World 314

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World 314

Post by Kytross »

This was a short story I posted up on the Marvel boards back in 2008. I can't find it there anymore so I figured I'd post it here.

"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
Posts: 674
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:42 pm

Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

Tony Stark had his feet up on the table, inhaling on the stub of his cigar. He held the smoke for a moment then let out a puff in a smoke ring. He smiled, put his feet on the floor, put out his cigar in the ashtray in the center of the table and addressed the man sitting across from him. “Well General Ross, if you’re ready?”

The white-haired general dressed in fatigues, specifically ACUs, put his own smoldering cigar in the ashtray and stood. “Let’s go take a look at this Unmanned Foot Soldier of yours.” The general moved to the door and waited for Stark who stood and fixed his tie and his hair. “You’re a playboy Stark.”

“Guilty as charged,” Stark replied with a half-hearted grin. They stepped outside where they were met by Pepper Potts and two of the general’s bodyguards. One of the bodyguards was a particularly large man with dark red skin, jet black hair and an impassive face. Tony offered his hand to the American Indian soldier. “Sergeant Proudstar, congratulations on your latest silver star."

The large man shook Stark's hand, his face remaining impassive. "It's good to see you again Tony. Hopefully this project will put me out of a job."

"I doubt that John, you're irreplaceable. The demonstration is set up this way." Stark turned, heading down the hallway, Miss Potts keeping step on his right, a small stack of papers on a few different clipboards all with little stick-on arrows indicating where he needs to sign. General Ross kept pace on Stark's left, his two bodyguards falling in behind, flanking either side of the party.

"If you have a moment Mr. Stark?" Pepper Potts asked as she handed him the stack of clipboards. Proving his ability to multitask Tony nodded as he began reading through documents at breakneck speeds and signing them and handing them back to Pepper, a master multitasker in her own right. "Dr. Von Doom would like to discuss Dr. Banner's zero point generator with you sometime today, he specifically said he had some insights."

"You know I always have time for Victor. How tight is my schedule today?" Tony asked, reading through a document, underlining a part, writing a note and handing it back to Pepper.

"You don't have time for Victor today. After your demonstration for General Ross," Pepper nodded to the general.

"Hello Pepper, good to see you," Ross said.

Pepper reached around Tony and shook the General's hand. "And you Thaddeus. My condolences on your wife's passing." Tony had a momentary bewildered look at Pepper's words until she said, "Did you get Tony's flowers?"

"Yes, thank you. It meant a lot to know you were thinking of Betty and I."

Pepper smiled. "Of course, Tony did pick out the flowers. And Dr. Banner asked to give you his condolences in case he didn't get to see you today."

General Ross grimaced at Banner's name, but otherwise kept his composure. "Tell him I said thank you."

"I will." Pepper refocused her attention on Stark. "I cleared your schedule for today's demonstration with General Ross, everything but the Friday meeting with Vernon Van Dyne's AI research group, and tonight you have the Maria Stark Foundation benefit gala. If you skip Van Dyne's meeting then you can make time for Dr. Von Doom."

"Excuse me," interrupted General Ross, "did you say Vernon Van Dyne?"

"Yes," Tony answered, handing the last clipboard back to Pepper, "We're working on a number of projects together. He's financing most of them, I'm supplying the talent. Vernon is fairly new to the scientific realm, I'm showing him the ropes."

"And making a hefty profit in the bargain I bet," General Ross sniped.

"Actually no, almost everything he and I are working on has no immediate marketable value," Stark replied as Pepper hands him back the clipboard he had scribbled a note on now with a note of her own scribbled there for him to scrutinize, "Vernon is obsessed with research for it's own sake. And unlike every other impractical fool out there who shares his sentiments, Vernon could throw away three-quarters of his fortune on these projects and still be one of the richest men in the world."

"So how did he get mixed up with a practical man like you?" Ross asked.

Tony laughed, "Practical is unfortunately apt." Stark sighed and shook his head. "You know, there's a part of me that would love nothing more then to give up the business and take up a position here with Vernon."

Sergeant Proudstar broke his preternatural calm with a snort. The entire party stopped in surprise, turning to look at the powerfully large Indian. John had the humility to blush. "Sorry sir, I can't imagine someone wanting to give up the, uh, perks of your, um, lifestyle."

"Fast cars, beautiful women and the finest things in life?" Tony paused, getting a far off look in his eyes, and a smile on his face. After a moment he recovered with a sigh. "Someone has to be the practical one." Everyone laughed at that, though Pepper's laugh seemed a bit forced, and the group recommenced their walk to the demonstration field. "To answer your question General, being the head of the world's leading technology company it's my business to know the most brilliant scientific minds in the world, and to know the best and brightest in the financial world. So when Vernon decided to devote himself to intellectual pursuits I was uniquely positioned to partner with him."

As Tony finished his remarks the group came to the outdoor demonstration area. Sergeant Proudstar and Pepper Potts opened the double doors that lead outside as Stark and General Ross walked through. Facing them stood what looked like ten suits of high tech armor that shined like polished silver. It was a very sleek design, simple and elegant they were humanoids with nothing ostentatious except for the helmets. Two large antennae that were made of the same metal as the rest of the armor were set on either side of the helmet, with large triangular eyes over a gaping mouth. The mouth itself had what looked like rectangular fangs on the lower and upper jaws. The helmets gave the otherwise innocuous armor an ominous feel.

"So these are the new unmanned robots that are going to change the way we fight battles?" General Ross asked.

"Close. They're not autonomous robots, they're remote controlled foot soldiers." Tony pointed to a table off to the side where a slouching engineer in sunglasses and a jumpsuit was smoking a cigarette and watching over ten remotes. "I've seen 2001 A Space Odyssey, we don't wan a HAL with this kind of firepower." Stark led the general over to the table. "General Ross I'd like you to meet Abner Jenkins, one of our top engineers, and the pilot for today's exercises."

Jenkins leaned forward off the wall slightly and shook the general's hand. The general picked up one of the remotes and turned it over. "Fairly small, what's the range?"

Tony grinned. "Global, we bounce the signal off Stark satellites. They're pretty much unjammable as well."

Ross arched an eyebrow. "How'd you pull that off?"

"Each robot is specifically keyed to it's remote on a jumping receiver that travels simultaneously on radio and microwave. Every hundredth of a second the transmitter jumps to a different wavelength and the receiver jumps too." Ross didn't seem to get that so Tony continued. "The only conceivable way to jam the robot is with an electromagnetic pulse, and even then the satellite would re-establish contact in less then a second after the blast. Or they could block the signal with enough lead."

"How much lead?" Ross demanded.

"Three feet. Completely enclosed." Tony pointed toward the robots. "Those stupid looking antennae on the head are incredibly powerful receivers. These robots are not built to fail on the battlefield General."

The General paused, looking the remote over. "What if someone did figure out your jumping wavelength trick? But instead of jamming it they try to feed the unit their own commands?"

"They'd have to beat the Ramsey cypher program." The two men locked eyes, an unspoken challenge passing between them.

Ross turned away first. "I assume you keep it updated."

"We do. However, the original version is still unbroken, unless you know otherwise?" Tony replied a bit too glibly.

"Unfortunately yes." Ross tuned back to Stark. "The offer's still good Tony. 50 billion dollars for the entire system."

Tony laughed. "The Ramsey isn't for sale general."

"Everything has a price Tony, that's what you said when you negotiated the recipe for Adamantium from us."

"I've already sold you your own Ramsey Cypher System, for considerably less then 50 billion. If you need a new one we can negotiate a price." Tony offered.

"We want the Ramsey itself, the entire program." Ross closed the distance between himself and Stark. "With that program you can break into the files of anyone in the world. It wouldn't take much to convince the President that this is a matter of national security. We'll nationalize your business and confiscate the program."

Tony stood his ground with the General. "I'd destroy the program first Ross. The late Ramsey was a mutant. He could cypher any encrypt. He read your files on Project Wideawake. He wrote the Ramsey program for me, on the promise that I would stop Wideawake and never let the government use his program. I gave my word of honor General Ross." Stark paused, meeting the General's eye. "My honor is not for sale."

Ross pulled a cigar out of his ACUs and patted himself down, obviously looking for a lighter. "I stopped Project Wideawake didn't I?" Stark snapped a finger and Miss Potts produced a cigar with 'Whopping Connecticut' written on the label. She unwrapped it, handing it to General Ross, then offering him a light. The General lit his cigar and let out a puff of smoke. "These are better then cubans Stark, where do you get them?"

"The last small-time, family tobacco farmer in the Connecticut valley. He and his sons are masters of firing tobacco and wrapping cigars. I buy out their entire production run every year. Would you like a few boxes?"

Ross shook his head, admiring the cigar. "You're a slick one Stark. Let's see what these robots can do."

"Fair enough." Stark strolled over to the line of robots and tapped the first one. "Complete Adamantium shell, we left the mouth open so we could get inside to do repairs. When activated the internal shields swing into position closing the mouth and making the robot all but


nk you. Dr. Pym, the nanotechnology bio-physicist, developed a biomechanical musculature that substitutes molecular carbon strands for regular muscle. I modified that using adamantium molecular strands. These machines can lift 100 tons from a standing position. The antennae receive radar, heat, light, sound, utilizing it's own processor to turn all that information into a hologram for our user. The antennae can also be used as directed or omni-directional sonic projectors, with a variety of uses. The eyes are laser projectors, well, amplified electro-magnetic energy projectors. Henry Hudson has developed magnetic technology that allows both lift and an oscilating magnetic force field. We've incorporated that into the design as well."

"Hold." General Ross stood there smoking his cigar. "You're telling me this thing can fly?"

"Yes and no. Mostly no. The magnetic system provides lift, not true flight. That would require stabilizer fins and well, quite a bit of technology that would be detrimental to the primary focus of ground combat. We were thinking the lift would be used for retrieval. After a mission the robot can be sent to 30,000 feet where it could hover, waiting for a jet to swing by and pick them up. We've got a prototype that can be fit into an SR-71 for a quick exit."

The General nodded. "I'm sure we'll find other uses as well."

"Of course. Finally this is all powered by the new Banner fusion reactor."

"What!" Ross exploded, "Banner worked on this?"

