- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Torture
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Fix It
There are more worlds than one might expect or imagine. There are the nine worlds of Yggdrasil, and from Midgard the Tree’s connection the Physical plane, the rest of the galaxy and then the rest of the Universe. The Universe itself is part of a much larger complex that is woven in and out of multiple planes of existence and is ever growing and changing. One thing remains the same throughout the Universal complex. Dragons, dragons are most generally the first sentient species to inhabit a planet. Not to say that they originate independently on each world but that young dragons seeking unclaimed territories can and will travel vast unimaginable distances to carve out a place for themselves.
Another unique feature of dragons is their inherently magical nature. Some myths say that magic is only brought into a world when a dragon hatches and leaves the world with the death of each dragon. Thus the amount of magic each world has to claim and distribute among its wizards and sorcerers depends on the population of dragons. Midgard or Earth is one such story. Once upon a time, there were immense numbers of the creatures. The world was flush with magic and nature thrived. Other sapient species followed the dragons; dwarves, elves, halflings, sylphs, even dryads. All lived well together for eons. But then the humans arose.
At first, all was well but gradually humans started hunting the dragons. Dragon hunts were not unheard of in the time before humans but were usually restricted to dragons that were causing great havoc in their territories. This was almost always a chromatic dragon, one of the naturally evil species of dragons. But humans, humans, they hunted all dragons. Using weapons and magics created from the bones, blood, and scales of the first dragons that they killed humans set out to kill all dragons including the naturally good metallic dragons, who were the wisest of all the species on earth.
Faced with extinction those dragons that had lost relatives, and territories, to the humans, fled Midgard. Those that stayed behind did so because the believed that they were untouchable and that their ability to disguise themselves as humans wouldn’t fail them. All were wrong. Eventually, only two were left. Ironically it was the member of the Gold species, the strongest and wisest of the Metallics, and a Red the strongest and most cunning of the Chromatics that survived. They knew of each other and in respect for their positions as last of their kind avoided direct confrontation between each other at all costs.
Meanwhile magic had faded from the earth almost completely that even the wildest places barely had a drop of magic. The species that depended on even the subtlest of magics had to leave Earth behind. Soon the only sentient species left on Earth was the humans… and the two dragons. It became a game, that while the dragons would never meet, that they would influence and shape events and people around themselves to amuse them much like a centuries-long chess match.
The 30 Year War was one such skirmish. As the ages wore on their manipulations became greater in scope and yet more subtle. It was the dragons that started the two wars that shook the world in fire and blood. During WWII they took the names Maria Belmonte and Howard Stark. While Howard was busy creating weapons and working on project rebirth, Maria was whispering in the ears of powerful men. History tells us which of the dragons won that match but no one knows the secret that happened afterward. While the world recovered from their game Maria approached Howard with an insidious proposition. Stark had built himself quite the name in the human would and needed an heir.
But as a dragon, any offspring with a human would only be a half dragon, and not only look utterly inhuman but be totally incapable of hiding the fact. But an heir sired on another dragon, even a chromatic, would inherit Howard’s ability to pass for human from its time of hatching. While reds clutched often as young adults and adults none of her children had survived the hunts. The last viable red mate had been killed 600 years past. And the last viable female gold had fled 400 years hence. Ever wary, Howard considered the deal for decades looking for an ulterior motive. He found none. So he mated with Maria and they laid a clutch. Due to their advanced ages as a breeding pair only two eggs were laid. And only one hatched, Anthony “Tony” Edward Stark. Hatchlings can learn anything they are taught in the shell and both Maria and Howard spent days imparting the things that they thought Tony should know before hatching. Thus, Tony learned the science of math and physics and the arts of charm and manipulation well before he was born.
It wasn’t until Tony was a year old and thriving that Maria unleashed the final part of her plan. It was simple really. All it was an introduction; to one Obidiah Stane. Tony’s intellect grew by leaps and bounds in the tradition of his Gold forbearers and was soon an integral part of Stark Industries. Then came the fateful day; Howard and Maria died, for even Dragons can be killed, in a car accident. Little did anyone know that it wasn’t an accident at all.
