Howard's 11: Express Service to New Orleans

Summary:
February 1, 2015: SHIELD agents pick up Howard Stark en route to Louisiana to track down arms dealers.

Quinjet


Characters

NPCs


Mood Music:


The jet's being prepped. It won't be long before a select few agents get the fun-filled task of taking yet another trip out of the state to take care of God knows what. Already the Assistant Director is on a mission, marching herself straight down to the R&D labs. There's just two names on her list of people to grab for this op. She knows what they look like. If they're anywhere within the Triskelion, she will find them.

And find them she does.

"You two!" she calls out while pointing to both Fitz and Simmons with one white gloved hand. "On me. Grab your scanners and Fitz's N- Gun and let's go."

She can explain the where's and why's of it on the way. They've got a schedule to keep!

*
Black Widow, meanwhile, is with the Quinjet they're preparing for takeoff. This part of the op should be pretty quick and easy, but they are on something of a time crunch. Best not to dally when they have fresh intel. Especially not when someone's jumping through dimensions.

She picks her favorite Quin, therefore, and starts giving it her personal examination from the top to the bottom.

*

Leopold Fitz has, literally, just returned from his top secret mission to the Watchtower. To say that he's riding on cloud nine is an understatement; the man just saw Mother Earth from high orbit, and got to program alien technology. He came into the R&D lab mere moments before Hill, and is about to head for his computer terminal when she comes in and calls for them.

Fitz whirls about, mouth ajar. "But —" Any further retort, however, is entirely silenced when she refers to his baby as the N-Gun.

The. Ever. Loving. N-Gun.

He looks a little pissed.

"Simmons." It's a cue for her to get the scanners; he's already halfway across the room, unlocking a cabinet and retrieving the fancy case that his Night-Night Gun is held within. On Hill's heel, he retorts, "It's called the Night-Night Gun."

He looks to Simmons for support, even though it's doubtful he'll get it.

*

Simmons looks up from the task she's working on as Hill enters and orders them out. She's already moving across the room to get the scanners as Fitz speaks.

Scanners in hand, she follows Fitz out and smiles a little at his retort and look for support, providing only a small shake of her head and a shooing motion with her hands 'keep walking'.

*

Moments later, in the New York skyline…

"This had better be the right address or someone's going to be in for one hell of a wake-up call," Hill comments as the Quin's hanging in the air over a nearby condo. There's a helipad on the roof, more than enough room to land their bird. Besides the two from the science department she's grabbed a few other agents seemingly at random, because she can and armed support is never a bad thing.

"We've got one more stop to make then I'll get everyone up to speed. Set us down, Romanoff."

As soon as landing gear hits the pad she'll be marching down the ramp, right along with whomever wishes to join. She doesn't mind, so long as everyone's accounted for in the next few minutes.

Poor Howard Stark is about to have an interesting evening.

*

When they do crowd FitzSimmons onto the jet, Black Widow is on her way to the cockpit. She glances back to the R&D kids, eyes flicking over them, and says "You brought the Night-Night Gun. Excellent."

And then she ducks into the cockpit, possibly grinning to herself.

Up they get seconds later, just as soon as everyone's nice and secure, and it doesn't take long for them to touch down on Howard Stark's landing pad. Because naturally he has one. Convenient for armored sons and helicopters for himself.

Natasha seems keen on coming inside, hopping out of her seat and cruising down off to the ramp.

*

After the Quinjet has landed, Fitz presses himself up against a window. There's no way he's going out there unless called for; it looks as if Hill is on the warpath. He chews at his lip for a moment, then eyes the ballistic case that holds his Night-Night Gun. "Is it a good or bad thing that she didn't take it?" he asks Simmons.

At least Romanoff fancies the item. It isn't until she's left, along with some of the agents, when he looks to Jemma, then back to the ramp. "Oh, bollucks!" He taps her shoulder, think snatches up the gun's case. "Come on!"

He scrambles down after them, taking up the rear.

*

Fitz's scrambling has Simmons mildly bemused as she follows along "I think she wants you to bring it" the brit nods to the Night- Night gun as they move down the ramp. "So it's neither good nor bad, Fitz."

