2010-06-04: Knowledge Is Power


Hank_icon.jpg Theo_icon.jpg

Summary: Theo asks Hank to be his mentor to learn technology.

Date: June 4, 2010.

Log Title: Knowledge is Power

Rating: G

Xavier Mansion - Garage

Home to various cars of teachers and X-men, the garage can house at least twenty vehicles. There is also an area that has a auto body shop set up so students and teachers and work on their cars. Almost any tool a mechanic needs can be found in this garage.

It seems that almost every kid here has a sanctuary. Lucas goes to the Music Room, Robyn the art room. Kael flies high above the school through the clouds. Mike goes to the chapel. Theo has his sanctuary too, and it's the garage. He had asked if Hank could meet him. Theo has been here long before the appointed time, though. He wears a wife beater covered in dark stains, and a pair of jeans that match. His hair is damp from sweat, but all the same, he puts the finishing touches on his latest device.
It's nothing revolutionary. Theo's creation is a small remotely powered four-legged vehicle. It doesn't serve much purpose other than walking around for entertainment. Still, it's his pet project, and has a higher degree of education required than the high school classes require. He must have been doing some extracurricular reading on mechanics.

Hank is no stranger to taking refuge in a place such as this, his lab, really, when you boil it down is just a bigger and more diverse version of the garage. The professor is dressed pretty casually himself, jeans and a sweatshirt bearing the proud logo of Miskatonic U 'Go Pods!'. Yes, he's wearing a Lovecraftian shirt. At least he has a sense of humor. He observes the young man at work a few, and then moves over to hunker down beside him. "Interesting design. One of your first attempts?" He's not disparaging the build at all, he's simply curious as to Theo's experience level with entry level robotics.

Theo looks up as Hank speaks, "Yeah," he says, "I finished it a while back, but there wasn't enough articulation for the legs to carry it fast enough to be interesting, so I'm trying to fix that problem." He takes a screw, and flips the machine over. He takes the screwdriver, and fastens the outer panel to the bottom of the robot. He looks very nearly finished. "I found something I like," he says, referring to their conversation from a while back.
The boy takes a few more screws from a small pile, and also places them on the bottom panel, and he pulls the legs back and forth, testing how far they can move.

Settling to sit on the pavement, Hank watches as Theo works on the legs, eyes of blue very alert as he takes in what the young man has done. "Not bad at all. You skipped over most of the common mistakes, and recognized a flaw that many would have missed entirely." Knowing that learning is a process that requires some measure of failure, some degree of trial and error, he doesn't offer any advice — and won't, unless it is solicited. At the news of Theo having found something he likes, Hank smiles warmly. "Excellent news, Mister Fegenbush…and may I ask what that would be?" It is plain that Hank is genuine in his delight, and honestly curious.

"Well," Theo answers, "Before I came here, I used to help my dad at the train yards working on the trains. He was an engineer, and always wanted to design them, but nobody wanted a guy that didn't have a college education. I wanted to design them too."
Theo turns the machine upright again, and it restson its legs. He flips the switch on, but doesn't seem to have a remote anywhere in sight. All the same, it begins to walk. He smiles a little, apparently pleased with the progress. The yardstic length machine wanders back and forth on the bench a little, though it has very little space to go further.
"Now things are different," he says. "I don't think I can design trains anymore. But there's so much technology to investigate. My power revolves around technology. I never thought of myself as a technology nerd," Theo comments. "But I dunno. Maybe I am one after all." The reason for wanting to talk to Hank might seem a little more apparent now.

"When I was your age all I wanted was to be a pro football player, I worked very hard at it." And then Hank looks down at his form, the blue fur, the massive build. "I think you'll find that things often go in different directions than we expected, but with a little bit of work one can almost always make something of it." Sitting Indian-style, he watches as the robot takes its steps. "Did you give it some sort of obstacle avoidance programming, or is your power what's keeping it under control?" Oh yes, Hank can see where this might be going…and he definitely approves. "I'd be happy to help you if you have any questions, you know."

Theo shakes his head, "Just my power. See, I found I can control things that I can understand. If I can figure out how the technology operates, I can control the machine. It doesn't matter how simple or how complex it is. Every machine can be broken down into simple operations, whatever it is. An electrical pulse, a moving part." He illustrates by turning on all of Scott's cars. They roar to life, and then sit their idling for a moment before he turns them off.
"I understand how this machine works, because I built it. There's not any piece of it that I don't understand." The machine hops in place. It manages to have approximately a twelve inch verticle. It dives to the edge of the table, and then leaps off, landing on all four legs on the floor. It hits a little hard, the belly slapping the ground. But it's made of metal, so it remains intact.
"So, lots of folks here have somebody who has powers kinda like them, and they help train the students to use their powers." To Theo's knowledge there isn't anyone else with his powers. "I don't have anybody like that, but I don't need to know my powers better if I understand technology better. And I was wondering if you'd be willing to teach me."
In class, Theo never, under any circumstances, asks for help. Granted, he never really needs it, but he never asks questions, nor for clarification. Nor is he eager to give help to others. He's a very independently minded teen, so for him to ask for aid is as rare as a solar eclipse.

