[i] Hello, everyone. I'm currently waiting to hear from a literary agent on the future of my own original fiction, so whislt I wait for that I decided to occupy my time with a crossover fic bewtween two very popular universes -- Halo and The Avengers. Hope you all enjoy! [/i]
It was faulty and he knew it, despite what JARVIS proclaimed. The new suit hadn't been the same since his farewell message to the Chitauri -- a thoughtful reminder of the effectiveness of nuclear fission. Tony would never admit it but he felt as though both he and his father had sent the enemy on their way. After all, Howard had worked on the Manhattan Project.
"JARVIS, run another diagnostic. And do it properly this time," Stark jibed, looking around the workshop. He wasn't sure if it had been the cold vacuum of deep space -- or whatever realm the Chitauri came from -- or the EMP from the explosion. Or the simple fact that it was the first time one of his suits had used up every ounce of energy.
"Sir," chimed JARVIS in his typically impeccable English accent. "The previous diagnostic revealed no abnormalities or faults of any kind. And the suit is running at expected levels of energy usage and mobility. It is well within the designed tolerance levels."
The holographic display sprang into life, detailing every millimetre of the armour in a multitude of wireframe models, all of them intersecting at every level. Tony looked them over, curiosity and bemusement alike written on his features.
"Well, something's wrong."
"Far be it from me to question your judgement, sir, but the past four weeks have been quite demanding, even by your standards. I detect no imperfections outside of design specifications."
A smile crept across his face. Tony was right -- [i] no imperfections outside of design specifications. [/i] He wanted perfection and would settle for nothing less than that. But JARVIS was also on the ball. Recent events had taken their toll: the invasion, the realisation that we were not alone in the universe. And even the thought of being among a group of selected individuals charged with the defence of Earth carried weight. Even for Tony it was a lot to take in. He was tempted to head upstairs to the penthouse of Stark Tower and settle down with an ice-loaded glass of forty-year-old whiskey. But he resisted -- for the moment.
"Why don't we take the design specifications that you're so fond of, JARVIS, and make this thing run properly, eh?"
There was a momentary pause from his reliable AI. Tony always felt as though he could get JARVIS to slip up when throwing the occasional, subtle insult. But the accent remained. Unflustered. Untroubled.
"I take it you would rather have me subject the suit to another engine test, sir?"
Tony took a step forward, looking the wireframe over in more detail. He gently swiped his hand from left to right to rotate the model.
"Whilst you're at it, add another layer of absorbency material, and boost the thermal properties to retain optimal heat whilst diffusing the exhaust gases."
"I did take the time to design a spoiler, sir. Would you be interested?"
Tony ignored the retort, and focussed on inspecting the hologram. Then he saw it.
"There," Tony pointed before expanding the image, "beneath the dorsal plating next to the exhaust feedback system."
"It appears that a small metal fragment has become lodged in the plating. How did I miss that?"
"Because your surname isn't Stark. Remove it and proceed with the upgrades. And analyse the fragment while you're at it."
The wireframe image vanished, replaced with a solid 3D scan of the metal fragment. It looked unremarkable. But Tony left the image on display and moved on to his next task.
"Would you still like me to perform the diagnostic, sir?"
Tony quickly headed downstairs to check on the workmen sent from the factory. Progress was slow, but then trying to adapt the mid-level section of Stark Tower into a hanger bay was always going to be a more protracted affair than he would have hoped for, but the sign of change was definitely there. Already, enough of the level had been cleared away to give it the vaguest appearance of a hangar, and the new doors were being delivered tomorrow.
Tony was looking forward to the improvements, something eagerly suggested by Pepper, but the main hurdle would come from S.H.I.E.L.D., and their fondness of secrets and the technology hidden within. Acquiring a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet and convincing Nick Fury of the requirement would prove difficult but not impossible. After all, how else would Rogers and Banner come and go without the use of the front door -- avoiding the inevitable paparazzi camped outside since New York was inconveniently redesigned. A faint smile crept upon Tony's face he was sorely tempted to invite Banner and then simply push him out of the nearest window, onto the waiting photographers and journalists below. Then he would sit back and enjoy the show.
Several of the workmen noticed Tony and nodded. Tony briefly waved in response.
"You guys' help yourselves to the kitchen downstairs. They'll make whatever you want."
After a quick series of handshakes from some of the more bewildered workmen, Tony returned to his penthouse suit at the top of the tower.
Time for that drink, he thought to himself. He grabbed a glass and pulled out the decanter from the cupboard under the bar. It was half-full and for personal use only -- containing forty five thousand dollars' worth of the finest whiskey on the planet. He loaded the glass with ice and poured himself a generous measure and then walked over to the observation level and looked out at the glorious cityscape beyond the glass. New York was still recovering from the attack, but that wasn't Tony's main concern. It was, in fact, the mysterious organisation that he was occasionally employed by: S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite initially suffering at the hands of Loki, S.H.I.E.L.D. had very quickly resumed their commanding role on providing security against anything not of this world, and they had moved quickly in the aftermath of the Chitauri attack. Even after only a month, nearly all of the debris had been cleared away under the guidance of the New York City council. But S.H.I.E.L.D. had been even quicker -- clearing every piece of Chitauri existence away in only four days, including the colossal serpent-like creatures that had caused so much destruction.
Tony was impressed.
He took a mouthful and savoured the flavour, before experiencing the brief burn at the back of his throat as he swallowed at least eight hundred dollars' worth of whiskey.
"Sir," JARVIS interrupted, "I'm sorry to disturb you but Director Fury is on the line."
Tony walked back into the lounge and sat down, putting his legs up on the nearby coffee table. "Tell him I'm in Malibu, soaking up the sun, and can't be disturbed for at least another ten years."
"He says it's urgent."
Tony stifled a laugh. "It's always urgent."
"And today is no exception!" boomed a familiar voice.
Tony quickly turned to see the one-eyed director of S.H.I.E.L.D. standing at the doorway to the heli-pad, phone in hand. Omniscient and omnipresent didn't seem to cut it.
"You know, you should really add some security measures to your penthouse suite, Tony," Fury uttered, casually walking down the steps to the lounge. "You never know who might drop in."
Tony stood up. "It's on my list of things to do. Besides, you're not proclaiming to be a God so I think I'm okay." Tony wandered over to the bar and topped up his glass, and offered an empty glass to Fury, "Drink?"
Nick Fury's face remained stoic as always. "I'm not here to socialise, Tony."
Tony took a swig from the glass. "When do you? I mean, you don't call, you don't write. I don't get invites to S.H.I.E.L.D. parties."
"I'm sure even you can appreciate that the past few weeks have been particularly difficult," came the reply.
Tony was ready to indulge in another mouthful and then some additional banter with his occasional employer, but instead chose otherwise. Times had indeed been trying, and people had been lost. "Speaking of which, I never received an invite."
"For what?" Fury replied.
"He might have been a perpetual thorn in my otherwise unflustered side, but I still liked the man, most of the time. I thought an invite to his funeral would have found its way to Stark Tower."
Fury nodded understanding. "You mean agent Coulson?"
"Yes," Tony muttered, before taking another swig of whiskey. He found it unusually easy to confess his desire to give the man a proper send off. Coulson had managed to do what most of the Avengers had failed to do at first, their job. And Coulson went about it without the pomp and circumstance that Tony so often enjoyed -- relished even. The least he could do was say goodbye.
"There won't be an invite, Tony, because we're not giving him a funeral."
THERE'S MORE TO COME, BUT FEEL FREE TO COMMENT
[Edited on 05.24.2012 2:47 AM PDT]