Title: The Flying Fortress
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers
Timeline: takes place during “The Avengers”
Rating: K / FRC
Characters: Nick Fury, J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark (Iron Man). (Mentioned: other Avengers, Loki, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes)
Summary: Tony’s first visit to the Helicarrier didn’t last for very long.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Written for: Fills a prompt on my table (sci-fi, MCU/Tony Stark) at fc_smorgasbord (square: ship).
Warnings: Implied canonical violence.
Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers, and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Paramount Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
The Flying Fortress
The first time Tony glimpses the Helicarrier, it’s in the air and he peers at it through the window of his private Stark Industries cargo plane.
He slides to the pilot seat, just to see better and to get a good look on the readings he’s getting. The plane’s AI handles the landing like a pro, following the directions from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flight control. Tony doesn’t have to touch a single instrument.
The plane is towed once it comes to a full stop, then lowered below deck. Tony can hear the pressure changing, and they taxi to their assigned spot.
Tony gets up and moves to meet the staff at the head of the ramp. He looks at each of them critically. “Don’t mishandle my stuff. I’ll know if you do – and I’ll also know who did it,” he promises in an uncompromising tone.
They’re professional tough guys, so they don’t sweat under his stare, but he knows they’re smart enough to know not to mess with him.
As they move his cargo to what is essentially a vault within the storage area, Tony follows close behind. Everywhere around him the structures hum and vibrate almost imperceptibly, and if you don’t pay attention to it, the whole concept of being inside a moving super-vehicle might goes unnoticed.
Tony pays attention to every structural element, exposed wiring, and computer terminal. It’s all fascinating to him as an engineer, and a tiny part of him is more than a little upset that he wasn’t invited to work on this one.
But, he sees familiar components and design choices, and if he didn’t know any better, he might think SI had its place in creating the Helicarrier.
Perhaps dear old Dad…
Also, it could be S.H.I.E.L.D. used subcontractors to get hold of the technology Tony’s company had produced over the years, modifying it the rest of the way to suit the larger machine.
He’s going to bring it up with Fury at some point, and by then he’ll have to decide on the level of accusation he’ll want to put into that conversation.
Tony watches like a hawk as the S.H.I.E.L.D. employees – they can’t all be agents, can they? – set down the fairly heavy mechanical cocoon supported by an industrial fork-lift. To anyone else, it might just look like a high-tech security container, but Tony can’t really look at his own handiwork and not see what it really is.
Their careful handling meets with his approval, and Tony nods as they back away and then quite suddenly leave him standing there, no mention of clearances or areas he’s forbidden to access. That is suspicious, to say the least, and Tony’s hand subconsciously feels for his phone – which also acts as a remote for the cocoon.
“Mr. Stark,” a familiar voice carries across the echoing space.
Tony turns his head ever so slightly, acknowledging Nick Fury before the man reaches him, trench coat floating behind him as he purposefully strides down the hall.
“Nick,” Tony greets him.
“I know you just got here, but I’ve got a task for you to handle,” Fury tells him. Whether he wants to use the word ‘errand’, Tony doesn’t know, but the man is smart enough not to. There’s a certain amount of ego-boosting that Tony likes before he does favors for people.
Fury jumps ahead, unapologetic as always: “I have a team headed for Stuttgart, Germany. They left half an hour ago, but I’m sure you can catch up.”
“What’s in Stuttgart?” Tony asks, taking the bait.
Tony just nods. He read the file, after all. All of it. His brain is packed with information and he knows this is highly time-sensitive. “Tell your people to contact my people,” he says and fishes out his phone.
Fury raises an eyebrow.
Tony grins. “Just give J.A.R.V.I.S. the particulars, I’ll review them en-route.” Then he slides open a specific program and presses his finger against the section of the screen that scans his fingerprint, approving the ignition of his suit within the cocoon.
Fury stays to watch him suit up, and Tony catches a tiny smile on his lips. It’s not the look that Rhodey gave him the first time he suited up in front of his friend – that was amazement and envy all packed into one – nor the look of mixed horror and defeat on Pepper’s.
This is more like something he might have hoped from a father he never had, aside from his childish dreams, but that’s completely irrelevant and Tony pushes it away, instead waiting for J.A.R.V.I.S. to catch up with the proceedings.
“Are we good to go?” Tony asks at length, speaking only to his AI. He rotates his shoulders, feeling the suit’s muted response, and steps down from the platform. Fury takes a step back, his face carefully under control now.
“Momentarily, sir. Waiting for further instructions from the S.H.I.E.L.D. flight control.”
“We know where the door is, and we also know the quickest route to Stuttgart; they can hit us up with the rest of the intel on the way there,” Tony decides. On the heads-up display, J.A.R.V.I.S. has already marked the nearest usable exit for the armor and is doing final tests to ensure the flight will be smooth as far as the suit’s performance goes.
Fury doesn’t tell him good luck, nor does Tony bother with a cheeky one-liner before parting. He does, however, make an extra loop around the Helicarrier, making it look like he’s showing off but in reality, he’s checking out the huge vessel in all its glory.
Hours after Stuttgart, returning to the Helicarrier, taking a few dozen extra spins inside engine number three, and then taking off to fight an alien invasion in Manhattan, Tony takes stock of the ruined Stark Tower while most of the newly formed ‘Avengers’ have scattered to the four winds. Thor has taken his brother and the Tesseract back to Asgard despite S.H.I.E.L.D. really wanting to take possession of the cube again, Cap has ridden off into the sunset on his bike, and Romanoff and Barton are no doubt preparing for their next shady mission. Only Banner remains, though tempted to disappear as soon as he can.
Despite their merry little band of heroic misfits splitting up, Tony still manages to feel like part of a team.
“J.A.R.V.I.S., call Fury,” he says slowly, then lifts his third drink to his lips. He’s pretty sure he’ll have a fourth before calling it a night.
“Stark,” Fury responds promptly – though not too promptly, so maybe he is trying to relax a bit, too. Another possibility is that Fury is busy with damage control, of which there ought to be plenty, a nuke fired at Manhattan being just one item on the list.
“I have some ideas for the next generation of your Helicarrier engines,” Tony tells Fury, because for better or worse, S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of the bargain that comes with the Avengers, and Tony is – at least for a little while – playing ball with them.
“I’ll have my people call your people,” Fury replies, smile evident in his voice.
Tony makes a sound of agreement and waves his hand for J.A.R.V.I.S. to disconnect the call. Slowly, he finishes his drink and then decides he might as well skip the fourth and go to bed instead, knowing he only has a few hours left before he needs to be up, looking like he didn’t go ten rounds with a space whale.
“Good night, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. tells him softly, dimming the few lights that are still working. Tony steps around the Loki-shaped dent in the floor, feels a gust of air from the poorly covered broken window stir his hair, and ever so briefly his eyes search the sky, wondering if the Helicarrier is up there, watching. He wouldn’t put it past Fury, but perhaps they earned some leeway today, saving the city and perhaps the entire world.