Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandoms: Iron Man & Captain America & The Avengers (MCU) / The Matrix
Genre: Action, sci-fi, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner, Clint Barton, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, Loki, Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff, Betty Ross, Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor.
Guest appearances: The Architect, Emil Blonsky, Phil Coulson, JARVIS, The Merovingian, The Oracle, Persephone, Thaddeus Ross, Sati, Erik Selvig, Seraph, Samuel Sterns, Glenn Talbot.
Pairings: Betty/Bruce, Clint/Darcy/Natasha, Jane/Thor, implied Merovingian/Persephone
Summary: The Truce between men and Machines is threatened by a radical group called ‘the Cleansers’. Steve Rogers, the captain of a hovercraft named ‘The Avenger’, takes his crew to find the ultimate weapon the Cleansers are looking for, and reunites with an old friend whom he’d thought long dead. How is Tony Stark connected to their mission, and does a weapon exist that could destroy the Machines?
Complete. Sequel to “Creator”.
Written for: Science Fiction & Fantasy Big Bang’s Round 5.
Also fills the “free space” square on my card in Trope Bingo’s Round 2 (used trope: “au: fusion”).
Artist: raktajinos (AO3/LJ) – see banner HERE.
Warnings: Language, canonical violence.
Loki watched the patterns change in the Matrix. One symbol did not differ that much from the other, but when you began to see the big picture…
Beside him, Talbot raised a hand to his ear. “Operator,” he responded to a call coming from their team jacked into the Matrix. “The Exit it still good. Proceed and I’ll call you back.” His every word was terse, tension bleeding through. As he turned towards Loki, it was clear he was already annoyed by something. “Start prepping for their exit,” he snapped, and Loki turned towards his keyboards and screens, establishing a connection with the Exit and waiting for their men to get to it and call in for extraction.
His eyes followed the code again, searching for abnormalities that would alert them in case of danger. It seemed everyone on board Thanos was concerned about their activities, which had led Loki to question his presence on this ship more than once. There was the Truce, after all, and the idea of jeopardizing that…
But as their captain, Ross, kept saying, the Truce would last only as long as the Machines wanted it to, and not a second longer. When they attacked again, Zion would fold under the pressure, and all would be lost. It was their time to plan and strike – to deliver the death blow to the enemy before they knew what was happening.
Loki found comfort in that idea, that there was a plan forming that could destroy the Machines for good. He wasn’t privy to all the details, but the men in his crew seemed so certain…
Why didn’t they trust Loki with all of the information, then? Was he not pledged to see this through as well, as one of them? He’d had his doubts, in the beginning, because so many in Zion thought Ross’ visions mad and called them ‘warmongering’. Despite all that, Ross had convinced Loki, offering him a position on his ship – saying that Loki would be an asset to his team.
Whether it was the trust that had appealed to Loki, or their secret mission, he wasn’t sure. He had become Thanos’ secondary Operator, and a rather excellent one at that. Talbot knew that, too, and felt constantly threatened. That was why Loki never turned his back to the man if he could help it.
Their captain marched up to the bridge, giving the two jacked-in men a look before briefly staring at the Matrix’s code. “Everything going according to plan?”
“There has been no trouble,” Loki responded before Talbot could. “Are we expecting any?” he dared to ask. It was one thing that Zion didn’t agree with their goals, even though their fulfillment would serve all mankind; but that they were wary each time when entering the Matrix, like before the Truce, meant they were up to something the Machines wouldn’t approve of, and that was a very different kind of danger altogether.
“There’s always trouble,” Ross huffed, and he was no doubt going to give one of his dark and depressive monologues. “As long as the Machines rule the Matrix, we are hunted inside it. Just like we are hunted on the outside. In order to cleanse the world of the mechanical tyranny –”
Loki’s eyes flew to the screens a second before the call came through and cut off their captain. Talbot responded and tapped a few commands to what Loki had already laid out for him, calling their men back home.
Ross didn’t bother to finish his tirade, walking over to the chairs instead and pulling the data probes from both men’s heads, setting them aside as the two regained their bearings.
