Author's Note: Quick bit of fun inspired by Captain America: The First Avenger and Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. We used to have a very involved Transformer/Marvel RP universe, so this crossover only expounds on that. Characters borrowed for this mainly include Howard Stark and Blitzwing (as first depicted in TF animated). Mixing the storylines of both movieverses now to create this and hopefully explain where Blitz got his German accent, as well as how a few other things came to be in both movie storylines. Might end up as a drabble format. Who knows, we'll see.
It was easy to block out the radio chatter when he was involved in anything this detailed. Howard could only wonder when they'd be smart enough to realize that as they kept trying to hail him over and over. This new power source wasn't going to unlock itself now was it? He didn't have time to talk. The minor setback of another explosion earlier surely wasn't going to make him skittish.
At least, not enough to actually stop, even as his eyes squinted mildly behind the protective goggles, cuts still stinging around them as he dialed up the electricity in the test area just a bit higher again. Enough to excite the odd energy field the blueish remnant of Schmidt's weaponry seemed to exude nonstop. He'd now taken apart over two of the incredibly high powered guns the survivors of the 107th had brought back. Both times he had been unsuccessful in stabilizing the energy they contained in any practical fashion.
This morning was going to be different. The tell tale excitement was already trickling back into his veins. He set his jaw in that slight way he always did as he bit lightly into his bottom lip to further steady his hands. The field was stabilizing. Just another bit of change in the amperage, maybe even a decrease in voltage, and-
The voice came across another channel from the radio on the desk, much louder, much sterner. His hand holding the probe jerked slightly, and his breath caught as the field wavered harshly in reaction. He took another strained breath, reaching out to tap the button that added him to the channel. "Not now, Ms. Carter. Trying to streamline energy that could power this base until wonder boy gets his first gray hair."
"I can hear you." A more awkward male voice chimed in. "And they said I wasn't any younger than y-"
"Not relevant, Captain." Howard was quick to cut him off, not a fan of going down that road at all. "Is this a party line, or can I please get back to my own thoughts for a moment?"
"We've found something." Carter's voice came back, entirely unapologetic. "The Hydra self-destruct sequence wasn't fully completed this time. The Captain interfered. They had to leave a few things behind."
Stark stilled, straightening slightly from the hunched position at his work space. "Don't tease me, dear."
"You'll want to see this." She promised in that straightforward way of hers.
"It's really big." Steve added in that clumsily honest way of his own.
Stark exhaled, before turning to yell back over his shoulder at whichever officers might be in earshot from outside his lab. "Somebody get the cargo transport! We're flying out in five!"
Howard stepped gingerly over the shrapnel and still smoldering pieces of steel ceiling, or possibly walls. It was hard to tell any longer as they just kept descending. "You really make a mess don't you?" he spoke for the sake of doing so, trying not to cut himself as he felt around for balance.
Rogers glanced back, as if trying to understand if that was a joke or not. "Schmidt fought harder this time. He didn't run as quickly as usual." The blonde tried to extend a hand when Stark looked close to struggling in the awkward climb down. "That's why he didn't have time to trigger all the bombs."
Stark gave a look towards the offered hand. But it seemed pointless to be prideful. He already knew Rogers would just be blaming himself for letting the mad Nazi out the snare again. He took his friend's hand, going down more of what had once resembled stairs. "Then he was trying to protect something. Sounds more and more interesting, kid."
No. Not the right word. Not at all.
Howard Stark was not a man who normally gaped. Not with that wide eyed, slack jawed expression he often saw on so many of the faces that didn't really understand the technology this world was coming to. He knew better, he knew that science was a constant evolution. There were no impossibles, no improbables, only time and effort and work. Everything could be made real in time.
But they were also in some sort of macroevolution as of late, an explosion of new creation…to borrow that rather Biblical idea. First with the rise of Hydra, and then the SSR's response to it, it was science versus science, advancing in leaps and bounds by pressure of survival. They had the Captain now, but Schmidt still had his mystery energy and his labyrinth of bases with more elaborate and radical weaponry being designed all the while.
Weapons, always weapons…but that was Stark's only function as well as of late. And he was learning to do it best. That was why America had wanted him. But he knew this was different, even as his eyes moved rapidly from one detail to another across the large metal structure. Even as he came so close to gaping like he so seldom did.
"It's some kind of…metal man?" Steve tried to venture.
