1963-05-21 - Certifiable genius (Backdated)
Summary: Sam Wilson arrives at Stark Mansion to begin testing Howard Stark's new prototype flight system.
Related: What's a NATO?
Theme Song: None
sam howard 

It's early morning high overhead in the new york sky the world seems to be peaceful and calm. Cars fill the streats in a constant state of almost gridlock with travel measured more in minutes or hours then miles. It seems like an average day in New York the city itself packed with massive skyscrapers tall tenement buildings and one structure that stands out amungst them all. A long structure big enough that it takes up an entire city block.

This building itself is several stories tall with a finely inlaid brickwork and built during the height of the art deco craze. It shines through in every facet of this massive mansion. Hundreds of rooms multiple floors, a decently sized front lawn right in the middle of Manhatten. This place had been abandoned for two years since the reported death of Howard Stark, but it was the right place alright.

A wonderfully carved out stone pathway leads up to the front steps of this elegant building a large fountain placed on the front lawn the statue in the center covered over with scaffolding as it's currently under repairs. At the front door stands a panel with a buzzer on the side a box like object hooked up to the side of the building beside it. Below the awning that covers the stairs is a highly advanced looking security camera placed in as a new addition.


Sam Wilson has never visited a place this luxurious, and he showed up in flight fatigues. All he got was an address and instructions to arrive prepped for rough flying. He recognized the exclusive neighborhood, of course, but assumed that he was going to find yet another disguised entrance to yet another hidden SHIELD facility. Instead: a private residence. The single most flagrantly expensive-looking private residence he's ever seen, with a black man wearing glorified coveralls about to ring the doorbell.

The pilot takes one last moment to stare upward at the structure, then steels himself and pokes the button on the buzzer. "Sam Wilson, SHIELD, reporting," he says in clipped tones. A middle-aged socialite, passing by in a modish dress and gigantic hat, openly stares at the probable vagrant until her pair of leashed poodles drag her away. Wilson sweats and wishes that he could just fly away from this embarrassing situation.


There's silence for a few moments. Maybe this wasn't the right house? A long string of absolutely nothing, then rushed footsteps from within coming closer and closer. It sounds like only one set, but sure enough the door swings open, and on the other side is a man who looks almost as dark as Sam, except his happens to be motor oil and some sort of smog like covering which has ploomed out over his thick leather apron and welding goggles.

The figure stands there for a moment looking over at Sam. He leans out a bit before snapping his goggles back up onto the top of his head a smile cracking across his face. Behind those goggles is Howard Stark. The man who'd done and seen about it all, from inventing the Atomic bomb to showing the world what a little mouse with two oversized ears can do to make em laugh,and a lot of Nazi punching in between.

Howard leans out a single hand after a moment a broad smile of perfectly white teeth. "Howard Stark, pleasure to meet you Sam." A slight pause as he rips off that thick leather glove, so the two can shake hands without completely covering poor Sams hand in grease.


For a dense handful of seconds, Sam just gapes. Oh my God. Howard Stark?! Of course I know who you are! When I was 15 I tried to tried to turn a Fisher Price Chatter Phone into a working model of your theoretical hover car with nothing but a copy of the patent and an electrician's kit and it bobbed an inch off the tabletop for twenty-seven incredible seconds and then EXPLODED.

The pilot thinks all of that. What he actually does is mutely take the man's hand and shake it, holding on for what he has no idea is an uncomfortably long time. "Mist— Mister Stark," he finally manages to say. "I didn't expect to meet you here, sir."


"You know, if you keep holding your mouth like that you'll start catching flies." Howard offers with a smile and a bit of a laugh. Then just nods as the two shake hands for what seems like an eternity but if he wants someone suicidal enough to test out one of his most deranged inventions yet? He's going to need to take on the idea of catering to his audience which, at the moment, is Wilson.

"I know, I know it's not a strip joint, or a gin joint but it's home." Given with another smile as he looks down to his hand. "So, we going to stand on my front steps shaking hands all day or were we planning on seeing if we can't make you fly?"


"Yes, sir!" Wilson answers instantly, releasing Howard's hand and following him into the mansion. It doesn't even occur to him to tell Stark with brittle politeness that he has logged more flight hours than practically anyone his age, in a wider variety of aircraft than practically anyone of any age — that's how in awe of the Stark reputation this kid is.

Of course, it also doesn't occur to him that 'make you fly' is not quite as figurative a term as it has been for most of those hours.

Sam's head is on a swivel as he takes in their surroundings: a level of opulence that even moving pictures he's seen have never matched. He does his best not to scuff the floors with his well-used boots. Finding his voice again, he asks, "Is there an airstrip around here somewhere?" It's not an entirely implausible question, given the other shocks this visit has already thrown at him.


