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Del Rion [userpic]

Chitauri Apocalypse; Chapter 27: Edwin

[show info]Title: Chitauri Apocalypse
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).




~ ~ ~




Chapter 27: Edwin




Three days later,
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier
Somewhere over the North Atlantic Ocean


When Tony’s consciousness began to pull itself together, he decided he didn’t want to open his eyes. He didn’t want to find himself caught again, tied down to experience a new wave of horrible pain he couldn’t deal with and from which his mind couldn’t pull away fast enough. His back hurt, feeling like it was literally on fire, and he could just imagine what had preceded that pain.

Only, he didn’t want to imagine.

He wanted it to be gone, to be over, for it all to end, finally –

“I think he’s coming to.”

His eyes snapped open as if by the turn of a switch and the lights were dim, pleasantly so. A metallic clatter drew his attention and he noticed Clint Barton steadying a tray of instruments at his side, which he must have moved just a few seconds earlier.

“Hey,” another familiar voice called out and Tony’s eyes followed it to Bruce’s face. “How do you feel?”

Tony just blinked and looked to the other side. He could see a flash of something that was probably Thor leaning against a wall, looking like he was sleeping while standing there, and Natasha at the door. Finally he found Steve Rogers, sitting in a chair by his bed – he hadn’t actually noticed it was a bed until now. A nice, soft bed – not some horrible mix of cables and metal…

Steve offered him an uncertain, relieved smile and Tony looked back at Bruce. “I’m alive.”

“Do you know if it worked?”

Tony frowned for a moment, trying to remember – then remembering all too vividly. He hadn’t thought the pain would be so bad, so all-consuming, but usually when someone thrust a sharp object into your spine, or an extension of your spine, it was supposed to hurt.

He closed his eyes, focusing. It felt like something had been yanked loose in his mind, a piece missing. As if empty strings were hanging there, a reminder of whatever had been attached to them. “I think so…” he finally answered. He searched deeper, finding the familiar connection and briefly locked minds with Concordia, who was the closest unit, before drifting back towards the surface.

“There was a lot of blood,” Steve noted from the side.

“I warned you,” Tony looked at him again, trying to smile.

“A lot of blood,” the other man emphasized.

“Don’t tell me Captain America fainted at the sight of a few drops,” Tony chuckled.

“I would call it more than a few drops. We honestly thought you would bleed out,” Bruce poked at his side, making Tony jump slightly and then settle down again as the pain worsened a little from the movement.

By the wall, Thor stirred from his sleep and marched over to the bed, looking overjoyed. “My friend, it is good to see you awake. Director Fury has been most annoyed that you had your disembodied voice fly his ship and everyone has been anxious for you to awaken.”

Tony smiled then focused for a moment, connecting with J.A.R.V.I.S. It was so unfamiliar, to actually be able to access the AI, and he almost fell back into the old routine of talking out loud. However, his connection to his units allowed him to mentally access J.A.R.V.I.S. as well and he checked their current location. “We’re on course,” he finally revealed.

“Where are we going?” Natasha asked from her spot by the door. She had a knife in her hands, as if she was guarding the entrance.

“You’ll see,” Tony replied and pushed himself up to a sitting position. His head took a moment to sort itself out but eventually he felt like he might be able to stand. “Anyone have any clothes for me?”

Unsurprisingly, Bruce was the one to hand them to him.

- - -

“Stark’s awake,” Agent Hill informed him as she returned to the bridge. The entire area was eerily quiet; the few people who were around sat in silence, either looking outside or following the readings on the various screens.

The Helicarrier was flying itself and any attempts to gain control of the ship had failed. They would have still been working on it but once J.A.R.V.I.S. – Tony Stark’s AI which Fury had first encountered in his Malibu house years ago – had revealed itself to be the one behind the takeover, Fury had been forced to admit they should wait and see what happened if Stark didn’t make it, or, as it was, when he woke up. It hadn’t pleased him to give up on the attempts to regain control of his surroundings but he had butted heads with J.A.R.V.I.S. before and had a feeling he may have hurt some digital feelings at some point.

“Did it work?” Fury asked his second-in-command.