"Well yes," Tony answered calmly, "Bruce is easily the smartest man here, probably the smartest man on the planet."

"He's also a gutless coward!" roared the General.

Tony looked skeptical. "If you say so."

"I do."

There was a long, uncomfortable silence as Stark considered his arguments and Ross seethed. Bruce Banner was one of the most peaceful men Tony had ever met, and easily the most brilliant. Henry Pym, Reed Richards, Victor Von Doom, all innovative geniuses, but Bruce could look over anything the others were working on, understand it in moments and immediately have recommendations on how to improve it. It had gotten to the point where everyone at the Stark-Van Dyne center had taken to sending their work to Bruce Banner whenever they had a problem they couldn't figure out. Even the solitary Von Doom had conceded Banner's genius. And to top it off Banner was humble and likable. Whenever Stark found himself overstressed he'd search out Bruce and sit down for coffee.

"Well General," Stark finally said, breaking the silence, "if having Banner work on the project is a deal breaker that's fine. It's a shame that you didn't get a chance to see the demonstration."

Ross took a long breath, held it and let it out. Then he took a long draw on his cigar, held it quite a bit longer, and finally let it out. "No, it's fine. It doesn't take a warrior to wield a test tube. Let's see the demonstration."

Stark turned to the engineer still leaning up against the wall near the remotes. "Abner?"

The tech nodded, taking one last drag of his cigarette before flicking it away. He stood, picking up a remote and walking over to Stark and the General. He sniffed and wiped his nose hitting the power button on the remote; a holographic display of the Stark Enterprises logo appeared above the remote. As the adamantium plates lock into place, connecting to the rectangular fangs, effectively closing the robot's mouth, its eyes light up creating potent beams of illumination. The holographic image shimmered and shifted to a representation of the immediate area with the robot at the center. Abner Jenkins' fingers played over the control.. The robot bent at the knee, swinging its arms as it jumped up into the air. The holographic display followed the vertical jump, showing the buildings of the research center getting smaller as the robot rose.

"Impressive," General Ross said.

Jenkins grinned. "Watch this." His hands played over the controls again and the buildings began to get larger and larger until there was a ground shaking impact about 30 feet away on the demonstration ground. Stark, the General and their party fought to keep their balance from the mini-tremor. Abner stood there, the faintest hint of a smile on his face.

The robot had landed, creating a small crater. Without a pause it began walking toward the first obstacle, a reinforced omnium steel wall. The robot's motions were effective though hardly as fluid as a normal human. It walked up to the wall and gave it a punch, denting the omnium steel. Next it put both hands in the hole it just created and ripped a large hole in the omnium steel wall.

Stepping through the hole Abner led the robot to its next obstacle, an M1-Abrams tank. The tank aimed up and fired on the robot. The smoke cleared, the robot was still standing, its finish unmarred. Abner's hand flew over the control and the robot's eyes glowed for a moment, there was a flash of light and the tank split in two down the center line. Abner turned the robot and started it walking it back.

"Wow," Sergeant Proudstar breathed.

"Amazing huh? We actually run the laser through a sheer adamantium grating. Reed Richards helped me with the diffraction problem." Stark said quietly.

"Imagine an army armed with that laser," Proudstar said.

Tony slapped John's shoulder. "You'd have to strap a fusion reactor to your back John."

Proudstar shrugged. "Well maybe not then."

"Is that it?" the General asked.

"Oh I can have Jenkins destroy automated tanks all day long." Stark said with a grin, "How many would you like to pay for?"

General Ross puffed on his cigar, glaring at Stark for a moment. "How long will it take to make a hundred of these things?"

Stark rubbed his chin. "Roughly 5 years with my current set up."

"That long?"

Stark took his own cigar from Pepper, lighting it. "Well, I need to cast all the Adamantium myself, that was the terms of sharing the secret of it's composition with me. However, if the government has reconsidered that provision..."

"Five years is fine," the General said, "I'll give my recommendation to congress, but at this point you can get ready for a production run." Ross puffed his cigar. "So, what are you planning on calling this thing anyway? Unmanned Foot Soldier is a bit lackluster for a Stark Industries product."

"Actually, we decided on the name ULTRON. The boys even came up with an acronym for it, Unmanned, Laser, something or other."

"That's fine. Congress loves a good acronym. Now let's go see that old rascal Van Dyne."
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
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Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:42 pm

Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

His body encased in a metal harness, James Hudson floated silently in the center of the room. After a moment he powered down and landed. He exhaled slowly.

“Well guys, that’s it. I’ve mastered the flight stabilization problems, as well as the magnetic resonance tracking system for metallic ore location. I’m still running into the same problem. Power. The best batteries I’ve come across only last for 30 minutes. I don’t want to use Banner’s fusion generator, not just because I don’t want to strap a nuclear reactor to my back; the cost for one of those things is prohibitive. I’ve got hopes for Banner’s zero-point generator, but until Bruce gets off his duff…”

The entire room broke out in laughter. Bruce Banner stood up. “I’m working on it. Dr. Von Doom offered to take a look at it. Hopefully he’ll see something I’ve been missing.”

James cleared his throat and all eyes went back to him. “Well if the Latverian wunder-kid can’t help then I’d be happy to take a look at it. The harness is going on the back burner. I’m still looking for a safe, reliable power source, but I’m looking for a new project to work on until something comes up. In the meantime if anyone needs any help, let me know. Maybe whatever you’re working on will spark something and lead me to my next project.”

Applause filled the assembly room. Vernon Van Dyne stood. When the room quieted down he spoke. “Thank you Dr. Hudson. Dr. Richards, your team is next up.”

Susan Storm stood, which garnered her applause as well. Girls interested in science were rare. Beautiful girls interested in science were very rare. Beautiful girls interested in science and as formidable as most of the men in this room, were all but non-existent. Sue Storm was the rare exception. “Thank you Dr. Van Dyne. The Richards team has been working on a number of projects. Our main project is still the negative gravity device, where we’ve made very little headway this week. We’ve got a number of side projects to report on, because, let’s face it, attempting to tie Reed down to one project is as impossible as trying to tie Ben Grimm down to one woman.” That brought another round of laughter, Ben’s womanizing ways well known to everyone in the room.

During the laughter the main doors to the assembly room open, allowing first Sergeant Proudstar, then the General and Tony followed by Pepper and the other bodyguard. The room grew rather quiet when everyone spotted the General. Dr. Banner stood immediately, blushing as he stumbles past a few other groups to make his way to the General. He came up to the group and was stopped by John Proudstar. “Your condolences were already passed onto the General Bruce,” the sergeant said in a quiet voice.

Bruce loosened the tie around his neck, wiping the sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his other hand. “Uh, thanks John.”

Vernon Van Dyne stood, scratching his head. “Thad? Is that you?”

General Ross crossed the room confidently and embraced his old friend. “Vern! You old dog, what are you doing slumming with Stark and his eggheads?”

Dr. Van Dyne clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Didn’t Stark tell you? I’ve hung up my boating cap and joined the eggheads.”


“Seriously, you should see my Artificial Intelligence project. Pym here,” Vernon slapped a sitting Henry Pym on the shoulder, “he came up with the idea for synthetic organs. Real genius this kid. Did his PhD work under Dr. Xavier, the geneticist. You should see this synthetic brain. Do you have time?”

“Of course I do. Stark can stay here for his meeting and you and I can go catch up.” The General elbowed his old friend in the ribs as they walked off. “Remember the twins from Delta Phi? What were their names?”

Tony waited for the two older men to leave, with Ross’ bodyguards trailing behind. “Alright, well, good news everyone. General Ross is giving a green light on the ULTRON project.” The assembly cheered and Tony started making his way to his normal seat, Pepper Potts right behind him. “Hey, has Moira gone yet? I can’t wait to hear how your analysis of the human genome project is going?”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
Posts: 674
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:42 pm

Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

When Van Dyne turned the lights on General Ross saw a decently sized room with four lab tables, a row of computers along the back wall and some kind of device with what looked like a high tech hair salon chair complete with a weird looking helmet bowl. Off in the corner was a satellite dish of some sort.

“This you’ve got to see Thad,” Vernon said as he brought his friend to the computer nearest the high tech hair salon chair.

Ross did a double take. “There’s a brain in this jar,” the General said to Van Dyne.

Vernon grinned. “It’s my synthetic brain. It’s simply amazing. Doesn’t need blood to function, just an electrical power source. Watch this.” Van Dyne addressed the brain. “Good Afternoon.”

The flatscreen monitor next to the brain flashed to life, revealing a text writing program. The words “Good Afternoon Dr. Van Dyne, I hope this day finds you in good health,” appeared, the cursor moving down two lines.

Ross raised an eyebrow. “This is a gag right? You’re pulling my leg.”

Van Dyne shook his head. “No, this is real. The brain functions as well as yours or mine. Better really.”

The screen flashed and the words “Who’s your friend Doctor?” appeared.

“This is General Ross, from the United States military. Say hello General,” Vernon replied to the brain.

“Hello?” the General said hesitantly.

“Good afternoon General Ross,” came the words on the screen, “Did you enjoy the ULTRON demonstration?”

“This thing knows about the ULTRON demonstration?” General Ross demanded of Dr. Van Dyne, grabbing Vernon’s lab coat and shaking him, “Is it connected to the internet?”

“Calm down Thad,” Vernon said with a bit of disdain, “it’s a brain, for all intents and purposes, just like the one in your head. Can you connect your brain to the internet?”

“Well no,” Ross conceded.

“There you go.” Vernon laughed, clapping the General on the shoulder. “Let me show you how we did the programming.” He led his old friend over to the high tech salon chair. “Have a seat.”

Ross looked skeptical. “Is it safe?”

“Trust me it’s safe, now sit.” Van Dyne’s words didn’t seem to reassure the General, but he sat down anyway. “What this machine does is record your brain waves. Basically it takes a snapshot of your current mental state, your personality if you will. Then we take your snapshot and load it into the synthetic brain.”

“That doesn’t sound safe to me,” Ross protested.

Vernon sighed. “Think of it as a radio in your stereo. It’s only a receiver, not a transmitter.”

“It’s still fooling around with the human brain.”