Tony was left with the reins of an empire and a millennia-old secret. One that could get him killed should he ever slip. As the years passed it was almost easier to forget his heritage. Until the day came he would need to use his secret to not only save his life. But save the world.
Tony Stark wanted to let out a genuinely inhuman snarl at the stubborn human in front of him. Let the infuriating, ha, Director Fury deal with the consequences of angering a Dragon. Still, Tony held himself back. He’d held on to his secret this long, through blood and pain. It would do him no good to let his secret slip because one insignificant human thought he knew better than Tony. Which, for the record, Fury didn’t.
Fury was only slightly above average in intelligence for a human and had a very limited point of view. Never the less, it was the fact that Fury had kept the fact that SHIELD had discovered the Hydra plane that Captain America had gone down in that made Tony so angry at the moment. Steve Rogers had been a man that had impressed the ever hard to impress Howard Stark, and they had gone on to become friends. Probably the only friend that Howard had had during the war-torn years in the early twentieth century. Howard, as a founder of SHIELD, had written into its bylaws that Stark Industries would pay for the search and recovery of Steve Rogers until he was found. Which meant that as the owner of Stark Industries Tony should have been notified as soon as even the wreckage had been discovered.
Instead, it had been J.A.R.V.I.S. who had informed Tony, that not only had the wreckage been found but that Steve Rogers, had been found, alive. J.A.R.V.I.S. had found the information on one of his weekly deep dives into the SHIELD servers. Tony not being informed meant at the very least one of two things if not both. Option A: SHIELD didn’t want Tony to know Steve Rogers was alive. Option B, SHIELD didn’t want to lose the funding from Stark Industries. Either way it pissed Tony off and he badly wanted to show Fury that he wasn’t the power that he thought he was.
Tony suppressed another snarl as he tuned back into Fury’s diatribe.
“Stark, you had no right to send your hacking program into the SHIELD servers. Does the phrase “Top Secret,” not mean anything to you? ”
Tony shot back. “Of course it does, it means that someone is hiding something from me. You’ll recall that the last time someone did that to me, more Stark weapons ended up in the hands of the enemy than in our soldier’s hands”.
“How about the term breach of contract, Fury? If I might remind you, that funding contract my father set up was airtight. You were supposed to inform any and all Starks or to the owner of Stark Industries, if there were none, that the wreckage site was found. Much less that you actually found Captain America. The fact that you found him alive makes the breach of contract even more severe. I could force you to pay back every cent that Stark Industries paid to both SSR and SHIELD for the search operation. Or, in lieu of payment, I could seize all SHIELD assets. And before you say that was a secret agency and that no one would know you owed us, I could have a headline put out to the media as soon as I say the word. I’d try to explain to you the public’s reaction to being told that Captain America was found alive and no one was told because some Government agency wanted to control him, but I don’t have the crayons or the patience to do so.”
Tony watched unimpressed as Fury tried to glare him into submission.
“Stark have you ever heard the word ‘blackmail’? It’s a crime you know.”
“Fury, stealing and embezzlement are crimes as well. Don’t play those games against me. You won’t win. I’m prepared to let all of this slide if you give me access to Steve Rogers as soon as he wakes. He’s missed a great deal and will need at least a little familiarity when he wakes. I may not be the best person for the job but I’m literally the only one available. There are no living members of the SSR or early SHIELD, but I look and act astoundingly like my father at times and that should help.”
Fury snorted indelicately, “More like send the man into a catatonic state. We already have a plan in place to give him some familiarity. Once we’ve thawed him back into normal temperatures we’re going to set him up in a 1940s era hospital room. and supply him with nurses and doctors dressed in period appropriate attire. Once he’s awake and settled into the idea of being back in the United States we’ll disclose how long it’s been,.”
It was Tony’s turn to snort. “Good luck with that. There’s no way that that scenario is going to end well. I hope your agents have life insurance. Fine have it your way. If it works I’ll wait to be introduced. If it blows up in your face like I know it will, I’ll do it my own way.
Fury nodded. “Agreed. Now get out of my office.”
