1049/Recipe for Disaster

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Recipe for Disaster
Date of Scene: 08 April 2020
Location: Reed's Labs - Four Freedom Plaza
Synopsis: Reed, Sue, and Valeria get together for some family time in the laboratory. It goes about as uneventfully as one might expect.
Cast of Characters: Reed Richards, Valeria Richards, Susan Richards

Reed Richards has posed:
A suite of ludicrously complex machinery whines at a pitch that threatens to blow out the reinforced windows of Reed Richards' laboratory.

Reed himself is strapped into a seat in something that might be a gyroscope, hung upside-down from the vaulted ceiling. One arm is wrapped about a ten-foot-long instrument panel on the side of the gyroscope, each of his fingers stretched out to manipulate a particular set of buttons. The other wobbles about, flipping switches and tuning knobs on a console set on the floor.

In the center of the lab is a plinth, on which sits an object aglow in high-intensity beams firing at it from any number of directions, thanks to devices set along each of the walls.

"Almost there," Reed says to himself. "Almost ... there ..."


"Nonsense, H.E.R.B.I.E.," Reed responds. "It just needs a bit more finesse, is all. This is poised to be one of my greatest successes."


"Noted," Reed replies.

The windows begin to crack, and the entire floor shudders.

Valeria Richards has posed:
Valeria disappeared from the lab earlier. Literally. Perks of having a friend who can teleport. But she was back in an hour or two, and in good spirits too. Oddly enough, she even has a rose behind her ear.

Granted, the rose is forgotten when the floor sways beneath her feet and she makes her way out of her own lab to check on her father's latest threat to the structural integrity of the building. "Uh, Dad?" she says as she peeks into the lab, eyeing the readouts. "You know you're approaching singularity, right?"

Susan Richards has posed:
    "Honey." The familiar voice doesn't come from any visible source, but is nearby. "Did you bring a teleporter into our home? I don't think that fits with the Security 123s."
    She has literally been over this since Valeria was a toddler. Granted, it's a frequently updated document that the commissioned children's-book-artist couldn't keep up with. They sponsored him into Alcoholics Anonymous, though!
    The rose seems to levitate off of Valeria's ear and angle towards the space where Susan Richard's nose appears a microsecond before the rest of her becomes visible, closing her eyes and sniffing the rose delicately before giving Valeria a certifiable Pleased smile. "Did you make a friend~?" Then her eyes dart to the side as she considers, "Or just accessorize?"
    No pressure for grandkids!
    Susan blinks and belatedly peers towards Reed as Val's question registers. "Darling, remind me what a singularity is?"

Reed Richards has posed:
His elastic form jiggling, limbs oscillating from the frequency of the shuddering, Reed grits his teeth. "We'll--be--fine--I--promise--"

The whine turns to a near-scream, the machinery sparking and belching smoke as it overloads and shuts down, the beams pointed at the central plinth shutting off.

The shuddering fades, and after a few moments, everything's back to normal.

H.E.R.B.I.E. emerges from beneath a table. <<DO WE STILL EXIST?>>

Reed extends his body to the floor, stepping from the ceiling gyroscope to a 'normal' position, letting himself retract to regular proportions.

"We're fine, H.E.R.B.I.E. And, see, Valeria, no singularity at all. I--" Reed pauses, frowning slightly. "You didn't adjust any of my settings, did you?" He shakes his head. "No, that wouldn't have done it. If anything, it would have made the experiment more successful. Hm."

As Sue enters, Reed steps forward. "Ah, yes. A singularity. It's a ... well, I suppose the most accessible description of it is a 'black hole'. But that would never have occurred. I have failsafes that would have activated and shunted it into a pocket dimension. So that was never in question. But there /is/ a question at play."

Reed looks to the plinth. On it sits a small cylindrical object. It's a cupcake.