But Steve was naïve. Stark couldn't help himself but to get closer, stand on it even. The metal wasn't steel. Nothing even resembling steel as his fingertips grazed across it. But Rogers couldn't be expected to understand that.
It had two legs, two arms, a torso…and a head. So that made it a metal man to him. "It's not exactly from Oz, Captain." Stark replied, not harshly, just distractedly as he now stood on one of the thighs.
There were chains all around. About the thickest he'd ever seen. Like what might be used to anchor an ocean liner. And there were…gouges in the metal where it seemed those chains had moved.
He was breathing deeper, his heart doing that funny thing it did in some of his most intense experiments. But this time there was also an icy feeling across his skin. A nervousness he didn't fully have a name for. This was truly different.
And out the corner of his eye, he could see Rogers with that misplaced look of concern. But Stark didn't step back. He suddenly just wished only for his tools, even if his hands were well small enough to move behind the oversized plating. Something he did without hesitation as he tried to gain a better understanding.
Even the wiring felt wrong. The materials, the routing, not like anything he'd seen from even Schmidt's prior creations. And an engineer of Stark's caliber should well enough know the mark of another's designs. The things Arnim Zola made for his master.
"They didn't make this," Stark announced so surely, so bluntly, even as Steve stared up at him incredulously.
Yet Howard didn't give further explanation, fingers still moving probingly, carefully. The complexity of the design, it was far more than the circuitry that should have been allotted just to power whatever localized motors would have been needed for actuation of the various parts. There were tubes and hoses, carrying what? Not vacuum lines as he tried to compress one. It felt full. Fuel? Coolant? He could feel even smaller sets of wires behind the plates. Almost laid out like webbing, nearly blending into the metal at some points.
Even as he tried to think of a logical purpose for each new piece he encountered, he'd already noticed a trace of warmth with his other hand, a thicker wire that he then closed his palm around. He must have startled enough at the feel of a subsequent pulse beneath that hand, that Rogers noticed his reaction.
"What is it?" That protective tone was already in the other's voice. Ready to move closer and save Stark at first need no doubt.
"Nothing," he contested quickly though, somehow hoping Rogers wouldn't try to force him away so soon. "There's something flowing in this line." Yes, it was definitely moving now, a steady pulse. He tried to trace it, following it up the torso, hands delving between the plates as much as he could have. But he was still gentle, delicate really for how often he'd worked on fragile components. Not that anything about this machine looked fragile exactly.
"I think there's some kind of power source in the chest." Of course, it may not have been his most brilliant idea to just reach for it blindly. But it didn't feel hot enough to burn even his bare hands as he started to try and shift the plating out of his way. It was clearly locked, but even as foreign as it looked, Stark's eyes could find where it was supposed to move. It only seemed practical to have some kind of access for service.
He felt along more of the lines and wiring beneath the center of that chest area, searching for any kind of release mechanism. He couldn't help but notice as the warmth seemed to grow. But he was too focused to stop.
"There!" He almost sounded proud. "It's got latches."
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" And Steve was still down there worrying.
"Of course," Stark smiled, but thought better of making any joke comparing this to the intricacies of unhooking a new date's bra. Steve never seemed to find the humor in those kinds of things. Still quite lacking in experience down that particular avenue it seemed.
And Rogers only stared again as the plating did abruptly release, spreading apart in a hiss of shifting hydraulics.
Even the sound was different though. Another mental note Stark had to put away as his attention became instantaneously consumed at the chamber this opening revealed. The metal was so new yet again, clearly different from the compounds that formed the outside, but still no alloy he could instantly place as he touched the pads of his fingers against it.
"This thing's definitely still got juice." He called down to Rogers. There were little bits of light escaping the metal casing as the heat still seemed to increase. The aura was a blueish white, but not at all of the same consistency as the energy source Schmidt had used in everything else. Even without his analyzing equipment here, Stark could tell as much just on instinct. This one was more rhythmic, focused. Not so raw as before. He moved his hand across the energy's housing, trying to find another access. There were seams he could feel, but he didn't want to force it. He wasn't the bumbling, rough type when it came to these sorts of things, and he wasn't about to start that now…even as clearly enamored as he was in this ridiculously advanced design.
"Hey," he looked down to Steve again. "Go back up and get my voltmeter, would you?" He felt briefly foolish for not bringing it at the onset, but he hadn't known what he'd really find down here. They hadn't been too specific with him, and it'd have been a long way to drag his whole tool set.
