Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie
Genre: Action, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Loki, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor
(Brief/smaller appearances: Odin, Maria Hill, Darcy Lewis, The Other, Benjamin “Benny” Pollack, Erik Selvig, Jasper Sitwell, Claire Wise.)
Pairings: Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor. Mentions of: Benny/Claire, Pepper/Tony
Summary: Iron Man never fell back through the portal. The Avengers must deal with the loss of their comrade and move on – until Earth once again comes under an attack from the Chitauri and their new-found weapons that decimate everything in their path with unmatched power and intellect. As cities and nations collapse around their decreasing resistance, the heroes of Earth must find a way to defeat their enemy before there is nothing left to avenge.
Work in progress.
Written for: Apocalypse Big Bang, Round One (apocalypsebang at LiveJournal)
Art: Imaan (insteadofdeath at dA/DW/LJ)
Warnings: Graphic description of torture, major character death, apocalypse & invasion themes (including but not limited to: mass destruction, terrorism, holocaust, death, violence and gore), brain-washing & mind-control, language (including some remarks that could be seen as racist). Serious spoilers for the ending of The Avengers (and other random spoilers for the rest of the movies in the Avengers cinematic universe).
art by insteadofdeath
“Jane! Come on!”
Darcy’s voice was urgent but Jane had a hard time deciding whether it was just anxiousness or an ‘Oh-my-God-we’re-gonna-die-if-we-don’t-l
The day the space ships arrived and were broadcasted all over the news, Erik had called and told them to stay cautious and safe until they got to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. They had been working towards the one he said to be the closest, but the roads had been hard to travel, they got robbed a few times and by the time they got on location, the base was more or less a smoking crater.
Darcy had been ready to fall apart then, citing a dozen alien invasion movies Jane had never seen or cared for. They had been hungry, dirty and bruised, clinging to their last belongings – which in Jane’s case were her life’s work crammed into a notebook and a laptop she wouldn’t let out of her sight. It had been hard to choose what to leave behind at her shop in New Mexico.
It wasn’t that hard to see what they really needed right now, and what wasn’t significant anymore.
After the base they had decided to make their way towards Erik – or perhaps the Avengers – on their own, which meant heading to New York City in hopes of reaching them. The world was falling to chaos. Roads were blocked, towns abandoned, riots and gang wars ravaging cites where people holed up in any space they could find and just attempted to survive. The laws were changing towards the survival of the fittest and Jane found that regardless of how hard it had been in the beginning, she was getting better at it.
She was currently hotwiring them a car which they hopefully would manage to hold onto this time; they had almost gotten shot the last time they fought to keep their means of transportation. Darcy, after they were back to moving on foot, said she would have never let those assholes take their car if she’d still had her taser.
Jane knew they couldn’t tase the entire world, though, and two women on their own was a target some deemed easy.
She wasn’t going to be easy when someone next tried their luck.
The engine sputtered but didn’t start. She swore and dug deeper, getting a better hold of the wires. She heard Darcy shift nervously at the door of the garage, a lookout checking for trouble. The house was empty, long abandoned and raided, but it didn’t mean they wouldn’t catch someone’s attention.
Jane had never thought she would try to steal someone’s car. Well, she hadn’t thought of a lot of things she had done once the aliens attacked, or that she had such a survival’s instinct. But between living and curling up to die, she knew which she preferred, and the few news clips she had seen showed her the humanity was fighting back and maybe she could help once they reached someone who could get them to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Erik Selvig.
She had expected him to return by now, to find them, to make her feel safe for the first time since they left New Mexico. He hadn’t come, though, and until he did, she and Darcy would be on their own.
The engine roared into life, loud in the silence and she slammed the hood down. “Get in,” she called out to Darcy. The younger woman slipped in quickly as Jane took the wheel. She accelerated out of the garage and into the street, not seeing anyone but in the distance there were fires burning.