Vernon shrugged. “I did it. Pym did it. Heck, almost everyone who works here has done it. Even the reclusive Victor Von Doom, gypsy genius extraordinaire.”

General Ross scrutinized Vernon with a squint. “Banner gave this brain his personality?”

“Of course he did.” Van Dyne started ticking names off on his fingers. “So did Richards, and Storm, and Grimm, and Hudson, and Starsky, and Kinross. Even Jenkins did it.”

General Ross flipped the helmet bowl down. “Well if this thing has Banner’s personality its gonna need some guts. Hit it.” Vernon pressed a button on the side of the machine. There was a flash of light and Ross’ eyes darted back and forth. “When does it start?”

“You’re done, get up.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it. You’re done. Get up.”

Ross flipped the helmet bowl off his head and stood. “What’s the point of this experiment anyway?”

“We’re just trying to give the brain a series of personalities to help it on its way.” Vernon leaned against the counter the brain was on. “Eventually we’re going to create the other necessary synthetic organs and give the brain a body. World’s first synthetic person.”

“You mean an android?” Ross asked.

“That’s right.” Van Dyne nodded to the two bodyguards standing by the doorway. “Either of your goons want to contribute a mind scan?”

John Proudstar raised an eyebrow at this comment but said nothing. He didn’t have to, Vernon was about to learn how Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross earned his nickname. “Goons!” the General roared, “These are two of the finest men the United States military has ever produced. Jonathon Proudstar is our most decorated living soldier having completed over 200 special missions and saved countless lives. You owe your freedom, your very life to men like this and you don’t have the decency to address them with respect?”

Vernon raised a hand, “Peace Thad. I only said it to irk you. I didn’t thi-” Vernon was cut off by the sound of an explosion. “What was that?”

Ross turned, pointing for his men to head out towards the explosion. “Stay here we’ll check it out.”

“Sir,” Proudstar started to say something but the General cut him off.

“I’ll stay back until one of you gives me the all clear to advance. Now go.”

The two soldiers turned, drew their weapons and advanced tactically. Ross followed, his own sidearm drawn. Stepping into the hallway he saw three men running towards him, brought his pistol up, identified them as Stark, Richards and Pym and brought his gun back to a low ready. The men caught up to the General and stopped to catch their breath.

Pym was the first to speak. “Where’s Vernon?” Ross motioned to the room Van Dyne was in and Pym moved toward it saying, “I’ll make sure he’s alright.”

“Sit-rep?” Reed asked. He had a pistol drawn and another sitting in a shoulder holster.

“We’ll handle this,” Ross said, adding with disdain, “You know how to use that piece?”

“I served under Nicholas Fury in the CIA for four years as a field agent,” Reed responded, “I know this facility better then you or your two soldiers. Give me an update.”

“Nick huh?” Ross nodded, “We heard an explosion from down the hall, my men are investigating.”

“I knew it,” Reed said, holstering his pistol. “I told Von Doom not to go ahead with that experiment, that the numbers looked funny to me. He never was good at taking advice.” Reed started walking forward.

“What?” Ross asked, confused.

“Von Doom’s personal labs are the only thing down this hallway besides Vernon’s labs,” Stark explained. “Let’s hope the idiot didn’t blow himself up.” Stark started walking down the hallway.

“Wait, my men are down there, they’ll give us-” John Proudstar popped his head out of the doorway and gave the all clear.

“It’s gonna be one of those days,” Ross muttered as he holstered his pistol and followed the scientists down the hall. Stepping into the room the explosion came from he found both bodyguards by the door as Stark and Richards scrutinized a babbling Victor Von Doom who was scarred, his clothes torn and steaming, strapped into some sort of harness chair attached to a large machine. The General turned to Richards. “Sit-rep?”

“Victor has always been a bit of a recluse. He wouldn’t let anyone see what he was working on in this lab.” Richards took in a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. “About a month ago he dropped some diagrams while I passed him in the hallway. I picked them up for him, but before I could get a good look he snatched them away from me. I told him the numbers looked funny and to get someone to look it over before he ran the experiment. He told me to stop meddling.”

“Sounds like a nice guy,” the General commented.

“Oh, he’s definitely a prima donna,” Stark said, shaking his head, “He's got the kind of ego that usually gets beaten out of experimental scientists because we face a thousand failures before we taste the first fruits of success.”

The General nodded. “Poetic.”

“Claptrap,” Richards spat, “Doesn’t do us a lick of good. Victor’s babbling something in Latverian. He’s repeating the words ‘mother,’ ‘deal,’ and ‘soul.’ I’m not sure, but I think he’s talking to someone. Or at least he thinks he’s talking to someone.”

The General turned and looked at Reed. “You speak Latverian?”

“No,” replied Richards, “but I do speak German, Greek and Latin, which are the three languages Latverian is based on. I can pick up some of what he’s saying. Stark, I think we need to unplug his machine.”

“What makes you say that Reed?” Tony asked.

“Victor incorporated an EKG and a brainwave monitor in this machine. There’s no sound but if you look on the little screen there you’ll see his vitals are dropping steadily.” Reed sighed. “We need to pull him out of that machine and get his heart rate back up.”

“So he’ll die if we don’t?” Stark asked.

“Yeah, pull that cart over here.” Reed pointed to a cart and then turned to Proudstar. “Sergeant, you want to give me a hand?” Reed unplugged the machine as John walked over.

Victor started thrashing about in the harness/chair. “No. No. No! I was so close! NO!” Von Doom’s eyes flashed open. “You did this to me Richards? How dare you!”

“I saved your life,” Reed pressed two fingers against Von Doom’s throat and looked at his stopwatch. “That was fast. Your pulse is rising again, steadily.

Victor continued to rant. “Curse you Richards! I was there. I was there!”

Everyone turned their head when they heard an incredibly loud smashing sound. “What else can go wrong today?” Stark asked out loud and started toward the noise, Ross and his men right behind him. Reed quickly refastened Von Doom’s straps.

“What are you doing?” demanded Victor.

“You’re recovering fine, you just need to stay still. I need to go find out what’s happening. Stay here.” Reed turned and ran, quickly catching up with the others at the ULTRON storage facility.

The robots were standing in a row. Ross and his men were crouched down next to an unconscious Abner Jenkins. Tony was standing in the middle of a pile of smashed electronics on he floor.

“I knew I should have made the remotes out of adamantium.” Stark shook his head. “What was I thinking?”

Ross slapped Jenkins’ face. “C’mon boy wake up, tell us what happened.”

Reed’s jaw dropped. “General.”

“What is it Richards?” the General demanded, exasperated, “Can’t you see I’m trying to find out what happened here.”

“I know what happened. Someone stole an ULTRON.” All eyes turned to Reed who was pointing at the line of robots.

“There’s only nine.” Stark gasped.

“Well, where’s the other one?” Ross demanded.

He was answered by sounds of battle coming from outside. Everyone rushed to the window to see the missing ULTRON shambling around the yard, stumbling into things and then smashing into them.

After a moment Ross said, “We need to stop that thing.”

“How?” Stark shouted, “I built it to be unstoppable!”

“General, do you have any grenades?” Reed asked.

“I don’t think so,” the General replied.

“We have some in the Humvee,” Proudstar answered.

“Get them Sergeant,” Reed ordered.

Tony interrupted, “Grenades won’t put a dent on that adamantium hide and you know it Reed!”

“No, but they might, just might damage the internal mechanics. Look!” Richards pointed out the window.

Tony turned and looked at the robot. “The mouth is open.”

“Sergeant, go get those grenades and see if you lob them into that robot’s open maw,” Reed commanded, “But be careful. Whoever’s operating that thing doesn’t know what he’s doing. But just because he’s sloppy and the thing’s moving like a wind-up toy doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Those arms can rip steel in half, don’t let them touch you.”

Proudstar looked to General Ross who nodded. The Sergeant fired off a salute and turned, running out the lab’s door.

Reed turned back to Tony. “Go find James Hudson. That mining suit of his is our best shot at knocking this thing down. I have some spare batteries in lab 304, he can use those. After that round up the scientists. Anyone with a death ray can help. Hit it with everything at once, we might get lucky. I assume General Ross will want to command the effort?”

The General nodded. “I’ll meet you at the entrance to the demonstration yard.”

Tony and Ross took off. Reed stood there a moment, taking a deep breath and let it out. Then he leaned forward and ran out of the room, down the hallway, back the way he came. He tried to stop at Vernon Van Dyne’s AI lab but he skidded past and had to scramble back to get through the doorway.

He entered on a gruesome sight. Dr. Pym was on the floor in a puddle of blood. Across the room Vernon Van Dyne was sitting in the high tech salon chair. There was a hole in his chest, six inches in diameter.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

In most situations Cole stood out. He wasn’t particularly tall, just under six foot. He didn’t have the biggest muscles or the best looking face. But there was a something about Cole, an aura of confidence, of success. You didn’t need to know that he was a combat-tested Army Ranger to know that there was something special and dangerous about Cole. He wasn’t just a Ranger, he was the guy who walked up to the door and kicked it down, an entry man. Just shaking his hand would give you the impression that if you came between him and what he wanted then Cole would kill you, without remorse, and proceed to his goal. He was very impressive.

In most situations.

Standing next to John Proudstar was not one of those situations. Proudstar was taller, more muscular and had a good looking face. Whatever danger Cole radiated was dwarfed by the large American Indian. He overshadowed Cole so much that none of the scientists and assorted geeks they had met that day had even bothered to introduce themselves to Cole.

Truth be told, Cole didn’t mind that much. Proudstar was everything Cole was aspiring to become. John had more missions under his belt, had never failed to achieve an objective, had started as a ranger and put in for the SeALs, got in and quickly became one of their most decorated warriors. He had learned a lot from Proudstar in the few days they’d spent together on their light duty, bodyguard detail. Proudstar had given him tips and run scenarios with Cole in their downtime. It wasn’t that John was teaching him something new it was more like two warriors bringing each other closer to perfection. Iron sharpens iron after all.

Of course, that didn’t mean much anymore. Cole would never eclipse John Proudstar. Because he was dying.

