Sleeping at the Top

Have you ever been to a Fantasy Factory? A place where the most outlandish, awe-inspiring inventions are created and put into use for the amusement of individuals. Few places like this existed in this world. Where everyone sees inventions as financial advancements instead of practical devices. With companies like Zeraz Industries, or Starks Enterprises most innovations created are mass produced and marketed throughout the world before most of its applications are revealed. Although Ethan Starks, former Owner of Starks Enterprises, profited generously from this business venture he still held a fondness for his passion of building. Thus the reason why he created his own private workshop where he created inventions the world may never see. Devices and tools built by him and for those he decided to expose to the inner workings of his mind.

A soft pitter patter of footsteps echoed down the empty halls of Ethan's Workshop as a lone soul traversed the area. The building itself was both a technological and architectual phenomena the likes of which the Earth would not know of for many years. The foundation seemed as if it was rooted into the ground. Yet the shape and structure of the building seemed to much for the way it was placed. Like a tree on the brink of tipping over the building seemed to lean a bit too far for the beams embedded into the ground to keep it steady. Some see the building as a magical creation and its creator laughed at those people's limited perceptions. The curved walls of the site gave off a feeling of encroachment as you walked beside them. They seemed to close in on you as well as make the ditstance traveled seem longer in retrospect. At The end of a corridor there were paths to the left and right, each leading to a white door that would sliding open when it sensed movement as well as the right genome.

"I know he is here, I can hear him breathing." A figure whose stature and features were identical to Ethan Starks growled as he sauntered through the workshop. For the past year he had made many attempts to find and destroy what was left of the man Darkchild nearly killed. With him being the only person somewhat aware of Ethan's true condition at the current moment he refused to allow his predecessor return and snatch what chance he had at a life back. After taking the right turn and stepping past the metal door he spotted a pod, leaning against the wall. A speciman laid inside the pod, his skin seeming to glow vibrantly with every heave of his chest. "Am I too late?" The doppelganger chided to himself as he cautiously made his way across the room. He found it quite peculiar that the room housed only a single pod. No room in the entire facility was like this from what he remembers of his ventures through here before. In fact, much had changed as far as the interior of the building was concerned. The once colorful, matte walls were now a bold white and the shape is much more freeform as oppose the rigid design of before. Even the light fixtures had become more dynamic, providing light to specific areas heavily, as well as motion activated light. The identity thief felt unfamiliar with his birthplace but quickly shook away the thought as he stood face to face with his original creator.

"All this time, and you were right here. Healing, growing stronger no doubt. But, there was no doubt in my mind that I would find you. No matter where you go, you can never escape me. Because all I am is you. Now I will end you!" With a ferocious roar the doppelganger extend his hand out to the pod. Yellow energy gathered in his palm whilst energy bolts strode up his arm with fierce intensity. Seemingly, in response to the power fluctuations the room went dark. Ethan's body no longer was glowing and all that could be seen was the expulsion of energy from the doppelganger's arm. it crashed into the pod and bright yellow light engulfed the area as the energies collided and erupted. A vicious roar was expelled from the building and people striding by were frightened the sound. The lights were restored and a large smoke cloud covered the blast radius. With a snide smirk the doppelganger turned to make his exit. "Where do you think you're going?" A synthetic voice chimed in. In that same moment the metal door slammed shut with a loud thud. "AVA, how nice it is to here from you. If you would be so kind as to open the door I won't make my way to the mainframe and cause your programming to order the extermination of every Starks Enterprises employee."

The doppelganger's calm demeanor, and smart alec smirk subsided went he felt the presence behind him. His shoulders cringed and his smile curled up into a frantic grimace. "Impossible! You heart was ripped from your chest! That blast contained enough energy to melt adamantium! Yet your still here! Why is it that you and your damn family have such a hard time staying dead?!" As the dust and smoke settled, Ethan, crouched on one knee with his fist planted in the ground, opened his eyes for the first time in many years. His wild, raven colored hair had grown length, extending past his shoulders. He was no longer wearing the tuxedo he had on the day of his so called death. His body was covered in the tight suit he wore under his carrondium armor. The blue lines that ran across the suit complimented the black base well. He rose to his feet, casually swiping the locks of hair from out his eyes. His classic smirk was ever present as he bore into the eyes of his clone.