“Just keep driving,” Darcy said, looking out, leaning forward as if that would help her spot any danger. “This time we won’t stop until we run out of gas, right?”
Prior to almost getting shot because someone wanted their car, they had lost another of their vehicles because they stopped to help a family abandoned by the side of the road, one of their kids injured. Apparently their attempts to help hadn’t been enough because the family stole their car and a bag of food they had managed to gather.
“We won’t stop,” Jane agreed, turning left. It would be a longer road out of the city but on the right an entire intersection had collapsed and making the error of driving there was a sure way to get ambushed; when people relied on maps rather than current situation, they could be exploited. That, too, Jane had learned the hard way during the last few weeks. “Try to get some sleep,” she told Darcy once the buildings were further away and open road lay ahead. “I’ll wake you up when I get tired.”
Darcy nodded, curling up slightly on the seat and falling asleep almost immediately. At first it had been hard to sleep, the fear too fresh and the horrors they saw every day burned to their minds. The fear was still there but they were also too tired to dismiss a chance to rest.
Jane weaved past abandoned cars and wreckages, not stopping to check for supplies or survivors. If you wanted to live you had to be selfish, because no one was going to return your kindness. The weak and the honorable died first, she had learned that. It wasn’t like in the films and stories. There were no heroes out here, just people who didn’t want to die.
She looked at a road sign and tried to memorize any facilities that might lie nearby, a target for the aliens and thus a potential hazard zone. Every now and then she would see a glimpse of light around her: a car still burning, a camp fire or a smoking building a few miles from the road, a plane of some kind passing over them.
Darkness and being alone were good; it meant danger was less likely, yet it sometimes got to her. She reached out, fiddling with the settings of the radio. Nothing but a few scratches here and there. Every now and then she would catch news or some information circulating around, of alien sightings and new developments. The best sources of insight were CB radios, whenever they got a chance to listen to one.
It was close to dawn when Jane knew she needed a break and woke Darcy up. They parked for a brief moment when it looked like it was safe, switched places and kept going. Jane fell asleep quickly, clutching her bag, dreaming only vaguely of a sense of danger until she woke up without feeling all that refreshed.
“The tank’s almost empty,” Darcy said when Jane stirred and shifted on the seat.
Jane nodded and looked around. A sign passed them, slightly bent but standing. “There’s a gas station ahead. If we make it there…”
“You think there’s something in the pumps?” Darcy asked skeptically. As soon as the situation was clear and everyone everywhere was in danger, people had harvested whatever they could get their hands on and gasoline was one of them. Jane didn’t envy the drivers of the last fuel trucks.
“We can either check it out or start walking right away,” she mused.
The tank emptied itself before they got to the station and since they would walk past it anyway, they decided to take a look. Once they could see the place they sat in waiting for hours, making sure the place was abandoned. It was one of those middle-of-nowhere stations that time hadn’t touched for a long time, small and less glamorous than the truck stops of the modern world.
“Let’s go,” Jane decided and they slid out of hiding, walking over to the building. All the while they were ready to run away, to throw themselves down on the ground should someone attack them, yet there was no sign of anyone in the area. It was kind of ironic how man was still man’s worst enemy even during an alien invasion.
The valve of the underground tank was broken and Jane knew from experience it had been sucked dry long before they arrived. Behind her Darcy was moving to peer into the building, then slid in, perhaps deciding there was no one there. Jane followed her with a cautious look over her shoulder.
A smell in the air suggested a body and she saw a shape of a man slumped behind a shelf. Maybe the owner or someone who had sought shelter and never left. Maybe a visitor like them…
“There’s no food,” Darcy complained. “There’s nothing at all.”
She really shouldn’t have been that surprised, seeing as remote places like this were easy to rob with no law enforcement for miles to try and stop them. Not that they had seen any cops for days. Then again, they hadn’t been to more than one big city and soob decided they would avoid them until they got to New York.