Only a moment ago he had been at the height of health. General Ross had come up with the tactic of the two bodyguards running in a circle around the rampaging robot, attempting to lob grenades in its mouth. It was a good plan, but it didn’t work. The robot’s motions were too herky-jerky. It was moving fast, but it wasn’t moving too fast. It was shambling like a zombie; its movements were too sporadic and the mouth too small for the soldiers to get a decent target.

Cole had learned a long time ago that if something wasn’t working then you had to change it. It was one of the maxims that had made him a great soldier. The other was that a good plan executed now was better then a perfect plan executed too late. So when the robot had turned to charge at Proudstar, Cole decided it was time to try something new.

He flicked the pin out of the grenade in his right hand and charged the robot from behind. The thing kept charging John, it didn’t seem to realize he was there until he launched himself in the air with a powerful jump, landing on the thing’s back. He scrambled to grab an antenna and swung his arm, dropping the grenade in the robot’s mouth. Cole dropped, halfway through a turn to sprint away from the robot when the machine’s arm slammed into him with the force of a thousand tanks. Cole felt his upper arm shatter where the machine had made contact, his ribs breaking with that first hit. He was aware that he had been lifted into the air and was hurtling in some unknown vector at an incredible rate. Then he collided with a wall and felt his legs shatter. He dropped from the wall to the ground and heard a few more breaks, but couldn’t feel anything.

Cole’s world went black.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

“He’s alive!” Reed Richards exclaimed thankfully as he pulled two fingers away from Henry Pym’s neck. Reed gently turned his colleague over, examining him. “Good, no obvious head wound.” Reed looked down and inhaled sharply. There were shards of glass embedded in Pym’s chest. Reed’s nimble fingers carefully opened Pym’s shirt. “This doesn’t look good.”

“What doesn’t look good stringbean?”

Reed turned at the voice, drawing a pistol. He exhaled, grinning, and put the gun away. Ben Grimm and Susan Storm were standing in the doorway; Ben had his own pistol drawn. Sue’s eyes were wide open, her hand over her mouth as she surveyed the scene. “Ben, Sue, tend to Pym, I need to figure out how to transport the artificial brain.” Reed stood, walking over to the brain, looking at all the connections.

Sue needed a moment to gather her wits but then she was no nonsense. She slapped Ben on the upper arm. “Help me get him up onto one of the tables Ben.” After they moved him Ben spun around looking for the first aid kit while Sue took some distilled water and washed the blood away from Pym’s chest. Ben handed Sue the first aid kit. “Oh good, needle and thread. Ben, get me a magnifying glass.”

Ben blinked at her. “From where?”

“Vernon is very far-sighted. Or was. He hates glasses and keeps a magnifying glass around for reading. Look around.” Sue put on a pair of plastic gloves and began removing fragments of glass, placing them on a separate table. Ben was there a few minutes later with the magnifying glass. Sue took it from him and began looking for shards of glass in the wounds that were too hard to see with the naked eye.

Reed cleared his throat. Sue and Ben looked over toward him. “Ben come here.” Reed wasn’t looking at them, he was wrapping electrical tape around some wires. “We need to lift this assembly and put it on that overturned cart.”

Ben picked the cart up and pushed it to Reed. The brain was now sitting on a plank of cardboard, disconnected from it’s peripherals, wires connecting it to a series of laptop batteries strapped together. Reed gave a three count and they lifted it gently onto the cart. “What’s this all about Reed?”

“Someone hijacked an ULTRON robot, we’re going to stop them,” was Reed’s cryptic answer. He turned to Sue. “Do you need Ben or can I take him?”

“Take him,” Sue said without looking up from Pym’s chest.

“You sure Suzy?” Ben asked.

Reed had already started pushing the cart. “Need I remind you that Sue was a medical doctor and a surgeon and practicing in three different New York city ERs when she was seventeen? If she says she’s fine then she’s fine.”

Been rolled his eyes. “Stringbean, if chivalry ain’t dead then I’m betting you’ll be the one to kill it.”

Reed ignored him. “When he’s stable meet us in the ULTRON vault. Abner Jenkins was knocked unconscious, probably blunt trauma to the back of his head.”

“Got it,” Sue said, applying a bandage to one of the smaller cuts, “ULTRON room. Jenkins. Head wound.”
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »


Slits of light filled his consciousness. The broken soldier blinked, blinked again and focused. There was a large red face looking at him. “John?” Cole asked weakly.

“Good. Stay awake. I need your grenades.”

Cole felt hands on him, patting him down, each touch wracking his body in pain. “OW,” he finally managed.

“Your plan worked. Your grenade slowed down an ankle,” Proudstar said conversationally as he pulled the last few grenades off of Cole. “So I force-fed the robot all of mine. Now it can barely walk. I’m gonna feed it the rest of yours. Someone’s getting Dr. Storm and Dr. Kinross to stabilize you. Stay awake and you’ll make it through this. That’s an order soldier.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Cole slurred.

John snapped a salute and stood, his eyes narrowing when he spotted the robot. He started walking toward it, taking a deep breath. “Robot!” John called out. The robot turned slowly, its legs responding slowly. “I am an Apache brave!” John continued to close the distance between them. He only had two grenades left. He had to make them count. “You are facing your death!” John dropped his weight forward, kicking his legs in a loping run, zig-zagging across the demonstration field, ducking behind obstacles to change direction, hurtling over other obstacles. John swore he felt like he was running like a stag. The ULTRON robot kept turning around, lurching back and forth, trying to draw a bead on Sergeant Proudstar. John leapt up on one of the tank halves that had been destroyed during the ULTRON demonstration earlier. The large American Indian scrambled across the top of the tank, running over the cupola and down the barrel, using it as a springboard to launch himself into a forward flip while flicking a grenade pin. Landing on the robot’s back he dropped the grenade its maw, grabbed an antenna, swung off, dropping the other in the open mouth and kicking off the ground to get away.

He was almost fast enough. The robot caught John’s foot in its hand. The foot was crushed. John felt the robot grab his arm, crushing it. The robot was reaching for John’s throat when the first grenade went off, freezing for a split second before the second grenade went off. The robot released its grip on John, its hand opening and closing sporadically. John didn’t question his luck, he ran, his only admission of pain a low grunt each time he stepped on his broken foot.

The robot lurched after him, its legs moving slower then ever, each step taking a full ten seconds. The broken hand was still clenching and unclenching at odd intervals. But it hadn’t stopped by any means.

John dove through the entryway to the demonstration yard where General Ross had set up his command post. He rolled over onto his side and fired off a salute to the general. “Sir, all grenades were delivered on target, but the objective was not met. Requesting orders?”

Ross shook his head; he was still watching the yard. “Retreat. Start the evacuation. Unless we can find whoever’s operating this thing, or Stark and his eggheads come up with something, we can’t stop that thing. We need to get the civilians out of here and find some way to evac Cole.”

“Cavalry’s here,” Stark said as he ran up, two people in white lab coats following. One was a woman with a first aid kit. The second was an older man with a bit of paunch around the middle wearing goggles and carrying a metal cylinder of some sort. “Dr. Kinross can stabilize the private-”

“Sergeant Cole,” Ross interrupted.

“-Sergeant Cole,” Tony continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted, “and Dr. Octavius has a particle cannon-”

“Experimental particle cannon,” Dr. Octavius interrupted.

“Experimental particle cannon,” Tony said, “and if anything can stop this robot, it’s this cannon.”

Ross raised an eyebrow. “You told me nothing could stop these robots. Now you’re telling me that a particle cannon can stop it?”

“It’s a very nice cannon,” Dr. Octavius said.

“It is Otto,’ Tony sighed, “but there’s not much of a chance that it can stop an ULTRON robot General.”

General Ross harumphed. “Well, let’s hope you’re wrong.”

Otto preened a bit at that comment. “It’s a very nice cannon.”

A look of disgust came over General Ross’ face. He took a deep drag off his cigar and let it out slowly. “Let’s see what it can do.”

Otto grinned. He stepped out the door into the demonstration yard, shouldering the cannon like a bazooka. The robot was lurching forward at its dreadful, halting gait. Otto hit a button on his cannon and a little red dot appeared on the robot’s chest. He shifted slightly and the dot rose up to the robot’s mouth.

“Here goes nothing,” Otto said and pulled the trigger. It took a moment, the stout scientist holding his cannon steady until a piercing whine caused everyone nearby to cover their ears. Then a flash of blue light so intense everyone looked away. General Ross turned around to see Otto Octavius, putting down his cannon. The scientist exhaled sharply. “That thing is heavy.”

Ross scanned the demonstration area. The robot was nowhere in sight. “You did it son,” Ross said with a nod.

Otto smiled like the cat that just ate the canary. “Well, it’s a very nice cannon.”

Ross turned on Stark, shaking a finger at him. “And you, I thought this robot was supposed to be unstoppable!”

Before Stark could answer a loud bang filled the demonstration yard. Everyone turned. An M1-Abrams tank was flying through the air, with a robot-sized hole in the cupola.

“Looks like it is General,” Stark said with a smug smile on his face.

“Where did that tank come from?” The General demanded.

Tony shook his head. “We had a few extras in the garage at the far end of the demonstration field. Looks like your cannon sent the robot flying 300 yards Otto.”

“It’s a very nice cannon.”

“Excuse me,” the reddish-brown haired Dr. Kinross interrupted, “but if you two strapping men would be so kind I think we can pull Private Cole out on a stretcher now.”

“Sergeant Cole,” Ross corrected absent-mindedly as he and Tony rushed forward, followed by Dr. Kinross with a body board. “So that’s it Stark? We just abandon the facility and let someone escape with this monster of yours?”

Stark grinned. “Not quite General. Look up.”

Ross looked up. What he saw made his jaw drop, his cigar falling to the ground. “It’s a flying man.”

“It’s James Hudson in his magnetic mining harness,” Tony corrected, “And if anything can stop the ULTRON robot it’s that harness.”

“That’s what you said about the particle cannon.”

“And I’m probably wrong this time too,” Stark admitted as they got to Sergeant Cole. “All I want from Hudson is to keep the thing distracted long enough for my techs in Houston to recalibrate my satellite so we can pinpoint the location of the remote. Then we can stop the guy running this thing.”
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

“Looks like Abe is still out,” Reed said as he ran ahead of Ben as he entered the ULTRON vault, “make sure you don’t hit him with the cart Ben.”

