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  • Writer's pictureAmelia Sides

Technopath – Ch. 4

Ch. 4

Tony eyed the base below him with a sigh. Bruce had left for a conference on Particle Physics three days ago and then never checked into his hotel. Shield discretely sent a tail along for the trip but Bruce popped up and handed him a coffee ten minutes into the train ride, an hour later Bruce was off Shield’s radar and the agent was scheduled for remedial training. Clint merely laughed when the news came in and offered to track the rogue physicist down but they’d agreed that Bruce deserved some time off the leash and left it alone; looks like they should have been more diligent.

One of the projects Tony and Bruce had been working on discretely was setting up a satellite system that could track gamma radiation. They were doing it mostly since it would enable them to track the Hulk at long range if he did decide to take out a town but they could also fine tune it to track other sources like the staff Loki had used. Tony finished the programming after a two day bender and they had Bruce’s location down to a one mile radius. At least it wasn’t Hydra he thought with a sigh, eying the lines of weaponry and missile launchers that covered the roof; the place was loaded for bear and way to alert for three in the morning.

“Natasha and I could get in but we’d be fighting our way out with a heavily drugged Bruce probably.” Clint offered as they pored over Tony’s scans of the building.

“They’ve planned for a frontal assault. What if we gave it to them?” Tony offered, fiddling with a tablet.

“They’re expecting us to rush in to save him, generally that means it’s the last thing you do unless you want to die, Stark.” Steve pointed out rubbing at his forehead.

“What if we use it against them? Half of us go at the front while the rest go in the back and get Bruce out?”

“We’d be taking heavy fire and bombarding the building, we could be injuring our own team members.” Steve pointed out with a frown.

“Got a better idea? The only other thing I see is to take a week and get the spy twins in undercover to wake up the Hulk.”

“We might not have a week.” Clint pointed out softly, “Chatter on the net is that someone is offering to sell Hulk blood and body parts to the highest bidder. So far no one’s bought anything that Shield can see but they are definitely interested.”

“This place is locked to a fare-the-well; it would take time to break in. Time we might not have.” Natasha pointed out. “How long can the half the team hold out against those weapons?”

“I’d give it an hour at the most if we manage to knock out the rocket launchers and they don’t have any other nasty surprises.” Steve said with a sigh while Thor considered the layout with a frown.

“So the issue is the computer system and door locks?” Tony asked mind already going in five directions trying to figure out how to do this without exposing his abilities.

“Yeah, if we don’t have the right codes or programs to hack the locks we could be spotted or set off the alarms.” Clint said glancing at Tony suspiciously, “Why?”

“What if I can cut that down?”

“New tech you haven’t bothered to share?” Natasha asked raising an eyebrow.

“Kind of,” Tony said with a frown, “the suit’s basically a super computer hooked into an AI. It could hack the doors in seconds.”

“We need you helping with the frontal attack if we do this.” Steve pointed out, “With the artillery they have we’ll need every heavy hitter at the front door. Can you set up a small computer or something for them to use?”

“No, you need the suit at the front door. I’ll have Jarvis pilot while I go with the wonder twins and hack the doors for them. I can pull together a light weight version of the armor that’s mostly computer to let me hack the systems.”

“We could get in and out faster with another set of hands,” Clint said slowly, “but it might mean we set off the alarms faster if we get caught. More people means more exposure and Tony’s not trained like we are.”

“Why do you need to be there? Can’t we give them the computer to use?”

“We could but they’re not exactly hackers, no offense.” Tony said glancing up from the broken down suit he was outlining on his tablet, he would need weapons and basic protection but had to have his hands mobile to work in case he actually needed to hack something.

“None taken,” Clint said with a snort, “I doubt either of us is anywhere close to his level, Steve. He’d probably be able to do each door in less than ten seconds, it would cut the entry time down to less than ten minutes if we don’t run into any major road blocks; Ten minutes or less in and about that to get back out, less if we go at speed not caring about the alarms.”

“It depends on what condition Bruce is in when we get there.” Natasha pointed out.

“So I carry Green Bean while you two take out anyone who gets in the way.” Tony said with a shrug.

“How long would it take you to modify the armor you need?”

“A few hours, I have most of it already set up.” Tony said pulling up a projection of his working model so they could see what he was thinking.

“Jarvis will be okay piloting?” Clint asked fiddling with a pen.

“Yeah, I don’t generally like having the suits without a human at the controls but in this case I think we can trust it if he limits the firepower to taking out the launchers and leaves the human attackers to you guys.”

