1965-06-30 - The Big Boom
Summary: Tony and Strange conduct experiments in an underground ballistics lab.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange tony 

Phone call received. Date and time set. Master-blues donned, boots latched, and Cloak soothed into polite weight as a handcloth stuffed into the multiple brown leather belts about his waist. His arrival at the front desk of Stark Industries warranted little worry, especially due to the relic's lack of prankful nature and the name written into the genius-inventor's daily schedule.

Strange now stands in the observation deck of the underground ballistics chamber. From the lofty point of perch, he considers the vast open space below with a vague cautionary squint of eyes. The crimson Cloak sits in familiar weight at his shoulders, sentience tamed for the moment.

"Alright, Stark, what's your plan?" he asks of the man as he turns in place, arms lightly folded.

Tony wears a lab coat in deference to the scientific aspect of this endeavor. He's even got safety goggles years before their time, because he's just that good. Under the coat he's wearing a button shirt and khakis, pretty casual for the boss man. He glances down at the ballistics lab. The boom room. There is some scarring along the walls from past rockets that got a little out of control, but see, that's how we learn.

In his hand he holds a glowing blue arc reactor, just like the one in his chest, and he holds it up. "I'm going to toss this in there," he says. "And you're going to go get it. I'm going to watch."

The Sorcerer rolls his lips inwards briefly at this proposed plan, more than likely out of a combination of chagrin at the fairly lenient approach to scientific process and to stop himself from plain-out laughing.

"You do realize that the initial result is likely going to be very disappointing. My natural aura, even bolstered by my mantle, doesn't seem to interact with any electrical object beyond minor interference and very minor at most. The radio may crackle slightly, for example," Strange explains, displaying a lifted hand briefly before hiding it away again. "But, by all means. Throw the thing down into the giant concrete bathtub, I'll go put a finger on it." Beware the slow emergence of faint dimples.

Tony says solemnly, "If we're lucky, that is exactly what will happen, and we'll know for sure you can put it in my chest without any trouble." He says it with a straight face, but one can see in his eyes that part of him is hoping shit blows up. There's a part of him that always hopes shit blows up. Because that's when things get fun.

The casing for the arc reactor is made of stern stuff. He obviously thinks it can handle the impact of falling about twelve feet, because that's exactly what happens. He takes it out to a stairwell that leads into the room (so Strange doesn't have to float down via Cloak), and he hucks it off the top stair. It clatters, and the reactor continues to glow an unstuttering blue. To Strange, Tony says, "Once we determine it's safe for you to handle? Play around. See if you can tap into the energy, have some fun."

Deep inside, Strange flinches as he watches the half-moon flight of the reactor come to an abrupt stop on the concrete. Ack. The fact that it doesn't immediate being emitting funny sounds or things like gamma rays, poisonous gases — you know, the dangerous stuff — is reassuring…in its way.

"If I tell you to duck, please duck," the Sorcerer advises before he too steps outside of the bunker properly. Stairs? Stairs are for…well, people who want to use them. Who don't have a Cloak of Levitation. A step into open space and he floats down after rolling his wrists in an elegant little set of gestures. The relic wafts in an unseen wind and then the sounds of his boots crossing the open space take up overtop the silence. The arc reactor seems to be humming quietly as he approaches it. Tony can likely see the man's steps become more circumspect, but he still pauses within arm's reach of the thing and simply looks down at it. "I can report that within touching distance, it seems to be stable," he says loudly, his voice almost echoing upon itself in the vast space. Then, he steps around it, the better for the genius-inventor to see what happens rather than having the lay of the crimson Cloak blocking view.

A single finger reaches out and…taps at the thing, with the same amount of caution that a cat might bap an unknown inanimate object. The arc reactor doesn't seem to react in the least.

Tony says, "You got it." He adds, under his breath, "Show off." He'd stand around to watch the descent, but he needs to hurry back into the relative safety of the observation deck. He closes the steel fire door, places his goggles over his eyes, and taps an intercom button. His voice comes through, crackling a little. "All right, we should have two-way communication."

He peers down at Strange. "Of course it's stable. I wouldn't have hucked it down the stairs if it broke easily." With a laugh, he adds, "That would've blown up the place." Somewhere, surely, Steve Rogers is grimacing.

To the touch, the arc reactor is just… normal. The potential within it is immense, but it is contained. It's amazing just how much potential is contained in so small a piece. This is cutting-edge tech decades ahead of its time, and he's throwing it around like a bouncy ball.