Howard moves his way through the mansion almost completely devoid of life. There's no sign of the help staff who can keep such a massive opulent place in such good condition but they have to be around here somewhere right? "Oh it's on the roof with the swimming pool." Said as if every home on the planet just happened to have its own private air strip swimming pool and helipad. He makes his way down a long winding staircase to a hallway that leads to a 24 foot thick metal vault door that's been left swung open to onside.

On the other side of this dementedly oversized vault door is what looks to be a rather large laboratory for personal experiments. Along one wall a series of suits of armor strapped to the gills with a number of weapons not a single one complete each having themselves in varying states of disrepair.

Howard spins around on the ball of his heel looking back towards Sam. "Now, without further ceremony or worry I give you." He steps back out of the way to show the screaming metal death-trap that is the wing suit. "The mark 405 Variable wing suit." The device itself looking to be an oversized backpack with wings sticking out the sides and large rocket engines strapped to the bottom.


If the richness of the interior had Wilson rubbernecking like a tourist, the tech labs have him looking more like a HUAC member's prototype of the insidious commie spy. He seems intent on committing every bolt and plate and technical detail to memory. He's so absorbed in this process that he almost misses it when Howard explains which of these technological monstrosities he'll be taking for a spin.

Almost; not quite.

"I'm sorry, you — you want me to…" Sam stammers, his voice trailing off as he takes an involuntary step back from the 405. The fog in his starstruck brain starts to clear, cold reality condensing on the back of his neck. "Wing suit? That's a rocket engine." He reverses his motion, stepping forward to inspect the device. "You want me to strap a rocket to my back, and then rely on ailerons attached to my arms for flight control." His reaches out, fingers tracing the fuselage of what looks to be an adapted ballistic missile design. "This fuel tank is going to sit less than eight inches from my spine."

He turns to Stark, eyes searching for an explanation other than the one he knows is probably true. Et tu, Howie?


"If it makes you feel any better the marks two twenty through three forty had the fuel tanks on the spine." Howard comments adjusting his flight goggles on top of his head as he walks over towards the wing suit on display. "I'd say the current design is much safer." He pauses taking off his gloves so that he can set them on the workmens bench behind his prototype cold fusion reactor that never got off the ground.

He moves over beside Sam, clamping down a hand onto the shoulder of Sam. His own grip rather tight as he motions over towards the wall of the few surviving previous iterations of the suit. "If those no-account Wrights can do it with bicycles," He pauses for a moment waggling his finger and offering the smile you'd almost expect from a salesman or a carnie. "I can damn well do it with rockets." He pauses for another long moment. "And trust me I've gotten the fatality rate down to a projected twenty percent, it's perfectly safe."


It's not a conversation that's hard to imagine. "Stark's lost it. Man wants to strap a bomb to one of our boys and have them steer it with feathers stuck to their arms." "You hate to waste talent, but if someone's gotta go, send Carter's pet colored kid."

Sam's features, rapt since his arrival, go slack and then firm into a mask. "Yeah. Yeah, understood," he says, voice betraying nothing. He takes a few steps over to a nearby workbench, sliding a few pieces of scrap metal around. "Give me a second, though. I think I need to make some changes to my suit for something like this."

First and most obvious, there's a flight helmet. Rather than one of the lightweight ones favored by pilots, Sam grabs a flak-resistant infantry model. Some strips of leather and metal plates, he quickly fashions into an armored back plate that should channel any explosive force away from his body.

All business, he calls over his shoulder as he works: "Are we testing in here, or heading out onto the grounds for more space?"


Howard pauses for a moment hmming at the helmet, before letting go of Sams shoulder. "I know what you're thinking." A slight pause. "Actually I don't but I've got a rough idea kid, and don't worry I wouldn't be sending you up there if I hadn't tested it myself. Actually just finished testing the 404 before you got here." Offered with a reassuring smile as he moves over to pick up the 100lb backpack from the table with a bit of a straining effort. A single press of the button on the back in order to retract the wings so that it looks a bit more like a military pack.

"I mean let's be honest with each-other here for a second, if SHIELD had half as much faith as I do that this'll work?" A light tap on the top of the bag as he tries to haul it over to Sam, doing his best to move slowly and carefully. "They'd have sent someone like Paulding, but that's their loss." He points a finger right towards Sam. Completely oozing confidence and control over this every moment. "Because you and I are going to make history."

There's a slight pause as he moves over slightly to a small panel on the wall, pressing it down so that the section of wall next to it can open up and reveal the doors of a rather spartan elevator. The walls and floor of this box covered in scorchmarks.


Wilson glances over at the various scrapheaps piled in the corner, looking for the 404, but he can't find it.

Never mind that. He thinks back to the rickety, half-mothballed deathtraps his dad flew in the 332nd and takes a deep breath. Time to make history or be history.

