Universe-160 One-Shot #1

The World Needs A Patriot

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington

May 30 2011, 11:10 UTC

The cemetery was quiet, as it always was. Eric liked it like that. It gave him time to pay his respects.

Gunnery Sergeant Eric Savin was thirty years of age, and had went out to Afghanistan several months ago, full of patriotic spirit, full of wanting to do something, to stop the damn al-Qaeda.

When he came back, he was different. He had changed, and not for the better. He was the only one of his squad to come back alive from that hell-hole. Not even his best friend from childhood, James Rhodes had survived.

He still had the nightmares. He remembered the blood, the death, the overwhelming fear as he watched people fall to a storm of bullets. He still remembered just what Rhodey had told him before that faithful patrol.

"Yeah, Valerie's havin' a kid right about now, I think. Once this is all over, Eric, I'll have a kid. Think we'll name the baby Tom after my dad, or if its a girl Kate after her grandmom. I tell ya Eric, thing's are looking up."

Yeah, Eric thought bitterly as he stood before Rhodey's tombstone, things had been looking up. A few days before they were shipped back to the States, with the promise of family and hope. It had been nice.

He stood in his Marine Uniform, slightly loosened at the collar; he might've been a stickler for the rules, but that didn't mean that he wouldn't make himself less comfortable. His brown hair was in a buzzcut that was gradually growing back, and his blue eyes were as hard as steel, unwavering as he read the tombstone over and over.

James "Rhodey" Rhodes

Jan. 11, 1979-Feb. 28, 2011

John 3:13: "No one has ever gone into Heaven except

those who came from Heaven-the Son of Man"

He stayed there for hours, just remembering how he had failed to save his best friend, trying to stem the blood, the screaming-! He gasped and closed his eyes as he was briefly overwhelmed by the memories, God he could smell it, see it, hear it.

But he regained control over himself, and laid his hand upon Rhodey's tombstone, and he froze up. His eyes softened, and he laid down the flowers he had brought, desperately wanting Rhodey to hear him up here from where he was; six feet under.

"Sorry Rhodey." He said stoically, but inwardly he was in turmoil. The doctors had diagnosed him with PTSD, but that was obviously going to happen. After everything, how could it not happen? "Sorry you didn't get to see your daughter, Kate." He smiled wryly.

"I've been over for dinner with them a few times, and they're holding out well. Well, Valerie's cracking. She tries to hide it but sometimes she can't." Eric tried to convey the feeling of hopelessness he was being taken over by. "I wish I could help them, I really do, but I can't. I-I just can't Rhodey. God, I feel like a coward." Voice full of self-deprecation, he continued his tirade.

"But what I really dread is when Kate will ask, 'where's my daddy?'" Eric was aware he was crying, and wiped his eyes clear with the back of his hand. "How, how can I tell her I'm the reason that you died? How can I tell her that her dad died before she was even born?"

The tombstone didn't answer back, and Eric was dejected. He had been hoping for some sign, some sign that he could repent for Rhodey's death, especially in a world full of super human beings and heroes. He sighed, and began to walk back to his car.

"Sorry, Rhodey. I'll be back next week." He managed to get back to his car, and was about to get in before he heard a voice calling to him, one that was definitely not imaginary.

"Mr Savin. If I could please have a moment of your time," A man's voice sounded, and Eric turned around; next to a large black car, was a man several years older than him, with a bald-ish head and glasses. He contemplated his options, before closing his car's door and proceeding over to him.

"My name is Jasper Sitwell," The man shook Eric's hand, and as he did so, Eric was aware that this was a highly dangerous man, possibly military going by the strength of his handshake. "I'm an agent for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division."

"S.H.I.E.L.D." Eric said straight to the point, and Jasper nodded in acknowledgement of the acronym. "What does it want with me?"

"Direct, your file said you were." Jasper noted, but looked sheepish when he caught Eric's no-nonsense look. "Ah, sorry. Anyway, I'm also a liason between S.H.I.E.L.D. and LexCorp. We have had an eye on you for some time." Jasper gestured to the vehicle he had come from. "Mr. Luthor would like to meet you."

Eric considered his options; Lex Luthor, the Titan of Industry, wanted to see him, a Gunnery Sergeant who made about one-percent of what the businessman did. It was certainly an honor, but Luthor was known for twisting his words, while Eric was a soldier. He plowed through the problem with an AK-47 and a few grenades.

Eventually, he reached a decision.

He looked Jasper in the eye, and said, "Alright then. Let's go."

LexCorp HQ, Metropolis

May 30 2011, 20:00 EDT

After driving some distance to a private airport, Eric and Jasper boarded a type of supersonic plane, designed for getting to places very quickly. From what he recalled, a similar concept was thought of by the military, but was deemed unusable due to the high costs and the amount they would have to build.

From arriving in Metropolis, Eric realised he was in a different place. He saw everything was completely different from what he was used to. There were more buildings, more shops, more people. The skyscrapers reached the sky, and he couldn't follow any up because his neck would hurt. When he tried, Jasper had smiled good-naturedly.