*

Since Stark Tower currently has a hole right through the middle of it like a 90-storey donut, it's not exactly an ideal spot for Howard to be staying right now. There is of course, the Maria Stark Foundation, which is where Pepper has been running the company while the Tower is under repair. Surprise surprise though, staying at a foundation dedicated to his late wife is a little awkward. So he's rented the Manhattan penthouse. It's been good for him to be out from under the shadow of his son, (which has been an odd sensation to say the least.)

He emerges from the penthouse wearing a silver and brown dressing gown and holding a martini. There's no cigar, but it looks like there should be. There might be a gun in his pocket. Sensible precaution. He does relax a little when he sees who it is. "I sure hope you have a good reason for dropping in on me like this, Agent Hill. I usually like to know when I'm about to have guests arrive by Quinjet."

*

What..? (Sigh.) Hill probably shouldn't be too upset, if she had pulled this stunt on Tony then it could have been a lot more embarrassing for everyone involved. This is just ..inconvenient, at worst.

"I'm glad to see that you don't have any plans tonight, Mister Stark. Your assistance is required." And not in that 'I'll think about it' sort of way. More of a 'get your ass dressed and on the jet' sort of way.

"We another situation on our hands, and your name is all over it."

If he doesn't believe her then she'll gladly toss him the inert piece of 1970's Stark Tech recovered from the alley last night. This situation really -does- have his name all over it!

"Please get dressed, we're losing time."

*

"Evening, Stark."

Natasha doesn't come much further than through the door; she leans on the frame, folding her arms. She has that same smug smile on her face that she usually has when things aren't going completely to the dogs.

"Sorry for not calling, but we're a little short on time." What is this, Black Widow playing Good Cop? "We've had a couple of little incidents, but it's better that we discuss them on the way."

*

"Well," answers Fitz, "If we do have to use it, someone's in for a big surprise." Ever since Simmons mastered the dendrotoxin formula, the young engineer has been dying to see it in action.

Coming up at the rear with Simmons, Leo peeks his head around the frame of a very big field agent. "Is that…"

*

Jemma moves beside Ftiz and looks as well before nodding. "Howard Stark" she finishes Fitzs' sentence for him. The dressing gown gets quirked eyebrows "Looks like he wasn't expecting us"

*

"You do realize I'm not on the SHIELD payroll, Agent Hill." Howard makes a show of slowly sipping his martini. "Which means I'm not in the habit of following orders. And even if I was on the payroll, I…—" he catches the object when it's tossed to him. He turns it over in his hand and his expression darkens. "Where did you get this?" He holds it up accusingly, then looks down at it. "This is from my lab. This is a prototype." His face sets into a sour look.

He turns and walks back through the door of the penthouse. The martini glass gets set down on the bar, and he disappears into the well-appointed bedroom. He's not exactly tossing on a band t-shirt, but he is dressing in a hurry. He emerges a few minutes later, midway through tying his tie. "Agent Romanoff. I see you eyeing my Russian vodka. Another time." He winks, takes a few steps through the portal, seems to have a thought, then turns back to snag said vodka. "Where are we going?" That to Agent Hill as he moves towards the Quinjet. As they approach the jet, he tosses the casing towards Fitz. "Something you ought to look at if they haven't shown you yet. You're the Scot, right?" Then he nods towards Jemma, "Agent Simmons."

*
A toss, and a catch. "-Jersey,-" Hill flatly replies in that 'so very not amused' tone. Complete with crossed arms. (So glad I've got your attention now, Stark.)

At least it's got the old guy..robot moving now. When she turns around and spots Fitz clutching the rifle case, she says "Quick thinking but not this time. By the way, the dendrowhatsit charge is a little heavy." She did shoot one guy with it just the other night, poor gun's barely had a chance to cool down before it's being hauled out the door again.

She continues to stand out in the cold, waiting to make sure that Howard does indeed get himself into the Quin. Once everyone's loaded in and Natasha's back at the helm she'll explain the situation.

"This piece of Stark tech was part of an attempted arms deal just last night. Three suspects were taken into custody, one of them the dealer in possession of this device." And another one got hit by the Night-Night gun.