"I appreciate you considering safety first," Strange calls back towards the man in his observation bunker, his voice slathered thickly with dry amusement. Scarred fingers pick up the reactor with the faintest quiver to them, but he manages not to drop it as he rises from his one-legged kneel. It doesn't seem to weigh much, no more than a softball at most, though he can feel on the palm of his hand a continuous hum of the interior workings going about their perpetually-energized business. It doesn't seem to smell like much; if anything, the flat shadow of metal and the crisp tang of ozone, something he recognizes in a way from his own spellwork. Though not identical, it's not too unlike the lemon to his orange in the family of citrus.

Squinting at the invention, he brings the Sight into play. It's as if a small star is accommodated within the casing and his dark brows rise. "That's a hell of a lot of power, Stark," he comments loudly. The light of the Sight is blinked away and he tilts his head, holding out the arc reactor before himself at the end of a straightened arm. Then…

…he wills a frisson of Mystical power around it. The creation seems to glow all the brighter for a second before coming to a stabilized level of energy within; from Tony's viewpoint, it might appear that a fog of faint sparkles has gathered around the reactor.

"Yeah, self-contained and clean-burning, too. You won't find pollution coming off that," Tony says. There's no modesty. Then again, wouldn't modesty at this point be an insult? It's clearly a marvel of modern living. He watches while a camera records the interior of the ballistics chamber. Remember, it's science if it gets recorded.

"Looks like you can handle it all right," he says. Yay for no sudden explosions or fizzling out. He peers more closely. "What are you doing?" he wonders aloud. Are those sparkles he sees? At first, there was a worry his eyesight was starting to go and it was just blurry. Not that mortality has been weighing on him lately.

"I'm testing to see whether or not it reacts to low levels of Mystical energy within my aura," the Sorcerer replies, his voice gone distant with concentration. "It has already…absorbed? No, not absorbed. Countered the effects, but at a cost. I felt the mechanism increase its output, I think." The small cloud of sparkling increases in density, like distilling the excess space from between each winkling point, and in turn, the arc reactor increases its humming.

"Yes. It seems as if it can not only counter, but absorb this energy." Strange frowns down at the thing before glancing up at Tony behind his inch-thick ballistic glass. "What is the upper limit on this invention, Stark?" Because of course, he's going to test it. Somewhere, Steve Rogers is absolutely wondering why he's suddenly got a case of acid reflux.

"Never did figure out the upper limit on that model," Tony says. "It's made for low to mid levels of energy over time. I mean it's nowhere near a nuke, but I'd wager it's got a big boom in it somewhere. The trick is going to be destabilizing it. It wants to be stable. If you manage to tip it, it's going to want to dump what it's got and restabilize." It's almost like he's giving Strange blanket permission to stress test the thing.

Poor Steve. At least Tony's not doing this at the manor. "Hey, are you still immortal if you get blown to bits? I should've asked."

The camera recording might pick up the sharp hmph, echoing faintly as it does throughout the open space of the bunker. "I don't intend to be blown to pieces, Stark. There are precautions I can take to ensure this." Namely, other dimensions. Bye bye, reactor, if need be.

The ebb and flow of the Mystical energy continues about the hand holding the reactor face side-up towards the ceiling and Strange listens to the intensity of the inner machinery. Up and down, up and down — yes, it seems to modulate to keep from overflowing. Well done, he thinks to himself, glancing up at the genius-inventor briefly before back at the device.

"Alright. If I do this…what do your readings say?" he asks. A more concentrated and forceful push of Mystical energy begins to coalesce about his scarred hand and one can see with their own eyes that the arc reactor brightens dramatically.

The genius-inventor has his face pressed to the glass, watching with a kid's eagerness. So few things actually strike wonder anymore, but this? This is a true unknown. This is a 'can't even guess.'

He pulls away from the window to check is readings. "It has been self-modulating," he says, "but it just spiked. Give it enough juice, and it might not be able to self-correct in time." Is that warning? Or is he goading?

"The things I do for the sake of science…" The good Doctor's grousings are still mildly amused. Oh yes, this is almost as good as playing with lighting helium on fire back in high school — or watching a small pebble of cesium destroy a beaker in the courtyard of the university. Danger? He laughs in the face of danger.