"I tried that the first time I got assigned to Metropolis. I had to get a special cream 'cause it would cramp every time I looked up, pretty much. You get used to it eventually." Eric has mentally rolled his eyes, but appreciated Jasper's efforts. Whne you got past the slight creepiness, there was a genuinely nice guy. Like his cousin Lester.

His breath was taken away the first time he saw the giant LexCorp HQ. It was endless in the sky, floors countless, and , for the first time, was completely speechless. Jasper noted the look of amazement on his face, and clapped him on the shoulder.

"Let's go, Mr Luthor's expecting us." Jasper said, and Eric got himself out of the stupor he was in, nodded and followed the suited agent into the large, monolithic building. Eric looked in wonder at the building; it was even bigger on the inside. Jasper proceeded to the registration desk.

"Jasper Sitwell, Eric Savin." He said to the receptionist, who typed the names into the computer, searching for a result. "Mr. Luthor is expecting us." She nodded, and Jasper gesturing to Eric, who followed him to the elevator. Jasper pressed a button and they were off to the top floor.

Inside his chest, Eric's heart was beating rapidly. What did Lex Luthor want with him? Evidently it was something important, but Eric couldn't imagine why he was being called upon. After all, he had done nothing compared to other veterans; to them, he was just a rookie. A kid who just got lucky while the real soldiers died one after another.

"Ah, Mercy." Jasper addressed Luthor's silent assistant. "We aren't late are we?" Mercy nodded that they were not, and she preceeded them, knocking on the huge door leading to Luthor's office. There was a brief silence, before Luthor's voice sounded. "Come in." They went in, and Eric was taken aback.

The office was both full of space but had a marvelous view of Metropolis. He saw a painting directly behind Luthor's desk, which judging by the marks and paintjob Eric would have to guess it was made of high-grade titanium. The reason why he didn't know. But what he did know was that would allow Luthor to survive a missile launch.

"Ah, Mr. Sitwell. It has been some time since our last meeting." Luthor turned from his stance at the giant windows, and proceeded to shake Jasper's hand. Luthor was powerfully built, slightly more than Eric himself, but there was something about his eyes that made Eric know this was a very dangerous man. Of course, since it was Lex Luthor, that was to be expected. It was rumoured he caused civil wars for a hobby.

"Hello Lex; I brought Mr. Savin, like you requested." Jasper gestured to Eric with a wide sweep, and all of a sudden Eric felt very nervous. He had never done well when it came to authority figures, because sometimes they just made him feel uneasy. Luthor turned his curiosity filled eyes on him and took his hand, shaking it.

"Well, I must say I've wanted to meet you for some time, Mr. Savin. Please, have a seat." Luthor gestured to two seats in front of his desk, but Eric declined respectfully; sitting in chairs never suited him when he was on business.

"I'm sorry Mr. Luthor, but I prefer to stand." Eric said with steel edging his tone. Luthor took it all in good stride and sat on his own seat. Eric then proceeded with the question that was bothering him. "If you don't mind answering, sir, why am I here?" Luthor smiled cat-like, and even Jasper had a knowing look to his face.

"Well, if you want to know, follow me." Luthor said, and he stood up, pressing a button on a remote that opened a room behind the painting. Eric gasped as he saw the contents; faberge eggs, paintings, statues. But what really drew his attention was an octagonal-based capsule standing right up against the back of the room. They all stood in front of it, and Luthor pressed another button, revealing the contents. Eric's breath was taken out of his body in amazement.

It was a suit of armor, obviously, with a block-like head and a strange device on the back, and with closer inspection Eric saw it to be a type of shoulder mounted gun. Part of the face was colored gun-metal grey, along with pieces on the torso and upper thighs, but the majority of the armor was blue, with red stretching across the armor itself. There was even a five-pointed star in a circle on its left shoulder.

"This is the JRXL-1000 Powered Armor, fitted with advanced repulsor blasters in the hands, as well as micro missiles stored in the shoulder armor. In addition, there are mini-machine guns fitted into the gauntlets, but the real attraction is the Mark Two three-hundred-and-sixty degree shoulder mounted ballistic gun, capable of switching from regular bullets to lasers in an instant. Most of its flight controls are maintained by an on-board AI, known as ROX." Luthor smiled at the awe on Eric's face, before continuing. "And I am giving it to you."

Eric was thunderstruck; why would such a high-piece of machinery, the pinnacle of human engineering be given to him? He turned to Luthor to ask the question, but the man was already prepared to answer. "You want to know why I chose you, don't you?" Eric nodded.

"Well, I chose you Mr. Savin, because not only do you have an outstanding record; it says in yours you received a Purple Heart for outstanding bravery and service to the United States of America for services done in Afghanistan?" Eric had been embarassed when he had been given it; it really belonged to James, who did most of the work in Eric's mind.

"Sir-" Eric made to make his case why he shouldn't get this suit, but Luthor plowed on, evidently unaware or choosing to ignore Eric's protests.