Of course New York City had been subjected to radiation fallout so Jane wasn’t sure if they would actually get into the city. There was bound to be someone there, though, to stop them and who could guide them to S.H.I.E.L.D.
“Hey, I found a phone!” Darcy suddenly called out from behind the register.
Jane ran over, taking a look. They had been pushed under the table, dirty but looking operational; a pre-paid phone, wrapped and ready to use. There were also a few SIM cards.
“If we get reception, we can call someone,” Darcy grinned.
It was a long shot, but Jane knew it was worth a try.
In the midst of arriving to Midgard and finding out how truly in danger they all were, Thor had almost forgotten about Jane Foster.
When the Helicarriers were destroyed and he witnessed the pain of the young man Benjamin Pollack, a new ally to the Avengers, he was reminded of what he should have thought the moment they came to Earth: he had not seen Jane yet. Erik Selvig had told him he last spoke to Jane before the mecha-creatures descended and that when S.H.I.E.L.D. troops finally arrived to her home at New Mexico, she was long gone.
Thor was confident she was alive. Jane was resourceful and smart. A fear gripped him, though, and he might have gone out searching for her had he known were to begin. If anything happened to her, he would readily blame himself, yet for the time being he vowed each and every member of S.H.I.E.L.D. to try and find her.
Perhaps that was why Maria Hill approached her on one morning as he ate breakfast. “We just received a call. Jane Foster has been found. She’s in Missouri. Apparently she had memorized a few of Dr. Selvig’s numbers and –”
Thor was already on his feet, grinning, and clapped her shoulder. “I thank you,” he smiled at her and started out of the room. “Now tell me which way this Missouri lies.”
“We’re preparing a Quinjet,” Agent Hill hurried after him. “War Machine is already on his way to her, to make sure the call wasn’t intercepted by anyone.”
“The Chitauri, you mean?” Thor’s mood darkened at once. His fingers tightened around a handle that he wasn’t currently holding, yet his will was making Mjolnir tremble in his quarters. He had been, however, asked not to summon the hammer while indoors, due to the damages it would cause, so he did not.
“Yes,” the agent agreed tersely. After the enemy had penetrated S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying ships, no one trusted what they could or could not do, or whether they had any interest in their remaining means of communications.
“Tell the Machine of War that we shall join him soon,” Thor said as he went to get his armor and gather his friends. He was going to see Jane soon and make sure she stayed safe from now on.
“Do you think it worked?” Darcy asked. They were seated on top of a RV that someone had managed to park about three miles from the nearest road. It had three of its tires missing and looked like no one had stayed in it for years. Higher than the rest of the landscape, it was a good vantage point.
Jane pursed her lips. She had tried all the numbers Erik had given her, whether they were in her memory or in her notebook. Finally one of them had connected and after many strange conversations, she had been talking to someone at S.H.I.E.L.D. She had managed to give little else than her name and possible location before the reception was lost and the battery died soon after. “I hope so,” she finally sighed, hanging her legs over the edge of the RV’s roof.
It had been a couple hours since the call, far as she could tell. The time felt like forever when they were uncertain what was happening – if anything at all.
A rumble reached their ears, first distant but coming steadily closer. Darcy glanced up warily, pushing hair back from her face to minimize any obstructions in her vision. Jane did the same, searching the skies. The clouds blocked most of the view, making her feel uncertain.
“Maybe we should hide,” Darcy started.
“Yeah,” Jane agreed. They hadn’t seen any actual aliens themselves but it wasn’t a good time to start when help might be on the way. As Darcy began to lower herself to the ground, Jane kept a steady watch, wanting to make the other woman go faster but knowing a broken ankle was something neither of them needed.
A glimpse caught his eye, piercing the cover of clouds, catching the sun before turning. Whatever it was, it was small and fast, turning slightly and aiming towards them.
“Go, go!” Jane shouted to Darcy who dropped to the ground, sprawling into the dust then climbing onto her feet. Jane followed her, landing roughly, her ankle flaring with pain but it wasn’t bad, just a jar reminding her why exactly she had wanted Darcy to be careful in the first place.