Tony was in his limo, heading uptown on the way to lunch at the Saint Regis Hotel with the Stark Industries Board when his phone rang with the alert. He had programmed that specific tone for JARVIS so he could be kept updated on the Steve Rogers situation. He flicked through the passcode screen and brought the phone up to his ear.
“What do you have for me JARVIS?”
“Sir, the Captain’s vitals showed that he awakened ten minutes ago. They were stable for a few minutes before spiking dramatically. Shortly thereafter a security alarm went off at SHIELD. According to the sensors still attached to Captain Rogers, he is outside the building and will hit Times Square in approximately ten minutes. If you leave your limo and head south five blocks and west four blocks, you should be able to intercept him.”
Tony reached forward and tapped on Happy’s shoulder. “I need to hop out. Pull over to let me out and then meet me in Times Square as fast as you can get there. I’ll take the briefcase suit with me.”
“Sure thing boss.”
Tony hopped out of the limo and grabbing the briefcase suit, he began to jog. A lifetime as a New Yorker had Tony reading the crowds clogging the sidewalks of the city and making the nine block trip in record time. It wasn’t a moment too soon when he saw Steve Rogers barrel into the thankfully empty intersection and stop and stare. Tony touched the blue tooth headset he had put in on the run down.
“J.A.R.V.I.S., turn all the traffic lights in Times Square red until I give you the all clear.”
“Of course, sir. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Traffic lights are now red.”
“You are the best J.”
Tony walked towards to the confused looking Captain America, who was staring at the Times Square Jumbotron. And then stopped dead his instincts that he kept tightly restrained screaming at him, two different sets giving him opposing thoughts and impulses. The Gold side that came from Tony’s father, which Tony likened to the classic cartoon of an angel on his shoulder, was nearly purring. ‘Silver-blooded. Just man, strong ally, make friends.’ The Red side that came from his mother, which Tony always likened to the devil on his shoulder, was screaming in rage. ‘Silver-blooded. Invader of territory, kin-slayer, kill it.’ Tony was shocked to realize that Steve Rogers, the legendary Captain America, was descended from Silver Dragon.
Half-dragons were not uncommon during the height of the Dragon era but after the ages had passed most of the half dragons’ descendants didn’t have enough Dragon blood left in them to register to Tony’s instincts. It did, however, make more sense about why Howard had befriended him. Silvers were the most righteous and powerful of the metallic dragons after the golds. It must have been relieving to Howard to know someone who helped appease the Dragon instinct for community. It just sucked for Tony that because Silvers and Reds shared the same preferences in territories and lairs for their hoards, that all Silvers and Reds were mortal enemies from birth.
However, Tony as he so often did, ignored both sets of instincts and went with his own plan. He wanted to remove Steve from SHIELD’s sphere of influence because the poor bastard deserved so time to get on his feet before being recruited back to being Captain America. Tony firmly believed that no one should make a person’s choices for them, so he was going to give Steve a chance to do just that.
Tony started walking again and angled his approach so that he did not come up behind the Steve. He stopped a good ten feet away and cleared his throat to catch Steve’s attention. Steve whipped his head towards Tony and he blinked.
“Howard? No, you aren’t Howard. You look like him, but you aren’t him. Who are you? Are you here to take me back to that place where they were trying to pretend it was a day I that know has already passed?”
Steve’s voice was filled with suspicion and as he spoke he strode towards Tony until he was towering over the shorter man. Tony held his ground, used to taller men trying to intimidate him. It was a favored business tactic in the business and weapon and defense worlds.
“No, I’m not Howard. And frankly, I told those idiots that you’d see right through their little sham. My name is Tony Stark. Welcome back to New York City, Steve.”
Steve looked confused again. “Are you Howard’s brother? I didn’t think he had any siblings.”
Tony smiled briefly. “He didn’t. There is no easy way to say this. Howard was my father. Do you remember going down on the plane? Also, not to change the subject but we should really get out of the middle of the street. While I had J.A.R.V.I.S. turn all the lights red, someone is going to run the light soon if I don’t start letting traffic through soon. The only reason the police haven’t shown up yet is that they can’t get to the intersection with traffic backed up like this.”