Blonsky was the first up on his feet, like always. He wasn’t a tall man, but once he got into his ‘intimidation mode’, you didn’t want to be on his bad side. His manner of speaking might be soft, but Loki knew there was a monster lurking inside, capable of horrible things.
Sterns was a little slower to rise from the chair. It was as if he wanted to slip back into the virtual reality – and Loki didn’t blame him, with that face. Sterns had been awakened from the Matrix due to a malfunction at the power plant. Miraculously, he had survived and crawled deep into the sewers, but some kind of acid had burned half his face and chest. In the Matrix, he was whole, and every trip back and forth seemed to bring a new layer of poorly repressed bitterness into his personality. Loki wasn’t sure how that was possible, but he knew better than to talk to Sterns about anything for the next few hours, and more importantly, not be there the first time the man caught an accidental glimpse of himself on some surface.
There were a lot of monsters aboard Thanos…
“Well?” Ross demanded impatiently. “Report.”
“All went according to plan, sir,” Blonsky responded at once while Sterns slowly sat up in his chair. “The rendezvous was successful. We’re one step closer to the Weapon.”
Ross nodded excitedly, although he hid it pretty well. However, the gleam in his eyes could not be mistaken for anything else but eagerness to proceed.
“With all due respect, sir, can we trust this information? Knowing where it’s coming from…” Sterns asked, voice low, glaring at his feet as if they had personally betrayed him somehow.
Where the information was coming from, Loki wasn’t sure. Someone in the Matrix, that much was certain, and he was fairly positive it wasn’t another jacked-in human, but a program of some sort; these men wouldn’t have been so distrusting if it were a human handing them breadcrumbs to follow.
“The intel’s been good so far,” Blonsky argued impatiently; clearly he and Sterns had already had this discussion earlier.
“Doesn’t mean it isn’t a trap.”
“That’s why we’re taking every precaution,” Ross snapped, clearly intolerant of such doubts. “One thing is for sure, though: the Machines have been hiding their weakness, and the Weapon is our key to victory.”
Some days, Loki couldn’t believe such a thing existed; that there was anything that could bring the Machines to their mechanical knees. He didn’t know whether it was supposed to be an actual weapon, or a piece of code hidden so deep in the Matrix that none could find it. However, it was logical that every program had a vulnerability, and the Matrix was a myriad of programs.
Programs connected to the Source, and the Machines.
If a weakness was found and could be exploited…
More than once, he had heard Ross reference the Weapon as a ‘God Switch’, whatever that meant. He doubted there was an actual switch someone could turn, in the Matrix or the real world, to turn off the Machines or make them self-destruct, but someone, somewhere, was convinced it was possible – someone who had convinced Ross and his crew, and who slowly but surely kept taking them closer to the answer.
“What was the message?” Ross asked then.
“To wait,” Blonsky replied.
Ross shifted angrily. “Wait?! We have waited long enough –”
Blonsky motioned with his head, just a little, to imply he was not done talking. “The Oracle is going to surface again. She’s going to make a call, to meet with a certain man called Rogers, the captain of a ship called The Avenger. She will meet with him, and Rogers is going find the Weapon for us; according to our deep-throat, he’s the only man who can do that.”
“Rogers, huh?” Talbot mused. “I’ve heard of him. A weirdo. Lots of rumors about that one. Don’t know how he got himself a ship – or a crew to go with it.”
Loki remained silent, digesting the information. This Captain Rogers and his crew were going to get them the Weapon, and when that happened…
“So, we wait,” Ross muttered. “Soon, the Machines will fall, and humans will rule the entire world. With an ultimate weapon, we will bring the mechanical reign to its end.”
Blonsky smiled wanly and nodded.
Sterns still glared at his feet.
Talbot glanced towards the Matrix code, as if suspecting it might be eavesdropping on them, but there was also disdain in his eyes – towards what or whom, Loki wasn’t sure most days.
However, if there was a chance the Weapon was real, all of them were willing to take that chance.
They would deliver human kind from their oppressed slavery under the Machines.
to be continued…