Keep an eye on those meters, numbers and dials and all. That's a far larger surge of willpower directed at the arc reactor and now the device seems to be having trouble keeping up with it. Tony will probably recognize the beginnings of the fail-safe falling into place, ready to dump what it can of the excess power. Loose clothing on Strange's body begins to lift as if subjected to the rise of heat or loss of gravity itself around him; the Cloak undulates as if beneath translucent water. Still, the man doesn't flinch. He merely keeps the arc reactor outheld before himself, dark brows knitted.

"You're coming close to the fail-safe," Tony says as he shifts between reading the readouts and watching it happen through the inch-thick glass. Which suddenly seems rather thin, all things considered. Still, he's confident in his design. At a certain point, it should cap itself off and vent energy. It's how he controls the repulsors, happens all the time. Just not usually on this level.

"Far be it from me to say careful," he adds as he watches Strange rise. "But it'll ground out the first place it can." At least glass is an insulator, and there is the metal of the staircase's rails to form a tastier lure.

"Oh joy," says Strange flatly. "That'll be me."

…way to curse it, man.

The air in the confines of the concrete chamber becomes suddenly stifling, so thickly-charged with electrical potential that it would zing fillings in teeth and taste like licking a penny. Strange himself seems to inhale and almost freeze where he stands. Whatever sudden and massive spikes on the readings appear seem to portend a shift in charged elements — a sudden one.

"Stark, get ready…!!!" That's about all Strange has time to say before he brings out a hand overtop the concave and sparking exterior surface of the arc reactor. His lips fly to form the syllables of a spell in Tibetan, all crisply spoken faster than the speediest announcer known to sporting and then —

His jaw grits to flash teeth as brittle spires of energy leap from the invention and up into his palm. His entire body, down to belt buckles and the straps of his boots, begins to conduct this power! Visible streamers of plasmal-white threads continue to arch over his clothing and along the Cloak itself as if he were a living, breathing Tesla coil. His face, previously curled nearly chin to his chest, slowly lifts to look up at Tony. The Sorcerer's eyes are blanked and luminescent, each the earthly personification of Sirius and Canopus. Streamers of pure energy begin to lash out at the concrete walls. They leave blackened scorched lines in their wake, molten gold and red at the base of each runnel. They lick at the metal of the staircase's rails as if testing for weakness. Hair-raising and resounding zips of mechanical stress begin to resound throughout the ballistics chamber, interspersed between the crackle of lightning and the thick crackle of slagged concrete.

The Sorcerer's voice slithers into the other man's ear almost as his shoulder angel's whisper: Next to you, on the floor, is a Gate. Jump into it, Stark. NOW.

Indeed, somehow — through some very serious multitasking on a scale Strange should not be attempting — there's a glittering oculus on the floor of the bunker. It leads into blackness: soft, velvety, depthless blackness. A lance of energy crackles across the ballistics glass and tests its integrity in a frightening way!

If Tony wasn't filming this, he would insist on staying to watch, but it turns out that, with the miracle of cameras, he can have the best of both worlds (providing the footage survives). He can see what happens and explore a cool new dimension.

Just as the glass is splintering, he jumps into the Gate. "Hahahaha!" What else can he do? This is madness. A wizard just made a hole in the floor and he's leaping into it. On purpose. He falls a short distance, then comes to a floating halt, and his laughter fades.

"Strange?" he asks into the darkness. He reaches out in an attempt to feel something. Anything.

Above Tony's head, the flint-sparkling circle of opened reality comes to an abrupt close, completely cutting out all of the ballistics lab above. It's depthlessly black in this place, wherever it is, neither cold nor warm, its air still, and nothing within easy reach. The only source of light seems to be emitting from the arc reactor within Tony's chest.

Until, at an indeterminate distance out and before him, a sudden eruption of brilliantly-golden and citrine-laced brightness might risk blinding. It fades just as fast and then, when the senses readjust, they cannot lie. There's another living being in this space, especially proven in existence by the dual pinpoints of electrically-white eyes, still blanked from conducting the surge of the arc reactor.

"I'm here, Tony." His voice becomes louder as he floats through the inkiness. At such its lumen output, the glow of the arc reactor is enough to bring the Sorcerer into grey-blue view, heavily shadowed in folds of clothing and Cloak alike. "You're alright?" he asks, still crackling here and there with spider-line arches of electricity.

Thank goodness for that arc reactor! Tony pushes back the lab coat and unbuttons his shirt so that the reactor can glow unmuted. He looks around, and he frowns at the sheer featurelessness of the place. There's no friction against which to ambulate. His feet just float. He's stuck. Hmm, on second thought, this might not have been great.