“The Avengers are with him,” Hill replied. “I’m sure we’ll know soon enough.”

As she had predicted, the Avengers, alongside their newly gained allies, soon arrived on the bridge. Stark was walking on his own, appearing a little pale but otherwise very much alive and functional. Fury gave him a long look – which the man soon returned; like so many people around them, Tony Stark’s sudden change of heart had caught Fury off guard and he didn’t trust this turn of events. He would take it, embrace it and exploit it, but that didn’t mean he would stop remembering how things had stood just a few days ago.

Stark had been out for blood, had demonstrated he was capable of it, and they had a mecha in their cargo bay, curled up but ready to tear a hole in their hull at its master’s first whim. Fury wasn’t about to forget all the people he had lost when the Helicarriers went down, and as much as he wanted to believe Stark wasn’t solely responsible…

“J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Stark called out, casually moving on from Fury and walked past him, down the few steps and over to the wide windows.

“At your service, sir,” the AI responded at once.

“Any complications?” Stark asked, glancing over his shoulder at the Avengers and assorted S.H.I.E.L.D. staff.

“Very few, sir. I had to block outside attempts to access the mainframe and its sub-programs, for I believed your passengers were trying to force me out.”

Stark smiled, just a little, huffing out what may have been a suppressed laugh. “What’s the ETA?”

“Five hours and twenty-three minutes, sir.”

“Is Edwin awake?”

“The Edwin unit is operational. However, the ship –”

“I’ll take care of that. Just get us there,” Stark replied and looked out at the clouds. “Any sign of the Chitauri?”

“None, sir. The shields are working and we are undetectable. I took the liberty of giving the satellites four shadow readings which may have led the Chitauri to look for us in the wrong places.” There was a pause. “The harness readings seem stable.”

Stark’s fingers twitched and he shifted restlessly. “Yeah. It worked, I hope.”

“The damage has not been repaired perfectly, which I understand was the desired effect,” J.A.R.V.I.S. went on.

“Mmm…” Stark looked out wordlessly for a moment before turning back and walking over to the others. He gave Fury another long look, as if trying to figure out how much he had gotten out of that exchange.

“What’s the next step?” Banner asked from the side, clearly reading the tension between them.

“Elimination,” Stark replied smoothly, walking up to the table where they had once gathered. It showed exactly how wrong the current situation was that Loki was already seated at the table, feet propped up on another chair.

“That sounds promising,” Hill said from the side. She hadn’t trusted Stark when he first arrived on the Helicarrier, and recent events hadn’t improved that in the slightest. Fury knew he would only have to hint in the right direction and she would shoot Stark between the eyes, no questions asked. She might even enjoy it.

Stark’s eyes moved to the female agent, lips pursing. “I’m not going to sink this ship while I’m on it,” he noted.

“That’s reassuring,” Hill shot back.

“He’s on our side now,” Rogers spoke up suddenly. He had never been on such good terms with Stark and Fury hadn’t expected them to bond over genocide. Clearly anything could happen.

“He wasn’t on our side just a few hours ago,” Hill snapped. “He should be locked up and interrogated –”

“Not locked up and studied?” Stark raised an eyebrow.

“I’m sure a lot of people would like to dissect you,” Hill offered him a dark smile. “In fact, I have a knife right here –”

The lights flickered, as did the screens.

“J,” Stark called out, voice darker, eyes never moving from Hill’s face. “She’s playing with fire, I know, but ignore her. Well, ignore her until she actually does take out that knife,” he added, and it was all steel and darkness so deep Fury hadn’t thought Stark had it in him. Apparently his captivity had upped the ante on what the Ten Rings had been capable of doing to him before. They had created a monster which was now thrashing in its leash, ready to bite at a hand offered in a friendly gesture; Stark didn’t know friend from foe anymore.

“Where are we headed?” Romanoff asked, breaking the tension. “Clearly you have a plan.”

“Elimination,” Barton nodded along. He was fiddling with his bow and it would take him two heartbeats to notch an arrow and shoot.

“They’ll figure it out soon,” Stark began explaining. “We’ve broken their remote and they’re going to retaliate.”