“Where should we go?” Darcy asked. “What is it?”
“I don’t know and I don’t want to find out,” Jane started, looking around, knowing that wherever they ran, the thing on the sky would spot them. “Inside,” she decided and Darcy slid in through an open door of the RV, crouching low on the dirty floor, trying to see something through the dusty windows. Jane follower her, attempting to close the door but it was stuck in place, the hinges rusty and bent in wrong angles.
A roar passed over them, rattling a few items on the table, then a cloud of dust appeared as the gleaming shape landed on the ground in front of the RV. Jane ducked her head, Darcy doing the same, looks passing between them.
“Do you think its one of them?” Darcy asked in a whisper, no doubt meaning a mecha they had seen in a few news reports. “I thought they were bigger.”
Jane had thought so too but if some of them were big, why couldn’t there be smaller ones?
Footsteps approached the RV, making them jump. They were human in pace but sounded heavier and mechanical. They huddled closer together, looking for an out but there was only one door and suddenly there was a shadow landing across the floor; the thing was coming around towards the open doorway.
Jane looked for something to use as a weapon – anything that wouldn’t make her feel so small and fragile.
A mechanical hand reached in, curling around the edge of the door, denting it and almost tearing off a piece. Darcy shifted backwards, eyes wide, panting breaths too loud in the silence.
“Jane Foster?” a voice called out. It was human although coming through some kind of filter.
“Why does it know your name?” Darcy hissed, even more alarmed now.
“I am Colonel James Rhodes with the U.S. Air Force, also known as War Machine. I’m here to protect you until the Avengers arrive to bring you in safety.”
It was like the weight of the world had been taken from her shoulders and Jane crawled up to her feet, brushing off dust until she realized neither of them had showered since leaving home at New Mexico. Darcy also got up, although a bit hesitantly, then both of them moved towards the door.
Outside stood a man in an advanced piece of armor. It automatically reminded Jane of Iron Man, although with grayish colors and more bulk; heavily weaponized where Tony Stark’s had been sleek. The red, glowing eyes and arc reactor met them and War Machine stepped away from the doorway, giving them a little room. Jane stepped out, trying not to seem cautious, Darcy following her in much the same manner.
“Are you unhurt?” War Machine asked.
“You could say that,” Jane nodded carefully. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”
It was hard to tell what the facial response of the man inside the suit was, but he didn’t argue. Instead he turned his head slightly, as if studying something normal eyes couldn’t see and silence stretched between them.
“Cool armor,” Darcy finally piped up.
The helmet’s red eyes were directed towards her. “Thanks,” came a rather strained reply.
“Does it get hot in there?” she went on and Jane tried not to smile. Maybe Darcy was really curious or just striking up a conversation to keep them occupied. It had been just the two of them for so long that they both needed a little outside communication.
Jane thought she heard something like sigh before War Machine spoke up again: “It has a built in ventilation, so no, it isn’t hot, Ms. Lewis.”
“You know my name, too?” Darcy jumped a bit.
Another sigh and then a face-plate popped up, showing them the man inside. James Rhodes’ dark brown eyes and skin went rather well with the gray of the suit although his build wasn’t wide like War Machine’s. “Yes,” he noted, voice no longer filtered by the suit. “We’ve all been looking for you and I was given a full update on who you are when I was sent to secure your location.”
“Secure it from what?” Jane and Darcy asked as one.
“If we’re lucky, the Chitauri,” the man replied.
“And if we’re unlucky?” Darcy pressed, looking nervous. “I’m not sure I’m feeling lucky.”
“If we’re unlucky, it will be a mecha.” He looked around again, keeping the faceplate up. “Have you seen any of them in the area?”
“A… mecha? What is that?” Jane had to ask.
Rhodes looked at them again, narrowing his eyes just slightly. “Those big-ass robots that have been doing the heavy lifting for the Chitauri.”
