Technopath – Ch. 3
Tony gave a happy hum as the suit finished folding around him. The soft soothing murmur of Jarvis’ processes filled the back of his mind as each system booted up. Most of the time Tony preferred to rely on the instrumentation and not the mumbled cadence of voices at the back of his head when he was using the suit but occasionally the tech would register something faster than the warning could be displayed and then his ability saved the lives of those around him or even his own life. Today was turning into one of those days.
They were fighting what amounted to dog sized robotic dragonflies mounted with lasers that were attacking seemingly random buildings in Manhattan. Hulk was sitting this one out until they could prove that the damage he might incur in helping would outweigh what the robotic bugs were doing. The worst part was how damn fast and maneuverable the things were. Clint was taking out what he could as they passed his position while trying to cover for Steve and Natasha who were on the ground helping get people off the streets and out of the buildings being attacked. Thor and Tony were airborne taking out the bugs that were clustered together attacking different parts of the buildings.
“Anybody see where the hell these things are coming from? I swear for every two I take out, five more are showing up.” Clint asked, taking out another three as they buzzed his position.
“I agree with the Hawk, there seems to be no end in sight of these infernal machines.” Thor grumbled.
“Hey, no dissing the machines. They can’t help the crazy dude who gave them their orders.” Tony snapped his head full of the buzzing of the dragonfly that he had snagged midair.
“Iron Man, what exactly are you doing?” Hawkeye asked, watching the suit hover in one place to one side of the action. “Interfacing,” Tony ground out, most of his attention on the chatter from the bots around him, “Shut up for a minute and let me work. Jarvis, drive for a minute while I get this thing to talk.”
“Of course, sir;”
It was never easy trying to communicate with a strange system for the first time and whoever had programmed these things must have been on LSD at the time because nothing they did or said made sense. The bugs screamed and screeched at each other, a constant cacophony of sound crashing against each other, a low hum of command language beneath pushing them to attack specific structures. A soft “I have a secret.” giggled in the background as Tony tried to separate out an individual voice from the mass chaos within the machine.
“Secret, what’s your secret? Such a smart machine surely knows something wonderful.”
“Great secret, biggest secret; Master’s secret.” It chirped back, clearly preening at the praise.
“And you must be his favorite to know such a thing. He must be very proud of you.” More and more of the voices were going silent, listening to him, giggling softly in response to each bit of praise and flattery.
“Best secret;” Several childish voices agreed, laughter ringing in the background. “Master likes to see things go boom; such a big boom for him!” Suddenly everything clicked into place making Tony’s breath catch.
“Jarvis, scan for explosives; on the bugs and on the buildings.” Tony resolutely ignored the mutters from the Agent overseeing the team; he doubted their tech was capable of scanning such a large area.
“Scanning, sir;” Jarvis said, the com falling silent as everyone waited for the results, seconds later he chimed in with the results. “I detect over 500 individual explosive devices that have been left all over the surrounding buildings not including the ones still carries in each machine.”
“Fuck, guys, these things are rigged to blow and they’ve already left bombs on every building they landed on. We need everyone out of there now!” Tony opened his mouth to ask Jarvis to start trying to hack into the detonation frequency when the machines began a countdown, the child like voices gleefully chanting out the countdown from ten.
“Ten seconds! Move your asses!” The gleeful chorus continued to chant as he activated his burners streaking down toward the streets.
“Hawkeye, please tell me you have a way down.” Steve said glancing up as Natasha and he guided the last of the occupants out of the building and towards the nearby subway entrance that they were using as a shelter.
“Could use a catch here, somebody.” Clint said eying the piles of damaged and dying bugs that littered the street around his building and the rooftop he was fighting from. Nothing was close enough to try and using a grappling arrow and any place he could repel down to was full of partly destroyed bugs that were rigged to explode.
“On my way, bird boy; keep your shorts on.” Tony mutter fighting to slow down enough that he would not break Clint in the pickup.
“Three.” He angled in, snatching Clint off the rooftop and angling upwards as sharply as he dared while carrying someone not wearing a suit in hopes of distancing the debris.
“Boom!” The machines squealed for an instant before the interface faded away as more and more machines self-destructed. Three different buildings went up in plumes of smoke and dust while all the downed dragonfly bots detonated leaving only smoking craters behind.
“Nice save, Iron Man.” Steve said over the coms with a faintly heard sigh. “Everyone else okay?” Everyone chimed in with an affirmative even if several of them were coughing from the dust.
“What do you want to bet that we get sued for the damaged again?” Clint asked, with a slightly wheezing cough. “You alright there, Barton? I didn’t mess up your ribs right?”
“Nah, I’m good. Any catch that doesn’t result in broken bones is good by me.”
“Might need to work on that in practice some if it’s going to be a common thing;” Tony muttered.
He was already subvocalizing notes to Jarvis about adding harnesses to everyone’s suits or at least hooks to the Iron Man suit and maybe reinforced sections he could grab on to for the team’s uniforms. He brought Clint in to land as gently as he could with one repulsor out of use since he was holding on to Clint with that hand. He added another note about stabilizers and compensating for the added weight without increasing speed as Clint jumped the last few feet allowing him to touch down normally after a slight bobble.
The debrief afterwards was just painful. Why exactly did they have to try and rehash every bit of action while they were exhausted and injured again? Tony worked on schematics while the rest of the team chanted through their recitations of the battle. He watched Sitwell get more and more agitated as the meeting went on before he finally snapped.
“Care to share with the class, Iron Man? Or is your time to valuable for us mere mortals?”
“You couldn’t afford ten minutes of my time, Sitwell.” He said with a smirk before expanding the blueprints he was working on, blue lines glowing above the table. “We need to add a way for me to carry passengers or to rescue one of the team without reworking my entire propulsion system. I was thinking some kind of harness that could be incorporated into everyone’s uniform, maybe clipping to the back of the suit. What if I’d been attacked while trying to carry, Clint? I would’ve been a sitting duck.”
“Add in a way for one of the team to pick me up without bruising my ribs or strangling me with my uniform and I’ll cook dinner for you for a month.” Clint said his gaze piercing and completely serious.
“Done,” Tony said with a grin. It was a sweet offer; the man had some serious skills in the kitchen.