He takes the pack from Howard, hefting it with a lot more ease than the futurist. He positions his improvised firewall carefully, then starts strapping himself to the rocket. He notes with some dismay that the harness is designed to hold him very securely; frankly, he would rather fall out of the thing by accident than be stuck to it if it explodes or goes rogue. He leaves several of the fasteners undone, then snaps the hemet onto his head. Visibility's garbage, but again, he doesn't want to fly beautifully as much as he wants to live through the experience.

"Alright," he says, stepping into the elevator, already manipulating the winglike ailerons to get a feel for their range of motion. "Let's see what this thing can do."


"That's the spirit Samboy" Howard putting back down his goggles as he stands on the far side of the elevator, pushed into the corner away from Sam so he can push the button to raise the lift up to rooftop level. "If we're lucky what it can do is fly steady." He offers a friendly smile as the two are suddenly thrust up by the lift. They raise with a great deal of speed left down in the dull dimly lit elevator.

"They did have you sign that disclosure waver on the way over right?" He finally asks as the elevator slows to a sudden halt doors sliding open so they can be basked in the warm sunlight of the mansions roof. Atop this building a full on landing strip, helipad, and built in pool left open for the owner and any potential houseguests. One thing that might seem out of place being the cream colored car sitting on one of the several helipads. A 48 Tucker torpedo in mint condition just sat somehow on the roof of the building waiting on the helipad.


"Yeah, they had me sign it," Wilson answers with a dry glance at Howard. "Not that anyone would believe this if I told them, anyway." He goes back to focusing on the wings themselves, getting accustomed to their response and range of motion. If he's going to die in this thing, he'd rather it not be his fault, at least. From what Howard can tell, he seems to be getting the hang of its capabilities very, very quickly.

Once the elevator slams to a halt, Wilson walks out onto the roof's surface, bouncing slightly to get a feel for the 405's weight. He pauses when he spots the Torpedo, then looks back at Howard with one upraised eyebrow. "So I guess you did get that flying car working," he says, clearly impressed. It seems to hearten the man strapped into the wing suit to remember that, for all his eccentricity, Stark is a certified genius.

He steps out onto the helipad, legs in a wide, stable stance, and pulls on a pair of goggles that were dangling from one of the shoulder straps. "Alright. Say when."


"Oh she works, I'd offer to let you take it for a ride, but it's got a bit more of a learning curve then you might expect." Howard comments walking along the side of the pool just out from the elevator so that he can bask in the sunlight. From this vantage point Sam could see the signs of previous testing. A few scortch marks on the air strip, some smashed through trees and pushes down bellow.

There's even a rather large hole in one of the very nice nearby high-rise buildings which has been scaffold over. The work on the project seems to be going quite well but it's a wonder why that whole incident wasn't ever given media coverage. "Well if you think you're ready I'd say try moving over to the scorchmark near the wetbar then we should be ready for a test."


Rocket exhaust causes scorch marks even when it works perfectly — that's what Sam keeps reminding himself as he steps into the indicated position. The goggles and helmet between them obscure his peripheral vision, so he can just turn away from the evidence of previous tests. Out of sight, out of mind!

Except not out of mind. Still in mind. Still very much in mind.

"Dad, wherever you are — please don't let this thing kill me," Wilson mutters to himself. Then, without pausing any longer to think about it, he thumbs the ignition switch.

The pack shudders, then belches, then roars: a cone of blue-white flame grows behind Wilson, and suddenly it's pulling him upward rather than dragging him down. His eyes widen behind the goggles as he rises one, then two, then three feet off the roof. He feels the backs of his legs start to heat up and instinctively pulls them away from the afterburn, manipulating his wings with sudden, jerky movements to keep himself upright.

"Hot damn, Stark, it works!" he hollers, momentarily forgetting himself. He's just turning to look at the wet bar, getting a fragment of an idea, when the outside section of the jet vane blows off, flying across the roof and embedding itself into the surface. The suddenly unregulated thruster kicks into overdrive, instantly sending Wilson rocketing into the sky on an orbital course vaguely bound for the Soviet Union.


Howard watches in silence as the initial kickoff happens a slight press on his rather expensive looking wristwatch as he starts timing it. The test seems to be running well. Howard calls out "Alright set her back down that's en-" And there goes the roof… again. That's the eigth time this week. This little side project of his was getting dangerous. He runs over towards Wilson trying to engage the manual over-ride but there it goes.

Howard is sent reeling backwards knocked over by the sheer force of the blast. He is thrown from his standing position into the pool pure black soot and oil flowing out from around him as he paddles in place perfectly blue water turning black around him the colors spread further into beautiful flowerlike designs. With the elder stark in the middle watching Wilson fly. "Bring me back a postcard." He shouts loud as he can trying to swim over to the ladder.