"You also passed strategic exercises with flying colors, even becoming the top athlete in high school and part of the track team in university. Impressive," Luthor noted, turning his attention back to Eric. "But I really chose you because of your spirit." Eric's eyebrow was raised; spirit? What was Luthor on about?

"Ah, what I mean is, Mr. Savin, is that you don't give up, no matter the situation. I appreciate that because it means that people have a motive for surviving, and that makes them incredibly noteworthy; after all, if people succumb, they don't wish to live in a sense. But you, Mr. Savin," Luthor said with charisma. "You have spat in the face of Death, and I commend that."

"That is why this suit is yours, if you take it." Luthor gestured to the empty armor, and Eric turned his attention to it in thought before answering.

"Sir, I'm a soldier. But I don't deserve this armor." At Luthor's inquisitive gaze, he elaborated. "My partner, James Rhodes, he deserves the suit more than me; he saved me from death a bunch of times, and I failed to save him even once. I'm a soldier; I joined the army to protect people. If I can't protect my friend, what good would I be with a suit?" Eric asked, and Luthor seemed to ponder the question before answering.

"Ah, Mr. Savin, you have just passed the test." Eric was confused; there was a test? Luthor explained at Eric's vacant expression. "I believe in humility, as well, to an extent. If you had just admitted you deserved the armor then I would've denied you to be its pilot. But by denying credit, it has proven to me that you are worthy of this suit. What do you say?"

"Sir..." Eric tried to word his sentences carefully, before he accepted or declined. "If I were to become the pilot of this suit, what would I be required to do exactly?" Luthor seemed glad at the question, as he produced a pen and paper, which was actually a legal document requiring his signing.

"Well, the Armor was constructed by Cadmus under backing from the President, so your duties would be as followed; you would be required to follow military commands as well as track insurgents in the Middle East, you would earn five-thousand dollars a month, and you would have pre-paid health care for the rest of your life. You would also be required to become an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., for legal reasons. Apart from those, the suit is yours." Luthor finished, and Eric considered his options.

If he accepted the armor, then he would have to go back into active duty again when he was called for. He would get more money, which he could put into a trust for Rhodey's family when the time came, and he would have a chance to get back at the terrorists for robbing him of his best friend. He looked up at Luthor, and he said two simple words.

"I accept." Luthor's smile was postively gleaming, and Eric took the pen and signed off his name. Luthor did the same and Jasper clapped Eric on the shoulder.

"Look's like we'll be co-workers, buddy." Jasper said warmly, but Eric gave a look at the hand on his shoulder and Jasper wisely retreated. Eric looked at the suit itself, before making a statement.

"If I could, Mr. Luthor, make a suggestion?" Eric asked, and Luthor paid attention as the capsule opened, with the armor disassembling into the walls of the capsule, ready for Eric to armor up.

"Yes, Mr. Savin. What is it?"

"I'd like to give the armor a designation. An identification." Eric suggested, and Luthor nodded. An old line from his past with Rhodey as kids came back to him.

"Hey, Eric. I'm a patriot! When I grow up, I'm gonna be a soldier and gun down all the bad guys! You with me?"

"Yeah! Let's do it Rhodey! Bam, bam! Boom!"

"Iron Patriot," Eric said, as he stepped into the capsule's space, the armor forming over him. "I'll be Iron Patriot." Luthor nodded, and the world exploded into light, as all the electronics were powered up and the systems activated. The vents whirred, and the suit's eyes glowed a light blue.

Iron Patriot was born.

The world needs a Patriot, and Eric was going to be that Patriot.

Author's Note: Well, here's a oneshot dedicated to Memorial Day on the 26th, for the brave men and women who fought for the USA. Granted, I don't live there, but it's the thought that counts. And if you didn't know, in 2011 Memorial Day was on the 30th of May, so there's some trivia.

Now, Iron Patriot is introduced to my Chronicles of Venom fanfic verse, where he'll be properly introduced in the fourth chapter or episode, which will be called 'Guns of the Patriot'. Fans will probably flame me for choosing Eric Savin from Iron Man 3 as Iron Patriot over Rhodey, but we never had a comics-version of Eric, and I decided to go my own angle for his character; as as shell-shocked soldier who is haunted by the loss of his best friend in Afghanistan.

Now, please note this and Chronicles of Venom take place in 2011, not the 2010 of Young Justice Season 1, meaning the main fic and future oneshots introducing new characters will bridge both seasons, with another series featuring Venom, Iron Patriot and other characters taking place during Invasion.

So please, read and review this little one shot. I'm eager to see how well Eric/Iron Patriot is received by the fandom! And I'm publishing this early so that I can try and get Chapter 3 done for the actual Memorial Day, and trust me Chapter 3 will feature some new characters and definite foreshadowing.

Oh, and the next one shot that will be featured some time in the middle of the Chronicles of Venom Volume I will be designated as 'The Black Arrow Strikes'. Guess who that'll be, I dare you! See ya guys!