The opening of another Gate is a breath of fresh air, though Tony's not too trusting. He holds up his hands in a defensive posture when another living being comes through. Those white eyes aren't familiar, not at first.

He relaxes though at the sound of Strange's voice. "That's a good look for you," he says. Yeah, he's okay. "How are you feeling? Is the reactor okay?" If anyone could break his reactor, it would be Strange.

"I feel like I've been licking the underside of a blood-spattered lead pipe." There is not an ounce of mockery in his response to Tony. "I'll be tasting metal for a week." He lifts one of his hands and considers it as well as the electricity dancing across from finger to finger; it seems thickly collected here and at random moments, one can see the outline of the metal plates that hold his bones together.

"Your reactor is destroyed," he then reports, meeting Tony's eyes against with his own pearlescent in plasmal light. "I apologize for it. The bunker, however, should have taken the worst of the brunt. I suspect it has collapsed in on itself as it is meant to do. If the architects did their job, there is no sinkhole to mark its collapse in turn." His sigh is loud in the stillness. "Tony. That is an…unbelievable amount of energy, harnessed as it is. What I could do with it…" He fades out as he glances to his upheld hand again. Above it, the angled craquelure of energy seems to go fluid and begin to gather into a wispy, webby ball.

"You weren't suppopsed to put it in your mouth," Tony says. Smartass. The news of the reactor's destruction is taken more or less in stride. He looks impressed, certainly, but not stricken. He's going to have to build a new one. Maybe a better one! His gaze fades as he starts considering the schematics.

Wait, he's still being spoken to. He blinks and regards Strange again. He smiles, then, and in the glimmering light, there's brilliant madness in the look of him. "Imagine everything you could do with it." He rubs his hands together. "What can you do with it?"

"Allow me to demonstrate…" The Sorcerer speaks gently, but also with breathless reverence. Tony's quips are ignored…for now.

In a mirroring of what was observed in the ballistics chamber, he places his other hand overtop the growing sphere of combined arcing and Mystical sparkling. Downwards he presses upon it and it becomes a flattened layering of plasma. Palms, facing one another, begin to counter-rotate, almost as if he's stirring up the growing collection of winklings trapped in that minute space. The heart beats — one-two, one-two, one-two — the rule of three ever overshadows the man's actions.

Even as he pulls the top hand away from what has been created, anyone with an ounce of astronomy knowledge to their name will recognize…

…a spiral galaxy. Contained in its very center, a conflux of brilliant potentiality. Its arms glitter with thousands upon thousands of winking stars, gas and dust, all no larger than a dinner plate at most.

"As Sorcerer Supreme, I could…create a universe…" Strange whispers into the vast blackness of the space they contain.

Tony wills himself closer so he can take a better look, and suddenly he's quite serious. "Wow," he murmurs. Lifting his gaze to Strange's face, he says, "Do it." Because where one can create, one must! The man prays to no god, worships nothing but himself, and yet here, there is reverence in his soft voice. "I think you should do it."

He doesn't even have the urge to touch the thing for fear of damaging it, jinxing it somehow. He's already fathered the energy going into its creation. Now? Now it's all on Stephen with no interference from him.

The disk of cosmic light continues rotating above the Sorcerer's palm, thread-thin bolts reaching down to strike at his skin and into the surgical plates. He seems boggled at the realization and, with effort, pulls his energy-blanked eyes away from it to look at Tony. By the gathering of his brows, it seems there's confliction.

"We are in the space between seconds — in a place where time ceases to be, Tony. If I created it, it would fall apart within the next flicker of reality continuing to exist. We cannot exist in conjunction with its creation. Even if I could…" Strange sighs and his breath curls in the finest veil of moisture above the multi-armed galaxy, made radiant by its glow. Many a religion claims that life was breathed unto a world. He speaks more slowly now, as if the words were somehow painful to say and yet necessary nonetheless. "I am no god. I am the Conduit to a triad. It is not my responsibility to birth another reality. I must protect our own…and we must get back to it."


Tony's brow furrows. "I would die so it could live," he admits. There's a certain resignation to his tone, though. He knows Strange doesn't have that luxury. Still, he has to try. "I don't suppose it's the will of the triad? A new universe, all sparkly new? Maybe they could have some fun with it."

He sighs. No, he knows that probably won't fly, either. He smiles sadly. "It's a nice thought, though. Isn't it?"