"Stark's involvement here is obvious. Simmons, Fitz. You two are here because this same dealer somehow phased himself right out of our reality and escaped from interrogation room one. We have no idea where he went but we have an idea of how he left. I need you two on point as soon as we meet up with Widow's informant. If..we can find her. Gather whatever sliver of data you can, we cannot let this happen -again.-"

As for where they're going? "Louisiana."

*

Natasha looks pretty pleased. She gives Stark a wry little two-finger salute before heading back up to the Quin. Though the idea of Celestine being her informant is making her grin.

"By the way," she calls to Fitz as they start rising. "You've been working on that little dimensional dampener. Think you can whip up a portable version? And Hill," she adds, only glancing back briefly — she's got a jet to maneuver, after all — "there's the blood sample from our very brief guest. Simmons might profitably take a look at that, as well."

*

The object tossed from Hill to Stark seems to have caught Leo's eye, prompting him to edge out from behind the field agent further still, a most curious expression upon his face. He waits with patience until Howard re emerges and tosses the item to him. "I'm Fitz," he answers, clarifying himself to be something aside from Scottish. "She's —" He's hooking a thumb toward Jemma when Stark virtually finishes his introduction himself.

"Wha —" He turns to Simmons. "You two know each other?" Such a plaintive look! Fortunately for Simmons, the interrogation would have to wait. He's got a piece of vintage tech in his hands, not to mention a piece of evidence, which he quickly scowls about.

The rifle case is handed to Simmons. "She was at least wearing gloves," he quips, while reaching into the lab coat beneath his jacket to retrieve a pair of sterile gloves. Using his teeth, he puts them on one hand at a time, trading the piece of tech hand from hand until he's sure not to spoil the subject matter further.

Once aboard the Quin, Fitz is pulling out a pair of micro goggles and fixing them, one handed, over his face. "Actually, Agent Romanoff, I don't believe the 'dimensional dampener' will work in a networked fashion. I may need to make it portable." He won't mention exactly how that's going to work, though there is a tiny grin that forms upon his face. The man, it seems, has his secrets. While the jet lifts off, he's studying the piece of 1970's tech through the goggles. "Arms dealer. Do we think there's a chance the technology has been copied?" A moment later, his breath catches when he realizes just what the palm-sized detonator was designed to do. "Mother of…"

*

Nodding to Howard, Jemma responds "Mr Stark", then grins at Fitzs' plaintive look and taking the rifle case as it's given to her. Mention of a blood sample has her head snapping up to look at Natasha "Yes, I'll take a look at it."

Simmons looks like she might be about to question Fitz on his 'secret' until his breath catches "What is it?"

*

The detonator has a Stark Industries logo etched onto the back, one circa 1975. "I know you're Fitz. I've read your dossier. You have a lot of promise. Done some good things." Howard pats Leo on the shoulder as he settles himself into a seat on the jet. "That is a little bastard I call a sleeper grenade. You puncture the glass casing and it releases a chemical compound that, frankly, makes everyone around you high as a kite. Visual and auditory hallucinations, the works. A pure chaos device. There's an incoluation against the effects of the chemical, which is what I'm guessing you're going to find in your subject's blood sample."

Howard clips himself into the seat and looks across to Hill. "Now, the big question is, how many of my toys have you found? These had to come from my lab in Jersey. I figured you guys would have locked that down properly, but I suppose gatling guns sort of draw the attention of outsiders." He reaches out a hand and extends it in the general direction of the others. Surely someone has a file for him to look over. He needs to be properly briefed.

*

Once again Widow proves useful, reminding Hill about the blood sample. "Right, yes, the, uh… Dammit, where'd that thing run off to…" she mutters to herself while looking around the Quin's interior. They literally grabbed what little they had to work with and ran to one of the landing bays only moments earlier.

"Here," she announces while darting a hand out for a sealed, temperature-controlled case with the sample safely nested inside. She hands the whole thing over to Simmons. It's not like the Quins are well stocked with movies or reading material, anyway.

The voiced discovery from Fitz draws Hill's attention in a hurry as well, coming up beside the scientist with a look both stern and curious. She'd ask what he found but Howard's already explaining what the device is for, and what it can (could) do.