“The Chitauri?” Thor clarified.

“Who else?” Loki rolled his eyes beside the other Asgardian. “They might already know. Also, if you failed, they might be slipping back into your mind as we speak.”

The look Stark gave Loki suggested he would be happy to dispose of the God of Lies if he ever became a problem again. “Tell me again why you were helped to escape? I appear to have forgotten,” Stark sneered.

“You knew the others might not make it back without me,” Loki narrowed his eyes.

“Which is a crap excuse to –” Stark stopped mid-sentence, his expression freezing as if someone had pulled the plug on him.

“To what?” Loki challenged before he realized something was wrong. “Stark?”

“Is it happening? Are they taking over?” Barton shot up from his chair and aimed an arrow at Stark’s head.

Fury took a step forward, not liking this. However, he motioned for Barton to wait, to see what happened next.

Stark blinked, a full-body shiver passing over his form and then he squeezed his eyes shut, clasped his head with both hands and sagged to the floor with a cut-off scream. His fingers clenched hard, nails digging in with a force that had to be painful. It might have been a trick of the light when the lamps flickered again but it looked almost as if the harness was briefly, not in its entirety but as if small waves were passing through it.

From deep within the Helicarrier, a groan reverberated.

Banner was up by then, crossing the distance between him and Stark but stopped a foot away to observe the situation.

Rogers was only a step behind, taking the last one without hesitation. “I thought it worked!” he exclaimed, lowering himself on one knee and touching Stark’s shoulder.

“Maybe he didn’t know,” Banner started.

“Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. spoke up suddenly, “the secondary ship is under an attack from the Chitauri.”

“I know,” Stark grunted, body tense as if he were in excruciating pain. “Fuck!” he shouted then went uncharacteristically silent, his body going lax, almost slumping to the floor before Rogers caught him and pulled him against his chest. Stark seemed oblivious, eyes opening slowly and a flicker of something covered his face. Like a screen hovering in the air, less than half an inch from his face, over his eyes.

“Secondary ship?” James Rhodes repeated. “By any chance does it happen to be the one parked outside the Malibu house?”

“Indeed, Mr. Rhodes.”

“Then they must know we’ve broken their control over him,” Romanoff concluded.

“That would be the logical assumption, and Mr. Stark is verifying it.” A silence followed and most eyes fell on Stark, still half-kneeling, half-slumped against Rogers’ body, the constant flicker very apparent before his eyes.

“Anyone know what’s going on in that head of his?” Barton finally asked.

“He’s communicating with the mecha,” Banner replied. “He has to be.”

“There were mecha on that ship, right?” Rhodes looked at the scientist.

“It seems plausible. They were protecting it, as well as the house,” Banner agreed.

Stark took a deep breath, suddenly, raising his head and the flicker disappeared. He blinked as if he had just woken up, eyes flashing at Rogers’ proximity but he didn’t comment on it.

“What happened?” Rhodes asked.

“They destroyed the house,” Stark replied, taking another breath and then pushed himself to his feet. “The ship’s damaged and sinking into the ocean.”

“I’m… sorry,” Rhodes stated slowly, as if he wasn’t certain that was the right thing to say.

“It was to be expected,” Stark muttered, his expression becoming far-away once more. “The units are safe, mostly. Under-water systems are working perfectly and the Chitauri know better than to attack them directly, so they’ll wait.”

“Wait for what?” Rogers asked, standing up as well.

“For me to pop up,” Stark shrugged, coming back to the moment. He looked hard at Rogers, yet most of the animosity between them appeared to have disappeared. “I’m the key to controlling the units, they can’t do it on their own. And,” Stark gave a dramatic pause, “they would rather not risk open war against me.”

“But if they choose to do so?” Thor asked, brow furrowed.

“They’ll have a better chance of survival than you ever did,” Stark shrugged as if didn’t matter.

“Better?” Rogers grabbed his arm as if Stark were going to leave the scene.

“Doesn’t mean they’ll win, Cap,” Stark clarified and Fury hoped that resolve lasted ‘till the end.

