AN: I don't own anything except my character, all recognized elements belong to their respective owners.
With that out of the way, just a quick thing. I've been a fan of the Jump Chain concept since I first saw it and figured I would give it a try. Any relevant documents or references used in the Jump Chain (and their authors/creators) will be mentioned at the end of the chapter in which they appear.
Chapter 1: The Chain Begins
So...dying was just the absolute worst.
This was the first thought he had on waking up. Well, not so much waking up as becoming aware. He was standing upright in a large empty white space, there didn't seem to be anything or anyone else around.
The last thing he remembered was being in the local bookstore, seeing if anything new had come in since he was there last. Not finding anything particularly interesting he had headed for the door. It was a bit of a blur after that.
There was a horn, a flash of color, screaming, glass breaking, and then pain. It felt like he was being crushed, burned, and sliced apart all at once. He'd never felt that much pain before and wasn't looking forward to a repeat performance.
Shaking his head to clear it he looked around again, "Where am I? What's going on?" As if in answer to his questions some kind of screen materialised in front of him, words appearing on it.
Welcome to the Jump Chain! You have been chosen to test the new Auto-Chain System!
The Jump Chain? That wasn't possible. That was just a fanfiction trope, right? He had read a few of them, the concept had been really cool. But, what did it mean by 'Auto-Chain'? "Um, hello? Is there someone I can talk to?"
Apologies Jumper, the Auto-Chain is designed to be a self contained system with no outside interference. Any questions you have will be answered to the best of this system's ability.
"Okay, I guess the basics then. What's happening? Where am I? Did I die? And of course the big one: Is this all real?" He figured panicking wouldn't help, so it was best to just try to stay calm and figure things out. In the best case scenario he gets the chance to visit different worlds and gain awesome powers. In the worst case he was either dead or dreaming, and he may as well enjoy himself.
A car crashed into the front of the store you were in. The impact very nearly killed you, leaving you in a coma and clinically brain dead. You were removed at that point, healed, and brought here to begin the Jump Chain. This is all very real.
"Right, but why me? Out of the infinite possibilities, why me?" He wasn't anyone special, just an average mid-twenties nobody. Just Sean O'Connor, a lowly retail worker that really only survived day to day and never accomplished much of anything.
You were chosen at random from the parameters given to this system. Out of 10,639,252,805,001 candidates you were chosen to test the Auto-Chain. All aspects of the Jump Chain have been automated, allowing the various omnipotent beings to enjoy the exploits of several Jumpers without trying to compete with each other by interfering. You are to be the first Jumper to test this system.
Sean wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed that the system didn't say he was unique or that there was some prophecy that only he could fulfill. If anything, being told that it was a random chance made him able to accept this whole thing a little easier. Though knowing he likely had a variety of god-like beings watching him was disturbing, he figured that was one of those things you tucked away and forgot about.
"Alright, well I didn't have much to look forward to back home anyway. Taking a spin through the multiverse sounds like a blast." He wasn't even being sarcastic, he was an all around geek and loner before this. Enjoying TV, movies, games, anime, books, and other things. Often at the expense of any kind of social life. Sean had probably read more words of fanfiction than he had in actual novels, it was always fun to see how other people would handle certain settings. He had even tried his hand at it a few times, but now he would get a chance to live it, "Why not? Let's do this."
Initiating Auto-Chain Start-up. Please standby…
Loading Basic Body Mod…
Sean read through the information that scrolled across the screen. "So instead of the standard 'Build-It-Yourself' body mod I'm getting a pretty simple one time upgrade. A more athletic build, slight looks boost, a bit more resilience to mental trauma, and full fertility control. Might make any Gauntlet Jumps a little harder with no particular Body Mod enhancements, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."
While he hadn't been a particularly fit or good looking man, he had been happy enough with himself. A mirror popped up next to him. It looked like he had gained a couple inches, putting him at just a touch over six feet. His general looks had sharpened and grown more attractive but were still clearly his own. Dark auburn hair and blue eyes finished off his appearance, again the same as his original but somehow more.