The casing of the 405's combustion chamber starts to crack, the entire engine juddering and starting to shake itself apart. By the time Wilson returns to consciousness under the tremendous G-forces of his ascent, he's already too high for a survivable bailout. He makes a quick assessment of what he can see, hear, and feel. He's positive the rocket is done for and likely to explode. The wings themselves are intact and working, but the violent rattling of the compromised engine is threatening to change that, and any attempt to steer against this level of force will shear the control surfaces right off.

The test pilot shuts his eyes and visualizes the 405. Load-bearing struts for the rocket there, there, and… there. He opens his eyes and swivels his head: port strut is bent and barely holding. Starboard strut is bolted securely, but he has no tools. Unless…

Wilson leans over and yanks a strap free with his teeth, releasing his left arm from the wing assembly. He reaches across his body and, with his gloved fist, batters at the contact points that limit the right wing's range of motion, preventing the hard metal ailerons from bashing into the rocket assembly. Bits of metal fly off and fall toward Stark's lawn.

Grabbing back onto the left wing — no time to strap in — Wilson chops downward with the right once, twice, three times… and slices right through the engine strut with the metal 'feathers.'

The weakened port strut gives way immediately. The final strut groans, the off-balance thrust sending Sam pitching ass over teakettle, but finally tears away. Not a second too soon: the rocket gets a few hundred feet away and detonates brilliantly, throwing the hapless pilot back toward the Earth.


Climbing out of the pool Howard is already making a run for the Tucker 48, each step showing him to have drastically less and less clothing. That car is one of a kind, and he is not about to ruin the all original leather interior of his baby. He continues to undress till he's left with nothing but a smile, as he throws open the door of the car. A quick grab made for a simple robe that had been tossed over the back of a nearby chair.

In all honesty this is probably the eighth worst test run he's done on the VWS, but all things considered he's not actually gotten anyone killed yet so it's not like he's going to let that change now. Grabbing the keys from his pocket Howard falls into the drivers seat of the one of a kind convertible. To his right hand side a large dashboard covered in literally hundreds of different levers nobs switches and gauges. The sheer variety of them enough to make the most skilled of pilots eyes cross.

Looking up to the sky he can see the fireworks of the engine going off and get a good look at the falling figure. Howard flips one switch after another working through his flight check. This was perhaps one of the most complex control systems he'd devised but it worked, and that was the important thing. The wheels fold in on themselves slowly but surely, and he's off into the wild blue yonder.

Even as he's speeding along Howard has his priorities straight throwing back a small towel onto the back seat and a few cushions to catch the falling man. He speeds up fast as he can trying to get at an equal speed to that of Sam. Slowly turning so he can try to ease him down slowing the vehicles own plunge in time with Sams so he doesn't splat in the back seat.

The ground bellow speeds up closer and closer as they seem about ready to hit the ground. Less than an inch of clearance before he's able to pull up, narrowly avoiding slamming right front first into the ground.


Unpowered and out of control, Wilson tumbles toward the ground. This is where he finds out if that practice with the wings on the ground, and his general understanding of how aerial control surfaces work, can synthesize into a workable practice of gliding in the seconds before he turns into another dark stain on the roof of Howard Stark's mansion.

Sam drags on the wings with all his might, flinging them open to create the largest possible air brake: one capable of slowing him and correcting his flight attitude. Agonizingly, he stabilizes. His speed, now, is actually an asset: faster air over the ailerons gives him more control. He manages to level off shakily, moving from a sickening tumble to a nice stable plummet.

And that's when he realizes that he's flying. This insane contraption of Stark's is actually capable of controlled personal flight without a vehicle. And speaking of Stark, here he comes: the Tucker 48 a welcome sight and its naked driver nothing Sam is in any mood to raise objections about, either. As the bent and broken pinions that he used to disconnect the rocket are dragged away by air resistance, yanking their neighbors with them in a combination domino disintegration and shrapnel-based molt, Sam whomps into the car's backseat like the world's luckiest hitchhiker.

After a second, his head pops up over the back of Howard's chair. Only the barest remnants of the wing suit's frame still cling to him. "Holy shit, Stark. This thing works!" he yells over the wind.


"Of course it does Samboy." Howard calls back with a smile over the wind. That award winning smile clear as day from one ear to the next as they fly up the side of the nearby skyscraper. "I made it!" The car itself peeling back off to fly back down towards ground level, the aging inventor letting out a hooping laugh as they slow themselves back down, flying not in the direction of the house. "Now, I'm not taking no for an answer, you and I are going to this nice five star restaurant in town, as is." Perhaps the most terrifying thing the man could say as they speed off towards one of the more interesting evenings the two have had.

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