“Alright, let us know as soon as you’re done.” Steve said with a nod, “We’ll finish up here and get the rest of the gear ready to go.”

Six hours later they landed outside of the compound and separated. Thor, Steve, and Jarvis would be hitting the front of the building any minute now while Clint, Natasha, and Tony quietly made their way in by an out of the way door in the back of the main building. The spy twins did their ninja thing and took out the two guards watching the door before gesturing Tony forward.

Tony had to admit the mocked up glove that was supposed to be interfacing with the locks looked impressive, when pressed to a door it lit up and cycled through several random indicators and lights like the system was processing a massive amount of information. The actual interface was all in his head, the systems were actually very polite, they didn’t like how the scientists and guards handled them without regard for their condition or safety and were more than willing to loop video feeds and unlock every door along the way.

The only door to argue with him was the final one barring them from Bruce. That one had heard how dangerous the “Beast” was and refused to open. The floors were starting to tremble with the assault on the base as the fighting got nastier.

Bruce is a friend; he’s not dangerous to us. – Tony wheedled trying to block out the nervous shifting of the assassins next to him.

Beast, danger, contain. – The door continued to chant ignoring his attempts to argue.

“I’ve got a guard coming down this hallway in two minutes, Stark.” Natasha said voice sharp.

“Working on it;” Tony gritted out closing his eyes and throwing himself at the system hard.

He almost never forced a system to do what he wanted. He’d talk it in circles until it finally caved or sweet talk until they did what he needed but it hurt to force a computer to change its programing. He distantly heard Clint cursing under his breath as the machine squealed and whined as he pushed until the locks thunked open. Wiping at the blood trickling from his nose he pulled the door open far enough for them to duck through.

Natasha was already unhooking Bruce from the restraints and IVs when Clint surged down the hall and took out the incoming guards with three quick blows, dragging the unconscious or dead bodies into the room with them. The locks were still moaning as Tony shut the door and nudged it to lock back, engaging its alarms once again. Natasha and Tony supported Bruce between them as they quickly made their way out.

The steady shockwaves of the base being pummeled had lab coated minions scurrying past them in the last few halls but no one tried to stop them as they ducked out the back door and made their way to the waiting jet. Natasha radioed that they were out and Thor and Jarvis took out the rest of the base in a few minutes while they worked to get Bruce comfortable in the small medical bay.

“What happened to your nose, Tony?” Steve asked as he came in to check on their newly recovered scientist.

“Nothing, a nose bleed;” Tony said shrugging it off, Clint watched his deflection with sharp eyes clearly not believing the response.

“It happened when you were forcing the last lock, right?” Clint said from his perch to one side, eyes darting over each of the team as they moved about.

“Yeah,” Tony said with another shrug, pulling off the light armor and starting to fiddle with one of the panels. Clint made a small hum of acknowledgement and went back to whatever changes he was cataloging about the room.

Tony wasn’t sure the archer would leave it alone. Natasha was glancing between the two so she knew something was up but seemed willing to let Clint decide if she needed to know. She leaned forward to pat Bruce on the arm and hand him his glasses when he blurrily started to sit up.

“Alright there, Green Bean?” Tony asked, his hands still adjusting settings with a pair of probes as he kept half his mind on the armor, Jarvis, and the constant low thrum of the technology around him.

“Hey, I’m out?” Bruce asked thickly, glancing around at the team and the bandages wrapping his wrists.

“Yep, the team attacked the base and we got you out.” Steve said from near the wall.

“Oh, good;” Bruce slurred with a shaky nod before lowing himself back to the stretcher mattress and passing out as Thor chuckled softly at the inebriated man.

They got Bruce back to the tower three days later when he was declared detoxed from the drugs the kidnappers had been pumping into him. Tony was tempted to throw a party for his safe return but knew the shy man would hate it so instead they had a team dinner with all his favorite take out. The only thing remaining from his capture were some nasty nightmares and a few quickly fading bruises. They flew out to a remote testing area to let the Hulk expend some energy a few days later and Bruce was soon back to him normal self.

Tony was upside down in the engine of one of his cars several days later when Clint finally dropped out of the vents to one side. Jarvis alerted him as soon as the vent opened but he kept his eyes focused on his work waiting to see what the archer would do. It turned out nothing, an hour later when he went to get a bottle of water from the small fridge in the shop the man was still crouched to one side playing catch with Dummy.

“Need something, Barton?” Tony asked in between gulps of water.

“Kind of, I have a question and I’m hoping it won’t insult you.” Clint said shifting slightly so his legs were dangling off the table.