“We saw those on TV before we left New Mexico, and a few times after,” Jane told him. “We haven’t seen one in person.”
There was a blink and a small huff which may have been one of disbelief or relief. “You’ve been fortunate.”
“I wouldn’t put it exactly like that,” Jane argued. “Have you seen what’s going on out there? The people are tearing each other apart.”
Something like repressed shame and anger crossed the man’s face. “We’re fighting a war, Ms. Foster. If we had the resources and the manpower, we would keep this under control.” Jane wondered if he would just leave them standing here after he said that.
“The war’s not going very well, is it?” Darcy asked.
“No, it’s not,” the man admitted then cocked his head. “They’re here.”
“The Chitauri?” Darcy looked up jerkily, moving a bit closer to Jane. By now they had both realized that neither of them wanted to die alone; being left alone was the worst that could happen in this situation so they were adamant to stay together.
“No,” a small, calming smile appeared on James Rhodes’ lips. “The Avengers.”
A dark plane cut through the clouds. It wasn’t any type of aircraft Jane had seen before but it looked human as it circled the area, dropping lower then finally landed a safe distance from the RV. No sooner had the aircraft touched down than a familiar figure strode out, cape floating behind him as he ran closer. Jane couldn’t believe it and raced towards him, pulled into a firm embrace when she finally reached Thor, pressed against his chest tightly.
“Jane,” he murmured. “I was so worried.” He let her far enough to look at her, then smiled at Darcy who was approaching beside Rhodes. “I thank you, War Machine, for keeping them safe.”
“There was nothing to keep them safe from, but we shouldn’t believe that will be the case for long,” the dark-skinned man replied and looked around again, appearing nervous.
“Darcy,” Thor smiled at the younger woman and pulled her into a one-armed embrace while still holding onto Jane, as if afraid they would disappear if he let go.
“You still look like… you,” Darcy smirked.
“I wager you would like a warm shower and clean clothes,” another voice cut in and Jane looked up to find a man in a blue uniform coming closer, red and white coloring it; Captain America.
“Food would be nice, too,” Darcy smiled bashfully then peered at Thor again, whispering: “Your friend is kind of hot.”
“It is warm out here, indeed,” Thor replied.
Jane smiled and leaned against Thor’s shoulder, feeling safe for the first time since Erik called them. Which reminded him… “How is Erik? Is he okay?” she asked.
“Dr. Selvig is waiting in a safe location. He’s looking forward to seeing you again,” Captain America replied.
A woman appeared from inside the aircraft. “We have incoming. A mecha.”
“Get into the air,” Rhodes ordered, snapping his faceplate shut. “I’ve got this.”
“Just distract it and then follow us,” Captain America ordered. “Save it for the next battle.”
War Machine nodded and fell silent.
“I can assist our comrade,” Thor offered.
“Only if you need to; we came here for Ms. Foster and Ms. Lewis and getting them to safety is our first priority. Stay with them.”
Thor nodded and ushered them towards the plane. Inside were the pilot and another man who was tapping on a tablet. As they all sat down and the aircraft took off, Jane took a look around then landed on the man who looked too much like a scientist to be present on such a mission. He looked up, as if noticing them for the first time and shifted his glasses. “You’re Jane, correct?”
“Bruce Banner,” the man introduced himself but didn’t extend his hand, instead focusing on the screen again. “Clint!” he shouted towards the pilot then, “put that pedal down. It’s getting closer and while Rhodes can slow it down, I don’t want to see whether the mecha has new tricks up its sleeve today.”
“You just don’t want to tear those new pants,” the only other woman present said in what had to be half a joke.
“That, too,” Bruce Banner shrugged. “I like these pants. Who’s to say that in the coming days we won’t run out of pants, seeing as almost all factories around the world are shut down?”
The female Avenger considered this then tensed and put a finger to her ear, shifting the red hair out of the way. “We have visual. It noticed us.”
