"You got any thoughts on colour scheme?" And then, he can't quite help asking, "…you pick out a name for yourself yet?" He starts to work at getting the prototypes off his arms. Right now, they don't exactly slip on and off, but he did say they were a proof of concept.

*

Color schemes? Names? Hill might think that Argyle is getting ahead of himself here if these aren't questions which she has already been asking herself over the last couple of days. Yes, she's got a few thoughts in mind. But..there's complications.

Aren't there always.

In the end it probably won't matter what color the weaponized armor is, the inventor is going to recognize it. She can't possibly expect to keep this completely in the dark with where she's planning to go with it.

"Silver on red came to mind," she admits after a notable pause. "Still giving thoughts to a name." Which is only half true. Names are easier to track than 'that silver and red chick with a killer left hook.'

He'll probably find out for himself soon enough.

*

"Y'know," says Argyle as he slides the prototypes into a nondescript black case. "I don't blame you. I mean, it can't be fun for you to be outgunned by all the superhumans out there. I respect you, Agent Hill. You get in there. You could sit behind a desk and direct things, but you go into the field. It makes sense that you'd wanna go in there with more than a rifle and some body armor."

He takes a moment to secure the laptop, then picks up a scanner. "Look. You ordered me to keep this all off books, and that's what I'm gonna do. But the way for me to do the best job I can, and, more importantly, make sure you stay as safe as possible, is for you to be clear with me what you really need this tech to do. Arms up, please?" She might very well recognize the device as a holo scanner. He wants to take her measurements.

*

The instant that Argyle starts talking about Hill is the instant which she goes back to the defensive, initially folding her arms together as she stands there like a marble carving while regarding the inventor with that 'somewhat suspicious' stare.

"Your appreciation is noted, Agent."

It's a difficult situation to be in. If word -did- get out she runs the risk of being stripped of her rank so quickly that she can't even retaliate on the guy for outing her operation. Still, it's not the first time that she's done something risky.

And so, Argyle's going to get his proverbial carrot.

"The Triskelion is in tatters. I'm under pressure to keep the entire world outside of these walls right where it is, on the -out-side. I'm also being told that there are agents right here that cannot solve the problems laid out before them without having outside expertise. We're dealing with a can of worms so completely new to us that it's practically three realities abroad and I have a building full of men and women whom are all counting on people like me to keep them safe. If this means I have to take on a secret identity and dress up like Iron Woman Lite for a few hours out of my week then that's exactly what I am going to do."

Only then does she actually lift her arms for the required measurement scans.

*

There's no interruption as Hill speaks. For one, that's just Not Done. Only when she's said her bit does he open his mouth. "Y'know," says Argyle as he calibrates the scanner. "I could say somethin' here about taking too much on yourself, but frankly, that's none of my business." The scan only takes a moment, then the scanner goes in with the other equipment. "So I'll just shut my mouth and be Q to your Bond." He grins wryly. "Which sounds pretty damn cool when I put it that way. Just don't get yourself killed, okay? We need you."

*

"I understand the gravity of our situation better than most," Hill flatly admits. "And you're damn right, it -isn't- any of your business. Just have some faith that maybe I know what I'm doing. I didn't become Assistant Director because of my brown-nosing skills."

She'd sooner get up in a superior's face and scream right back at them. And has! A LOT. She's got one of the more colorful records no one's ever heard about.

Lowering her hands back to her hips, she dryly adds "I'll try not to pull an obligatory 'what's this do' while pressing the first inviting button that happens to cross my path. What you're working on here? Is going to help keep me alive. So do us all a favor and make it perfect, 'Q.'"

*

"Hey, if you wanted perfect and brilliant, you shoulda tapped Fitz. I'm just the grunt. With me, you get functional, reliable and pretty badass. But perfect? She's gonna have a few quirks," Argyle chuckles and snaps the case closed. "Trust me, Agent Hill. If I didn't have faith in you, I would be asking a hell of a lot more questions." And he knows that's why he was the one who was asked instead of one Doctor Leopold Fitz. Not that Fitz doesn't have faith - the young man just has more…curiosity.

*

Sigh. "To the best of your abilities, Socks," Hill belatedly amends. "You're right, Fitz could have made a shinier wrapper. This isn't supposed to win any beauty contests, it needs to survive battlefield conditions. It takes someone who understands the ins and outs of weaponry." There's the Marine in her talking again.

"Similarly, there's a fine line between having bells and whistles and having a simplified system which can be used to its potential while under stress. I wouldn't trust Fitz to know where to draw that line."

She's (still) confident that Argyle is the right man for this job.

"Is there anything else we need to cover here, Agent?"

*

And that really is Argyle's style - practical and functional. Fitz would have never have designed the gloves based on a motorcycle throttle, for instance. "I'm gonna build in tech you already know how to work, in the ways you know how to work it. You sound like you're pretty eager to start using this thing, and I don't want you to have a steep learning curve. Sides, the simpler it is, the less shit there is to break, if you'll pardon my French." He looks from the case, then up to Maria. "I think I'm good. I'll keep working away at this, and fit the gloves for you. I'll also upgrade the underlay of the armor and just put somethin' a little chunkier on top to disguise it. If I can use our tech for the power cells, that's gonna fix the weight problem. And if I can use SHIELD tech underlay, that's going to help with absorbing kickback and diffusing heat."

He waves a hand, "You don't need to know all that. Just that next time we meet, it's gonna look a hell of a lot cooler. And I might just have the boots for you, too."


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