- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Torture
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Fix It
Tony was actually sleeping for once when JARVIS flipped on the lights in the master bedroom of the tower penthouse.
“Sir, you need to wake up.”
Tony clapped a hand over his eyes and then rolled over to heave himself into a sitting position.
“Where’s the fire, J?”
“The Tesseract Project in Arizona has triggered the emergency protocols, Sir.”
Tony groaned and hopped out of bed and started stripping out of his undershirt and boxers on the way to the closet that held the undersuit for the armor. It was the work of moments to pull on the undersuit and head out into the hallway.
“Load up the armor JARVIS. Tell me what tripped the protocols.”
Tony was heading towards the assembler when Steve intercepted him, blinking sleep out of his eyes.
“Stark, what’s wrong? Why did I hear you ask JARVIS to load the armor?”
“Captain. One of the projects I monitor closely has suddenly destabilized. It would take more than an hour to get a plane ready for take-off, and the suit is much faster than the company jet. Plus, the armor is useful in case the destabilization blows up in my face. Hopefully, I’ll be back in a few hours tops, but I’ve got to kick off before the situation gets out of hand.”
Tony paused, his finely honed instinct for trouble telling him to place a contingency plan.
“Look if it goes badly, the one guy at SHIELD I trust to be a decent person is Agent Coulson. I may not like him overly much, and the feeling seems well matched on his side, but he’d put a bullet in his own head before screwing over people. I don’t trust Director Fury not to play games and I don’t know much about Agent Hill. If SHIELD comes calling, trust Coulson first.”
Tony watched Steve blink and then nod. He walked through the assembler and as the faceplate snapped down he snapped off a jaunty salute to the man out of time before activating the repulsors and shooting off the platform. He did a flip in mid-air and followed the flight plan JARVIS had laid out in the heads up display out of the city. Once he was out of the city and away from any major flight path, he opened the throttle on the armor and watched as the time to destination clock went from four hours to one and a half.
“Alright, JARVIS, brief me. What’s going on with the Tesseract?”
“Sir, the Tesseract has started receiving the tiniest of magical signals. This signal is minutely increasing at the moment, but only because the signal was so small to start with. It is actually growing a geometric rate, and by my calculations will rip open an unstable dimensional portal within two point two four hours. However, SHIELD equipment won’t pick up the signal until approximately 1 point 15 hours before the portal opens. If a portal opens within the facility it is likely that the facility will implode within zero point one hour. I have loaded several teleportation spells into the armor’s spell matrix. Unfortunately, I had to remove a corresponding number of defense spells. I have linked only one teleportation spell to the hoard and it is password encoded as usual. By my calculations, it would be prudent to remove the Tesseract to the hoard, as the wards there will block any incoming signals and a reopening of a portal will be impossible there without Sir’s willful dismantling of the wards.”
“Good job, J.”
Tony’s thoughts began to whirl. No one living knew that Tony was a dragon. Hand in hand with that was that no one knew that Tony could wield magic. Howard had not taught him much about magic, preferring the sciences as he had long ago mastered magic. That being said Howard had let Tony have full access to the library he had amassed inside his hoard. As Tony’s hatching grounds had been in a special branch of the lair that contained Howard’s hoard Tony had had access to Earth’s single most comprehensive library on magic since he was a hatchling.
Tony had inherited the location of Maria’s hoard and had merged his parents’ hoards upon their death. By draconic standards, Tony had inherited an incredibly impressive hoard to start with and he’d only increased it since then. Tony took time every year to visit his hoard and spend time studying magic in a way he couldn’t living among humans. Which led to the third secret. While JARVIS was the world’s most sophisticated artificial intelligence, he was also a magical construct and Tony had taught him magical theory, and gifted him with a small amount of magic alongside his other functions.
If JARVIS said that the Tesseract was going to open an unstable portal, then an unstable portal it was. The intriguing question was who was casting the spell and what might come through. Hydra, and SHIELD had no idea but both Howard and Tony knew that the Tesseract was one the Infinity Stones. If the Tesseract had been found while Howard was still alive, Tony would have bet half his hoard that it would have been “lost in transit” and ended up in Howard’s hoard. Tony hadn’t found out about the Tesseract being found until around four months ago during one of JARVIS’ deep dives. Tony had had no way to gain access to the facility without fouling his probationary relationship with SHIELD and so had been ignoring his instincts to grab one of the single most, unique, valuable and powerful magical artifacts in the universe. He’d been playing a long game, sure that given that his lifespan was in the thousands of years he would be able to acquire it eventually.