Steve looked flabbergasted but started moving towards the sidewalk. “You can’t be his son, he’s barely 30. You look older than he is. And of course, I remember going down in Schmidt’s plane. What does that have to do with anything?”
Tony herded Steve towards the sidewalk nearest to where he knew Happy would be pulling up. He held up his hand motioning for Steve to wait and turned his head so Steve could see the headset in his ear, knowing it would only make the slightest bit of difference.
“J.A.R.V.I.S., Buddy I need you to reset the traffic lights, and arrange it so the limo gets here quickly, please.”
“Of course, sir.”
“To answer both of your questions. First, the current theory is that between how quickly you froze in the waters of the Atlantic after being submerged and the serum’s effect on your body that it put you in a kind of stasis. You were essentially frozen alive and stayed frozen until the plane was found earlier this week and they started to thaw you out in order to process you for burial. From what I hear you gave the mortician a hell of a shock. Which you will be in for in just a moment. Second, you weren’t down at the bottom of the ocean for hours or even days. You were down there for decades. The year is 2012 and I am forty two years old, and my father, Howard Stark, died when I was eighteen.”
Steve went white and wavered on his feet before stiffening and standing up straight.
“That can’t be true. It can’t be.”
Tony felt sympathy stir for Steve. “Unfortunately it is. The good news is that World War Two is over and the Allies won in 1945. Also that there hasn’t been another World War since. The bad news is that things have changed dramatically since then, and the world you knew is gone. But because my father considered you a friend, so I’m going to take you home and help you learn about the twenty-first century.”
Just then Tony’s limo pulled up and Happy got out and opened the door for Tony and Steve.
“Come on, Captain, let’s get you off your feet and back to my place so you can get cleaned up and fed. You need some time to think about what I’ve said. I can provide you all the proof you want and then tomorrow I can start catching you up on all the history you’ve missed.”
Steve paused and looked around once more. “What about the people I escaped from? Won’t they be looking for me? Are they dangerous? What did they want?”
Tony smiled, “Don’t worry about them. That was SHIELD. They are what they SSR turned into after the war. They are the ones that found the wreck and thawed you out. Their boss, Director Fury, concocted that idiotic plan as a way of breaking the news to you gently. Not their best idea, and I told them you’d see through it but they had decent intentions. But now you know, and I’m going to put you up somewhere far more comfortable than either the medical wing or the barracks. Come on, get in the car. The sooner we get home, the sooner we can eat. I’m sure you are starving.”
Tony tossed the briefcase suit onto the padded bench and then slid into the car, hoping that Steve would follow his lead and get in. Steve did and Tony let out a tiny sigh of relief. Happy shut the door behind them and got back into the driver’s seat. “The mansion or the tower, Mr. Stark?”
“The Tower, Happy.” Tony turned towards Steve. “The Tower is 93 stories tall and almost complete. The penthouse level should give you a good enough view to be able to see most of the city. You’ll be able to see a mix of old and new buildings that way. You can also meet Pepper my CEO when we get there. She’s a lifesaver and she and Happy, my driver/bodyguard, who is also her fiance should be able to help me answer the majority of your first questions before we have to crack open the history books. I really only know history mostly from a science perspective. But make yourself comfortable here in the limo for now. It should take us about 30 minutes to get there if traffic is decent.”
Steve looked confused again. “You are giving me the Penthouse?”
Tony laughed. “No, I live in the Penthouse, but it has guest bedrooms and the rest of the floors, except Pepper and Happy’s haven’t been furnished yet. So you’ll get one of the guest bedrooms and a great view.”
Steve turned pensive. “I don’t understand why you are doing this for me. Howard might have known me but you don’t.”
Tony smiled sharply. “You’ll find out quickly that I don’t do a damn thing that I don’t want to. However, you were a friend of my father’s. He helped found SHIELD and in doing so set up the search for you and the plane. Stark Industries has spent billions of dollars looking for what was assumed to be your corpse so it could be buried properly. The fact that you are alive is utterly astonishing and my father would be so mad he missed this. What’s more is that you are about to become the rope in one hell of a game of tug of war, between the being a figurehead for the military or being sent back to active duty in the military. I firmly believe everyone should have a chance to pick their own destiny. So while you are under my roof, for a while at least, you are removed from the game. That way you’ll have time to get your head on straight and decide which side you like or if you want to remove yourself from the game entirely. It’s your choice do what you will with it.”