The next solar eclipse is due 11 July, 2010 — of course it isn't going to be visible in North America, nope, though folks in the South Pacific, Easter Island, Chile and Argentina will get a lovely view. Hank doesn't hesitate, he clearly understands the rarity of that request for help. His eyes are kind as they regard Theo, and as he explains how his power works. "So." He is musing to himself. "So despite the lack of someone with your abilities there is yet an avenue you can approach." Hank meets Theo's gaze directly. "You spoke before of there being no challenges in your classword, I promise you, I will challenge you with our training. I may not be on par with Reed Richards, but I -am- one of the best scientists and engineers around. True, I'm primarily a biochemist and geneticist, but I know a thing or three about technology." Yes, he rhymed. Sue him later. "Are you prepared to comit to learning what I have to teach? It will not be easy, not in any regard."

Theo grins satisfactorily, if not with a tinge of arrogance as well. "Nobody's come up with a class I couldn't ace yet," he says. "I wanna learn it all, and I wanna be the best at it all. Do you think I can work on it through summer as well?" He's been looking for a reason that he wouldn't need to leave. "And do you know how to work Shi'ar technology?" His aspirations have already greatly exceeded his current grasp.

A glint enters Hanks baby blues, and his grin broadens. "I do believe that is what we call 'a challenge'." Hank nods then, his expression getting more serious. "Very well, I'll teach you, and despite your past track record don't expect it to be a cake walk. I'm a hard teacher sometimes, but I am always fair. Trust in that, believe me when I promise it, and things should work out." A soft laugh at the mentions of Shi'ar. "Of course, who do you think maintains the technology here? I've also had experience with Kree, and Skrull technology, dozens of supervillains including but not limited to Doctor Doom, The High Evolutionary, and others. I think my reperoire is sufficiently broad to be of interest." A smile. "Of course, that sort of training needs time, it will take a while before you're ready for it."

"Well, I guess I better get started then," Theo answers. The robot comes to rest from wandering around the room, and Theo gives Hank his undivided attention. "So what do I need to work on first?" he asks, not even giving time for Hank to start working on a lesson plan. He's rather eager.

Fortunately Hank is very good at thinking on his feet. He kips up, and moves to a terminal on the far side of the workshop. Fingers dance across the keyboard with the practiced grace of a master pianist, and then a printout appears. "First we'll need to gauge what you know, then we can better determine what you need to learn yet." A smile. "Of course your current project gives me a reasonable starting point." The paper is handed over. "Here's some reading materials…" About a dozen books. "…we'll meet to discuss them when you've finished, and proceed from there."

Theo follows Hank to the terminal, and watches as he puts in the list. He takes the paper in his hand and looks over it. "I read two of these already," he says. He's been a busy kid the last few weeks. "Are all of them in the library here?" he asks, "And is there any special order I should start in?" He holds the page with his right hand, scanning the rest of the list.

"I listed them in the order I'd suggest you follow. I would suggest skimming the books you've already read up on once you finish the others in series, it might help you with some insights that you couldn't have made prior due to lack of reference points." Hank nods then. "All save the last one, that is in my personal collection, let me know when you've read the others and I'll loan you my copy of it." The reading is definitely starting out with basics, but grows rapidly more complex.

Theo folds the paper and puts it in his back pocket. He then walks to grab a rag from the workbench, and wipes the grease off his hands. "Thanks," he says, returning to Hank to offer a hand, a bit less greasy than it was a minute ago, but still dirty. "I really do appreciate it."

Hank is many things, but afraid of a bit of dirt? Not so much. He shakes the offered hand with a grip like iron, though he's not crushing, it is just that firm. "You're most welcome, Mister Fegenbush. Why don't we meet in my office from time to time to discuss your progress? It would be strictly extracurricular, but I think that discussion would be of benefit."

Theo nods, "Sure," he says. "I'll start reading tonight." Finals are right around the corner, but it doesn't seem to concern him. He knows the material for his classes. He wants to start on the material that he doesn't already know. "Unless they're unusually long, I can probably finish them by next week or so," he suggests, though his estimation may be a little preemptive. He's smart, but he underestimates how much it will take to actually digest the material.

"Very good, we'll see how far you get, in either case we'll start with meetings twice a week, and adjust as needed." Which is Hank's way to handle Theo being a little arrogant, but not be obvious about it. Teens have to be handled with a little care sometimes, hell, so do adults! A smile then, and he logs off the terminal. "Is there anything else I can do for you, Mister Fegenbush?"

"Nope," Theo says, without even givin another thought. "I'm gonna head to the library. I'll see you later." He whistles, and his robot hops back to its feet. It begins to walk toward him, and he turns to the exit. With a spring in his step, he heads for the exit, the robot following behind him. Hey, it's finished! Time to show it off a little.

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