Loading Fortress of Jumper…
All around him a building began to appear. He was standing in what looked like an entryway, though it was hard to tell since there was no furniture. "Not the usual warehouse either, what do the specs say on this?" Sean was impressed at the list of features that came with this 'Fortress'.
It had a medbay, a workshop, a full set of utilities, restocking food supplies, practically limitless storage, and free housekeeping. On top of all that he could portal into any room in the Fortress at any time and even halt time in specific rooms indefinitely (as long as they weren't occupied).
There were further notes at the bottom explaining about companions, it seemed his particular Chain would be using modified companion rules. Any companions he picked up wouldn't need to be put in stasis, they could freely live in the Fortress whether the door/portal was open or not. It listed some other rules based around importing companions into jumps, but seeing as he didn't have any to start with he skipped over it.
Selecting Challenge Mode…
"That doesn't really sound like a challenge, not that I'm complaining." According to the description of this 'Double-Or-Nothing' challenge at the beginning of each Jump he could put any points he had left over aside. At the end of the Jump those points would double and he'd get the new total added to the starting total for his next Jump. It maxed out at 10,000 total, but that meant that after a while he would have a free 5,000 points to spend while maintaining a full bank. Since each Jump started with a budget of 1,000, he was looking forward to being able to buy pretty much everything he wanted.
Loading Jump Document…
Marvel Cinematic Universe Loaded...
The floating screen turned into a touchpad and Sean grabbed it, looking at the new form that was on the screen. "I'm starting with the MCU then, this could be fun." He scrolled through all the options available before starting to make his decisions. He wanted to keep in mind that without his interference everything turns out pretty good. There was plenty of room for improvement but he didn't want to accidentally make things exponentially worse.
The first option was location and he didn't see a point in paying to pick one so rolled for it. The result was Afghanistan, he'd be stuck in a Ten Rings cave at around the same time Tony Stark busted out of the one he was in. "2009? That's not a bad starting point. A little over a year until Thor, and three until the first Avengers."
Choosing to stay human for this jump was free, and Sean didn't think he really needed any of the other races. Not to mention he wasn't quite ready to adjust to a whole new species. He rolled for his age as well, rolling a 3, starting him at 28. After that he took the Operative identity, having done the math and figuring it would give him the best discounts.
Moving on to the abilities section he picked up 'They Call Me "Star-Lord"' for free, choosing to skip over 'Soundtrack of the Galaxy', he wasn't sure what to make his codename so put that aside for a moment. Then Sean grabbed three of the Operative perks: 'Vehicular Manslaughter', 'Way of the Widow', and 'A Funny Thing Happened'. These gave him the ability to drive or fly anything, top notch spycraft skills, and nearly unparalleled combat abilities respectively.
The last perk Sean picked was 'Blessed by the Gods', which in his opinion made several of the others pointless. Not to mention it added some connections to his backstory that should help him with Thor and Loki. This would have him adopted into the Asgardian royal family and given a whole host of magical upgrades. According to the notes at the end of the document it also had synergy with 'A Funny Thing Happened' that boosted his combat abilities and gave him some level of control over an element, making him immune to mundane versions of it. Having picked fire, he went back and put 'Dragon' in as his codename, he never was good at naming things.
The only things left to choose were his equipment. For this section he got a bonus 300 points, but he could only spend it here. Sean got several items for free: a tactical suit, a thunderstick, and Asgardian armor. He paid for the S.H.I.E.L.D membership, though he selected the consultant option instead of becoming an agent. It would be better to have more freedom in the short term to move around and make plans. Only the Vibranium looked really useful after that since it regenerated, but that left him with 50 points left over so he picked up the infinite shawarma for the fun of it.
"Okay, I still have a couple hundred points left over so I'll skip taking any drawbacks this time. Some of those options would not be worth it. I think that's everything." At the very bottom of the form was a button labeled Start Jump. Sean shrugged and clicked it.
Initializing Jump…Good Luck Jumper!
The floor seemed to fall out from under him, and then everything went black.
Sharp blue eyes opened and darted around. It took a moment for him to remember what was going on, but then he remembered everything. Not just the Jump Chain or his mundane life before it, he remembered a full life here in the MCU. The life of one Sean 'Dragon' O'Connor, a son of Odin and freelance Operative working primarily with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the last few years.