- - -

The Helicarrier’s landing raised a cloud of sand that was still whirling in the air when the doors opened and the first few people stepped out to investigate. Fury was still chapping his hide about becoming a passenger on his own ship, but Tony had long since stopped caring about the man’s feelings on the matter.

They were here and nothing else mattered.

“Where are we?” Bruce asked, following the crowd into the wasteland of mountains and sand.

“Afghanistan,” Fury snapped a reply from ahead of them and turned to look at Tony. “Is there a reason for this visit?”

“I would have thought you all of people would appreciate the deeper meaning of this carefully selected location,” Tony shot back, striding past him. He hated this already, the memories of scrambling in the sand, without water, wounded, ready to pass out. Too afraid to stop in case someone survived the explosion in the Ten Rings camp but too tired to plan ahead if someone actually came.

Just like last time, Rhodey showed up at his side, eyes dark, brow tight. “Why are we here, Tony?” He wasn’t accusing, wasn’t confused, but he wanted to hear the truth.

So much had happened between them, so much hurt and distrust, but Rhodey had always come back for him… Tony wondered which version of their past fallouts he wanted to go with – and how many of the darkest undertones weren’t even of his own creation.

As more hours went by, free from the vicinity of the Chitauri, including The Other and The Engineer, the clearer he felt. Alive. The pain was still there, all of it, as well as the alien aspects of his own body he had tried to embrace – but which didn’t always embrace him back. He hadn’t been given a choice whether he wanted them to be part of his life – much like when the predecessor of the arc reactor was buried in his chest in order to prolong his life. Perhaps that was why he had strived to change most of the new applications; so they were more familiar to him, made in his own image, by his own hands, and in turn they would become more in tune with the rest of his changed physiology.

There were a few things that wouldn’t stop bugging him, though, until he had finished what he had set out to do after Pepper died.

Something was… wrong with that concept; he had envisioned their deaths, all of theirs, so many times. However, the more Tony thought about it, the more he started to notice there was a growing list of names and faces he hadn’t thought about precisely; he had skirted around them, added them to the list, but he couldn’t bring himself to actually detail their last moments.

If they happened to die in a collapsing building or an explosion, he didn’t have to think about it.

“This way,” he noted, snapping his fingers. Behind them, within the Helicarrier, Concordia was activated and rose, sliding out of the ship and taking its first steps in the sand. The unit looked around, scanning the area, then fell into step beside them – which meant taking a step and stopping for a minute before the next movement.

Fury signaled most of the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel to remain at the Helicarrier. No doubt they would once again try to lock J.A.R.V.I.S. out but Tony knew they would fail. Being dead had allowed him to operate undetected, after all, and he was so far up Fury’s metaphorical ass the man couldn’t just push him out.

Cringing at the mental image, Tony moved on, faster than the others. They climbed up a hill onto a rocky rise over the land, ending up staring at another vast field of sand which extended for miles ahead of them.

“As much as I like a nice walk outdoors, I’m getting tired of the sand inside my shoes,” Clint complained.

Tony paid him no mind. He took a steadying breath then focused, allowing his mind to wander outside its usual borders. He felt the stirring deep in his gut, rising from the depths and pressing upwards. A response hit him like a wave that didn’t stir his skin but seeped into his insides. A tingling sensation followed, as if someone had suddenly boosted the harness and the arc reactor at the same time. He felt like he was glowing, the pressure rising. Tony lifted his arms along with it, out to his sides, higher and higher, and as he did that, the vast scene of wind-touched sand began to bulge and shift, rising, tumbling and falling back down as a giant space ship emerged from the depths.

There was no sound he could hear, but then, his mind wasn’t truly in the moment. When Tony finally looked around, the others looked alarmed and amazed, weapons raised.

“You could give a guy some warning,” Rhodey muttered. “I thought it was a fucking earthquake.”

Tony attempted a sheepish smile then turned in time to see one of the ship’s sides beginning to unfold, unlocking and sliding back to reveal a huge opening. Concordia stepped towards it, issuing a sound in greeting then strode over, effortlessly climbing in and disappearing inside. The ship swallowed the giant machine, the unit’s gigantic form small in comparison.

“So… the ship in Malibu was secondary,” Bruce finally caught on. “You hid the more important one.”