"Do you think it worked? I wanted to replicate that frosting you enjoyed once, on a trip to the fractal planetoid of Kelernes-VI. It involved a minor bit of fusion. Molecular, not culinary, if we're being technical."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Technically I didn't //bring// him," Valeria points out, reaching up belatedly for the rose. "He brought himself. Because, you know. Teleporter. It's actually really interesting how he does it, it's a function of folding space that he uses in some fascinating ways-"

Right, subject at hand. She's actually reaching for a knob when things spark and the noise turns off, quickly clasping her hands behind her back. It wasn't her! "Wasn't me," she shakes her head to her father, stepping over to get a look at the cupcake. "I thought they said the trick to the frosting was in the preparation and not the ingredients," she arches a brow at Reed. "Though I guess the chemical composition of the ingredients was different."

Let's all pay attention to the cupcake and not the visiting teleporter with roses...

Susan Richards has posed:
    Susan puts on a practiced mom-smile sitting at the corner of patience and sympathy, and turns it on Val, and says "Honey, I don't know if I'm comfortable with strangers folding space in my home without asking me first." Immediately before more pressing matters take her attention.
    Susan just... points at that sparking knob for a moment, as if expecting it to produce an answer, and doesn't stop pointing when Reed returns to a normal shape. "*Right.*" Susan says, her memory jogged. "We've had a few of those, they're..." Susan glances to the side, looking vaguely haunted for a moment, then smiles, "... They're nothing to worry about."
    Susan leans in a bit to peer at the cupcake curiously, then straightens up with a firm nod, "The key ingrediant's always love~" She says in a knowing tone, before she takes Reed's shoulders and gently rocks him back and forth, sing-songing "Which sci-ence *stiiiill* has-n't quan-ti-fiiiiieeeeeeddd~" Before kissing him on the cheek.
    Take THAT, science!
    She looks to Valeria, "Is it good, though?"

Reed Richards has posed:
"Normally, I'd question whether folding space seems too pedestrian a conceptual framework rather than orthagonal shifting across temporarily-plausible axes. But I suppose your mother's concern is the more important one." He can't help but smile as he receives the kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, Mrs. Wonderful."

Behind him, the cupcake frosting appears luminescent, twinkling as it sits atop the cupcake proper. But then it seems to expanding slowly.

And then it's doubled in size.

A moment later and it's growing further, expanding outward from its center in a delicious spiral pattern.

As it grows large enough to touch his back, Reed looks over his shoulder and then exhales through his nose. "This may be a problem," he mutters.

Another moment later and he's ankle-deep in frosting as it spills onto the floor.

"I don't know if it's alive, but we need to enact biohazard containment protocols stat!" he shouts before mumbling, "A singularity really would help me at the moment..."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Well, as it happens, he //did// end up travelling both across space and time, eventually," Valeria answers Reed rather than Sue, since, well...Dad is easier to distract with science. It's just known.

Luckily, there are more distractions in the form of expanding cupcakes. "Dad, no," she says on the topic of a singularity, stepping outside the lab to one of the emergency stations. "Don't start a singularity until I try this!"

She swipes a finger over the touchscreen above what looks like a fire extinguisher, adjusting the chemical compounds inside based on her assumption of what changes he might have made and her memory of what was in the cupcakes.

Once the changes are made, she's back to start spraying the cupcake down. //Hopefully// she and Reed are on the same wavelength. Otherwise, this could go poorly...

Susan Richards has posed:
    Susan grins cheekily and says "You're welcome, Mr. Splendiferous~" as she nudges her nose against his jaw. This takes a bit of reaching, he is much taller than her.
    That said, from her position facing his side, she notices the cupcake a tiny bit early, and warns "Reeeeeed?" with ever widening eyes as she backs away a step. "... Cupcakes don't do that." She looks to Valeria, "Did the last cupcake do that?" She looks back to the cupcake, "Nobody eat that cupcake!"
    Susan yelps and hops back a step as it begins spilling onto the floor. Their lives are insane enough that one of her first thoughts goes to the cleanup job required, then to the safety of the machinery, then to the integrity of the building, and then to stark visions of a broken world of cupcake batter and broken glass.
    But the first thought always goes to her family's safety.
    "Hold it!" She shouts at no one in particular and erects an invisible bubble around the central mass of the cupcake - nevermind what's spilled over right now - working her hands slowly over some invisible globe that only exists in her mind to help visualize and stabalize the forcefield, her brow knit in concentration. When Valeria makes her move, though, she drops that portion of the shield to allow the spray to get in.