"You threatened my livelihood. You threatened my wife. You threatened my kids. You tried to steal my identity! Then, you come in MY workshop and threaten MY AI? If you weren't me I'd kill you." Ethan eyes began to glow white, transparent energy swirled around his aura and the pressure in the room dampened. "That's right, you won't kill me, because I'LL KILL YOU!" The manic clone lashed out with bolts of pure lightning. He tossed them aggressively at Ethan. With quick, precise steps Ethan managed to evade the bolts. Every bolt erupted with light as it carelessly crashed into the force field's erected around the walls of Ethan's facility. Blue shimmers flashed as the energy was deflected and displaced. Ethan's footwork was flawless. With each step he positioned himself out of harm's way whilst quickly closing the distance between his attacker. A blood lusted roar was bellowed by the doppelganger as he ceased his electrical bombardment. The two men stood within arms range for no less than a second before erupting into a grand bout of fisticuffs. Their speed was blinding as they kicked parried and evaded strike after strike. Neither could get the upper hand but one could see that the battle was truly an uneven match. While Ethan fought effortlessly his opponent poured every ounce of feeling and strength into his movements. Ethan clearly outclassed his opponent and the clone knew it. A wild haymaker was the deciding blow as it flew well over Ethan's head. The clone had no time to recover as Ethan came around his extended arm and let off a blast of energy directly into the clone's face. The white energy rushed like a tidal wave from Ethan's right palm and the clone's body collided with the shields so they nearly gave in. His body slid to the ground lifelessly. Ethan's eyes returned to normal and his aura calmed itself. "Pshhhh. He wasn't so tough. I hit em with my weak hand." Ethan walked over to the body and tossed it over his shoulder. "AVA warm up the Vanquish for me. And tell Mrs. Starks she has a 5:30 appointment with Mr. Starks. Oh and remind that there's no sleeping when your at the top." Ethan smirked and it felt good. "Will do sir."

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Posted by Mercy_

Cassidy Lockhart-Starks had a finger in every pie and her ear to the floor in the intelligence community. In the past two years she'd built herself a name as the CEO of Starks Enterprises. What the business and political world didn't know was that she continued her frowned upon activities. Intelligence gathering, lining events up so that dominoes could fall, political positioning. At this point in the game she was tried and true. However she'd mellowed upon motherhood and taken a less active role in things.

To the world she was Ms. Starks, head of Starks Enterprises and the woman who had technically died ridding the world of Darkchild. in the fallout of that, she had been presented to the world as a hero. This made anything she may do in the future easier to spin. Morgaine had New France fully in hand. This left Cassidy more time to turn to technology. Between her own learnings, inherent ability and what had been passed to her from both her mother and her former husband, she had a remarkable talent. It was almost as if she could converse with the technology itself - it spoke to her the way that an artist's vision spoke to them.

Her time was split between mothering her six-month old twins and developing new technology. Her current project was a selfish one, despite it being able to be used in thousands upon thousands of households if she was successful. It was a spinal implant that would restore her movement and even grant her with more base strength. She refused to pin any hopes on it and it had no official working name. If Cass allowed herself to believe that there was any hope for her and it failed, she didn't know how well she'd be able to handle that. Plenty of people lived and enjoyed life with disabilities, right? Why couldn't she simply be the same?

Here she was, in the penthouse suite of the NYC office. The bulletproof glass walls afforded her with an unparalleled view of the skyline. It was 5:15 PM and her stomach was in a knot. That morning a familiar signature had patched into her ORACLE systems, attempting to send a communication. The PDA that now never left her side had been quick enough to backtrack to AVA. She was confused and out of sorts. What exactly was going on here?

Her blood red hair was pinned back loosely in a bun, a few strands falling forward in an artfully haphazard manner. A pair of black frame glasses rested on the top of her head as she typed feverishly on the tablet resting on the gargantuan desk in front of her. A fitted black vest covered the purple silk shirt that she was wearing. Seated in the captain's chair behind her desk, it was not evident that she was crippled. This was intentional. It had not been publicized as Cass was hesitant to show anybody weakness. It had been ingrained in her since childhood - all the part of training as an assassin. She was a different woman than the one he had seen last, yet here she was waiting for him just the same.

The intercom on her desk buzzed and Adelaide's voice came through the line. "Ms. Lockhart-Starks, he's here. Shall I send him in?"

She bit her lip and wrung her fingers for a moment before responding. "Yes...please do."