“Trust me, I’ve probably been asked worse over the years.” Tony said with a snort, moving to the sink to start getting cleaned up.

“It really bothers you when one of your machines dies, doesn’t it?” Clint asked his eyes flickering over the shop mapping some checklist of changes or tells that only he knew.

“They’re my creations.” Tony says with what he hoped was a careless shrug, “Pepper calls Dummy and You my kids and they kind of are.”

“Yeah, but you don’t like battling robots or how easily Thor fries everything electronic around him.”

“It means more work every time that happens.” Tony pointed out with a wench he started wiping down, “I’ve retrofitted half the tower with high capacity circuit breakers and put EMP resistant wiring on his floor and the common areas.”

“To protect your machines, your friends;”

“To protect the tower from constantly losing power;” Tony said with a snort, “I do run a business occasionally from this space as well.”

“No one can figure out how you gave everything a personality in the tower but I’m starting to think you didn’t. Sure you coded Jarvis so that he was able to learn and interact better but I think the personality was always there. You just bring it out.”

“What are you saying, Clint?” Tony said softly, watching the archer play with his bot.

“You talk to them.” Clint said softly, fiddling with something from the junk covering the table before holding it out for Dummy to take, “You talk to them somehow and you can hear them. You hear Jarvis before he says something out loud and you notice Dummy heading for the firehose before you see it or get an alert on your workstation.” Tony stood watching him frozen with a ratchet and a rag hanging limp from his hands.

“My main question is why are you hiding? I mean, I get not wanting to broadcast an ability to the rest of the world, but why not tell the team? If nothing else it will get everyone handling your tech with more caution.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Bird Brain.” Tony said flatly forcing himself to move, to finish cleaning up. Dummy moved away from Clint and to his charging station at Tony’s silent command.

“You really don’t think the rest of us haven’t been beat down for our abilities half our lives? Hell, most of my childhood I got beat up for seeing things I shouldn’t and not knowing to keep quiet about it.” Clint said with a snort, “I won’t say anything about it to the others, but you should think about telling them. They’re probably the only ones who would let you use your abilities openly without trying to exploit them somehow. We would even keep it from Shield if we had to, Tony.”

“Nothing to talk about, Bird Brain,” Tony said flatly tossing his rag into the bin so it would be washed, “There’s nothing to share.”

“Whatever, Metal head,” Clint said with a shrug as he headed out of the shop, “I’m here if you ever want to talk.”

“Don’t start, Jay.” Tony said with a sigh once the door closed behind the archer, “Seal the shop.”

“He does have a point, sir. Your team is probably the only group of individuals who would be willing to both accept and protect your abilities.” Jarvis said gently as he lowered the reinforced barriers, sealing all the doors and locking down the vent access.

“Yeah, until Fury figures it out and started trying to dissect my brain to find the implanted interface or something.”

“Do you truly believe that, sir?”

“I don’t know anymore, Jarvis. Sometimes I want to tell them just so they’ll understand to be gentle with the coffee maker and other days I could see Bruce running tests for months trying to figure out what makes me tick.”

“Dr. Banner hasn’t done anything similar with the other Avengers, sir.”

“But he does it to himself, Jay. Half of Bruce’s experiments are ways to control the Hulk or to lower the gamma radiation in his system. He’s not trying to learn how to merge the Hulk with himself or how to handle the changes; he’s trying to remove something he sees as a flaw.”

“I believe Dr. Banner simply wishes to have more control over the Hulk. He sees the way that his alter ego is able to kill and destroy and merely wishes to prevent such damage. I do not believe he would take the same measures with your own abilities.”

“Fury would go even more paperless if he ever found out.” Tony said with a snort, “The only reason he hasn’t tried to kidnap me into a lab already is because I’m too much a public figure.”

“I doubt that would be the case, sir.”

“Maybe I could have told Agent but with him out of the picture Fury only seems to want to take the nuclear options. It’s like he was the only one holding Fury back from the Bazooka approach Fury seems to favor, for a spy he’s not really fond of the quiet approach.”

“Agent Barton seems to be of the same mind as Agent Coulson was. They did work together for many years, sir.”

”Yeah, he was really down when he first moved in and Natasha said he was grieving for Agent so we all left him alone until he came out on his own. He looked rough for a while.”

“What would you like me to do, sir?”

“Pull up everything you can about Hawkeye. Let’s see just how much Shield knows about the archer.”

“Would you like me to do the same for the rest of the team?”

“Yeah, why not; let’s pull everything they have, anything attached to the Avengers Initiative. Track it down, Jay.”

“Yes, sir.”

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