Looking back to Howard, her expression falling grim once more, she says "This is all of the physical evidence we've yet encountered. It sounds like there's more to be had, however. Widow and Captain America headed the interception, all I saw was a crazy energy spike coming from -that- thing," she points to the device in Fitz's hands, "moments before it was turned into scrap."

Over to you, Romanoff!

*

Once the autopilot is set, Natasha is able to give fuller attention to the situation at hand.

"Last night, we interrupted a weapons deal gone bad between two groups of people who seem, at least, to have portions of your old stock." She gives Howard a brief nod. Passing Maria her tablet, she adds: "Can you plug that in, please?"

Once it's set up on the screen, she goes on. "We encountered four people. Manny — " His dossier comes up. "Got away. He and this man — " Rossi's picture comes up. "Were negotiating, as far as we can tell, a trade of weapons tech, with this man — " Virgil's dossier comes up. "And this woman," she continues, as Cass Wren's picture appears, "as possibly a mediator. When things started going south, we took everyone we could into custody and gave them medical exams. In the middle of taking them down, 'Virgil' over here pulled your Happy Funtimes grenade to set it off. And when we had him in interrogation, he managed to teleport out. Probably with a dimensional shift."

*

"Sleeper grenade." Fitz approves of the name. He glances up when Stark all but dictates how it works, removing the goggles from his face and perching them upon his forehead halfway through. He glances to Simmons next, murmuring, "Someone's a real cannie arse." Stark just answered her question, it would seem. He turns to look at Hill with a frown, then puts the goggles back on and begins inspecting it for traces of what that energy spike could have been,

"Mister Stark, how is the glass punctured? Did you design it to release any significant amounts of energy, or was the triggering method something more mundane?" If the device has been altered, then there's a damned good chance that the ability to reproduce it may still be out there.

Almost as a side note, Fitz speaks up. "Regarding, ah, dimensional shifts. The, uh, well, 'Debra' may be partially functional. Just give me another day on that, but, it'll be a flash field test." He's trying to be diplomatic in not giving away what, exactly, 'Debra' can do. Blame Stark, that always works.

*

Taking the case from Hill, Simmons pulls her scanner case out as she settles into a seat. The scanner case includes a small portable analysis kit and the british born biochemist is distracted with the blood sample.

It takes a few minutes for the gamut of tests to be run, but as the results start displaying, Simmons frowns deeply "Fascinating…."

*
"Happy Funtimes Grenade," drawls Howard. "Right, I'm trademarking that name. Thank you, Agent Romanoff." Howard smiles charmingly, then turns his attention back to the information presented to him. He gets his Serious Face on and inspects the information being presented to him. "Hold on, hold on. Go back to the woman. Give me her medical information." He's not asking nicely, but they don't really have time for that. Plus…he's not used to it. Not in circumstances like these anyway.

He turns to Fitz as he waits for the requested information to appear. He takes the device from whoever has it. He's not bothering with gloves, but then, he designed the thing. It's not evidence to him, it's a prototype. He holds it in his hand and positions a thumb over an appropriately thumb-shaped indentation. "You depress this and it triggers a small explosion through microfilaments embedded in the glass. Once the chemical hits the air, it immediately dissipates over a radius of…" he waggles a hand, "Thirty feet, give or take? Depending on wind. The chemical becomes inert in the air after approximately five minutes. It's like an LSD flash bang."

*

When the pad is handed to Hill she doesn't look off-put being asked to help, she simply gets a holoprojector ready to roll then 'slides' the data from the pad to the projector for all present to see. Then she gives Natasha the stage, only adding her two cents at the end.

Fitz gets another nod, "You may well have your day to get it up and running."

Turning back to the projection, she supplements Natasha's intel with some of her own. "Manny here somehow evaded us completely during the skirmish. Intel from Rossi is why we're now heading down south looking for more answers. This knockout here," the yet unnamed woman, "Is Wren. And apparently Howard knows something about her," she adds with a somewhat critical glance his way.

"Former Marine-turned-mercenary with some sort of metal plating grafted onto her skin. She claims to have been sent to the deal by a third and unknown party to make sure everything went smoothly. We're still trying to get anything particularly useful out of her. So far no one's come to pull -her- out of custody, thank God. Stark, do you have anything to add here?"