Reed Richards has posed:
Valeria's spray formula casts a mist over the expanding frosting, causing its growth rate to slow. Sue's force-field contains it further as the spray is absorbed by the frosting.

Unfortunately, exposure to the spray also appears to transform the frosting in structure to something more crystalline--and, accordingly, sharp-edged. While it's still contained, it's also still growing, even if that's happening much more slowly than it had been moments beforehand.

One of Reed's hands snakes its way out of the lab, down the hallway, and toward one of several equipment closets. He blindly feels for the right device and then drags it back toward the lab.

Hefting into his arms something that looks like a cross between a vacuum cleaner, a satellite dish, a Nerf gun, and a waffle iron, Reed sets his jaw. "Alright. I have a prototype here for a matter scrambler. If calibrated correctly, we can destabilize the electrons of the frosting and render it inert." He looks to his family.

"Sue, I'll need you to keep your field as compact as you can. If we can hit everything at once, we have a better chance at success. Valeria, I'll need you to perform the on-the-fly calibration adjustments necessary for success. I would, but I'll be busy ..." Reed sighs. "I'll be busy trying to keep the feedback from tearing me apart while I aim."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Dad, you didn't forget to set the upper limit on the calcuations again for this, did you?" Valeria asks, tucking the fire extinguisher beneath her arm as she steps over to quickly look over the new device in the room. "I swear I'm going to start putting in post-it notes."

Catching her lower lip between her teeth, she looks over to watch her mother work on the force field, gauging how long it's going to last. "Ready when you are," she says, familiar enough with the controls to be ready to work on them.

Susan Richards has posed:
    Susan nods once sharply with a look of concentration. "Got it!" She says once, and begins to move her hands ever closer together, shrinking a shield that nobody can see to try to condense the expanding matter. It's not the hardest thing she's ever done - it is, at the end of the day, a cupcake - but the pressure on her shield is troubling and NOW IT'S SPIKEY!
    Susan draws in a sharp hiss of breath at the added feedback to her shield, her arms briefly pausing in their movement before resuming again. "Okay... okay... oooookay..." she bites her lower lip, even as the rest of her face becomes a mask of worry. Isn't this why they built Herbie?! She's forced to assume that the robot can't manage it, and spares Reed some of her concentration to look at him. "Reed... if you die fighting a cupcake... I will literally never forgive you, okay?"
    Seriously, she won't even be able to console herself with sweets.
    "Be careful! And tell me when!" She says, regarding opening the shield so it'll hit the target instead... her... by proxy.

Reed Richards has posed:
"Of course not," Reed says calmly. "I didn't forget--I needed to keep the value floating to compensate for the Toltarkov-Calais acidity constant. But I recognize and acknowledge your point nonetheless. Sometimes, perhaps it's better to savor the flavor rather than risk ruining one's labor."

He oscillates again, his legs bobbing as the device in his hands begins to pulse. WOMMM. WOMMM.

"ENGAGE!" he cries, cocking a mechanical component of the device and squeezing its three triggers. A vantablack ray slices through the air toward the cupcake and its invisible container.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Or, you know. Manhattan." Like Valeria has room to talk, given her most recent missing calculations. She's lucky she didn't get shot. But hey, it's easier to pick on your parents than talk about your own failures.

While Sue keeps the cupcake that ate Manhattan contained and Reed starts blasting it with science, Valeria keeps a close eye on the readings on the machine, making quick, minute adjustments whenever something flares up, almost as if in response to the whine of the power through them or the buzz of ozone in the air.