But now … If things fell correctly he could have SHIELD owe him and acquire the Infinity Stone. If they didn’t it was no loss unless the stone disappeared again. However, if the stone was removed from Earth. Well, that would be a much bigger problem. He was just lucky he’d come across those scripts on imbuing physical objects with spells. The Iron Man Mark VI armor now came loaded with spells, not that anyone could tell. Until JARVIS has swapped them out, the spells were all defensive in nature with the exception of the invisibility cloak that JARVIS was under orders to never remove. Things to make injuries a little less severe, or make weapons used against him more likely to miss, even a healing spell to stop internal bleeding. Nothing that would raise any flags or be visually obvious but would have hopefully given Tony less down time after each battle.
However, given the size of the facility, the teleportation spells would be useful for evacuating the SHIELD base. And JARVIS had had the forethought to place one that would land him in the most defensible location inside his hoard. Tony would have to give JARVIS more server space to continue his study on being able to cast his own spells without movement or material components as a reward for his thoughtfulness. JARVIS had no desire to be limited to a corporeal body but wanted to be able to cast spells. It was only his creation by a dragon and his consistent proximity to Tony that allowed him to access magic at all.
Tony was aware of the lineage of Sorcerer Supremes but they drew their powers from consorting with otherworldly entities. None of them were actually born with power. As far as Tony and Howard knew there hadn’t been a human born with power since the 1700s and it was a dragon descendant that had been born in a village that Howard had been living in as a blacksmith at the time.
An alert on the heads-up display showed Tony that he was quickly approaching the perimeter of the SHIELD facility. He swore when another alert flashed to show that there was a helicopter inbound to the facility. Tony slapped on the cloak and shadowed the helicopter into the facility. He wasn’t surprised at all to see Director Fury step out. In fact, Tony grinned at his luck. He’d be able to shadow Fury into the same room as the Tesseract with any luck. Io must have been blessing Tony as Coulson appeared and approached Fury to lead him to the Tesseract.
Tony picked a corner of the room that no one was in, not even the agent referred to as Hawkeye and settled into watch; popping his faceplate so he could scent the room and see with his own eyes. His body was thrumming with the power the Tesseract was putting out and it made his skin itch. It also had the side effect of making him want to shift. Partially, so the magic would stop making him itch, and partially so he could see the magic better. Also, while he was harder to kill than a normal human in his human form he was nowhere near as damage resistant as he was when he was wearing his scales. Exhibit A, the arc reactor. He should have died from the initial injury but he had held on long enough for the surgery due to his increased hardiness. Pity he couldn’t get the Arc reactor back out and remove the shrapnel without a second competent magic user. He’d suspected for awhile that JARVIS’ interest in spell casting was so that the glowing Achilles heel in his chest could be permanently removed.
The Tesseract pulsed and shot open, the light blinding Tony momentarily. It didn’t block his ability to scent though. Tony nearly gave himself away as he nearly gasped out loud at the scent of a powerful mage came through. The mage smelled of male, magic, and fire and chaos. Worryingly though he also smelled of pain, blood, and there was a curious overlay of rotten flesh. This did not bode well. When Tony’s vision cleared he saw a pale, tall, and very aesthetically appealing male holding a spear with a clearly magical gem inlaid in it. The spear reeked of decay. Tony forced himself from recoiling as the mage’s gaze passed over him as he stood. And then he blinked because the mage didn’t react. A mage as strong as the one in front of him should not only be able to see through the invisibility spell but also tell that Tony was a dragon holding human form. Yet, there was nothing in the man’s eyes to show that Tony had been spotted.
Fury opened the dialogue and the mage did a curious thing. He looked at the spear in his hand as though he had no idea that he’d been holding it. But then the scent of decay ramped up and the mage attacked, quite quickly making work of the agents in the room and proving to be bullet proof while doing so. Then he approached Hawkeye and touched him with the spear. The smell of decay swelled and then settled on Hawkeye like an over layer. Hawkeye stopped preparing to attack the mage. Then the mage repeated the process on another agent. Now the mage and both agents were overlaid with the same rotten scent. Tony realized that the common denominator here was the spear. He had a feeling it was very bad news. Tony watched as Fury tried to take the Tesseract only for the mage to speak.
The discovery that this was Loki, the Norse god of lies, chaos, and fire shivered through Tony. If he’d been in his scales they would have ruffled. A god. Not the god that many humans followed these days, but a god none the less. Tony had thought to never meet one. Much less one that smelled so much like pure magic and fire. Something as unique as the Tesseract, and alive, and able to converse.
But something was terribly wrong. A chaos god would never advocate subjugation. His very nature would rebel against it. The sense of something wrong grew worse when Loki used the spear on Doctor Selvig. What would he need to control Selvig for? Tony shut his face plate and moved closer, as silently as he could, placing himself between Fury, and Loki, and Loki’s new thralls still unseen. The thralls alerted Loki that Fury was stalling for time and Hawkeye drew his weapon. Tony made his decision and stepped between Fury and the bullet, losing his invisibility. Fury let out a shout of Tony’s surname. Tony grabbed the case with the Tesseract, and then shot towards Loki and grabbed him and the spear with his other hand. Then he activated the teleport spells, relocating everyone in the facility besides himself and Loki to ten miles away. As for Tony, Loki, the spear, and the Tesseract? They were thousands of miles away inside Tony’s hoard.
