Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Marvel Comics, Fairview Entertainment, Dark Blades Films, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. All others belong to me, and if you want to borrow them, you have to ask me first. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.
Just a quick bit of silliness, unbeta'd. Originally posted on my LiveJournal last year.
"I still do not understand the purpose of this effort," Jarvis said.
Tony looked down at the frozen lake far below, restraining a satisfied nod. "I told you. Equipment check for long-range targeting and cold-weather conditions." The snowy vista of hills and valley glittered in the bright sun, but the temperature outside his metal shell was far below freezing. There was no one for more than three hundred kilometers, he estimated. Perfect.
"There are many official weapons ranges much closer to home, sir. Why was it necessary to go to someplace so far and isolated?"
Tony tilted down and rocketed towards that snow-dusted surface, which gleamed black where the snow did not cover it. "Most of those places are military, Jarvis. I don't feel like giving them any more data about Iron Man's capabilities than they already have." And he was pretty sure that the U.S. government would be keeping a surreptitious eye on the private places as well, at least if he tried to use them. Pepper would no doubt call it petty, but he refused to make it easy for them.
"I'm sure you're aware that United States satellites do orbit over the upper reaches of Canada, sir."
Jarvis was really disturbed by his choice of venues, Tony thought with amusement. It's probably the inefficiency that gets him. "Yes, well, that's your bailiwick. Is the SI satellite in place?"
"It is. Does Mr. Wyndham know what you intend?"
"I told him I'd be turning a few trees into firewood, and he told me to watch out for the wildlife and have a good time." Tony turned in the air, slowing his momentum, and prepared to alight on the lake's surface. The thousands of acres of wild land and the miles-long lake were owned by a very old friend who understood the occasional need for privacy, and Tony had no intention of doing any major damage. Reducing his repulsors to their lowest level, he settled delicately onto the ice.
"All right," he told his AI. "Begin the blocking broadcast, start recording, and give me a heat scan of the surrounding area."
There was a brief pause before Jarvis spoke again. "There are no large heat signatures within scanning range. The satellite is blocking any other signals and is recording this test. The feed is downloading directly into your home servers."
"Good. Dial it in close so we can get the details." Tony scanned the far shore of the lake, estimating distances. Upgrades to the repulsors had rendered their range higher than he could easily test at home, at least without attracting unwanted attention. Out in the wilderness, he would be able to see just what they could do.
That's about half a mile away. Good, let's see. Tony squinted slightly despite the helmet's polarization, and raised a hand, bringing the repulsor in the gauntlet's palm back up to readiness. Fifty percent to start with -
The blast shot out with a satisfying roar, almost reaching the shore before dissipating. Unfortunately Tony, having forgotten a very basic aspect of physics, missed it as the recoil shoved back. The slick surface offered no traction, and his feet flew out from under him, dumping him on his armored backside with an undignified clank.
His yelp rang in his ears. Flat on his back, Tony blinked at the sky arching above him, trying to process what had just happened; the suit had cushioned his fall, but it had still been startling. "Gah. Note to self, even muted repulsors have a kick."
Perhaps mercifully, Jarvis didn't reply. Tony sighed, glad that no one had noticed that particular bit of slapstick, and sat up. Bracing one hand on the ice, he pulled in his leg to prepare to stand.
As soon as he put pressure on it, his foot shot out from under him again, rocking him back onto his ass. Tony swore and tried again with the other foot, with the same result.
This is ridiculous. More glad than ever that no one was around to see, he rolled awkwardly over onto all fours, brought in a leg to try again -
And ended up sprawled on his belly.
Infuriated, Tony dug his fingers into the ice, splintering it into handgrips, but even with those he couldn't get enough purchase on the ice to stand. The surface wasn't completely slick, but it was far too smooth for his boots to gain traction. Even when he clawed out bracing spots for his feet, he still ended up slamming onto his stomach or backside, all his technology and power negated by frozen water.
Finally he sat still, panting and sweating, his ears still ringing with the last angry string of curses. An unencumbered human could no doubt stand with some effort, but the armor was just too stiff and heavy for him to gain enough balance. "This is a fucking farce."
"Indeed, sir," Jarvis said austerely. "You do appear to be attempting to channel all three Stooges at once."
"Give me a little credit," Tony grunted, wishing Jarvis had a physical presence at which he could direct a very rude gesture. "Chaplin at least."
He slumped a little, trying to ignore the ignominy of the whole situation, and thought. He couldn't power himself off the lake's surface because he couldn't get his feet under him; he could punch up into the air a few yards using his gauntlet repulsors, but the flight would lack control, and he wasn't sure whether the ice would hold if he slammed back down onto it unsupported. And while falling through into the water beneath probably wouldn't be immediately fatal, Tony still wanted to avoid it if at all possible.
So the problem is force. Think about it, genius.
He looked out over the wide expanse of ice and the snowy shore beyond, considered angles and vectors and objects in motion, and slowly began to smile.
One couldn't really crack one's knuckles in a powered glove, but Tony did the mental equivalent and settled back, letting his legs stretch out straight in front of him and bracing his hands carefully against the ice, heels down but palms at an angle. "Jarvis, I want you to power the suit inertia field down to sixty-five percent." He locked his joints and watched the tiny indicator in his HUD fall.
"Sir, what are you - " Jarvis began, but Tony had already triggered his hand repulsors. The beams burst forth, vaporizing ice with clouds of steam, and Tony shot back with a jerk, sliding rapidly along the frozen surface. "Yes!"
He cut off the blasts and slowed to a rather bumpy stop, laughing at his own success. "Nice."
"Indeed," Jarvis said thoughtfully. "If you can reach the shore, you should have traction enough to stand."
"You got it." Tony cranked his head around as far as it would go, which wasn't very, and adjusted his seat on the ice until he was facing away from the shore. "This'll be - "
And when was the last time he'd had fun?
It only took a moment to readjust so that he was pointing in the other direction. I wonder just how much I can steer with these things...
With a whoop, he was off.
The view from above was quite clear on the workshop's big screen; the little red and gold figure that was Iron Man scooted swiftly across the frozen lake, drawing huge wobbly figure eights and then rolling over to pinwheel around his own center, limbs waving and repulsors firing in staticky bursts. The speakers rang with his roller-coaster shouts and the maniacal giggle of pure enjoyment.
And Pepper Potts lay collapsed in the desk chair, tears rolling down her cheeks, breathless with helpless laughter.