Susan Richards has posed:
    "Focus, please!" Susan calls out, sinking to one knee to get herself as out-of-the-way of the combines blasts as she can without losing her concentration by walking around, dropping part of the barrier an instant before Reed releases his ray.
    The heaving mass of sugar and crystal seems to spasm and convulse, seeming to rip open and fold inside out in an endless loop, and then invert back inward in a similarly hypnotic manner as its structure seems to change from one material to another. It's as though it's seeking a matter that could resist it's increasingly inevitable demise, even as it loses mass to sustain itself with, until the worst of its mass whithers away into black evaporating tendrils, until only a small, modest, appetizing cupcake is left behind.
    The cupcake then explodes.
    Splattered with frosting, Susan blinks once... twice... then sits down with a sigh. "Haaa... haaa..." she pants softly, putting one hand on Reed's thigh. She looks up at his ray gun slowly. A bit breathless, she asks:
    "Is that my waffle iron?"

Reed Richards has posed:
Reed can't help but stare at the infinite looping of the crystalline structure as it interacts with the beam. "It's ... it's almost as beautiful as you, Sue," he whispers. "I can't help but be reminded of--"

Then the cupcake detonates, and the triggers are released as Reed flinches, sugar coating his face.

He takes a long beat to look to Sue, then to his device, then to Valeria, and then back to Sue. "Surprise?" he asks quietly. "I thought that a matter scrambler would come in handy more frequently than fried pancake batter."

H.E.R.B.I.E. dutifully begins pushing around a mop.

"You know, Valeria," Reed continues, "if I were trying to be a more normal father, I would suggest that cleaning this up would be an appropriate chore for having your uninvited teleporter here."

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Okay, once again, not...entirely uninvited or unknown." Valeria drags a hand down her face with a sigh, giving her hand a flick to get rid of some of the cupcake and frosting left over. "He's a SHIELD agent. He was here for the whole Mole Man thing. Originally." Sure, that doesn't entirely cover the rest of it, but it's a starting point.

"And he texted first. It's just...silly to go through the whole elevators and the rest thing. Also, we literally have an army of robots programmed to clean these things up." Grimacing, she wipes her hands off on her pants...which mostly consists of smearing the cupcake and frosting more.

Susan Richards has posed:
    Susan has just been positively compared to a cupcake, and for one galaxy-brain moment, she realizes it is, perhaps, the most normal  her domestic life has ever been.
    "You don't like waffles?" She asks, the tone of her voice seeming to say 'when were you going to tell me this?' as she wipes frosting off of her face with one gloved hand, the madness of a matter scrambler being a necessary component of their lives never seeming to occur to her. "Waffles won't disintigrate you if you get the polarity wrong."
    She stands up with a grunt, passively swiping some frosting off of her costume and off her backside where she sat down, and presses her lips together tightly in a sympathetic look, thinking carefully about how to respond. "Sweetheart. You can give teleportation privileges to anyone you like..." Susan puts her hand on Valeria's shoulder and squeezes gently, "... when you pay the rent."
    Susan smiles sweetly and adds, "But what's a robot army without a human mind to dicate conscience! Eh?" She looks to Reed, "Eh?" She puts her hands on her hips.
    She knows science stuff.

Reed Richards has posed:
"That is a fair point, Valeria," Reed says. "But, all the same, your mother's right. We can revisit the situation when the variables change."

A number of the aforementioned cleaning robots enter the lab, gathering clusters of cake and scrubbing assorted surfaces afterwards.

"It's not that I don't /like/ waffles," Reed replies to Sue. "It's just that the value of a matter scrambler outweighed that of a waffle iron. How often do we eat waffles?" He pauses and looks into the distance for a moment. "How often /do/ we eat waffles?" he repeats, more quietly.

Then Sue mentions the robots, and Reed snaps back to attention. "Hm? Oh, yes. Indeed. You know, Sue, since you mention it ... perhaps I /should/ see about giving the robots some sort of enhanced artificial conscience to guide their decision-making algorithms." He wraps an arm around her shoulders and squeezes. "You're a genius," Reed says warmly, his smile broad.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Let's not give the robots too much AI," Valeria cautions quickly. "They're pretty good at what they need to do here already. And I can watch them." Especially if it means they won't end up accidentally creating the //robots// that took over Manhattan.

Sighing, she turns her attention back to the matter of cleaning the lab. Cleaning the lab she can deal with. Having a conversation about responsible teleporting she can deal with. She'd //prefer// not to bring up the topic of experimental shielding tests against live rounds...