Hey guys! Worked really hard and late on this chapter so I hope you enjoy! I thought you deserved another chapter pretty quick cos I've been away for nearly a year, so. Thanks for all the reviews, its frickin' amazing, they absolutely make my day!
p.s sorry for any typos I didn't have that much time for editing.
The scene changed to a flat screen tv, showing a reporter on FOX News standing before a trail of people wrapped in clothing and carrying their possessions in sacs, a mother clutching a baby to her chest.
"The 15-mile hike to the outskirts of Gulmira can only be described as a descent into hell, into a modern day heart of darkness. Simple farmers and herders from peaceful villages have been driven from their homes, displaced from their lands by warlords emboldened by a new-found power."
The camera panned out showing Tony sitting in a desk chair in front of the tv, fiddling with a screwdriver with his right suit-glove, the shiny red paint gleaming in the dim light. The arc-reactor glowed steadily through a grey sleeveless shirt Tony was wearing. The billionaire was frowning, obviously upset about what the reporter was saying.
"Villagers have been forced to take shelter in whatever crude dwellings they can find in the ruins of other villages, or here in the remnants of an old Soviet smelting plant."
Tony twisted his wrist experimentally, scrutinising the glove for any mistakes in his design before finally raising his eyes to the tv. It showed the interior of an old abandoned warehouse, smoke still rising from the old machinery. Gunshots sounded and the tv changed to a video of insurgents running, carrying machine guns and shooting at an unknown enemy.
"Recent violence has been attributed to a group of foreign fighters, referred to by locals as the Ten Rings."
The video on the tv zoomed in on an arabic man recognized as Raza, smoking a cigarette casually as he watched the gunfight unfold.
"As you can see, these men are heavily armed and on a mission; a mission that could prove fatal to anyone who stands in their way."
Tony watched and listened to the reporter, the darkness in his eyes growing rapidly.
Steve swallowed. He knew that look. Stark was furious.
"With no political will or international pressure, there's very little hope for these refugees."
Tony stood from the sofa and headed over to his kitchen bar, tossing the screwdriver he had been playing around with before into the sink.
"Around me, a woman is begging for news on her husband, who was kidnapped by insurgents, either forced to join their militia..."
Tony stood before a dangling light, eyes dark with anger and a sort of sadness, or perhaps... guilt. He raised his gloved arm, the blaster whirring and preparing for use. Suddenly it went off, and Tony fell backwards awkwardly from the powerful recoil, sparks exploding everywhere. Tony walked towards his target expressionless. Head down, Tony continued listening to the reporter, who was now talking about orphans in Gulmira, and refugees wondering who 'if anyone' will help. The genius looked up, catching sight of his own reflection in the glass.
Tony shifted uncomfortably. He knew what was coming, and he knew the others wouldn't like it.
With sudden speed, Tony raised his blaster and shot at one of the windows containing his reflection, twisting around to avoid the shattering glass, shot the next one, and the next. And they all had his reflection.
Before the movie moved on to the next scene, Clint opened his mouth, trying to overcome his shock. "Hold on, hold on, pause the movie. Pause it." He stared at Tony. "Tony... I don't... what?"
Steve felt sick. Physically sick, like he wanted to throw up, and he hadn't done that since the super soldier syrum. Did Tony want to kill himself? Did Tony Stark, arrogant, big-headed, rude, snarky, self-absorbed, playboy Tony Stark want to kill himself? It seemed impossible. Tony was always laughing about something, purposely irritating someone about something, he was one of the truly happiest guys Steve had ever met. It seemed like he had nothing to worry about. But, Jesus Christ, how wrong had he gotten it? He was Team Captain, he was supposed to know this sort of crap! He was supposed to know Tony, he thought he did! But obviously not. Hell, he didn't even know Tony was a weapons designer before Iron Man, he didn't even know that one of his best friends were captured and tortured in FUCKING AFGHANISTAN!
"Tony..." Bruce began. "Please, please tell me you didn't want to..." The poor man wasn't even able to say it.
"Kill yourself?" Natasha offered, when no one else spoke. To Steve she looked completely relaxed, no emotion whatsoever but the Captain knew her insides were probably in turmoil, you just couldn't see it.