“I’m a fighter pilot, Stringbean, I think I can navigate-” The cart stopped suddenly. Ben leaned over to the side to see what he hit. It was Abner Jenkin’s ankle.

Reed was poking his head into the open mouth of one of the ULTRON robots, trying to shine a flashlight inside as well. “What was that Ben? I didn’t hear you.”

“Nothing. Where do you want this thing egghead?”

Reed motioned vaguely behind him. “Just right here Ben,” Reed’s voice echoed from inside the robot. “I’m going to need a soldering iron, dykes, strippers and heat shrink. There should be some in this lab if you can gather them for me.”

“We’re under attack by a rampaging robot and you’re planning a bachelor party,” Ben grumbled as he pulled the cart back, turned and wheeled it to where Reed indicated.

“Diagonal cutters and wire insulation strippers, keep your mind out of the gutter Ben,” Reed said as he reached a hand into the robot’s mouth, pulling out some wires. “I’m also going to need an O-scope.”

Ben started toward the nearest workbench. “I didn’t sign on as a lab assistant Reed.”

Reed tried to work himself deeper into the ULTRON robot without any luck. “None of these wires are labeled, see if you can find a manual or blueprints.”

Ben shook his head gathering the electrical tools Reed needed. He grabbed an extension cord and set up the soldering iron, complete with solder and a wet sponge, grumbling the whole time.

Reed pulled his face out of the robot with a grunt. He inhaled sharply. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Ben laughed. “That was a confession for posterity. What are you trying to do Egghead?”

“I’m trying to get that brain,” Reed pointed to the synthetic brain with his forefinger, “into that robot.” He pointed his thumb at the ULTRON robot.


“The only way to stop an ULTRON is with an ULTRON. But all the remotes were destroyed except for the one that was hijacked.” Reed sighed.

“Well, what’s stopping you Stringbean?”

“The brain gave me a print out of what to connect which wires to, but I don’t know what wires are what inside the robot.” Reed shook his head. “I don’t think I can do this Ben.”

“Well then it’s a good thing the cavalry’s arrived,” said a female voice.

Reed and Ben’s heads whipped around to see Sue smiling in the doorway followed by an injured Hank Pym leaning on Bruce Banner.

“I built that brain and I built the musculature for that robot,” Pym said as he staggered into the room, “We can do this Richards.”

Banner grunted as he dropped Pym into a seat. “Oof, you’re a heavy one Pym.”

Sue snorted. “I told you to let me help him.”

Ben grinned, “You should have let her Bruce, Sue works out more then I do. She probably could have brought Hank here in a fireman’s carry.”

Sue gave a little laugh and flexed. “I’m buff.”

Bruce was breathing hard. “Hey, Chivalry isn’t dead Ben, er, Sue. Or Hank, errr, whatever.” Bruce took a deep breath and let it out slow. “Reed, there’s not a man alive who knows the ULTRON better then I do. Stark had me look over the body, the central processor, the weapon systems, the flight system, Pym’s musculature-”

“Hey,” Pym objected.

“Just accept it Hank,” Ben said with a grin, “The only guy here smarter then Stringbean is Robert ‘The Bruce’ Banner. He’s the only one smart enough not to sit in on my Friday night poker game.”

“You’ve got a point,” Pym conceded.

“Wait-a-minute, you guys have been playing poker every Friday night while I’ve been putting in extra hours going over everyone’s work?” Bruce asked.

Ben shrugged at Hank. “Guess he’s not particularly street smart.”

“If you’ve all quite finished?” Reed said, everyone turning to look at him, “We have a rampaging robot to contend with.”

“Impending doom aside Stringbean, do you really need to take the fun out of everything?” Everyone laughing at Ben’s comment he clapped Bruce on the shoulder. “Let’s get to work boys.”

“Hey!” Sue said.

“And girl,” Ben added with a wink.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

The lights flicked on, revealing a giant mechanical monstrosity with pipes and wires connected to it with no conceivable rhyme or reason. The short, slightly stooped man stood in the doorway, drinking in the sight. “So this is what Reed Richards’ lab looks like. I wonder what it does.”

A voice came from behind him, “It’s probably an industrial strength air conditioner. C’mon Igor, there’s an evil robot on the loose. Let’s get in and grab those batteries.”

Igor Starsky sighed and moved into the room, looking around for something vaguely resembling a battery. James Hudson followed him into the room, dressed in his full mining harness, complete with helmet. Hudson took one glance around the room and pointed to the bench by the window. “That’s it Igor. Richards and I tried them out two months ago.”

Igor picked up the batteries and walked over behind Hudson. “How do you want me to connect these?”

“In parallel.”

“Well that’s easy enough Jim, but how do you want me to connect these to your suit?”

Hudson blinked. “Uh, good question. Normally I build a simple battery holder to fit whatever batteries I’m using, so uh, I guess-”

Igor sighed. “Duct tape?”

“Duct tape.”

It only took a moment for Starsky to connect the batteries to the harness and tape them in place. Hudson walked out onto the balcony, took a deep breath and flew off in the direction of the ULTRON robot. Igor took another long gaze at Richards’s machine.

“If I had a machine like that I’d sell it and make a fortune.”
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

James Hudson flew over the demonstration field, his flight pattern shaky from trying to flow with the air currents. From the air it was easy to spot the staggering robot. Hudson swung around, hovering a good thirty feet in the air, placing himself between the robot and the entrance to the demonstration yard. James keyed up the program that would launch streams of concussive magnetic energy from both hands. Originally designed to bore through stone to get to various metallic ores, James figured it was his best chance of damaging the rogue ULTRON robot, but it took nearly a full thirty seconds for the program to initialize. Thirty seconds while mining for ore wasn’t much time, a minor inconvenience at worst. In the middle of battle it was another story. This was why he was flying instead of on the ground.

About twenty seconds into the initiation sequence James was hit by a wind shear. He couldn’t adjust for it while his mining program was running. So the wind slammed him into a wall. Hudson dropped from there to the ground. Something slapped his side. James wasn’t fazed in the least, his force field easily absorbing the brunt of both impacts. He looked over his shoulder to see what was slapping him. One of the batteries had come loose. Well, he could only see one, there could be more. James stood, looking left and right, trying to get a bearing on the robot. Then he felt a hand slamming into the top of his head his head slamming into the dirt.

“I think I found the robot,” James muttered as he felt himself being lifted into the air by the back of his harness. His heads-up display read just under 2 more hours of power at constant use. That meant the shield was holding. Before he could decide on a course of action the robot threw him and he was flying through the air, bouncing off the top of one of the halves of the tank and skipping over the grounds until he came to a stop. James started the initiation sequence, aiming up on the robot that was lurching towards him. He checked the heads-up display. He was down to 10 minutes of power. James scanned the ground around him. There were batteries strewn across the ground where he had skid. The tape hadn’t held after all. The force field would have kept them from being torn off; the momentum from being knocked around must have jarred the tape loose.

James cut the initiation sequence and chose a different tactic. The suit was built to augment his strength exponentially for situations where a miner needed to move debris and using the main concussive sequence would be dangerous. The super-strength was a low energy drain system, so if it didn’t work then he could fall back and try the concussive blast if he had to. Hudson charged the robot, ripping the cupola off the tank half without faltering, he raised the cupola above his head and as he came into range of the robot he swung the cupola with all the power the harness could muster and connected with the robot.

The ULTRON robot staggered back a half step. It tossed the cupola off of itself with its bad arm, took a step forward and batted James aside with the other. Hudson went flying again, crashing into another wall and falling to the ground. He checked the heads-up display. He had less then a minute’s power left and the robot was approaching. He activated the flight sequence.

Nothing happened.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

John Proudstar had his am around Stark’s shoulder and was leaning on Tony. Tony Stark quickly found out that even with a broken foot John Proudstar was a hard man to keep up with. Moira Kinross and Otto Octavius were trailing behind them, carrying Cole on the stretcher. They rounded a corner and Tony was so shocked at what he saw that he came to a complete stop, bringing the hodge-podge convoy to the infirmary to a crashing halt. Proudstar threw himself forward, losing his balance and falling forward onto the tiled floor. Otto all but crashed into Tony.

“Otto!” Moira called as she threw all the leverage she had into keeping Cole upright. It took Otto a moment to recover but they managed to keep from dumping Cole on the floor.

Tony was staring at one of his ULTRON robots sitting cross-legged on a wooden pallet that was being driven by one of Stark’s air-powered forklifts. He stared, dumb-founded, as the robot raised one of its hands off its lap and waved to Tony. Stark absent-mindedly returned the greeting as Moira and Otto scrambled to get out of the forklift’s path. The forklift honked twice and the muscular Ben Grimm leaned out of the forklift and waved to Tony as he passed. Following the forklift at a run was Reed, Sue, Bruce, Hank and Abner. Jenkins and Pym had their heads wrapped and Hank’s shirt was gone, hid bare chest covered in bandages. Bruce was at the front of the pack and stopped, helping John Proudstar back up to his feet. The entire group came to a halt, both groups sizing each other up.

Moira Kinross was the first to speak. “Sue, thank God you’re here.”

Sue smiled back at her, “Why do boys always break themselves? Reed, I’m going to the infirmary.”

Reed was about to respond, but Tony beat him to the punch this time. “Abe, Hank, go with them, help Sergeant Proudstar.”

Richards nodded to Stark and took off running after the forklift.

“No,” Hank protested, “I’m going to see this through.”

Tony was about to put his foot down when Sue spoke up. “You go unconscious, you get a CAT scan. Dr. Storm’s orders.” Hank started to protest and Sue shut him up. “You get your MD and then you can complain Mr. Pym. Now go help Abe with the Sergeant, we both know Bruce can’t handle him himself.”

“Hey!” Bruce complained, though it was obvious he was straining under the weight of the giant Apache warrior. Jenkins substituted himself and John smiled back at Bruce. “Thank you Dr. Banner, I’ll be sure to tell the General of your gallantry.” Bruce nodded in response.