Steve looked utterly surprised. “Thank you.”
It had been twelve days since Steve had woken up in the future and met Tony Stark and quite frankly he was having a harder time comprehending Stark, than the fact that he was seventy years in the future. Steve stood on the penthouse balcony thinking about the things Stark had said and done since picking Steve up in Times Square. That first day had been baffling.
As Stark had said, it had taken around thirty minutes to reach the massive building with the name Stark on it. Stark had left him alone during the ride to think about the fact that he’d crashed in 1945 and now it was more than a decade into a whole new century. After the car ride, Tony had taken him to an elevator and simply said, “Penthouse, J” and the elevator had gone up. That was surprising but what had been even more surprising was the petite redheaded woman waiting to pounce on Stark the moment he stepped out of the elevator.
She had rushed up to Stark not even letting him all the way out of the elevator before she started scolding.
“Tony! What could have possessed you to ditch this meeting the board members? You know the board that we both need to agree to the proposal on the solar powered water filtration systems? The project that ‘s third to Iron Man, and then the Arc reactor tech installation in the Tower? You know the board that is still holding a grudge over the Vaanko thing. What on Earth could have been so important that you’d bail on this lunch meeting?”
Stark had turned his head back towards Steve, smirked and then stepped aside showing Steve to the red head.
“Steve, this is Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries, lifesaver, and fiance of Happy Hogan, the gentleman who drove us here. Pepper, this is Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America. ”
Steve watched as Ms. Potts’ eyes widened and her jaw dropped, and she stared and stared. When she finally regained her composure and clicked her jaw shut, she glared at Tony.
“Fine, you have a valid excuse for once. Bringing Captain America back from the dead is something even the board can’t argue with. We will still have to grovel at the rescheduled meeting and you will be there, Tony Stark. I don’t care if aliens come down from the sky. You will be there and play nice with the board or so help me I’ll get JARVIS to switch you to decaf.”
Steve watched in moderate fascination as Stark laughed and said to thin air, “JARVIS would never do that to me. Would you, J?”
Steve looked around for this JARVIS only to jolt and reach for the shield that was not there when a voice seemingly from thin air. replied.
“Of course not sir. I’d switch you to water. It would do wonders for your blood pressure.”
Stark laughed again. Then he noticed Steve looking for the origin of the voice.
“Oh yeah, Steve meet JARVIS. Steve, JARVIS. JARVIS, meet Steve. ”
The voice called JARVIS rang out again, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Captain Rogers. I’m quite sure that Sir has neglected to inform you of my existence. Until the history of computers can be explained to you it would be best to think of me as Sir’s virtual management system. I run his houses, his personal laboratories, the security for all of his main properties, and his Suits of course. Sir calls Ms. Potts, Mr. Hogan and Myself the Triumvirate. I’m sure Sir will explain further once you have been caught up on recent and less than recent history. In any event, it is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Rogers.”
Steve thought for a good minute about the context of virtual in this case and the voice coming from the air meant together. “Does that mean JARVIS that you –”
Steve paused before he could say the phrase ‘Aren’t a person’ as both Stark and Ms. Potts talked to JARVIS as if he was a person and JARVIS certainly sounded like a person. Steve finished his sentence,
“Don’t have a body?”
JARVISot have a body. I exist inside of what are called computer servers and I act through ordering things for or ordering things removed for Sir. To achieve this I don’t need a body, partially because of the advancement of technology, and partially because of the advanced methods Sir employed when he created me. ”
Steve looked at Stark who looked very pleased with himself. “So you are a Stark invention?”
Stark jumped in. “JARVIS is one of a kind and decades ahead of the rest of the world in Artificial Intelligences. He, Pepper, and Happy are my lifesavers. Pepper runs the company, Happy gets me where I need to go and when I need to go, and JARVIS keeps me from actually drinking fuzzy coffee if I’ve been in the lab too long.”
