Summary: Two eggheads talk about the state of the world and a potential new recruit.
Location: JLA HQ: Monitor Room
The night is still passing slowly for Iron Man on monitor duty at JLA HQ. Tony is wearing the armor but has the helmet off to spend the time more comfortably. While the monitors are active, the inventive genius is working on designs on a tablet PC set on the console. THings are quiet tonight and Tony might as well get some work done. On a nearby table is a thick folder with the SHIELD logo on it and a plate with a half-eaten pastrami rueben that Jarvis brought by in the hpes TOny would actually eat.
J'onn J'onzz, known to the public at large as the Martian Manhunter, is also having a quiet night. He hovering about a foot off the floor, legs crossed in a classic meditation pose. Eventually, however, he has enough of solitude, and stands on the floor. "Tony," he greets calmly, walking into the monitor room. "Anything of note happening? Or are we having a rare quiet night?"
"Hmmm?" Tony looks over at J'onn quizically. Aside from J'onn's quiet movement, Tony was too wrapped up in designs to notice him entering. 'Oh. Yeah, quiet night, J'onn. Batman confronted Daredevil about the Hand, but enither of them backed down. Of course. How about you? Everything going okay?"
"I am not surprised," J'onn says, turning his eyes to the monitor screens. "Batman is not one to back down lightly, and I do not know the Daredevil, but I believe the same of him." He smiles faintly. "I'm fine. Merely finished with my meditations. Solitude can be comforting, but take it from me, too much of it is worse."
Tony smirks. "Yeah. Never got the whole 'still your mind' thing down. But I guess it works for some. Anyways, glad you stopped by. There's been an interesting development." He nods towards the folder on the table. "SHIELD's found Captain America. Alive."
If J'onn had eyebrows, he'd surely be raising one right now. "Indeed? That's . . surprising. My history on earth does not quite reach back to the Second World War, but I do remember hearing of his exploits from first-hand witnesses. And tales of his death. I suppose the next question to ask is, how did he survive? I'm not privy to all of SHIELD's files, they seem reluctant to grant too much clearance to an extraterrestrial with my abilities, and they tend to make sure their agents are psychically shielded around me, for some reason." He smirks, a bare twitch of his lip, but still a smirk.
Tony nods, smyling wryly. "Can't imagine why, really. But to answer your question, Captain America was frozen in a block of ice in the Arctic. Looks like the Super-Soldier Formula caused him to go into suspended animation. SHIELD found him and woke him up. I was thinking about contacting him with an offer of joining the League. What are your thoughts on that?"
"Captain America was a legend in his time," J'onn says thoughtfully. "His legacy is used to this day by the armed forces, and he has inspired no small number of imitators in the decades since his apparent death. It is possible that only Superman could rival him for beloved status. Should you wish to invite him to the League, I will support you." J'onn nods slowly. "His super-soldier enhancement, of course, would also be beneficial to our work."
Tony nods. "Good. That makes it pretty much unanimous at this point. Of course there's Superman to ask, and I'm sure he's going to be a real hard sell on the idea." Tony chuckles some before taking a drinnk from a mug of coffee.
"Indeed," J'onn says, with a chuckle of his own. "I look forward to meeting the man, then. Providing SHIELD doesn't try to keep him as an agent of their own." J'onn does not seem entirely fond of SHIELD. "But to change the subject, how much do you know of the X-Men, or mutants in general?"
Tony arches hs eyebrows in surprise. "Well, I understand the concept of mutation as an evolutionary mechanism. And mutants are aparently evolving humanity towards metahuman abilities. As for the X-Men, not much beyond their public appearances and stance in favor of mutants. Why?"
"Just something that occured to me the other day," J'onn replies. "I met a young woman in mid-air, at high altitude. While she was not a mutant, I mistook her for one at the time. But it reawakened an interest in me that I held once, when mutants were still very much a new phenomenon among humans. I have noticed the increasing metahuman population across the globe, and I wonder if perhaps humanity is undergoing a similiar evolution to what we Martians went through. After all, many of these mutants are exhibiting superhuman abilities that mimic Martian powers."
Tony nods. "That's certainly one theory. I'm afraid I'm only partialy aware of it all and only because they have an impact on the metahuman scene. Of course, there are mutant bad guys like Magneto, but I don't take him as a typical member of the mutant population. If you're really interested, Reed Richards would be the better source. Or..." He tries thinking to all the news shows he's seen dealing with mutants and the various 'experts' called in to talk about mutants. "Professor Charles Xavier seems to be an expert. And Dr. Moira MacTaggart in Scotland. I'm sure they would have many questions for you based on your people's history."