Steve had tried to go back to bed after Stark had left, but Stark’s parting words had bothered him. Why would SHIELD get involved in a project of Stark’s? Stark, Ms. Potts, and JARVIS had made it clear that SHIELD and Stark Industries were not working together, and that the fact that Stark considered most of SHIELD untrustworthy. Yet, Stark thought that something could bad enough that he told Steve which member of SHIELD could be trusted; even if Stark didn’t like the agent on a personal level. Steve’s thoughts had spun in circles for hours; until light began to dawn through his windows, then he got out of bed to eat breakfast. He was scrambling some eggs when the elevator dinged, and Ms. Potts and Mr. Hogan came into the penthouse. Ms. Potts slowed on her way past the kitchen.
“Good Morning, Captain Rogers. We’re just here to drag Tony out of bed in enough time that he will make the board members brunch that rescheduled.”
Steve wasn’t sure he should speak up, but he didn’t think Ms. Potts would like to find out that Tony was not in the Penthouse by herself. He winced as he imparted the news to her.
“Ms. Potts, Mr. Stark took off in his armor early this morning and I haven’t heard him return.”
“What? JARVIS where is Tony?”
For the first time since Steve had arrived at the tower, JARVIS sounded reluctant.
“I’m sorry Ms. Potts but I am forbidden from disclosing Sir’s current location.”
Steve watched as Ms. Potts threw her hands in the air.
“Great! What mess has he gotten himself into now? The board is going to have my head if he doesn’t show again. JARVIS, do you know when Tony will be back?”
“Sir’s timetable for return is unknown at this time.”
Steve, worried for Stark’s safety, interjected.
“JARVIS, Mr. Stark seemed worried when he left. Can you at least tell us if he is safe?”
“Sir is in a secure location.”
Steve shook his head. It seemed that JARVIS was going to hold Stark’s location secret, even from people that Stark normally trusted. He watched as Ms. Potts and Mr. Hogan exchanged worried glances. Pepper began to ask another question when the elevator arrived again and an unassuming man in a suit stepped out, followed by a group of men in black who were heavily armed. Ms. Potts rushed over to the man in the suit.
“Phil! Is this your doing?”
She was interrupted by JARVIS.
“Ms. Potts, please step away from Agent Coulson and the other SHIELD agents.”
“What? JARVIS, why?”
Nevertheless, Steve observed that Ms. Potts moved back towards Mr. Hogan quickly. The man suit, whom Steve was assuming was Agent Coulson, walked over to Steve and held out his hand.
“Agent Phillip Coulson, of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division. It’s an honor to meet you, Captain. Ms. Potts, I suspect that JARVIS knows why we are here. We are looking for Stark. Is he here?”
Steve shook Agent Coulson’s hand noting the calluses from firing guns. Steve had to wonder if this was what Stark meant by things going badly. Steve decided to deflect attention off of Ms. Potts. Those were no ordinary guns the other agents were sporting and the situation could become problematic. Stark had specified that only Coulson was trustworthy. That meant that these other agents might not be.
Steve answered for Ms. Potts, “No, Stark isn’t here. I was just telling Ms. Potts and Mr. Hogan that Stark left in the middle of the night last night. JARVIS has declined to tell us where Stark actually is.”
Coulson’s facial expression didn’t change yet Steve was still given the impression that the man was worried by Steve’s answer.
Agent Coulson made a hand signal and the armed men fanned out from behind him.Steve tried not to stiffen but he didn’t like the way little things were beginning to add up into a potentially dangerous situation. Agent Coulson smiled.
“Are you sure that Stark isn’t just hiding in one of his labs?”
“I’m sure, Agent Coulson. I saw Stark leave in his suit myself. He said something about a project of his that he’d been monitoring destabilizing and needing the suit to get there fast.”
Ms. Potts interjected, “Steve, Tony doesn’t have any projects that could be unstable far away enough that he’d need the suit to get there.”
“Actually, Sir said, that it was ‘a project’ that he was monitoring, not that it was his project,” JARVIS added in.
Agent Coulson looked up towards the ceiling. “I suppose that you were the one monitoring the project for Stark, JARVIS?”
“That would be correct.”
Steve watched as Coulson’s face became even blanker. “JARVIS, where is Stark now?
“I am forbidden from speaking of Sir’s current location, other than to assure Ms. Potts that Sir is well and safe.”
Steve watched as Coulson opened his mouth, only to shut it when JARVIS continued.