Posted by Ethan Starks

Ethan arrived at Starks Enterprises to find much had changed in his time away. The holographic advertisements that adorned the sides of the main entrance no longer featured his brilliant speech on Starks Enterprises. Now the visual was that of Cassidy promoting the Company's latest products. The building's overall exterior design was kept intact and as Ethan entered the parking lot he saw that little had changed there. A quick elevator ride placed him in the main lobby. He stepped into the bustling halls grinning. The energy of the place was still alive and he was happy to see they adhere to the upkeep of the building as well as its staff. A blonde haired beauty was there to greet him as he approached the front desk.

Her red fingernails hammered away at the touch screen keyboard in front of her. The woman's emerald eyes were glued to the screen as Ethan leaned his forearms on the large desk between the two of them. "Hi Ma'am Can you point me to Ms. Starks office?" As he spoke the woman's eyes never made an attempt to even glance at him. She slowly turned her head as she analyzed his words and created a response. "Do you have an---" The moment her eyes locked on to Ethan's face the woman was awestruck. She sat there staring for a long moment. Ethan grinned widely allowing her to admire his features for one more moment before breaking the silence. "Her office?" He said with a polite tone. "57th floor." The woman said, sounding like she'd been spooked by a ghost.

Another elevator ride placed him on a much more exclusive level of the building. He remembered this place well, as he spent much of his time up here in the earlier days. Stepping up to the secretary's desk he realized the position was filled by a different individual, much less physically attractive than the former specimen. "Figures, Cassidy never liked Michele much." Ethan thought to himself. "Ms. Lockhart-Starks, He's here. Shall I send him in?" Even through an intercom, her voice brought chills to his bone. The hairs on his neck rose and he grinned awkwardly. The Secretary smiled happily as she glanced at Ethan. "You heard her. Step right in Mr. Starks. And its good to see you." Ethan nodded walking up to the door of "Ms. Lockhart-Starks" and inhaling deeply.

He twisted the nob and stepped into the Executive Chamber to find Cass postured up behind her large mahogany desk. Ethan found it quite weird that she wasn't on her feet to greet him but he chalked it up to the discomfort his sudden appearance may have caused her. Many months had passed without word between the two. He could only imagine the pain she suffered in his absence. Pains that probably still ache her to this very day. He smiled wildly as he approached the outer end of the desk and took a seat in front of it. Staring at her deeply, he could see that she had changed from the person that he stood at the altar with, but he could not tell how much. "Well, Hi." Ethan said nervously. Funny how his casual characteristics faded once he was placed in front of his wife. Or possibly his former wife. "Ummmm, I know we've got a lot to discuss. But before we get to any of that I want to know one thing. Do to you still love me?"

Posted by Mercy_

It was different; looking at him and thinking of looking at him. It was one thing to know in your mind that he was coming and another thing entirely to actually have to look him in the face. Her heart hurt. There was actually a physical pain in her chest as her green eyes met his deep ones. She couldn't have articulated what she was feeling at this moment in time if her life had depended on it, all she knew was that she never wanted to feel this way again.

Her hands fiddled with a sea glass paperweight on her desk and the rays of sun caught the enormous blue sapphire engagement ring and matching wedding band. They were the only overtly ostentatious things that she wore and never for a day had she stopped wearing them. Her eyes darted around the room for a few seconds, looking everywhere but at him. It hurt. He hurt. Everything hurt. She'd had to lock it all away for not only the sake of her own heart, but for the sake of their children. They couldn't afford to have a lovesick mother, they'd already lost their father.

Finally their eyes met again and she swallowed, her throat visibly moving. "You never were one for subtlety, were you? It's difficult Ethan...this is all...I'm confused. I'm off my game. You've always done that to me. I had to stow away everything that I felt after our wedding, because you were dead. And then you weren't, but you had no memory and's all a clusterfck. But I had to shut away everything that I felt because it wasn't just about us anymore, now it was about our children. Thomas and Aliana. The best things that either of us will ever do. Two pure, innocent little beings who I love more than I thought it was possible to love somebody." A few tears fell down her cheek as she looked down at the picture of them for a moment before handing it to him. "You were my everything, Ethan. You were my soul mate. You were my one true love. That doesn't die, it doesn't go away. It would have been easier for me if it had. It would have saved me months of crying myself to sleep and hoping that our children didn't hear me or sense it.

She went quiet for a full minute, having just laid her heart bare. "Yes. I still love you. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I just don't know if it's enough."