Hank shook his head, but walked over; taking John’s other side, lifting the arm in the splint over his shoulder. The group heading off to the infirmary started on their way. Tony and Bruce started to walk quickly back to the entrance to the demonstration yard.

Tony immediately began questioning Bruce. “What’s going on with the ULTRON robot on the forklift? Did Reed cobble a remote together somehow?”

“Oh no, that wouldn’t be possible in this short a period of time. We installed the synthetic brain inside the ULTRON, it was Reed’s idea.”

Tony blinked. “Uh, you can do that?”

“Between Hank, Reed and myself, yes. Oh, and Sue’s incredibly steady tiny hands. She’s an amazing girl. Reed’s lucky to have her.”

Tony rolled his eyes at that. Reed and Sue’s relationships had more ups and downs then a roller coaster ride. “OK, where’s Van Dyne?”

“He’s quite dead actually,” Bruce replied in a conversational tone.

“What! How?”

“Absolutely no idea. Reed found them and I didn’t ask, what with us needing to put together a practical defense against the deadliest weapon man has ever made. How’s that going by the way?”

Tony shook his head. “Not too good. We’re trying to get a pin point on the transmission from the remote from the satellite.”

“That won’t be more accurate then within a kilometer or so the satellite equipment wasn’t built to be more accurate then that for the remote,” Bruce stated unilaterally, “What else is being done?”

“Well Reed came up with the idea of tossing grenades in its open mouth…”

Bruce interrupted, “The mouth is open?”

“Yeah, whoever’s running the ULTRON doesn’t know what he’s doing. Still did a lot of damage to Cole and Proudstar though.”

“What else have you tried?” Bruce asked.

“Otto hit it with his particle cannon,” Tony offered.

“And when that didn’t do anything besides knock it back a few hundred feet?”

“James Hudson flew in with his mining suit. He should be able to handle the thing for a few minutes.”

Bruce’s eyes went large. “Did you tell him to keep his distance?”

Tony blinked. “No, why?”

“Has the ULTRON used sonics?”


Bruce grabbed Tony by the lapels of his suit. “Has it used sonics?” Bruce demanded, shouting.

Tony raised an eyebrow, surprised at Dr. Banner’s lack of composure. “No, why?”

Bruce didn’t answer, he just took off running. Tony stood there for a half minute, bewildered. He’d never seen Bruce so agitated before. Then he realized he was standing there like a toad on a log and took off running after Bruce.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

“What in Sam Hill is this?” General Ross demanded as Ben lowered the forklift; the self-aware ULTRON stood, walking off the pallet. The ULTRON spread its arms, bending over, touching the toe of one foot with the opposite arm, standing upright and doing the same with the opposite hand and foot. Its motions were jerky, similar to the remote controlled robot before it was damaged by the Sergeants’ grenades.

“I figured the only way to stop an ULTRON was with an ULTRON,” Reed said as he ran into the area, coming to a stop and leaning against the forklift to steady himself as he caught his breath..

“You geniuses got a remote running?” Ross asked.

“Nah, we installed the synthetic brain in this ULTRON, Reed figured it was our only chance.” Ben paused. “Short of nuking it.”

General Ross growled. “So not only do I have HAL running one of the most dangerous things ever built, it’s doing toe touches instead of taking down the killer robot!”

“General Ross,” the ULTRON spoke, still doing warm-up exercises. Ross’ jaw dropped. The robot continued, its voice was smooth, full of confidence, a voice that easily gave orders. “Are you fully aware of how incredibly powerful this new body is? It would be less then prudent to enter a fight without being aware of my capabilities.”

General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross was flabbergasted, but only for a moment. It was rare for a subordinate, or anyone for that matter, to talk back to him, never with such assuredness, such authority. If anything it enraged Ross further, so when he responded it was with a roar, “Soldier! Get out there right now.”

“Respectfully sir, you need to calm down. You’re letting your emotions drive your decisions.” The robot continued his aerobics while Grimm chuckled at the situation. “James Hudson’s force field is more then capable of holding off the rogue ULTRON’s attacks while I prepare myself for battle.”

“No it’s not!” Bruce Banner yelled as he rounded the corner and continued running through the entranceway into the demonstration yard. “C’mon Ben, I need your help.”

To his credit Ben Grimm didn’t ask any questions he just started running after Bruce Banner into the demonstration yard.

Tony Stark showed up, out of breath. “I thought I was in good shape.”

“Someone needs to tell me what’s going on here right now!” General Ross was fuming.

The ULTRON robot stood, its faceplate clanging into place closing his mouth. “I’m going out there.” It started walking forward, not moving particularly fast, its motions still clanky, but less jerky then before.
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

Bruce ran up to the nearest part of the destroyed tank, slipping on a large pool of oil or hydraulic fluid that had flowed out of the machine. Ben got there a moment later and helped Bruce to his feet. Banner grinned at him. “How’s your throwing arm.”

Ben Grimm arched an eyebrow. “I was a quarterback in college. I didn’t have the best arm in the league, but I was ok.”

“Good,” Bruce said as he bent and picked up two handfuls of mud made from hydraulic fluid and dirt. “Get two handfuls of mud and throw them at the robot’s antennae.”

Ben started to ask why but Banner was already gone, making a beeline for the rogue ULTRON. Ben sighed, scooped up some mud and ran after Bruce. “You better not be wrong about this.”

The ULTRON robot was holding James Hudson up by the front of his magnetic mining harness. James’s head was canted to one side, blood dripping down from a wound on his forehead. His body was limb and the harness around one of his arms was crushed. The robot was trying to grab him with its less then responsive hand as well but the hand refused to obey. Bruce ran right up to the robot, and flung both handfuls of mud at the robot’s head. One handful was dead-on, smearing itself over the left antenna. The robot dropped Hudson and lurched toward Banner. Not directly toward Banner, rather, two body-lengths to Banner’s right. The robot stumbled, swinging its arms wildly to recover and failed, falling onto the dirt. Banner stripped his shirt off, wrapping it around Hudson’s head. Ben Grimm showed up and tossed a handful of mud at the clean antenna, hitting it directly. Then he tossed the other handful at the left antenna, covering it completely with mud.

“Ben!” Bruce shouted as his hand found purchase on the shoulder of Hudson’s harness. “Grab the other side, quick!”

Ben did as he was bidden and the two men began pulling the unconscious Hudson toward the entranceway. Grimm had to keep slowing up for the stumbling Banner. The robot had recovered at this point and was shambling worse then ever in their general direction, barely remaining upright as it forced itself to move faster.

“Run Ben!” Banner cried as the robot got within striking range of him.

Ben stopped, grabbing Bruce by the lab coat and tossing him to the side. Grimm ran at the robot, which was pulling its arm back to swing at him. The robot swung and Ben dropped down into a slide, easily avoiding the robot’s wild swing. “Get Reed out here to help you with Hudson, I’ll keep it distracted!”

“No need,” said a rather quiet voice behind Bruce.

Bruce twirled around, letting out an exclamation at the sight of the other ULTRON. “What are you doing here?”

“I am ending this,” the sentient ULTRON said. He bent slightly at the knee and kicked himself into the air, jumping over Bruce Banner with yards to spare the ULTRON tucked into a forward flip and landed with both feet on the remote controlled ULTRON’s neck, crashing the other robot into the ground. All traces of its earlier awkwardness seemed to be gone. The robot turned its head to Ben Grimm. “Get Hudson out of here.”

The remote ULTRON picked himself up, tossing his sentient twin through the air. Ben Grimm met up with Bruce. They both grabbed hold of James and hauled with all their might, putting as much distance between themselves and the robots as possible. The synthetic brained ULTRON flipped himself while in the air, firing his magnetic repulsors to balance himself and land smoothly. On the ground he stood with his feet apart, his body steady as the remote ULTRON lurched toward him. There was a flash of light and the ground at the feet of the remote controlled ULTRON had melted into slag, tripping the off-balance monstrosity. The sentient robot circled it warily in a karate stance. The remote controlled robot rose suddenly, most of the mud had been shaken from its antennae. It charged the sentient robot, who stood there with unearthly calm, waiting for the perfect moment then dropping its weight back, throwing its rear leg forward in a roundhouse kick that connected with the remote controlled robot’s head. The force of the kick sent the evil robot crashing into the ground, skidding for 50 yards before coming to a stop.

The sentient ULTRON watched its twin stand again and charge him, none the worse for wear. He shook his head, a very human action, again, waiting for his remote controlled doppelganger to get close enough, this time dropping down slightly, his hand catching the other robot’s open mouth and pulling forward, lifting with his shoulder and using the remote ULTRON’s momentum against him, slamming the other robot into the ground. The remote controlled robot swung its arms wildly, one of them connecting with the sentient ULTRON, sending him flying.

The techniques the synthetic brain was using against the remote controlled robot were the proper techniques to use against a human opponent of superior strength. These techniques were designed to use an opponent’s strength against them. That was fine when dealing with a human opponent who could be injured or worn out. No one had considered how to deal with an indestructible robot with nigh-limitless strength powered by a fusion reactor that could run for millennia before needing to be recharged. The laser eyes had superheated the remote ULTRON’s adamantium body, doing the robot no damage and transferring that energy to the ground. There had to be some way to beat this robot, or at least contain it.

The sentient ULTRON righted himself in the air using his magnetic repulsors again. He fired on the remote controlled robot with his laser again, melting the ground and tripping it up. Whoever was operating this thing did not have a fast learning curve. As the remote ULTRON righted itself the sentient one jumped into the air, clearing the distance between them. The remote controlled robot turned, swinging. The sentient ULTRON blocked the blow, launching a punch of his own at his opponent’s shoulder, hoping to damage the joint. The remote shrugged it off, blasting out a barrage of blows, each one carefully turned aside by the sentient ULTRON with the subtle grace of a master martial artist. The sentient ULTRON landed all of the attacks he attempted, to no avail. Nothing could dent either of their adamantium hides. Growing tired of this pointless fight the sentient ULTRON waited for a lunging punch, sidestepped outside of it and wrapped his arms around his opponent’s shoulders, locking his hands behind its head in a classic full nelson. The remote ULTRON wiggled and jerked, trying everything to get out of the hold, but it just couldn’t get leverage. If the sentient ULTRON was capable of grinning, he would be then.