"I, um... I was in a bad place. I was a little upset." Tony shrugged, avoiding eye contact. He scratched the back of his head uncomfortably.
"Upset?" Bruce stared at his friend. "Tony, you wanted to... to kill yourself. That's more than a little upset. A lot more, believe me, I know."
Steve suddenly remembered the guy's story about trying to swallow a bullet.
"What about now?" Clint's voice came, a lot clearer than earlier. "Do you still want to die?"
Tony looked horrified. "Hell no! I mean, there are times when I think it would be easier, for me, for everyone-"
Steve's stomach lurched.
"- but I can't do that to you Pepper, or you guys, or Rhodey. It would be selfish as fuck, and I know you guys think I am, selfish I mean, but I'm not that much of a dick to put you guys through that, I promise." Tony looked into their eyes earnestly.
"Tony-" Steve began.
"Cap, I swear I'm fine now, I promise." He nodded.
"It's just..." Bruce looked at his buddy. "You know we care about you, right Tony? You're our friend and we love and care about you and we couldn't bear if anything happened to you, I know I certainly couldn't, and neither could the Big Guy."
The whole team, including Fury was nodding.
"Agreed." Thor declared, watching the Man of Iron curiously.
Tony was blushing scarlet and Steve was sure the guy wasn't breathing properly. Tony held out his fist for a fist bump with Bruce.
"Science bros?" He offered.
"Science bros." Bruce agreed, chuckling.
Fury nodded, watching the two with a slightly fond look in his eye. "Okay, I think we can start playing it again.
Tony caught sight of Steve still watching him, concerned.
Tony sighed slightly and whispered so only Rogers could hear; "Steve, it's okay. I'm okay."
Steve nodded slightly and Tony patted him on the shoulder, turning round to continue watching.
The scene changed to Stark walking on to this floor with a grid on it. From where he stood, metal panes began to fold in on the floor, flipping to the opposite side where the shiny metal of the Mark appeared. There were the shoes bit of the suit and Tony put his left leg in, the metal tightening around his foot to fit. More of the suit pieced together around his calves as his other foot stepped in, the metal sliding into place with an almost beautiful ease. The suit continued to fold over Tony's legs, sliding over his thighs and getting fixed to his knees, DUM-E, Butterfingers and U all helping their creator get fitted. Tony raised his arms up and two machines encased pretty much his entire forearms, pushing the gauntlets onto his fingers and wrists, plates of red and gold enveloping his entire chest, securing around the arc-reactor as it beamed brightly. Two machines placed the neck brace around Tony's neck, before one final machine dropped the face-plate down, the eyes gleaming the arc-reactor's blue.
Clint whistled, impressed. Fury shook his head, trying to smother his own look of impressedness.
"I can't believe you have that kind of technology in 2008," he muttered.
The scene changed to high above the clouds, the sky a beautiful clear blue. A small object flew into view, leaving a trail of white hot behind him; Iron Man's blasters. Iron Man's gauntlet blasters blazed as he sped up even further, a small blasting noise could be heard.
Bruce blinked. "Did you just go supersonic?"
"Yup," Tony replied, leaning back with on his chair with his feet on the table, popping the 'p'.
The scene changed to a mob of arabic people running away, screaming. Missiles sliced into the mountainside in the background, dangerously close to the village. There was a huge explosion and and smoke erupted. Afghani soldiers in army fatigues ushered villagers away as an insurgent chased a man and woman into a house, peppering the walls with bullet holes. The insurgent kicked open the door as he was joined by another insurgent, who was shooting anyone who came near.
A man screamed as he threw himself out of a building just as the doorway exploded. Men and women were being herded by insurgents, some shot as they tried to make their getaway. It was utter chaos.
Men were being pushed up against a wall, hands on their heads as the insurgents surrounded them with guns. Women watching clutched each other in terror, and the elderly and young men watched in horror.
Hurry it up, the bearded man from the camp where Tony was held captive yelled in arabic. Put the women in the trucks. Stack the weapons here. Clear all the houses, that one there, faster, faster!
A man wrapped his arms around his children and wives as he guided them, ducking the gunfire desperately. Insurgents rushed ahead with cases of weapons, all imprinted with the same two words - Stark Industries.