"I am sure," J'onn replies dryly. "As long as they aren't like that one tabloid reporter in San Diego after I first went public. I am entirely convinced she was insane. Not that I particularly minded answering questions about my people, but I can't say I was comfortable being asked about every detail of our reproductive activities. I think I may have made up details just to shut her up."
Tony chuckles. "Yeah, tabloids are like that. If I'd done half the stuff they say I do." He thinks for a bit. "Okay, maybe I have done half the stuff....but still, they are overly intusive and definately test the limits of the First Amendment."
J'onn nods. "After I stopped granting her interviews, she jumped off a building to force me to rescue her. All so she could ask if I used my shapeshifting abilities in the bedroom. But, I have derailed our discussion. My mind wanders at times. To some very odd places."
Tony shurgs. "You and me both. And I don't think we got derailed, unless you wanted to talk more about mutants. But if your people already went though something like this, with a portion of the population gaining tremendous powers, how did you handle it?"
J'onn shrugs. "I admit I'm not entirely sure. It happened long before my birth. My time on Mars was during the height of our civilization, when we had already mastered our genetics to the point that we are almost as much self-engineered as biologically evolved. But I do know that some of my people visited this planet in ages past, and the White Martians did the same. I find it to be a great coincidence that on a planet where Martian genetic engineers once had bases, the native species is now exhibiting Martian traits. Of course, this is just a theory. Many metahumans evidence powers that are nothing like what we Martians possess, so I may be wrong entirely."
Tony nods and thinks for a bit. "I agree...it does seem to be a bit more than coincidental. But there's been evidence of other alien races having vistied here in teh past. The Kree for one. Maybe in the end it's not important how we got this way, but what we do with it. And i can't say I'm totally happy with how we're handling it."
"Indeed," J'onn replies. He shakes his head. "I have been looking over the files for some of the anti-metahuman groups. The public backlash against mutants, the anti-alien militias. I admit that there have been times when I have wondered if it was wise to go public as I did. But I have hope. For every bigot in the world, there's a rational human being who tries to understand."
"People need to remember if it weren't for aliens like you and Superman, Earth might not be free. Or even exist." Tony sits back in the chair and steeples his fingers under his chin. "I've not always understood other humans. Sometimes, I think that when I talk to them about things that I understand, it's like talking to a rather slow-witted child. And I'm sure you feel like that with us from time to time. I may not always understand, but sometimes, I do. And I can understand how scary change can be. I'm not scared of the change, per se, I embrace change and advancement. What scares me is that if there's one thing human history teaches us, change and advancement is always exploited by those without morals. And i'm afraid of how mutants are going to be exploited."
"It's a valid concern," J'onn says, exhaling wearily. "I've gotten hints, nothing solid you understand, but snippets of thoughts from highly placed people, within both the government and civilian sectors. But it's enough to lead me to believe that it is already happening, and has been for some time. My personal suspicion is that it's related to supersoldier projects following the death, or rather assumed death, of Captain America. Fortunately, the mutants seem to be quite capable of defending themselves, under normal conditions. I rather think that's one of the purposes of the X-Men. Unfortunately, every time they strike back, it drives a wedge between them and the people who just see men shooting lightning bolts from their fingers on the news."
Tony nods. "That's a big reason why I think it's important for us to have Captain America on the team. Someone people can realte to and understand. Someone that people will believe when they are told that Gods walk the Earth, but everythign is going to be alright."
J'onn considers, nodding slowly. "Superman still has a great deal of public confidence, but he is a known alien, so the people on the fence may disregard his words. Captain America, on the other hand, is just a man. A super-soldier, yes, but an icon of human achievement, not otherworldly power. Batman could serve the same role if he were, well, not Batman." J'onn grins.
Tony nods and smiles. "Exactly. And i'm still too much of an unknown to the public as long as I keep my identity secret. Even then, I'm not quite as 'everyman' as Captain America would be, am I?"
"Hardly," J'onn says wryly. "I don't think the average man on the street considers billionare playboy geniuses to be a brother in spirit. Especially those with the technical knowledge to create suits like yours. I have been meaning to compliment you on your engineering accomplishments."