“You make me sound like the Easter Bunny, but yeah, it made sense to hide one of them should you be able to attack the other. And…” Tony stopped and breathed in, then started walking towards the ship. “I’ll show you.”

The others followed in silence, stumbling over the sand until they reached the huge doorway. The space ship had powered down for now, sitting in the sand, looking like it had always been there. Tony, however, had seen this thing in space so it hardly fit in in an Afghan desert.

“This thing is huge,” Clint commented, bow in hand as he slowly turned around while walking, trying to assess the circumference of the ship’s area.

They entered a circular room, triggering a wave of memories in Tony. It felt like a lifetime ago since he last looked at the nests, the units inside still untested in battle. Now most of them were empty, although Concordia had entered its own. The one beside it was empty, however, and Tony looked around, opening his mind, summoning the nest’s occupant.

Footsteps rocked the floor and everyone looked to the side, seeing another unit approach them from a shadowy corridor. Its body was large like Concordia’s, similar yet entirely different in design.

“Look at its chest,” Natasha whispered.

“Meet Edwin, the first of my… children,” Tony introduced, halting for a moment at the last word. No one laughed, not at this point when the large machine stopped before them, glowing eyes regarding them all. Only Tony was met with fondness, although he was the only one who could tell the difference. Tony reached up and the unit leaned down until his hand could touch its angular face. The glowing eyes changed color, just slightly, and he could feel tremors on its surface; a charge from the arc reactor in its chest, in tune with his own.

“Had the other ones looked like this, we would have been able to tell you designed them from day one,” Clint pointed out dryly.

“That was the point,” Tony scoffed. “Edwin was the first one I made. It represents too much of myself, of my old life, but at the same time it’s special.”

“Special how?” Bruce asked.

“Edwin’s stronger. The power output, physical strength, materials… the bond with me,” Tony listed. “Edwin and Concordia are two sides of the same coin, the full circle. The beginning and the end of a journey.” He kept caressing the metal face, giant against his hand. Their minds were melding, trading information.

“Why didn’t you use Edwin in battle, after your involvement was revealed, if it’s so much stronger?” Fury asked.

Tony shrugged and dropped his hand. He watched Edwin as the unit straightened its body and kept looking down at them for a moment before moving to its nest and starting to check out Concordia’s memories, experiences and injuries for future reference. “Edwin was never perfected like the others. Like I said, it represented things I didn’t want to recall, but… I told the Chitauri Edwin was flawed, that it couldn’t operate.”

“Even though it could?” Fury pressed.

“Yes,” Tony admitted. “Of all of them, Edwin was the most prepared.”

“Maybe that’s just it,” Bruce started in a thoughtful tone, looking at the two interacting units. “You knew its destructive power and deep inside… you didn’t want to use it against us. Perhaps it was flawed, maybe its design wasn’t in tune with the others, but all those are excuses in the end.” Bruce looked directly at Tony. “Edwin could have ended the war, right?”

Tony nodded slowly. “I didn’t need it to. I could have…”

“But you didn’t.”

Tony pursed his lips. He hadn’t. He had stalled, had hesitated, sometimes without even thinking about it. He had told himself he was just toying with his food before swallowing, taking his time to exact revenge, to make those who had wronged him suffer. But when it came down to making the decisive cut…

“Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice thankfully interrupted his need to reply, “I have successfully downloaded the necessary parts of myself to the ship’s database. Are the plans for integration still in effect?”

“Yeah,” Tony snapped out of it, glancing at the others. “There’s… a few updates I need to do. Fail-safes. You can return to the Helicarrier or stay here.”

“And if we stay here?” Fury asked.

“You’ll have to find something to do for a few hours,” Tony shrugged.

“Preparing installation,” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice echoed across the space.

Tony walked to the center of the round room, a hatch opening in the floor. He pulled out a thick wire which looked like a coaxial cable – only with a large needle in its end. He knelt down and tugged aside the back of his shirt at the neck, taking a deep breath.

“You are certain of this, sir?” the AI asked.

“You’ll enjoy the change,” Tony promised. “A vast new world with the units connected to you…”

“Frankly, sir, the thing I am looking forward to most is the integration with your mind.”