A screen came to life on the wall, a feed from above, perhaps a satellite. Everyone gathered closer to it and Jane and Darcy followed. Thor’s strong arm came around her, steadying her as the aircraft seemed to speed up.
On the ground moved something that looked almost like a metal human, only when you realized the scale it was in, the thing was enormous. Another screen showed them in dots and one between them – War Machine.
“Rhodes’ going to engage,” the pilot told them.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Banner said in the general direction of Captain America, whose eyes seemed worried as he looked at the screen.
“I think we’ve already established he can’t take one of those things out,” the Captain replied.
“No, but his repulsors have had more impact than most of our weaponry combined,” Banner replied.
“Weren’t you supposed to look into that?” the pilot asked from the front.
“I was and I am,” the man snapped. “Unless we get a sample, it’s all theoretical.”
“Then perhaps we should procure you this sample,” Thor noted. “Between the two of us, we could defeat this metal beast.”
Banner pursed his lips then sighed. “We’re removed from the civilian population. We could try…”
“We have orders,” Captain America argued.
“Steve, you know we need a piece of that tech to analyze it,” Banner insisted. “We’re bashing our heads against the wall right now, have been for weeks, and we’re ready to snap. Not just this team or S.H.I.EL.D., but the humanity.”
It was clear Captain America – Steve – didn’t like it but determination came over his face. “Clint, take us around. Thor, get your hammer. Natasha, Clint and I will keep Ms. Foster and Ms. Lewis safe. Bruce, you better get out of those pants.”
Bruce Banner smiled tiredly and put the tablet to a safe place then started undoing his shirt. The aircraft tilted and turned around, giving them a clear view a moment later of the robot that had been following them.
“Is this a good idea?” Darcy asked.
“No, ma’am,” Captain America replied, “but Dr. Banner is right; we need a piece of that.”
“And how exactly are you going to get that piece?” Jane asked, alarm in her voice. On the side Thor had lifted his hammer, Mjolnir, from the floor and had a rather determined look on his face. Like the time he almost killed himself to save everyone in Puente Antiguo.
“With brute force,” Banner replied and shed his shirt, standing there only in his pants. He looked rather bashful for a moment, then craned his neck to get a better look at the enemy before them as the pilot took them lower. “Stay in the air, in a safe distance. I’m sure Thor and I can take it from here.” With that a hatch on the back of the aircraft begun to open and Thor stepped over to Jane as wind began to whip around them.
“You will be safe here. The Avengers will protect you and I will return shortly,” he promised.
“You had better,” Jane told him, then felt his lips against hers, too brief and pulling back when she was just getting into it.
Bruce Banner had stepped over to the hatch, peering down then shaking his head. He undid his pants and threw them to the side, standing naked several hundred feet above the ground, and when Thor walked over to him, touching his shoulder briefly, it looked like the most natural thing.
“I don’t get it,” Darcy mumbled, staring.
“You will,” the red-headed woman, Natasha, promised.
Thor jumped off and was soon flying across the air with Mjolnir in hand. The naked scientist followed him but he didn’t fly. Jane was so shocked she didn’t even have time to cry in alarm, and seeing as no one else did, maybe it was a good thing.
The pilot turned them around and kept hovering in the air, with a perfect view on unfolding events. The rest of them gathered around to see out of the wide front windows. Jane could see Thor and his red cape, War Machine with the red beams of energy trailing behind him, and then something green was moving on the ground, straight at the robot.
“Is that the Hulk?” Darcy pointed.
“Yeah,” the pilot said then grimaced. “I’m just saying, even if the humanity runs out of pants, let’s make sure he doesn’t. The man deserves to wear pants.”
Natasha gently cuffed him on the head then all of them followed the events, hopeful of the outcome yet clearly it wasn’t a sure victory and Jane felt a different kind of fear in the pit of her stomach.