He was born in New York City, and promptly abandoned outside an Irish pub (hence his name). After some time in a foster home he stumbled into one of the many paths of Yggdrasil. This deposited a then five-year-old Sean in the halls of Asgard. Not knowing any better he had wandered around playing in the shiny castle for what must have been hours until he was found by a guard and taken before the King and Queen. He remembered being so scared of the big man, but the pretty lady seemed really nice. She acted a lot like he thought a mother would.
They asked him several questions, most he didn't know the answers to. But he tried his best and told them his name, age, and that he didn't have parents when they asked. It didn't take long before he started to get tired. He was taken to a bigger bedroom than he had ever seen in his short life and left there to sleep. In the morning they explained that they would be able to send him back if he wanted, but that the King and Queen saw great potential in him and wanted to adopt him. He would never be ashamed to admit that this was the happiest moment of his life and that he cried like a baby.
So he became the third son of Odin and Frigga, and was blessed by both his parents to grow stronger, faster, and wiser than a human would normally be able to. It wasn't long until he manifested the ability to manipulate fire, his mother called him her 'little dragon' after that.
Sean had two loving older brothers growing up. One loud and rowdy, Thor, that taught him how to fight and party. One subtle and sly, Loki, who taught him how to sneak and prank. They were both grown men when he came into the family so helped raise him. He would spend time training with Thor and his friends, scheming with Loki, reading and talking with his mother, or listening to his father talk about strategy and diplomacy. Thanks to his blessings he absorbed all these lessons at a rapid pace.
On the day of his eighteenth birthday, actually thirteen years to the day that he arrived in Asgard and began his new life, he decided it was time for him to leave. Like his brothers had before him he felt he needed to travel and learn, and a part of him longed to return to Earth. So Sean packed up his armor and left for Midgard. After spending all that time around Asgard's higher level technology it was practically child's play to find his old identity and make it look like he had never left.
For the next ten years he traveled the world, learning and growing. He found he preferred a middle ground between the styles of combat that his brothers used. Thor was all power and strength, where Loki was elusive and deceptive. Sean settled for stealth when he needed it, but sheer asskicking when stealth didn't work. So he became a freelance spy and thief, only taking jobs that he believed were in the right. He avoided assassination and the like unless the target was a truly bad person.
It was in this profession that he first caught S.H.I.E.L.D.'s eye. They had heard of him, it was their job to know things after all, but he was little more than a rumor to them (like the Winter Soldier). That was until a few years ago when they finally caught up with him. He was approached by an Agent Victoria Hand and offered a job with S.H.I.E.L.D. After negotiating for a while they settled on a deal: He was free to take other jobs, but S.H.I.E.L.D. missions had priority and he would share any information he found relevant. It was with S.H.I.E.L.D. that he would learn how to drive or pilot almost any vehicle, a handful of languages, actual spycraft, and picked up marksmanship.
Time passed, as it does. He went on several missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., growing his own legend. 'The Dragon' became another feared name in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pantheon, a man sent in when all else failed. Which led him to his current predicament.
Intel about the Ten Rings hinted that something big was going on (Sean now knew this to be their capture of Tony Stark at the beginning of the first Iron Man movie, but S.H.I.E.L.D. could only speculate) so he let them capture him to infiltrate and find out more. They had shoved him in this cave and were busy deciding when they were going to execute him.
Before he could spend any more time reminiscing a series of explosions rocked the area. It sounded a bit distant, but near enough to rattle the walls. 'Sounds like Tony's made his escape, about time I do the same.' Sean stood up from the cot he was laid on and took stock of the room he was in.
There were boxes of scraps lying about, almost everything had Stark's name emblazoned on it somewhere. Hearing panicked yelling in the corridors outside his cell, he knew he needed to move quickly. Stepping over to the nearest wall he focused briefly on an empty room in his Fortress, to keep things straight he mentally labeled it 'Sorting'. Once the portal opened and he was sure it was stable he stuffed the various boxes of tech into the room and shut the portal.
