Who: Hope, Bruce, & Tony What: studying what was found during Spidey's trip inside Hammer Industries. Where: The Tower labs. When: after the storm, sometime during the work week.
Tony waited in his lab for Hope and Bruce to arrive. He had been there since early that morning, trying to piece together what they needed to look at. There were various pictures of open cargo boxes on screens hovering in midair around him.
The only physical evidence that Peter grabbed was the open box that was now resting on the lab table. It was nondescript, small and black, and unassuming on the outside. Inside was another story. A sparkling new fabricated component was fitted into impact absorption material, on display like jewelry, silver and cylindrical in shape. Not having this piece was probably putting a damper on any planned testing. The Feds were always looking for anything to win wars, and Tony knew he left a vacuum when Stark Industries halted weapons development.
Of course, nature abhors a vacuum. The only corporation that lived for those vacuums was Hammer Industries, which would suck up all the defense contracting shit it could. Then they would produce new shit that might be ten times more likely to blow up in everyone's faces.
Fun times, minus any actual festivity.
Scans showed a series of highly specialized lenses inside, and Tony was idly turning the holo-schematic around and around in mid-air as he waited.
Before, there was pretty much nothing going on - and now everything was going on. Hope figured that some kind of scientific luck law was at play here, but probability was never her strong suit - however, screwy tech from a high-powered weapons-manufacturing company was more in her wheelhouse. She could multitask, and take a look at what nonsense Hammer Industries had cooked up while also trying to think of a way to help Sif and the other Asgardians. Maybe she’d just have to be supportive though - she had money to spare, her whole family did, but she didn’t want to get herself or Hank and Janet in hot water either. Still, she’d come up with something.
Into the lab she went, having just finished the first turbo-charged coffee fuel of the day. A cold brew, something nitro and something that didn’t come in the largest size because heart attack. Whatever, she’d knocked back the largest size possible and was ready to roll.
“Alright, what am I looking at here?” she asked, doors sliding shut behind her as she observed the floating images. “This is what Peter took pictures of?”
"Sure is, some sort of particle generator," Tony said, turning to look at her with a smile. For a few shining seconds, he seemed to forget all about the conundrum in front of him. Bruce would probably be there soon, so they had time for small talk. "Hi, Hope. Hope you've sucked down a bucket of coffee today. Looks like we're gonna need it."
He stopped short asking about Hank, who would probably spit venom from San Francisco if he knew that anyone with Stark DNA mentioned his name.
Bruce arrived with a tray of coffee for all of them and a bag of muffins. “Sorry, I’m late,” he said as he entered. “I figured we’d need some sugar and caffeine.” It wasn’t the healthiest breakfast and he probably should be encouraging Tony to eat a more balanced diet, but they had a lot of work and damage control to do, so he figured it was okay to let things slide a little.
After setting down the goodies, his attention turned to the floating holograms. “Do we have any idea what it does?” he asked, stepping forward so he could get a closer look.
“Bless,” Hope toasted Bruce with the to-go cup of coffee she picked up from the tray. “I had a jolt this morning, yeah, but could go for more. A muffin wouldn’t hurt either. But first, let’s see...”
She held her caffeinated beverage in one hand, the other rearranging holographic images in a puzzle of sorts, putting the pieces together - she looked like some conductor of a great scientific orchestra. “Particle generators, they produce what can be used in replicators - in this case, building some type of nanosystem. A little bit more advanced than a 3D printer but...probably along similar lines?”
Generators and replicating meant these evil folks could create basically anything they wanted to create - tools, engines, even things like synthetic skin. “I have a few in my own collection, when we were working with particles from the quantum realm and figuring out how to clone the healing parts of them.”
"Hey, thanks!" Tony gave Bruce a bright smile. He'd be back to eating a slice of avocado on gluten free bread tomorrow morning. He was thinking about what Hope was saying. It made sense. There were a lot of uses for it for medical radiology too.
"That makes sense, the replication aspect. Which could get scary. But for it to be sent to Hammer's, they're trying it out for something besides replicating. They'd only send it there for weapon dev, under a government sanctioned military contract. Particle generators make particles and accelerators collide particle beams into sub-atomic energy, right? Like the huge one that CERN has or what I used to create a replacement element. StatiCorp sent this over, so they figured out a way to make it portable.
"Since it's a weapons dev, what'd happen if someone was hit by a beam? It's smaller than a bullet, highly controllable, moving almost at the speed of light. It could kill someone a thousand times over. The bullet has to be slowed down after fired or it'll just keep flying. Even worse, some scientists think if could create a micro black hole that might not be stoppable. Stephen Hawking thought it could be a link to time travel...and we all know how that can go wrong.
He picked up one of the coffees Bruce brought and made a toasting motion. "Best case is ending up like Anatoli Bugorski. A particle beam went through his head, and about 200,000 rads microwaved his face into the world's best facelift. Sure, that half was paralyzed, but people pay for botox, soooo...."
Tony shrugged and took a long sip of coffee, eyebrows raised up.
“Worst case, we end up with giant monsters rampaging through the city,” Bruce remarked after listening to everything Hope and Tony said. It seemed unlikely, but at this point, he wasn’t going to rule out anything. “Depending on what kind of radiation that thing is producing.”