A gunshot stopped the man with his wife and children in his tracks and he crouched down, trying to shield them.
Grab that dog! The bearded man commanded. Put him with the others.
Suddenly the man with his family was ripped away by an insurgent, the mother screaming for her husband as she tried to hold her children back. But her son got loose and raced towards his father, and all of the sudden the father was able to tear himself away from the insurgent. He ran towards his son and the boy enveloped him in a hug, ignoring his mother's desperate shouts.
What the hell is this?! Cried the bearded man.
The bearded man grabbed the boy and roughly dragged him away from his father, who was desperately trying to cling on to his son. The bearded man tossed the boy to the side and shoved the father to the ground, stomping hard on his chest.
The mother's screams grew, desperate and piercing as she clutched her son and daughter to her. The bearded man continued to kick the father, watching gleefully as the man gasped in pain.
Shoot this dog, he ordered.
"C'mon, Tony," Bruce was staring wide-eyed at the scene before him. "Now would be a really great time to show up."
An insurgent with an AK-45 pulled the father up as the bearded man stomped off.
You're all incompetent, he growled.
The mother was on her knees, arms wrapped around her children as the daughter sobbed, papa! Papa!, over and over.
Turn your head! An insurgent screamed at the father, who was on his knees, arms raised in surrender as a huge assault rifle was shoved in his face.
PAPAAAAAAAAAAAA! The boy screamed with horror, when all of a sudden he heard an odd motor-engine like sound, turning his head up to see.
The bearded man spun round and stared up, astonished, and sure enough, there was Iron Man, landing right before him with a loud clang.
"YESSSSSSSS!" Whooped Clint.
"Impeccable timing, Tony," Steve clapped his friend on the back.
The blasters cut out and Iron Man rose up, and you could almost feel the determination radiating off the suit. A single shooter opened fire, right in front of him, and Iron Man just took the bullets, ricocheting off the metal, before punching him right in the stomach, sending him flying up, smacking into the wall of a concrete building. Iron Man spun round and sent a blast to the insurgent holding the men hostage, allowing all the hostages to scatter. Iron Man blasted another insurgent who opened fire on him, then another, then another. He twisted round, both gauntlets up and ready to fire before freezing. Four insurgents had taken hostages, holding guns to their heads and backs.
"Hold your fire!" Steve yelped.
Natasha sent him a scathing glare. "I think he knows that, Rogers."
Iron Man slowly lowered his arms, the blasters stopped glowing. Instead a beeping noise could be heard, and red targets were placed on insurgents head inside Iron Man's mask, obviously what Tony could see. The hostages were labeled with white 'civilian' tags and there were no targets on their heads.
Mini missiles popped out of Iron Man's shoulders and in an instant they slammed into all the insurgents, who collapsed beside their hostages, who were completely unharmed, dead. The wife stared at him in shock, breathing heavily. Everything was silent for a moment, before the boy escaped his mother's grasp and ran towards his father, shouting his name, a beaming smile on his face. They embraced, holding eachother and didn't let go. But the boy's eyes followed Iron Man as he passed them.
The bearded man was hiding behind a wall, dealing something vigorously on a phone. He leant against the wall, but all of a sudden, a red fist punched through the concrete wall. The bearded man stared at it for a moment in horror. Iron Man pulled him through the wall, tossing him to the dusty ground as villagers surrounded the man. Iron Man's blasters came back on and he rose up, hovering in the air and looking down at the surrounded group of villagers.
"He's all yours." Tony's metallic voice came through for the first time and he zipped away, and upwards.
Iron Man zipped through the sky, his missiles locating one of the insurgents own missiles aimed for the sky. About to blow it up, Iron Man was suddenly hit, and smashed to the ground in a mere instance.
"Jesus!" Clint yelped. "What was that?"
Everything was quiet as a scratched metallic hand reached to the edge of a crater, Iron Man dragging himself out with a pained gasp. He stood for a moment, and there was nothing, the attack had seemingly come from nowhere. All of a sudden there was another blast, and Iron Man dodged it with ease. He raised his arm and sent a small missile into a tank into the far distance, turning away and not watching as it blew up.
"Bro, that was awesome!" Clint exclaimed, grinning.