"Your death would not engender its life, Tony. You're no martyr," Strange says with a knowing if not somber little smile. "I know that it is not the will of the Vishanti that it live, no. It has no life within it…simply potential. We, and the others of our reality — we have life and potential, both of which flourish through our willpower and drive to see the sun rise upon our world once again."

Slowly, as if it takes both literal force as well as his own grit, the Sorcerer closes his fingers. The galaxy condenses once more into a wispy orb of starfire and disappears within the curl of his digits. It seems to rush back into his body and Strange's back arcs at the impossible amount of vivacity. After a second, he seems to have it under control and blinks slowly at Tony. "Take my hand. We're going home." The arc reactor's light glows upon his offered palm.

Tony holds his breath, then he lets it out as the would-be universe never is. "Yeah," he says. "I like to think life would happen in due time. I like to think it's a natural consequence of the universe." With all these alien incursions, he'd believe it.

Alas, done is done, and there's nothing for it. So he shrugs it off, and he takes Stephen's hand, watching his mortal skin backit by blue light. "Back to the world of the living," he says.

"Indeed." The single word hangs in the stillness that surrounds them in infinite void.

And with a voiceless, breathless, electrical blank-white cessation of existence…

The two men reappear in the uppermost offices of Stark Industries. The place is quiet and still, devoid of staff at this moment…and the phone is lit. Clearly, the implosion was not a small thing. Strange releases Tony's hand and immediately stumbles off to one side, catching himself on a nearby desk and holding a hand to his forehead. "…oh gods below…" he muttters, his face noticeably drawn in exhaustion. He longer glows with a ridiculous amount of power. If anything, he seems more like he's at the end of a long period of exercise, greyed at the temples with sweat and in desperate need of a shower.

Tony stumbles when suddenly there is a floor beneath him and gravity is a thing. He catches himself though. He's got a refined sense of balance from moving around in that suit for as long as he has. "Oh dear," he says as he sees the phone. "Back to the world of the living." He picks up the phone, answers one of the lines with, "Stark." Then he listens. "Uh huh. Yeah. Mmmyes. No, I'm fine. Tell them the safety precautions did exactly what they were designed to do. Wait! Is there a sinkhole? Okay, then yeah, the safety precautions did exactly what they're designed to do. Everything is fine."

He gives Strange an exaggerated eyeroll and makes a 'blah blah blah' gesture with his hand. "Okay, give me an hour, then I'll address the press. Because I need a shower and a drink. Okay. I'm hanging up now." And he does.

Strange watches the other man answer the phone blearily and works himself to standing upright. He wavers in place and winces as he runs the back of one hand across the silvered hair at his temples. Ow. Ow ow ow. Owwwww. Plates. Plates hurt. Once the phone hits the cradle again, he speaks up quietly.

"I'd count this as a successful demonstration of how the Arts and your inventions mix…dramatically," and he laughs tiredly. "Gods below, I need a nap. A shower first. To brush out my mouth." He smacks his lips after running his tongue over his teeth and grimaces. "Blugh. Pennies. My mouth tastes like pennies." Moving slowly, as if recovering from the flu, he manages to gesture open another oculus upon reality. It leads to the Loft of the Sanctum and his own private space in which to…probably pass out cold to the world for a few hours. "I don't think your camera or footage survived, Stark," he then informs the man, still grimacing.

Tony arches a brow as he finally notices Strange isn't doing so well. "You look like hell," he offers in his deepest kindness. "Don't nap too long or you'll miss me on TV." That's followed by a sterling smile. He's taking it all awfully well considering he just did time in a timeless dimension and his million dollar ballistics lab is now rubble.

Waving a hand, he says, "It's fine. We can go over our notes later. You'll be able to give me a more accurate account of what happened anyway." At least he's willing to wait to debrief! "Say, tomorrow around noon?"

"Tomorrow at noon?" Strange glowers at the genius-inventor before simply rolling his eyes and sighing as if he accepts that the world of science waits for no man. This he knows in his heart to be a truth of the world he lives in. "If I am available, yes. My body just conducted however many gigawatts of power your arc reactor contained. I need a nap at the very least," he grumbles, awfully close to sounding as a stick-poked tiger.

Wincing again as his hands pang, he then says, "I wish you luck in your press conference, Stark. What's the old excuse? Ah, yes. Training exercise." A sardonic chuckle peters out into silence and he nods at the man across the desk. "Until next we meet." Through the oculus he goes and it collapses in a twinkle of ruddy light.

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