Moving back to the door Sean listened for signs of activity. Sure enough there were shouts in half a dozen different languages and hurried footsteps. Finally he heard movement coming in his direction so he stepped to the side of the door and waited. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself and let his instincts from this life take over.
As soon as the door opened and the barrel of a rifle poked through, Sean was moving. Grabbing the barrel he gave a sharp yank, pulling the Ten Rings fighter off balance. A quick kick and twisting his wrist just so caused the man to release the gun with a grunt. Sean spun the man by his shoulder and used him as cover. Two quick bursts from his stolen weapon saw the man's compatriots taken care of. A sharp twist broke the man's neck and he dropped like a sack of stones.
For a moment Sean paused, he knew that this was the first time he had taken a life and wasn't sure how to feel. Sure the Operative in him had done it dozens of times, and even the pre-Jump Sean knew that sometimes it was you or the other guy. That didn't change what happened.
Deciding to deal with it later Sean quickly looted the three men, keeping the first gun he took and dropped the others through a portal to his sorting room. He paused for a breath to listen for anyone headed his way. When there wasn't any sign of someone hearing him he stepped out into the corridor.
The cell he was put in was at the end of a tunnel, there was a bend to the right about 20 feet ahead. Sean moved swiftly, but quietly, always keeping an ear open. He peered around the corner and saw a straight shot to the outside. On the left side of the tunnel there was a door to another cave, probably the barracks or control room. There was no one in sight, though he could hear plenty of movement outside the tunnel.
He swept up to the door on the left and saw it was slightly ajar. Taking a moment to listen for movement inside, and hearing none, he gave the door a light push. It opened into a room slightly larger than the one he had been in. There were a couple of old monitors that looked like they were connected to cameras in his cell. Strewn about the room was the debris of several people rushing about in alarm, probably caused when Tony blew up his cave to escape. On the table next to the monitors was his tactical suit, sidearm, and satcom device. He quickly pulled them on and moved back to the tunnel, pausing a brief moment to destroy the hard drives connected to the monitors just in case.
Outside in the sun he could see people running around and yelling at each other, all of them pointing off in the same direction. Doing a quick headcount he was relieved to know this was a smaller outpost than he feared. There were only a dozen or so more guys and they weren't very well armed. In fact it looked like a couple of them didn't even have guns. Using his newly acquired stealth skills Sean slipped out of the tunnel and to the side, ducking behind a small sandbag wall.
After another moment to steady himself Sean popped up and with three quick shots took out the guys that looked to be in charge. He dropped back down as the others saw him and returned fire. He shimmied along the wall until he was positioned at the right side and then waited for the fire to taper off. The moment it did he leaned to the right and took out another four guys. Before he even had to decide if he should try for another the last five guys all turned tail and ran. He took a beat to make sure there wasn't anyone lying in wait then stood up and moved to collect the last bit of armament lying around the camp, just a few more assault rifles.
It wasn't hard to see the direction of the explosions he had heard earlier, there was a large cloud of smoke hanging over the valley just a little south of him. He could also see the smoke trail of the direction Tony must have gone, so he marked that for later. Sean made his way down the valley carefully, making sure not to be surprised by any guerillas in hiding. If he remembered correctly Tony blew up most of the Stark Industries tech that was in that valley, but both of the main guys that held him prisoner survived so there might still be people around.
The valley floor was a veritable firestorm, with bodies and scrap scattered everywhere. Only stopping to pick up a couple of the more intact looking pieces of tech Sean skirted the edges and made his way to the mouth of the tunnel he could see at the end of the valley. Again being careful of any surprises he peeked around the corner and slid in when he saw no movement.
About ten feet from the entrance was a body buried under some light rubble and slightly further along was another body, this one splayed across a pallet of sandbags. Sean knew this to be Ho Yinsen, and quickly moved to check on him. To his dismay Yinsen was already dead. He knew that was probably the case before he came in here but he had hoped to save him. This was the man that reminded Tony what it was to be a hero, his sacrifice here was the catalyst for the truly great man Tony would become. It didn't seem right to leave him here, so Sean mentally designated another room 'Burial' and opened a portal on the wall. He carefully moved Yinsen inside and then set the room to timelock when the portal closed.
