Stark wants out, that much is evident in the manner in which he progressively spins the conversation in incrementally dizzying and aggressively defensive circles, a part of his elaborately divergent thought process attempting to find a clause for escape. Something that he can grasp onto to bring about a comfortable if not necessary feat of leverage within this heady mess. Of course there is none, hundreds of situations and circumstances internally analysed and traced to try and twirl this in his favour, all leading down a narrow and murky path with a single conclusion – Tony Stark is partially to blame for the brunt of the situation regardless of the sense of duty and heroism that lay beneath those of vengeance and rage, notions that accompany a sense of delayed shame which burdens itself over shoulders that bore too much these days. Any other individual, “enhanced” or otherwise, would have had to pay the price for causing that much damage and, despite the status that he held both in society as well as in the world of commerce, there is no way around avoiding that accountability.
Stark knows this. Hill knows this. Hell, the agents crawling about the facility most likely knew this too, so there was no point in fighting a losing battle no matter the level of indignation the man could muster. The Director’s initial words slice through him and it takes every ounce of restraint for him not to take a step backwards, to not visibly back down regardless of the sensation of sheer defeat prominently encumbering him. And yet it’s scientific curiosity that sees the engineer’s gaze stubbornly lingering over the Cradle as it centres the room, the prospect of his cooperation being “rewarded” bringing a minute means of appeal – it’s a positive concept for him to focus on even amidst the plethora of adverse consequences, one that the inventor readily latches onto with a somewhat approving hum.
Whether he would be bemused or otherwise by the WSC’s documentation was yet to be seen, his past experience of their hard tactics having seen him re-directing a missile away from the heart of Manhattan and through a portal into outer space having soured his judgement upon them. They made the tough calls that no one usually wanted to, sometimes at the expense of others such as the heroic community and even SHIELD. Actuators begin to mechanically shift, a soft whirr that derives from Mark XX as the sentry stalks over, ocular sensors remaining poised on the agents with a sidewards glance as they maintain their defensive stances. The metal exoskeleton approaches the mechanic from behind, the central partition of the suit seamlessly splitting into two before protectively enveloping itself around the man, joins swiftly fastening with the helmet kept out of sight, retracted within the confines of the panels about the upper spinal segment.
“Throw in some donuts and a decent cup of coffee, and you have yourself a deal. I’m starved.”
The affected humour scarcely comes across in Stark’s voice, but he was in fact being serious about the required hit of caffeine to stimulate his central nervous system, the man’s receptors having grown a little sluggish after a prolonged period of delayed sleep. The helmet commences to retract, encasing the outline of the engineer’s visage before the visor finally slams shut, the beams of light about the ocular slots glowing with the suit ready for upcoming manoeuvres.
< LEAD THE WAY >
The suit of armor cuts a line across the room, glinting crimson amid a wash of blue material and black kevlar, the agents shifting uneasily to accommodate it and Hill traces the movement with her eyes. The efficiency with which the suit obliges, melding with Stark is admirable but she’s careful not to let it show ( she’s already bending, here, and can’t afford another point in his favor ). He settles back into their old roles and Maria senses the breakdown in hostility evidenced by his request, which she regards with a brief clip of her brow.
( A shared feature, there’s also a weariness in the set of her jaw, a droop in the muscles around her eyes- not visible here in the low lighting but Maria’s always sensed a sort of kindred spirit in Stark when it comes to burning the midnight oil. Disorder doesn’t have standard operating hours, in her case. )
“I’ve got an espresso machine that’s half-broken, so if you like ristretto you’re all set,” comes her measured retort, even like the shift in her posture, squaring her shoulders. The agents are begrudgingly at ease and more like dogs sitting on their haunches, attention focused on the Director and her impending orders. “Donuts, on the other hand- I can guarantee you we’re fresh out.” It’s not really standard practice, bringing pastries in every day and if on the off chance someone’d decided to go out of their way and be extra friendly- she’s been through the lower ranks, she knows just how long free handouts last in break rooms.
“Remove the case and the specimen, meet us topside.” Maria orders, a notable shift in her tone when she addresses the agents before pivoting, keeping pace with Stark until they’re free of the complex. A pair of Quinjets wait outside, rippling back to visibility on their approach having been shrouded in plain sight by the cloaking feature. Steps slow and she pauses at the lowered hatch while the team approaches with the chrysalis held between them ( aided by a focused anti-gravity prototype fresh out of R&D ). Her eyes are fixed on Tony across the ramp, lips pressed together.
“Hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna need you to sit shotgun on this.”
He’s not exactly being detained, but she can’t allow him to ride their wake all the way back to HQ and trust he’ll still be hanging off the wing when they touch down.