“I am currently detecting an attempt by SHIELD to hack my core programming. According to my security protocols, the tower must be vacated of anyone not authorized to remain in the event of a hacking attempt. The entire building must be emptied. I do apologize, Ms. Potts, Mr. Hogan, Mr.Rogers, however only Sir is permitted in the tower under these protocols.”
Coulson’s face pinched and Ms. Potts opened her mouth to object when one of the other agents spoke.
“How exactly is he going to force us to vacate. He’s not here.”
Steve jolted, when instead of JARVIS verbalizing a response, laser guided turrets dropped down from the ceiling of the Penthouse.
“Threat analyzed, all parties have 5 minutes to vacate the premises. Have a nice day.”
Steve would have laughed at the look on the brash agent’s face if the situation hadn’t just gotten dramatically worse. Coulson, on the other hand, looked irritated at his subordinate.
Steve turned to Ms. Potts and Mr. Hogan. “It seems we should leave. How about we go out for breakfast?”
Coulson interrupted, “Actually, Director Fury would like to speak to all of you about what happened last night and the circumstances of Stark’s disappearance. If you would come with us?”
Steve looked at the men behind Coulson and decided it was not worth pushing the situation. Plus, Steve would be able to get a read on Director Fury in person for the first time.
“I think we should go with Agent Coulson.”
Ms. Potts just nodded and headed to the elevator with her fiancé following.
2 hours later and Steve was in a locker room aboard the flying ship he’d heard called the Helicarrier. In front of him was a version of his Captain America uniform. Agent Coulson had bashfully admitted to being on the design team. Considering the man had already admitted he had an entire collection of trading cards in mint condition about Steve as Captain America and the Howling Commandos it wasn’t terribly surprising. What was surprising was what Stark had done at the base in New Mexico after leaving Steve.
There had been a long meeting after he and Ms. Potts had been brought on board. Coulson had been there, there had been a red-headed woman dressed in black called Natasha who was accompanied by a nervous looking man that Coulson had called Dr. Banner. Even though Steve’s sense of danger from the war had pegged the woman as being the most dangerous person in the conference room even she had seemed wary of Dr. Banner. Then there had been the man that Steve had recognized from Starks rants about the “leather fetish pirate” as Director Fury.
The one-eyed man had stormed in and started shooting questions at Ms. Potts and Steve that neither could answer and which left them both confused. Confused, that is until they were showed the surveillance footage of Loki’s attack on the base that had held the Tesseract. Seeing Stark in the Iron Man armor appear out of thin air was surprising enough. Watching him block the shot from Agent Barton to Fury and then grabbing Loki, the Tesseract, and then vanishing again as well as everyone in the facility vanishing from the feeds was astounding. To find out that everyone in the facility, including the people that Loki had mind controlled with the spear, had been “teleported” to a safe location was mind blowing. The people who had been mind controlled seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep shortly after the teleportation.
Ms. Potts had been just as shocked as Steve. She had sworn that she had had no idea that the Iron Man armor could become invisible or that Stark had been working on teleportation. She had reminded Agent Coulson that she hadn’t found out about the Iron Man armor until after the Mark II had taken out the terrorists in Gulmira. She also had claimed to have no idea why Stark would have taken either the Tesseract or Loki. She did maintain however that he would have an explanation for it. It might not be one that would make sense to most people but that it would make sense to him.
Fury had been less than impressed by Ms. Potts lack of knowledge and had ranted for several minutes before assigning Dr. Banner to a lab to track either the Tesseract or the arc reactor in Tony’s chest. So now all they were doing was waiting.
Steve turned as Agent Coulson came into the locker room.
“Captain, Dr. Selvig and the agents Loki mind controlled have woken up and seem to be in control of themselves. Additionally, Dr. Banner thinks that the tracking algorithm is set so we should have results soon as we’ve co-opted a few satellites to cover more ground quickly. Fury wants us all in conference room for when the results come in.
6 hours later, Steve had been introduced to Agent Barton and they were all just killing time around the conference table. Steve, for his part, was finishing a novel that Stark had recommended called the “Stand.” It was riveting in a terrible kind of way. Steve looked up at the sound of two sets of approaching footsteps. Agent Coulson was approaching with Dr. Banner behind him like a shadow.
“Director Fury, we have managed to track down Stark and the Tesseract.”
Fury scowled at the reminder of Stark’s betrayal.
“Well, where is he?” Fury said, anger coating his voice.
Steve noticed that the corner of Agent Coulson’s mouth twitched minutely in suppressed amusement.
“Inaccessible Island, in the South Atlantic, Director.”’
Steve watched as a vein started throbbing in Fury’s temple, “That jackass!”
Fury turned to the table,
“Barton, Romanov, Coulson, Banner, and Rogers; Suit up and go get them.”
Steve nodded and left to get changed into his armor wondering all the while why Banner was coming with them. He guessed he’d find out when he got there.