Title: Spacial Anxiety
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Timeline: right before “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
Genre: Drama, angst
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark (Iron Man). (Mentioned: Thor)
Summary: Tony has a complicated relationship with space, especially after the events of New York. Haunted by the knowledge that an alien invasion might happen again, he struggles to find a solution.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Written for: A prompt on my table (sci-fi, MCU/Tony Stark) at fc_smorgasbord (square: space).
Warnings: Language, implied PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers, and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Shane Black, Joss Whedon, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
About Spacial Anxiety: This little story barely scratches the surface of Tony’s relationship to the events of Battle of New York, and the responsibility he feels prior to “Age of Ultron”, but I hope people enjoy this random bit of what might be considered ‘character study’.
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.
Space, the final frontier….
Tony had not known what a complex relationship he was to have with the endlessly fascinating depths of space.
He had never been an astronomy major or anything, but like any scientist, he was moderately drawn to what surrounded Earth, and its endless possibilities for discovery.
When he had inherited the responsibility for Stark Industries and governed most of their projects, space had been an ever more important aspect in the trajectory of technology: whether it be communications, weapons, or even travel, space was the cutting edge of development – and would remain so for decades to come.
Tony had never been to space, though it was on his bucket list of things to do. Preferably in an aircraft his company had designed and built.
His maiden voyage with Mark I Iron Man armor hadn’t taken him nearly that high, but he instantly knew he might be taking that trip, sooner rather than later.
Until the portal opened above his tower in New York City and aliens came gushing out, he was still fully intending to develop that one suit of armor that could make the trip.
As it turned out, he took that journey much too prematurely, and that inescapably altered his relationship with the great unknown of space.
It wasn’t only that he almost died – though that certainly contributed to his trauma. It was the whole crazy experience of fighting an alien invasion alongside his new team and feeling so small, so insignificant on the cosmic scale.
But he was big enough to nuke the hell out of the aliens, so, there.
Anyone who had studied space and understood anything of the cosmos knew that the significance of one inhabited planet didn’t have much sway. With the arrival of Thor, it became clear they were not the only ones inhabiting the vastness of the universe, known or otherwise. Still, what happened on a single planet didn’t have that much of an impact in other inhabited corners of the universe, if any at all.
For the most part, life went on as usual. The Battle of New York drew headlines around the globe and created a wave of changes, but the aliens had been defeated and Tony sometimes felt like he was now the crazy guy with a tinfoil hat, worrying about the Next Time.
What were the odds that with all that had transpired, no hostile alien force would ever find their way to Earth again? It wouldn’t matter why they came – not in Tony’s book. It mattered more that they would be faced with a culture capable of space travel on a scale the human race wasn’t even close to replicating.
Sure, it could be another wormhole, but from what Tony could understand, those were not the only means of transport the other races had at their disposal.
He tried to pick Thor’s brain about it, but they were on different wavelengths much of the time, and something else always came up.
So, space remained like a door Tony couldn’t bolt shut or even efficiently close. All he could do was watch, wait, and think of ways to stop the threat in its tracks before another city fell victim to senseless violence.
Do what you know, people said.
Tony knew he couldn’t just build a weapon big enough to hold the rest of the cosmos at gunpoint.
He invested in technology that might give them an advance warning, but what good was that if they could not respond to the threat?
Last time, they had gotten lucky. Tony had almost died, yes, but they had managed to stall the invading force approaching from a single point of entry.
Next time, that might not be the case. It was rather unlikely, even.
Yes, there might be Avengers to fight the threat. No, he wasn’t giving up.
Tony just needed to be realistic in his expectations, and until he knew every variable on the spectrum of threats awaiting them… he could not assume they were ready to face the threat. That would be arrogant, to think their greatest weapon might be good enough, powerful enough – frightening enough to strike any kind of fear in their unknown enemies.
So, Tony focused on things he knew, approaching the problem through answers available to him.
Long after everyone else had left, or gone to sleep, or whatever people with normal lives did, Tony stayed up with J.A.R.V.I.S., going over the latest issues in the Iron Legion drones and keenly aware they were not enough to deter a major threat.
That was how the idea of Ultron was born.
Tony could build suits – even suits that could withstand the vacuum and radiation of space – and he could let his AI do some of the heavy lifting, but he needed someone dedicated to the job of keeping their planet safe. Not just a nuclear deterrent, because that concept might be lost on an alien race, but the means to achieve some peace of mind.
He had to do his part, especially because he had been in New York when the wormhole opened and understood better than most why this issue mattered.
He had to be ready.
There were always going to be people who would not understand the urgency he felt whenever he thought of the wormhole opening up above Manhattan. Even the most ignorant portion of Earth’s population would be able to comprehend that an alien invasion didn’t equal anything good for anyone, but they didn’t feel the kind of personal responsibility that Tony shouldered every day.
A normal person could do nothing to stop such a thing from happening again. A normal person wouldn’t have been able to fly a nuclear missile through the wormhole into an unknown edge of space – much less return in one piece.
Yes, Tony occasionally suffered from the ‘special snowflake’ syndrome, but in this instance he knew better than most people what needed to be done – and moreover, he had the means to make that happen. It just never felt like he had enough time, enough innovation, or enough success.
J.A.R.V.I.S. stood by, invisibly vigilant over his work, bearing witness to his anguish and failures, tirelessly feeding him data and results. Where other people failed to understand why he was doing this, his AI never even asked. He understood. And seeing as J.A.R.V.I.S. had accompanied him from that first flight as Iron Man to the Battle of New York and back, he was better equipped to understand what was driving Tony, day in and day out.
The AI could not form an opinion, most would think, but J.A.R.V.I.S.’s continued support of his work was enough to make Tony feel like he had someone in his corner.
Someone who understood the gravity of the situation, and could think far enough ahead to realize that they needed a better plan than they had at present.
That they needed Ultron.