Steve just nodded starting to feel overwhelmed. “I see.” He really didn’t. Stark was Howard’s son and had to be smart, but he needed three people to run his life for him? Granted, Steve had seen Howard pull some terrible all nighters trying to outfit the Howling Commandos with weapons that might give them a decent chance against Hydra but this seemed a bit over the top. And how the heck could a virtual person run a suit? Steve was starting to get a headache.
A siren blared below and Steve shook himself out of his memories. They had had a group lunch and then Stark had shown him to his guestroom. He’d been told that he was free to move about the Penthouse and that Stark would be in the lab if Steve needed anything. Steve had eaten dinner alone that night as JARVIS had informed him that Stark had been working on a project in one of the labs and Steve hadn’t wanted to interrupt. He hadn’t been able to sleep that night. His mind had kept going over the fact that after seventy years everyone he knew was probably dead.
The next morning Pepper had gotten him for breakfast and handed him a folder. Inside of the folder had been a list of the Howling Commandos, Peggy and the rest of SSR including Colonel Phillips. It had had pictures, marriage and birth records, lists of achievements, and dates and causes of deaths.
Steve had needed to excuse himself for more than a few hours. After that Stark had shown up and he and Pepper had given him an overview of how the war had ended. They left him with what Stark called one of the most unbiased history books on the time after the War. He’d spent the next few days reading it and making lists of questions. One time he’d read a question out loud and JARVIS had answered it. After that Steve started asking more and more questions of JARVIS. It quickly became natural to converse with JARVIS as if he were actually in the room. Steve had gotten used to seeing Stark rarely, he was working in the labs more often than not for what seemed to be an obscene number of hours. Sometimes Stark only grunted in passing as he headed into his rooms.
The first time Steve had seen the blue glow coming from Stark’s chest he’d been baffled. He’d wanted to ask, but when Stark had noticed him looking at it, he had left the room immediately. So Steve had asked JARVIS, and JARVIS had responded by pointing Steve to the very last chapter of the history book Stark had given him. Steve had been horrified that his host had been through such an ordeal. But it explained easily why Stark hated Steve looking at it. While Steve couldn’t scar anymore he’d spent a long enough time with the Howling Commandos to realize that some men didn’t like to acknowledge their battle scars.
After he’d gotten most of his basic facts straight, Tony had sat him down and finally explained the history behind the efforts in trying to remake the super soldier serum. He’d included videos of the Hulk and the Abomination in his explanation. Stark had said that it was one reason why he had wanted to meet Steve as soon as possible to warn Steve about the fact that if it became public that he was alive there would be a good faction of the military that would want to use him to recreate the serum.
The next day Stark took him to the Smithsonian exhibit about Captain America. Stark had bought out the whole museum for the day so that Steve wouldn’t be seen or recognized. While they toured it Stark explained that there were other factions of the military that would want to use him as a figurehead of the perfect soldier and yet another faction that would want him sent overseas to the nearest battlefield. That Stark had an alternate identity ready and waiting for Steve if he didn’t want to deal with the fall ut of being declared alive. It was a kindness from a man whom the history book had painted as selfish and self-centered.
So Steve was confused. Stark was abrupt, sarcastic, and crude. He barely gave Steve the time of day most days and seemed to prefer to speaking to JARVIS than to even Ms. Potts or Mr. Hogan. He’d killed millions of people through his weapons manufacturing and Stane’s double dealing. Yet the man had created the Iron Man suit and done his damnedest to prevent it from becoming an easily replicated weapon of mass destruction, and boy did Steve regret learning about those. Now he was offering Steve an escape from being used by the government. It just didn’t make any coherent sense yet.
Steve looked up as he heard the sound of the Iron Man suit approaching the balcony coming back from another test flight. Steve made a resolution. He’d only been awake for twelve days but he was going to spend the next twelve days figuring out if Stark was a good guy or a bad one. Only then would he ask Stark’s advice on whether or not to officially come back from the dead or take the new identity and get a new life.
Little did Steve know that he wouldn’t get even one day.