"I know," Tony smiled smugly.
More insurgents had seemingly gathered from nowhere and were opening fire on Iron Man, the bullets ricocheting off him uselessly. Iron Man ignored them and rose into the air, finding more missiles pointed into the air and he blew them up, his gauntlet blasters blazing as the insurgents scattered. Their escape attempts were in vain, though, because the explosion swallowed them all. A convoy of trucks with Raza looking out the window in lead pulled up, staring.
Iron Man zoomed out of the blast range and in seconds he was hundreds of feet above the surface. He had succeeded in his mission.
The scene changed to a computer screen, showing a camera at the village occupied by insurgents which Iron Man had just blown up.
"What the hell was that? Were we cleared to go in there?" A man in army fatigues questioned another soldier sitting at a desk.
The words 'Edwards Air Force Base, California' appeared.
"No, they were using human shields. We never got the green light." The soldier replied, confused.
"Put me through to State, they're gonna be all over this." Another soldier with brown hair ordered, watching the commotion.
"Get those monitors up!" Someone yelled.
A young soldier's computers was suddenly drowned in alarms. "We got a bogey!" He announced.
"Wasn't Air Force!" Someone yelled.
Fury shook his head. "I remember that. We were all so confused about what the hell was happening." He glared at Stark. "You confused the fuck outta us, Stark."
Clint and Natasha nodded.
"I remember that day," Clint said. "There was a real commotion, I've got to say."
Tony smirked. "Glad I was so noticeable."
Everyone rolled their eyes.
"We got CIA on the line?" The same guy who requested State asked, obviously the acting commanding officer.
"I've got Langley on the line. They wanna know if it's us." The soldier who asked whether or not they were cleared said.
"No, it definitely is not us, sir!" Another soldier spun around and said.
"I need answers!" The soldier said. "Can I please get eyes on target?"
"Get me Colonel Rhodes from Weapons Development down here now!" The soldier ordered.
Iron Man continued to zip through the air, at a more steady pace than before. Tony seemed to just be cruising.
Back at the base, Rhodey had just arrived.
"We ran an ID check and cross-referenced with all known databases. We have nothing." The soldier said to him.
"Any high altitude surveillance in the region?" Rhodes asked.
"We got an AWAC and a Global Hawk in the area." A soldier announced, looking up from one of the computers.
"So this thing just appeared out of nowhere?" Rhodes said. "How come it didn't show up on the radar?"
"Got a minimal radar cross section, sir." A soldier replied.
"Is it stealth?"
"No, sir, it's tiny. We think it's an unmanned aerial vehicle."
Tony snorted. "Unmanned?"
Steve gave him a disapproving look. "You could have gotten yourself into serious trouble, Stark."
Bruce sighed. "Who says he didn't?"
"Colonel, what're we dealing with here?" The commanding soldier asked Rhodes, voice low.
Rhodey looked down, avoiding the other man's gaze. "Lemme make a call."
The scene changed to Iron Man, still soaring above the clouds. A ringing of a telephone sounded out.
"Hello?" Tony said.
"Tony?" Rhodes said, back at the airbase.
"Who's this?" Tony asked.
"Sorry, hello?" Tony asked again, blinking inside his mask. Silently, JARVIS pushed a picture of Rhodey closer into Tony's line of view.
"I said it's Rhodes." Rhodey repeated.
"Speak up, please,"
"What the hell is that noise?" Rhodey frowned, sticking a finger in his ear.
"Oh, yeah, I'm driving with the top down." Tony lied.
"Yeah well, I need your help right now."
"It's funny how that works, huh?" Tony mused.
"Yeah. Speaking of funny, we've got a weapons depot that was just blown up a few clicks from where you were being held captive." Rhodes informed him.
"Well, that's a, uh, that's a hot spot. Sounds like someone stepped in and did your job for you, huh?" Tony sounded out of breath.
Rhodes picked up on that immediately. "Why do you sound out of breath, Tony?"
Natasha shook her head. "That's lying 101, Tony."
Tony stuck his tongue out. "Yeah, well, I ain't a spy, Romanov."
"I'm not, I was just jogging in the canyon," Tony lied.
"I thought you were driving."
"Right, I was driving, uhh, to the canyon, where I'm going to jog."