He took a sip of his coffee before continuing. “Should we set up some kind of safe space to test it? See if we can figure out what they’re up to?” Bruce hated even suggesting it because it could go so very wrong.
Well, now she needed a muffin. It seemed like Hammer Industries had their fingers in a lot of different dirty pots, and Hope was not amused. She wasn’t sure where to start - all of this was ugly and, to top it all off, there was still the whole Asgard matter to deal with.
But she decided to focus on one thing at a time. “I think doing our own testing is a good idea,” she nodded, brushing crumbs from her fingers - on a napkin, not on the floor. Yikes. “We don’t have much to work with, so it’d mostly be simulations and computers generating parts to fill in the blanks but I think we have enough.”
Hey, you had to start somewhere. It was better than simply speculating.
Tony nodded and looked warily at Bruce as he reached out to grab a muffin. Was it ok? Was it a carb overload? He was going for it anyway, pulling the muffin back toward himself while squinting a little bit, like he might don some Hulk-Buster if he needed to, in order to get some sugar laden goodness.
"If this secretly has quinoa in it, I'm going to be so disappointed," he started off saying. "Between the three of us, we could reverse engineer it easy peasy. We can simulate it, get an idea of how bad it might be if it goes wrong, or what sorta damage it could do, if it goes...right."
He didn't want to think about that, but with weapons development ramping up in every country, Tony suspected it was a response to the superhero messes. Or at least that's what kept him up at night, worrying.
"Looks like we got some work to do, if nothing else goes wrong," he said, giving both Bruce and Hope a smile. "By the way, if you two aren't busy, you want to pose as scientists in a Kaiju factory?"
Just dropping that BTW bomb on them. No problem. Tony took a big bite of muffin and blinked owlishly at them, back and forth, like a tennis match.
A slight nod of approval met Tony’s questioning look when he reached for the muffin. Bruce wasn’t a cruel man. He wouldn’t have brought them if he didn’t think it was okay for Tony to eat them. There was no need to tell him that they were made with cassava flour and coconut sugar so they were moderately healthier than the junk he usually ate.
“I can run some tests to see what kind of radiation it emits,” he said. “If you two can do the engineering bits.” They’d both have a better idea of how the piece they had fit into a larger item.
He’d just taken a sip of coffee when Tony casually dropped the suggestion that he and Hope go undercover. After coughing for a moment, eyes wide, he glanced over at Hope, trying to gauge her reaction. “What exactly would the goal be?” he asked.
If they wanted to do what now? Hope also took a muffin, because she wasn’t about to be left out of this quinoa debacle - for her, it wouldn’t matter if the ingredients weren’t comprised of your typical fake blueberries or processed sugar; she tried to eat healthy anyway, on most days. But no, the muffin was actually good, and -
Okay, so she guessed she should answer instead of doing calculations in her head, to figure out the best way to engineer a fake weapon from very little information or parts.
Apparently going undercover was the rest of the equation. “Yeah, can we get some details first?” she agreed. “Because I usually have no problems going undercover - lately it’s been when I’m bug-sized though.” But she wasn’t bad at it human-sized too - after all, she’d successfully ‘spied’ on Cross, while working for her father, to unearth how crazy Cross really was, so. The long game was fine, but in this instance she had a feeling they’d be doing something else.
"While the Pentagon's building this death star," Tony said, patting the lone piece of the particle generator puzzle they did have, "there's still a Godzilla freak show to take care of. After talking with Fury and Cap, we need two scientists who can blend in and understand that shit show. And those two people are you. You've got the big guy on the back burner, Bruce, and Hope, you can shrink-dink your Wasp suit."
Of course, Fury would arrange for them to have iron clad credentials and photostatic veils so they weren't conspicuous. He grabbed some devices out of his pocket, each the same size of a 10 cent coin, and set them down next to the muffins. They were a new and improved version of what he used to hack into the SHIELD helicarrier years ago.
"Fury will set you up with all the spy stuff you'll need," he explained. "I'm giving you these. If you access something in a terminal that's interesting, stick one of these on there, and it'll transfer data to SHIELD. If you find a security terminal? It'll shut off the alarms and send an alert that the doors are open. It'd be too much of a red flag if we tried to bust in from the outside."
Bruce was wary, unsure if he had the skills to pull off going undercover, but he understood why it was necessary and at least he wouldn’t be doing it alone. He glanced at Hope, trying to gauge her response as they listened to Tony’s explanation.
“Uh… yeah, I guess,” he finally said with an awkward shrug. “Whatever you need.”
Spy stuff, cool. Hope was amenable to the idea if it meant unearthing tightly-wrapped clues about what the bad guys were even doing, and she supposed that the photostatic veil was the closest she’d ever get to shapeshifting - a good idea too, because she was damn aware that her face was recognizable. Bruce’s too. “Alright, we’re going in,” she nodded once she heard Bruce’s agreement, taking one of the tiny transfer devices and pocketing it.
“Don’t worry, we’ve got this.” And if everything went to hell, they had ways to get out.