Tony smiled as he placed the needle at the back of his neck and pushed it into the harness, the pain dulled as the harness accepted it and locked onto the signal it provided.

“Beginning system integration in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”

Tony’s conscious mind turned off before he rolled over onto the floor.

- - -

“Did J.A.R.V.I.S. just say what I think he said?” Rhodey exclaimed when Tony all but collapsed and lay still in the middle of the room.

Bruce blinked then hurried over, moving the man slightly and checking his pulse. Tony’s eyes were closed, his face peaceful. In all the ways Bruce could tell, Tony was merely asleep or unconscious with that strange bundle of wires attached to the back of his neck. Bruce looked up next, studying the two mecha in their niches on the wall that looked almost like nests.

“Doctor?” Fury’s voice called his attention back to the present.

“Uhh… he’s fine, as far as I can tell. We don’t completely understand the way he’s communicating with the mecha but it seems like a mental link, which means he might be…” He recalled the short discussion. “He’s allowing J.A.R.V.I.S. to access his mind, and the other way around. It’s all just… It’s not so different; the mecha are machines with sentient capabilities, which is essentially what J.A.R.V.I.S. is: programming.”

“So while Stark’s taking a nap, what are we going to do?” Clint asked restlessly. The mecha hadn’t moved since Tony dropped but that didn’t mean they would stay like that.

“There is something I would like to bring to your attention,” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice responded before anyone else could. “When the ship was raised, it would appear one of the Chitauri space ships in orbit caught a glimpse of it. The Chitauri now know the location of the ship and will assume this is where Mr. Stark will be hiding.”

“What do you need us to do?” Steve asked, looking up as if searching for something to talk to.

“Please ensure the safety of the ship for the next hour and fifty-two minutes. That should give us enough time to complete system integration and prepare a response.”

“We will do that,” Steve nodded even though Bruce didn’t want to guess how they would fend off a Chitauri armada should they reach their location before Tony recovered. “J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Steve called out before anyone had time to move or ask whether he had a plan. “Is… Tony okay?”

“Mr. Stark is fine. Would you like to speak with him? He is currently occupied, helping me merge with the ship and the unit systems before directly connecting with his own mind –”

“No, it’s fine,” Steve declined swiftly. “Just make sure he doesn’t… get hurt.”

“That is my first priority, Captain Rogers.”

“That was cozy,” Clint rolled his eyes once J.A.R.V.I.S. fell silent again.

Bruce just smiled and took off his jacket, laying it across Tony’s upper body in case he got cold. “We have two hours,” he stated, standing up and facing their leader.

Steve nodded and looked at the others. “Check the perimeter. The rest can return to the Helicarrier,” he added, glancing at Jane and Darcy.

“We’ve never had such a chance to take a look at the Chitauri technology,” Jane argued at once, already moving off to the side.

“We can’t just poke around the ship!” Darcy said quickly. “It could… explode.”

“Don’t be silly,” Jane snapped.

“We can take a look,” Bruce acquiesced. “But just a look. If J.A.R.V.I.S. is aware, I’m sure he’ll tell us when to stop.”

Darcy let out a long-suffering sigh but followed Jane when the woman headed over to a wall to take a look at the nests and the hallway from which Edwin had emerged.

“Keep them safe,” Thor vowed. “I shall take my fellow Asgardians and see that no enemy ship gets close enough to put us in danger.” Loki looked most unhappy about this but Sif and the Warriors Three were already preparing their weapons.

“We’ll meet back here in two hours,” Steve decided, taking his shield and casting one last look at Tony. “I’ll… guard the door.”

“He’ll be fine,” Bruce reassured him. “I’m sure the mecha are fully operational even though they’re not doing anything right now; go and secure the premises with the others. I’ll stay on the ship with Jane and Darcy.”

Steve nodded his thanks and led the others back out, leaving Bruce to catch up with over-excited Jane and concerned-looking Darcy. He shared the younger woman’s apprehension yet he felt like this was the only Chitauri-related space craft they might actually be safe to be around.

Soon enough they would see how correct that assumption was.





to be continued…


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