"We do also have the next objective." Another image comes up on the screen: "Celestine Bineau. A mutant based in New Orleans with the capacity, possibly among other things, to dimensionally shift at a distance using the same means — apparently — as got Virgil out of SHIELD HQ. You can imagine how happy Hill is about that."

*

To get 'Debra' up and running, Fitz may need to requisition a small bit of radioactive material. This may not be the best time to mention that, so, he merely gives Hill a nod.

The device is given to Stark without complaint. Instead, he's turning his attention momentarily upon Simmons. "What? You found something?"

*

His attention soon swings back to Natasha. At word of the mutant with this ability, he frowns. Deeply. The prototype T.D.B.R.A device has been problematic, but he's already run a number of options for fueling the machine. While its magical components aren't even close to being ready, it could, feasibly, serve to offer some sort of defense in this situation. He's going to rule out the plutonium option right here and now, and the others have proven to be ineffective.

It just comes out.

"If I had access to a small ARC reactor, I could have it operational in four hours."

There, he said it. Operational, of course, doesn't mean that it would work correctly. They would also need to go back and get it from his lab, along with a handful of tools… or… someone else could bring it via another Quin.

*

Howard had previously clipped himself in. He unclips himself and walks carefully over to the projection display. He's assuming the display is interactive. If not, he's going to look pretty silly as he tries to magnify the picture of Wren. More specifically, the spot on her neck. He points at it. His face has gone gravely serious. "This is mine, too." The woman? She hardly seems like his type. "I developed a chemical compound that can fuse organic and inorganic matter. It was meant to prevent rejection for joint replacements and metal plating. No one knew about this. I kept it off everyone's books because I had to figure out how to stop it from being used to turn people into walking suits of armour." He is a very tightly controlled man, but his anger is barely below the surface. Someone's taken something of his and perverted it. That makes him about as happy as Hill was when one of her captives dropped through a dimensional hole in the floor.

When Fitz makes his declaration, he arches a brow. "I don't know what you're trying to power, but if it's to stop these people, I'll see what I can do." He'll have to sweet-talk Pepper, since she's the one who holds the keys.

*

"Quite thrilled, I assure you," Hill deadpans back to Natasha's comment.

Thennnnn..arc reactor. Hill -turns- to give Fitz a look. "You don't ask for much, do you?"

Still, it's not nearly as big of a 'what the frack' moment as what Howard brings up next. The display, fortunately interactive, gives him a chance to take the controls, as it is.

Oh yes, and to deliver the next bombshell on them all.

*

"I don't suppose you've created something to reverse the process?" she inquires with the same flat and -completely- unamused tone. "Because if there is I want to find a way to weaponize it, pronto. If our person has the ability to do -this- to people," she jabs a finger at the image of the Tin Lady, "then we can damn well count on coming across more people who have been similarly augmented." It's followed by a muttered "Jesus…" as she turns and walks away from the screen, slowly rubbing her forehead.

"We may need a bigger gun, Fitz."

*

"People with metal grafted to their skin tend to have a really bad time with electricity," Black Widow remarks. "So if you see any of those, just let me know. Everyone should probably carry a taser, just in case. Sounds like the Night-Night pellets will have trouble penetrating unless they hit skin, so… headshots, just like when you play Walking Dead."

The request for an ARC reactor… well, that's not her problem, is it? But she's amused at the request amd Hill says all she was thinking.

"We can try having a polite talk with Bineau. It might not be best to go in guns blazing. But we don't want her getting out. We need more information on her background — who she is, how she might be connected to all this."

*

"Yeah, I did, but it was in the lab too. I could do it again, but we don't have the time," Howard frowns deeply and moves to sit back down. "Besides, if I weaponized it, we're talking about killing people. You'd cause their bodies to suddenly reject the metal. They'd either die of blood poisoning, or the metal would fall off, leaving bare muscle underneath. Hell of a way to go," he mutters. "Ideally you'd want to remove the metal slowly and regenerate the dermus. We need some solid plans." And fortunately, they have a plane ride to make said plans.


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