Clint winced. "That was bad, Stark, even for you."
"You sure you don't have any tech in that area I should know about?"
"Nope!" Tony decided, sounding uncharacteristically pleased.
"Bogey spotted!" Someone from the base called.
On the screen at the front, sure enough, a blurry pixelated video feed of Iron Man was playing.
"Whiplash, come in hot." Someone said.
"Okay, good, 'cause I'm staring at one right now and it's about to be blown to kingdom come." Rhodey informed his friend.
Bruce and Steve both cringed.
Sure enough, behind Iron Man two fighter jets pulled up in formation.
"That's my exit," Tony declared, pulling away and speeding up.
The jets followed in turn, of course, and they were suddenly caught in a high speed air-chase.
"Ballroom, this Whiplash One. I've got the bogey in my sights." The pilot of one of the jets announced over the intercom.
"Whiplash One, what is it?" Rhodey asked.
"I've got no idea," Whiplash One responded.
"You have radio contact?" The commanding officer standing beside Rhodey asked.
"Non responsive, sir."
The soldier nodded. "Then you are clear to engage."
Looking through his targeting cameras, Whiplash One ordered his missile to, 'Hit it', but all of a sudden, Iron Man sped up impossibly fast with a blast, zipping through the sky.
"That bogey just went supersonic! I gotta lock!" Whiplash One exclaimed. The pilot pressed a red button and a large missile zoomed out of Whiplash One's body, heading towards Iron Man alarmingly fast.
"Inbound missile," JARVIS warned.
"Flares!" Tony commanded.
Flares flew out of Iron Man with such momentum the suit was in a starfish like shape, but the missile blew to pieces, suddenly useless.
"Wait a second, bogey deployed flares!" Whiplash One sounded shocked.
The two jets narrowly missed the wreckage of the missile, and Iron Man fell about 50 meters, Tony gasping in fear, before finally gaining control again and continued his flight quickly, the jets close behind. One of the jets opened fire, getting a couple of shots in, before Iron Man straightened up.
"Deploy flaps!" Tony ordered, and all of a sudden he was yanked backwards, the breaks working very effectively.
"Holy!" Whiplash One exclaimed, trying to follow with his eyes, but losing sight almost instantly.
"That thing just jumped off the radar, sir." Whiplash Two informed Base.
"The sat visual has been lost." A soldier confirmed.
"No way that's a UAV," one of the pilots commented.
"What is it?" The commanding officer asked.
"I can't see anything." Whiplash Two shook his head.
"Whatever it was, it just bought the farm." Whiplash One said.
"I think bogey has been handled, sir." Whiplash Two agreed.
Rhodey shook his head, bewildered. His phone went off and he looked at it. Tony's picture had come up, along with the words 'The Starkster'.
Bruce and Steve rolled their eyes.
"Really?" Fury sighed.
Tony grinned. "Hell yeah."
Looking around, Rhodey turned away and pressed the phone to his ear.
"Hello?" He said.
"Hi, Rhodey, it's me." Tony sounded tired,
"It's who?" Rhodey raised his eyebrows.
"I'm sorry, it is me. You asked, what you were asking about me." Yes, Tony was definitely grimacing.
"No, see, this isn't a game." Rhodey scolded. "You do not send civilian equipment into my active war zone, you understand that?"
The view changed to Tony inside the mask, beads of sweat along his forehead.
"This is not a piece of equipment, I'm in it, it's a suit. It's me!" He shouted, clearly agitated.
Rhodey' eyes widened in realisation.
The commanding officer who had been watching the phone call fold out, asked, "Rhodey, you got anything for me?"
Rhodey lowered the phone from, his ear, staring at the officer in shock.
Back in the sky, Ballroom came over the intercom. "Mark your position and return to base."
"Roger that, Ballroom." Whiplash One and Two agreed and began to turn backwards, when all of a sudden, there was a view of Iron Man, clinging to the belly of one of the jets.
Fury wiped a hand over his face, frustrated. "The fuck were you thinking, Stark?!"
Bruce and Steve had both gone slightly pale.
"On your belly!" Whiplash Two told One. "It looks like a man!"
"Oh god," Clint moaned.
How was it?