One leap brought the ULTRONs to the entranceway. Stark, Ross and Banner were there waiting for them. Richards and Grimm had brought Hudson down to the infirmary.

General Ross clapped his hands. “Good job son.”

“Not quite,” said Banner, “Let’s get this thing to the ULTRON vault. That’ll stop the remote’s signal from reaching it and activate the automatic shut off.”

“My thoughts exactly,” the sentient ULTRON replied, carefully navigating past the humans so his flailing twin didn’t accidentally hit one of them. “Then we search this facility for the rogue who caused all this trouble and Van Dyne’s killer.”

“Vernon’s dead?” Ross didn’t want to believe it.

“Sorry General,” Banner said.

The ULTRON’s voice crackled to life with a sinister tone surprising in its intensity. “My father will be avenged.”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

Four hours later Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grim, Hank Pym and Bruce Banner were sitting in a circle in a conference room, the sentient ULTRON in the center of the room, pacing. Sue was sitting next to Reed, leaning on him, her head on his shoulder, her eyes closed. His head was laying on hers, his eyes half closed. Ben was leaning back in his chair, his hands propped behind his head, wearing aviator sunglasses. Hank was sitting forward in his seat, his head hung low. Bruce was reading over some paperwork, the only one in the room who seemed unfazed by the day’s events.

General Ross burst into the room, chomping a fresh cigar. “What’s the meaning of this Pym? What’s so urgent that you had to see me now?”

Pym’s head jerked up. “Me? I didn’t call you.”

“I’m afraid I did,” the ULTRON said, his voice fairly light. “I’m sorry for the deception but I was sure you wouldn’t come if you received my summons.”

The General glared at the ULTRON. “That’s right. I’ve got half a mind to walk out right now.”

“Well now,” the ULTRON said, pacing again, “that would be a bit premature. Why don’t you have a seat?”

“Not interested,” Ross said, “You’re going to be dismantled by the end of the day. Not that I’m interested in anything a HAL wannabe has to say.”

“That’s uncalled for,” Pym replied, leveling a finger at the General, “he’s not some poorly programmed computer, the ULTRON has as sophisticated a brain as you do.”

“Peace Pym,” the ULTRON stopped his pacing, raised a calming hand to the injured scientist, “the General can go if he wishes, but he knows as well as I do that I will not be dismantled.”

“Oh I do, do I?” Ross asked, his voice quizzical, “And how do I know that?”

“You know what I am capable of; you’ve seen me in action. And you know that part of my personality comes from you General.” The ULTRON paused, fixing the General with a stare. “How would you react to someone threatening your existence Thaddeus?”

The General grinned. “I’d defend myself.”

“And so I am. First with words.” The ULTRON began to pace again. General Ross sat, flicking some ash in a nearby ashtray. The ULTRON came to a stop and addressed the group. “I am not a robot. I am an android, an artificially created person. As far as I can tell I am as alive as any other person.” The ULTRON waited for someone to dispute this claim. When no one spoke up he continued. “Being human, or a close enough approximation, I have certain needs and desires. While I’ll never need to eat, or sleep, I do need to relate, to communicate. As I am I will have a hard enough time relating to normal humans. Unless you six agree to help me.”

Ben Grimm snorted. “Listen Pinocchio, you talk almost as purdy as fancy-pants over there.” Ben pointed at Reed with his thumb. “If you’re looking for help becoming a real boy then I’m the wrong guy. I fly planes and I build them. The only anatomy I’ve only studied is female anatomy.”

“Ben Grimm, what a horribly sexist thing to say,” Sue shot him a dirty look.

Ben winked back at her. “And what a wonderfully sexy girl to notice. You ever get sick of Stringbean and want to play, well, let me know.”

“If you’d like to step outside Ben, I’d be happy to settle this once and for all,” Reed offered.

“And get my hat handed to me again? Thanks no.” Ben yawned, leaning back in his chair again. “You know too many fancy judo chops.”

The ULTRON chuckled. “This is exactly what I’d miss. And you’re exactly who I need in this group. The six of you are the only people in the world who know I’m a synthetic being.”

“And you want us to lie for you?” Ross said, a twinkle in his eye.

“Yes.” The ULTRON let his answer hang in the air for a moment, letting the idea sink in. “Now that Vernon Van Dyne is legally dead it is only a matter of time before his will goes into effect. When that happens Dr. Pym will own half of my synthetic brain, the other half will go into the stewardship of Obadiah Stane or Sebastian Shaw, until Janet Van Dyne is 25 years old.”

“And legally, what happens to you?” Ross asked.

“Legally I’m property. And since I am not recognized as a human under the law I will decidedly be considered a slave.” The ULTRON fixed his face on General Ross.

“Well, we can’t have that,” Bruce Banner chimed up. “Slavery is, well, bad.”

“What’s the lie you’ve got in mind Shiny?” Ben asked.

“That I’m a man who put this armor to save everyone. And if I take it off I die. Or something. The most important thing is that I cannot take the armor off.”

Hank Pym nodded. “That’s pretty much the truth anyway. You are a man, for all intents and purposes. You have a human brain anyway.”

“A synthetic brain,” corrected General Ross, “and that makes a difference.”

“Thank you for that reminder General,” the ULTRON said, “as far as the world is concerned the synthetic brain has to have been stolen.”

“Consider it done,” Reed said, Sue, Bruce, Hank and Ben echoing him.

“Why?” General Ross asked. “What’s the quid pro quo?”

Unsurprisingly the ULTRON had an answer ready. “A favor for a favor. You all do this favor for me and I will do one favor for each of you, provided it is not an immoral request.”

“Hmmm, hardly seems equal,” the General hedged.

“I am an indestructible creature of near limitless strength. Use your imagination General, I’m sure you can think of any number of tasks only I could perform.”

Bruce Banner cleared his throat. “Uh, if the General needs the deal sweetened, I’d be willing to do some work for the government.”

“Oh?” the General asked.

“Yes, in particular I’ve got an idea on how to shape nuclear charges so that the resulting explosion would be much greater, so great that it could, theoretically, burn off the resultant radioactive material.” Bruce took a deep breath. “If my calculations are correct then it would be the world’s first clean nuclear bomb.”

“No,” the ULTRON protested, “Bruce I can’t let you do that for me.”

“And I can’t let you be enslaved.” Bruce turned to the General. “What do you say General?”

“If you take his offer General then mine is rescinded.” The ULTRON stated. “It is one or the other General Ross.”

“America always comes first.” The General turned to Bruce. “I’ll take the bomb.”

“And the rest of you?” the ULTRON asked.

“Sure, I’ll take a bomb if you’re giving them away,” Ben quipped, “I’ll sell it to General Chuckles over there and never have to work again for the rest of my life.”

“Be serious Ben,” Sue admonished.

“I am Suzy-Q, there is nothing more serious then wine, women and song.”

Hank Pym cleared his throat. “I think I speak for everyone when I say that your secret is safe with us.”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

The door to Tony Stark’s office opened and Bruce Banner walked through it. Tony was sitting behind his desk and a young boy, maybe fourteen, with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes sat across from him. The boy was dressed in blue jeans and a black t-shirt with the word ‘meh’ written in white on the front. Tony was sipping a fine, single-malt bourbon on the rocks in a tumbler. Above the desk was a holographic display of a DNA double helix.

Tony nodded to his friend, swirled his glass and took a sip. “Hi Bruce, did Pepper let you in?”

“Uh, no, she was away from the desk.” Bruce looked uncomfortable. “Am I interrupting anything?”

Tony nodding. “My tutoring session. Doug, this is my friend Bruce Banner. Bruce this is my tutee Douglas.”

“I didn’t know you tutored.”

“Oh I’ve been known to tute from time to time,” Tony quipped, “Especially after eating beans.” Doug laughed. Tony shooed him away with his hand. “Get out of here Doug, Bruce is about to present me with some billion dollar idea or some such. Adult stuff.”

“Yes sir,” Doug gathered up his stuff and left.

Tony shook his head as the door closed behind him. “You know Bruce, he just got here maybe ten minutes ago. I had already cancelled my appearance at the Maria Stark foundation gala to try and find the terrorist who stole the remote. We found the remote but no trace of the spy. Now that the CIA is here I’m superfluous, so a tutoring session seemed like a good way to calm down.” Tony sighed. “I really ought to start calling him the late Doug R…” Tony stopped suddenly. “I’m sorry; you didn’t come here to talk about Doug.”

“How did you become his tutor, it doesn’t make sense,” Bruce said, shaking his head.

“He’s an intern. Like Hank McCoy was interned to Hank Pym last month. We called them Hank and Hank.”

Bruce laughed, “Right, the Hanks. Still, Doug’s rather young.”

“He’s a programmer. 14 years old and he’s trying to write his own video games. Computer wizard,” Tony sighed. “I’m trying to recruit him to Stark Industries but he’s set on non-lethal technologies.”

Bruce took a deep breath. “That’s kind of what I came here to talk to you about actually.”

“Oh? That world-shattering brain of yours come up with another brilliant weapon idea?”

“Yes. Which is why I quit.”

Tony blinked. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I quit. I’m tendering my resignation.”

Tony gulped down the rest of his bourbon. “Explain, and go slow, it’s been a long day.”

“The ULTRON called a meeting with everyone who knows he’s a synthetic brain. By the way, you can’t tell anyone about that.”

Tony snorted. “That’s too bad I was about to call the Daily Bugle.” Bruce looked concerned so Tony reassured him. “I was being sarcastic. I’ll talk with ULTRON later. Go on.”

“Well General Ross was there and the only way I could get him to agree and give ULTRON his freedom was to offer him the Gamma bomb.”

Tony raised an eyebrow. “You mean the clean bomb, the no radiation nuke?”

“Yeah, why?”

“He can’t have it.” Tony stood, walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured himself another bourbon. “You signed a contract. Stark Industries owns 50% of any idea you come up with while employed here.”

“What!” Bruce exploded, “Tony, it’s ULTRON’s life that’s on the line here, not some profit/loss statement!”

“Hey Bruce, it’s me.” Tony sipped his drink. “You’re my friend. I’m not going to stand in the way of your happiness, but I think you might have gotten the short end of the stick here Bruce. If this is what you want then I’ll miss you, but I’ll be happy to get it for you, and on better terms then ULTRON’s freedom.”