Moving back to the other body Sean recognized the man as Raza, Obadiah Stane's contact within the Ten Rings. He considered keeping the man alive long enough to turn him over to S.H.I.E.L.D. but decided against it since he was currently in the middle of nowhere and couldn't count on a quick extraction. Instead, he put a round in the man's head and moved on.
This tunnel system was slightly more complex than the one he had been kept in, but a lot of the rooms were full of cots and nothing else. It only took Sean thirty minutes to scour through it, grabbing a few more Stark tech toys on the way (including the plans for the Mark I Armor), but he found no sign of anyone else alive. With that taken care of he headed back outside, snagging a couple of canteens on the way and started walking in the direction of where Stark should have landed.
As luck would have it Sean found Tony's 'landing zone' after only an hour of searching, the pieces of the Mark I Iron Man Armor scattered across twenty yards or so of desert. It took nearly as long to scrounge most of the pieces together and drop them into his sorting room. After that he figured it was time to make a call. He didn't want to stay in this god-forsaken desert any longer than he had to.
It took a full five hours for the extraction team to come get him and another five to fly him back to the Hub, the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where he had embarked on this mission. Waiting for Sean when he arrived was Agent Hand, who ushered him into a conference room. Before anything was said she held up a hand to indicate for him to be silent for a moment while she punched up the screen attached to one of the walls.
In just a couple of seconds the screen connected and the faces of two men appeared. On the left, and clearly transmitting from an office, was a large black man with an eye patch. The right side of the screen displayed an unassuming looking middle-aged white guy with a slightly vacant looking smile, he seemed to be in a car of some kind. These were Director Nick Fury, and Agent Phil Coulson. They looked exactly like their actor counterparts.
"Mr. O'Connor if you'll take a seat we can get this taken care of very quickly," Came the clipped tones of Sam Jackson. Sean nodded, took his seat and began recounting his mission with a few modifications. He made no mention of having taken some of the Stark tech for himself. For a moment he considered outing Stane's involvement but decided to hold off. Tony's big debut fight against him was a good start for people to get used to the changing world. It would also help Tony's outlook to deal with that situation. All the same Sean would keep an eye out to make sure it didn't get out of hand.
"Thank you Mr. O'Connor. At the moment we don't have any other missions that need your attention. Your payment has already been sent. We'll be in touch." Hearing the clear dismissal from Fury, Sean decided to take a leap of faith. He just hoped Fury caught on.
"If you're available in a couple days, Director, I'd appreciate the opportunity to talk about Project Flerkin. You know how to find me." Sean ignored the confused looks from Coulson and Hand, equal parts relieved and worried to see Fury's nod. Relieved because it was clear the man got the message, but worried because while Fury wasn't really a threat it would be easier to stay on his good side.
Oh well, what's done is done. Sean made his way out of the conference room and down to where they stored the personal gear for agents in the field. It was a simple matter to sign his things back out. Cell phone, wallet, and civilian clothes in hand it was time to get out of here.
The Hub was located in Alaska, so it was easy to get a ride to the nearest airport and catch a flight 'home' to New York City. Sean had several ideas on how to get started changing things, but he honestly wasn't sure where he should begin. When he met with Fury he would explain some of what he knew, HYDRA especially, but Fury would only be able to do so much. Even as good as he is at his job he's only one man.
It was a conundrum, but Sean figured regardless of what his plans for later became there was one thing he could do first. The facility codenamed 'The Lighthouse' was built as a fallout shelter during the Hydrogen Crisis by S.H.I.E.L.D., but was later abandoned and forgotten. Most of its technology was decades old, but it was a massive base with lots of room to play with. He could definitely find a use for it, even if he just turned it over to Fury to use when going after Hydra.
That decided Sean settled in for the long flight to New York, deciding to get some sleep while he could.
AN: As promised, here's a quick list of the resources.
Basic Body Mod by cliffc999 on SB
Fortress of Jumper by cliffc999 on SB
Double-Or-Nothing Challenge by Velk (the old, broken version) on SB
And the Jump itself is called 'Marvel Cinematic Universe - Volume 1'