Tony smiles. "Coming from you, I consider that a high compliment. Your civilization was far more advanced than ours is and for you to not consider my suit to be stone age technology...." He takes justifiable pride in his accomplishments, but his mention of J'onn's people causes him to look at the martian with some concern. "How do you stand it? Being trapped on this planet that's so primitive by your standards?"
"I have adapted," J'onn says, shrugging. "The technology is simple, yes, but effective enough. Since Mars is now a dead world," there's a hint of pain in J'onn's stoic voice as he remembers the fate of his people, "Earth is my home now. I have nowhere else, so I have had to come to love my new home. In truth, it is not the technology that I miss, since I have no real need of it except in extreme cases. It's the closeness. You can never truly comprehend an entire civilization linked through telepathy. My entire life, I was never once alone. Until the plague. It's one of the reasons these mutants interest me so. Telepathy appears to be one of the more common powers available to mutants, and it reminds me of home."
Tony nods. "You're right in that I can't ever fully understand. But I hope it's alright to sympathize. Maybe if you were to seek out mutants, the X-Men, and speak with them. Maybe you can regain a bit of what feels like normal to you?"
"Perhaps I shall," J'onn says. "But it's not a pressing matter. I've been on Earth for decades now without cracking. I'll manage," he says with a bit of good humor. "In the meantime, I find solace in meditation and my work. One thing that never changes, from planet to planet, is the need for people to stand against evil, and the peace one gets from doing so."
Tony nods. "Yes. But you do take breaks from time to time, right? I mean, you do go out and try to have a good time and enjoy life. All work and no play and all that."
J'onn chuckles quietly. "I have a human identity that I sometimes go back to. Well, several of them, to be honest. I like to walk amidst humanity in anonymity sometimes, just to be with people. Nobody stares at a middle-aged man like they do a green-skinned professional wrestler." And he does kinda look like one, with the briefs, boots, and suspenders. Not to mention the utterly cosmetic muscles.
Tony chuckles. "Okay. But what do you do for fun. Besides meditate. Do you go out to movies, go clubbing...there has to be more to it than just walking aomngst us, right?"
"I'm afraid that I'm not much of a clubber," J'onn says deadpan. "I read, I watch films. But the world never sleeps, and there's always trouble to stop, so I'm more or less on the clock at any given time. I enjoy my work, so it's not the burden it may appear to be."
Tony smirks. "I should get you to explain that to my PA and my friends while I'm busy in my lab for a couple days straight. Miss one appointment with the Taiwanese Minister of Finance because you're recalibrating an energy collector and it's the end of the world."
J'onn laughs softly. "Did you explain that the required calibration has a particularly small margin of error and thus must be very precise? Or is that the job of the esteemed Miss Potts?" It is quite likely that only fellow members of the Justice League have heard J'onn use that particular joking tone.
Tony sighs and smiles. "You know how it is...you try to explain basic quantum energy principles to people and it's like you're talking Klingon. Their eyes just glaze over."
J'onn makes a wordless noise of agreement. "Public schooling," he deadpans. "I blame budget cuts. Kids these days are all about the gadgets, but not one in ten could tell you how they work."
Tony smiles and nods. "We need to hang out more often, J'onn. You're the only one in the team that doesn't look at me like I'm ...well...from outer space when I talk high tech."
J'onn chuckles. "As you said, I am familiar with a much higher level of technology than modern Earth. I was never a scientist, but you pick things up. Also, I can read your mind, so I know what all the big words mean."
Tony smirks. "Cheater. Anyways, you know when Superman is going to be back around? I'm pretty sure he'll be fine, but I should ask him about Captain America first. And I should also ask Diana, althought she probably won't have a problem either."
"Superman is often free in the evenings," J'onn says. "If you can't reach him over his communicator today, I'll contact him telepathically. I'm afraid I'm not privy to Diana's schedule, though. I can contact her as well if she doesn't show." J'onn, as ever, is perfectly willing to act as telepathic relay for the League. Hey, if you got it, flaunt it. "I don't forsee an issue with either of them on the Captain's membership."
Tony nods and checks the monitor log. "Good. And looks like my shift's over. Still time to come with me to the clubs tonight before I get my needed 4 hours of sleep."
"Thank you for the offer," J'onn says, shaking his head. "But I'm afraid I must decline. I wouldn't want to . . cramp your style, as the vernacular goes. Have fun, though. Use protection."
Tony smirks. "Dancing and witty banter only these days. I'm all past my mispent-yet-fully-rewarding youth." He chuckles and gets out of the seat, switching the monitor system to automatic. "See you later, J'onn."