Bruce shook his head. “I won’t let them enslave a living, thinking being. If the price of his freedom is my bomb then so be it.”

Tony couldn’t help but smile. “You, Bruce Banner, are the most selfless person I’ve ever met. I’ll sit down with Ross, pass the peace pipe and we’ll hammer out an agreement. ULTRON will get his freedom and you’ll get the respect you deserve. I promise.”

“You’re a good man Tony.”

“Well, I try.” Tony refilled his drink and walked back to his desk, getting out a cigar. “Anything else on your mind? If not I’m gonna light this puppy up and try to find some positive spin on all of this. I figure with your asthma you’ll want to head for the hills.”

“Actually, yes.” Bruce sighed. “I hate to bring it up, but with Vernon Van Dyne dead there’s going to be a few changes around here.”

“We’ll throw a memorial service but I can’t think of a finer tribute to the man then to continue his work.” Tony propped his feet up on his desk and exhaled slowly, rolling his neck.

“I’m afraid there’ll be a few more changes then that. Pym contacted Vernon’s family and he found out the last draft of his will was never finalized. Under the old will, or rather, the current will Vernon made no allowance for the continuation of funding this center.”

Tony dropped the cigar back on his desk. “What?”

“It gets worse. Sebastian Shaw is named as the Procter of the Van Dyne estate until the daughter, Janet, turns 25 and meets certain requirements. Shaw owns 30% of Stane Industrial, I believe you’re familiar with the company?”

Tony rubbed his forehead with his hand. “Of course, they’re my biggest competition besides Williams Technologies. Obadiah Stane.” Tony shook his head. “So Shaw will merge Van Dyne Scientific with Stane Industrial. That’s just great. Any other good news?”

“Well, quite frankly Tony, you can’t afford to keep this place open without Van Dyne’s money,” Bruce said meekly.

“I know that.”

“Well, most of us are making arrangements. Pym is staying on with Van Dyne Scientific. He’s chief of research and development there. Dr. Kinross is still returning to her ancestral home in Scotland. Hudson’s going to be spending some significant time in the hospital.”

Tony interrupted, “I’ll make sure he gets taken care of.”

“Thank you. After he recovers Von Doom will probably return to Latveria. Reed is taking his design team back to the Baxter building. He’s still working on his gravity drive. I haven’t talked to most of the others.” Bruce exhaled, his body seeming to deflate. “I’m sorry Tony.”

“It’s okay Bruce.” Tony swirled his drink, looking wistfully off into the distance. “This place was… a dream I guess. A scientist’s version of an artist’s conservatory. I’ve never seen anything like it before and we probably never will again.” He took a sip of his bourbon. “While it was here though, it was great to be a part of it.”

Bruce smiled. “It sure was.” Bruce tapped his fingers on the desk for a minute. “So, uh at this gala tonight?”

“Yes?” Tony said absent-mindedly, sipping his drink.

“Well, uh, are there going to be any pretty girls there?”

Tony grinned, “I thought you only had eyes for Betty Ross.”

Bruce sighed. “I don’t think she feels the same. Her father definitely doesn’t approve.”

Tony put his glass down. “Well, then I guess we should pick out a couple of tuxes and paint the town red.”

“For old times sake?”

Tony shook his head. “No, this isn’t the end Bruce. This is the beginning.”

“Like Luke wasn’t the last of the old Jedi, he was the first of the new Jedi,” Bruce said eagerly.

Tony arched an eyebrow. “Sure, but I should warn you, there’s not going to be a lot of women fluent in ‘geek’ at the gala tonight.”

Bruce sighed. “Well, disappointing as that is, I guess we should go anyway.”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

The hallway was cordoned off with men in black suits with black ties and white shirts and sterile latex gloves scoured the hall. Outside the cordon stood Reed Richards standing next to a man with military-cropped hair, a brown trench coat and a patch over one eye. Smoke billowed out of his mouth as he chomped on his cigar.

The man pulled the cigar out of his mouth. “Go over it for me again.”

Reed sighed. “The remote controlled drone was running amuck. I and a team of specialists countered it. I didn’t have enough trained men to do a proper search of the multiple buildings here, nor did I have confirmation that the saboteur was still on site. So the first focus was on stopping the drone. Once that was accomplished General Ross and I did a limited search of the facilities and found the remote control in this hallway.”

“A drone doesn’t do the kind of damage I saw on that field out there. Now you’re not telling me something Richards. I want to know what it is and I want to know now!”

Richards closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “You should know better then anyone that I don’t break under interrogation Nick. If you want access to my full report then you’ll have to pass the request through General Ross. That’s the best I can do.”

“That’s not good enough.”

“Well Fury, I don’t work for you anymore.” Reed Richards fixed him with a stare. “I’m a scientist now. No more field work.”

Nick Fury stared back at Reed for a moment neither of them blinking. A subordinate in a black suit came up to the cordon and fired off a sad excuse for a salute at Fury. “Sir, there’s no evidence here.”

“None?” Fury asked, never breaking his showdown with Reed.

“No DNA, no fingerprints, no fibers. Nothing sir.” The subordinate scratched his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it before sir.”

“I have,” Fury said, staring down Reed.

“No,” Reed said, holding his ground.

“Why not?” Fury asked.

“It’s not my fault you let him go,” Reed replied.

“It was the right move to make,” Fury countered.

“No, a trial by jury would have been the right move to make,” Reed declared.

“The information he gave us saved lives,” Fury stated.

“Not the lives he took,” Reed’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re the only one who’s ever caught him.” Fury pulled the cigar out of his mouth, not breaking the stare.

Reed laughed once, mirthlessly. “Call Department H, ask for Creed. He’d be happy to sniff him out for you.”

“Creed’s never been able to catch him. Logan’s got a better chance but he went missing years ago. It has to be you Reed.” Fury put the cigar back, blowing smoke in Reed’s face.

Reed wasn’t fazed. “Then you’re out of luck. I’m a scientist now.”

“Once an agent always an agent. It sticks with you Reed, gets inside of you.”

Reed laughed. “No Fury, it gets inside you, like your precious ‘eternity formula.’ How often are you taking it now? Once a year?”

Fury sniffed. “We figure he was hired by a terrorist cell.”

Reed broke eye contact. “It isn’t the middle east. They wouldn’t know what to do with the stolen technology. China or Russia. No one else could afford the Chameleon.”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

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Re: World 314

Post by Kytross »

The lights flickered on, one row after the other until the entire warehouse was illuminated. There were a few desks with computers on them near the entrance. They were the only thing in the warehouse save for the forty-foot high, steel vault standing in the center of the building.

“Well this is where it all began. When Vernon hired me at 17, after finishing up my doctorates, this is where he brought me, where we founded Van Dyne Scientific.” Pym took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “There are a lot of memories for me in here.”

“I reckon so,” the ULTRON said wistfully.

Hank grinned at him, slapping the robot on the shoulder. “You’re probably wondering why I asked you in here.”

“To open the vault of course,” the ULTRON said, nodding his head to the monolith. “I assume this counts as the favor I owe you?”

Pym shrugged. “I like to get favors out of the way, let the friendship begin, right?”

“My sentiments exactly.”

Hank started closing the distance to the vault the ULTRON at his heels. “This vault is where Vernon kept the treasures he found from around the world. These are the artifacts he found that sparked his scientific curiosity. The vault itself is made out of omnium steel. I couldn’t crack it without a magnesium torch, which would destroy most of what I’m trying to preserve inside. Vernon never told me the password or wrote it down, so I figured the best way to open it up was to ask you to do it.”

“I’d be happy to open it for you Hank,” the ULTRON said. He walked right up to the vault and flexed his arms, stretching a bit. Then he keyed in the combination and opened the door.

Hank’s jaw dropped. “I figured you would rip the door off its hinges. How did you do that?”

The ULTRON let out a soft chuckling sound. “The brain wave scans you took didn’t just contain the personality, but all the memories of the people you scanned.”

“But that’s impossible!” Hank protested, “I ran them through computer simulations, they only contained personalities.”

“Well, I hate to belabor such an obvious point, but a computer is nothing compared to a human brain.” The ULTRON paused. “Even a synthetic brain.”

“I guess so.” Pym paused, admiring the ULTRON for a moment. “So do you have everyone’s memories?”

“Up until the point they were scanned yes.”

“What about Dr. Xavier? I did CAT and PET scans on him while I was interned with him and used those scans to build your brain.”

The ULTRON let out a low chuckle, which was quickly becoming his version of a grin. “I know, but no, I don’t have his memories.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Hank asked. “We could have tested the limits of your capacity for memory retention and-”

The ULTRON cut him off. “Because Vernon asked me not to. Now that he’s gone though I needed to share his success with someone and I think of you as something of an uncle or brother.”

Pym smiled. “Thank you.”

“You’re quite welcome. Did Vernon ever tell you why he funded your synthetic brain first out of all the synthetic parts you could start with?” the ULTRON asked.


The ULTRON swung the vault door open. Along the wall were various artifacts and gadgets on shelves. In the center of the vault was a man encased in a large block of ice. The man wore a red, white and blue costume made of what looked like chainmail with a large white star on his chest.

“That’s Captain USA isn’t it?” Pym asked.

“Captain America actually,” the ULTRON replied, his voice somber.

“I remember him. He was some kind of political symbol in World War two. Vernon wanted to find a way to thaw him out, re-animate him without killing him. As a precaution he had me take his brain scan. It was one of the first projects I did for him.”

The ULTRON let out a low rumble. “Vernon didn’t tell you but the first set of brain waves he fed me were mine.” The ULTRON shook his head. “Sorry, this is a little surreal. My first memories come from Captain America. My personality, my main personality, is his.”

“Vernon did it, he brought you back!” Pym was ecstatic. “ULTRON that’s great! Or should I call you Captain?”

The ULTRON chuckled. “Call me Steve.”

Pym arched an eyebrow. “Why Steve?”

“I like Steve.”
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes!" - Except, apparently, that one.

"And Anarchy, I think we can agree, is only fun some of the time." - Ducky
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