Rhodey had learned that things changed fast when with the Avengers. One minute they were here to find two women and bring them in, and the next they were determined to tear a piece off a mecha. They had tried before, prior to Thor’s arrival, but it had never ended well. Right now there was just this one, no Chitauri in sight, and it was a perfect opportunity although they hadn’t planned for it.
Which meant seizing the opportunity and going for it.
Thor and the Hulk joined him in the attempt to take down the machine. They didn’t have time to agree on a plan – not that any plan was definite when the green rage monster was involved. “Hulk smashes metal giant!” was as good a plan as any, seeing as the Hulk’s declaration was perfectly in synch with their actual aim. As the green beast launched itself up, Rhodey watched, waiting for the mecha’s response.
The Hulk landed, tearing at the chest of the robot, pounding and trying to dig in for purchase and actual damage. The metal skin began to glow, charging up. Rhodey knew from experience it would be enough to throw the Hulk back and really hurt him. Instead of remembering that or anticipating it, the Hulk didn’t relent, perhaps thinking this time he would be stronger.
Rhodey aimed and sent a repulsor blast that hit right next to where the Hulk was hanging on, not hurting the mecha but disrupting the energy build-up, giving the Hulk a little extra time.
Then Thor came swooping in and threw his hammer. The mecha tried to dodge, taking a hit in the shoulder. The metal twisted and sparked. Mjolnir flew back to Thor’s hand and Rhodey knew the Asgardian was preparing for another strike. To join him in his efforts, Rhodey aimed the Minigun on his back and fired. Bullets hit the metallic surface, bouncing off it, leaving only minimal scratches. The mecha shifted, as if trying to shake off the Hulk, the surface beginning to charge up again.
“Take it,” Rhodey muttered, activating the chest RT, aiming and then firing the robot in the chest, as close to the Hulk as he dared. At first it felt like it was working, that maybe the charge was being pushed back, but then the usual bluish tint changed into red and Rhodey felt a current run through him, brief like an electric shock. The suit powered down and he fell, disoriented and waiting for the impact.
Something grabbed him, tangling him like a toy, then Rhodey felt the gravity again and ended up lying on something solid, hopefully the ground. He couldn’t see anything, nor could he hear anything for that matter. The suit wasn’t coming back on, leaving him imprisoned inside it. He could either wait and hope for a reboot – or do for the emergency latches and let himself out.
He struggled to move, feeling the weight of the suit, going for the helmet first, figuring that if he popped the faceplate he might see something at least without leaving himself completely open to an attack.
When he managed that, dust was sprayed all over him, covering his face and forcing him to close his eyes before he felt the draft pass and dared to open them again. Thor hovering above him, looking up, cape majestic as it flapped behind him. Rhodey could see the mecha, too, towering over them with what looked like claw marks on its chest. The Hulk wasn’t there anymore, though.
The machine stepped forward, striking out. Thor flew out to meet it, drabbing an arm, summoning lightning from a previously sunny sky which was suddenly turning very stormy. It hit the hammer and the moved onto the mecha, yet instead of frying it from the inside the machine seemed to embrace the shock, drawing it into itself then unleashing some of it and sending Thor flying across the air.
Rhodey could see how this was going to end very badly; the robot only needed to step on him and he might get crushed inside the armor like a snail in its shell.
However, the mecha turned and walked away, its injured shoulder still sparking, a mark of victory although it hadn’t led anywhere.
It seemed like forever before Rhodey got himself out of the suit and into the open. By that time the Quinjet had landed and the Avengers had spilled out. Bruce Banner was back to himself, disoriented yet someone had put his pants back on. Thor’s hair was floating in every direction and he kept muttering and glaring at the sandy ground. Rhodey felt the same; they had been so much closer this time. If only his chest RT had worked…
Rhodey looked at the suit, seeing the repulsors smoking faintly. He knew that couldn’t be good, but then, it had been only been a matter of time before the armor took a serious hit and there was no one left to fix it.
to be continued…