Yet Rogers hesitated of course, "You're going to be alright alone?"
"For a few minutes, Cap?" Stark raised an eyebrow.
"I'll hurry." Rogers nodded dutifully, before sprinting back up the staircase and out of sight.
He watched after the man briefly, before returning his attention back to the complex machinery before him. He tapped the casing once more lightly, curiously. "Now what did Schmidt really think he was going to do with you?" It looked like two nice sized cannons rising straight up from behind the thing's shoulders though, like tank barrels really. "Just another big gun?" What a waste.
While waiting though, he might as well take a look at whatever practical military applications this thing really had. He tried to climb up a little more to take a better look at the cannon barrels. He needed another perch to grip on though, and the chamber was easy, and seemingly reinforced enough as he rested his hand on the casing, attempting to pull himself up.
His chest was about even with that casing when something shifted however. At first he thought he'd just lost his foothold where the toes of his boots had been standing on some piece of plating lower on the torso. But the mild surprise only gave way to true shock as something pressed into his back, catching him before he truly slipped.
Something that felt about the size of a car before he realized he couldn't even budge, arms pinned, legs as well. It was all around him, holding him tighter.
Fingers. The chains around the body weren't as tight as they looked.
"Rogers!" He called out so abruptly, no hesitation. But he only got it out once, before another squeeze effectively made breathing more imperative than talking.
Yet there was another strange sound, and somehow curiosity still overrode that natural instinct to truly panic as Stark jerked his head immediately up to see the face change all at once. Intense red lit behind jagged features. Some extremely distant part of his mind only thought of the most hellish version of a jack-o-lantern before the red eyes narrowed down at him and the carved looking smile widened immensely in the blackened rest.
He could hear what sounded like an engine rumbling to life, like the air intakes of a stuttering industrial motor heaving against him.
It was staring at him, examining him he thought, even with that maddened smile. He felt the fingers move, shifting around him as if to get a feel for his own structure and shape as he'd done to it moments before. Particularly across his chest for some reason, a sharp fingertip grazed briefly over his heart in a way that was more than unnerving.
The movement tore his shirt easily, only leaving him to wonder if Rogers even knew what a voltmeter looked like as he started to breathe harder. So stupid…so entirely stupid. Yes, Steve, of course I'll be fine! Until this thing came alive like Frankenstein's monster and crushed him like a toothpick. One gut filled, bloody toothpick.
When he felt an odd sting to the open air, he knew he was bleeding from his chest. But there was nothing he could do. His arms were pinned. He couldn't try to sever any of the wiring. Couldn't stop this thing from doing whatever it'd been designed to do. He was done.
"No spark…" An abrupt voice rumbled out to shatter whatever stoic view he had left about his terrible fate.
And not only was his brain then trying to accept that the thing could now speak, or that its accent was thickly German (maybe not the most surprising considering)…but more so than anything, that it sounded disappointed in whatever it had realized.
There had to be a speaker device somewhere, some goddamned Nazi having a final game with him, talking into a microphone miles away before ripping him into bloodied little bits for the Captain to find. A ridiculous death which then of course the government would be forced to cover up. Hopefully at least someone would know him well enough to provide some taste of glamour for the eulogy though. Drank himself into a stupor with vintage wine and walked right off the deck of his yacht during a party in the Mediterranean, choked on an olive in his martini while vacationing on a private island with Hollywood starlets…something.
But another sharp poke to his chest only had him gasp slightly as the thing cocked its head at him.
The smile grew again at his reaction, yet the voice was weaker the second time around, even as it pulled him closer to that warmth now emanating fully from its torso. "I can show you…"
Stark could only stare, at a loss as the chamber then started to open and the pulsing light grew more apparent.
"You slag! You can't do that! Stop!"
A new voice and sound of shifting parts from above startled him all over again, and when he'd glanced up, the face was entirely different. With features this time, a real expression. Angry, fearful, flustered even…Howard perceived all that in just a moment as this other voice bellowed. But its attention wasn't on him, it wasn't even speaking to him before there was a whir and the face shifted back to the prior one.
"But it wants us…please…this one is soft." The first voice was almost whining then, but still smiling. Yet there was a flicker, the red that backlit the eyes and the mouth not looking so bright then before it frowned momentarily. It reminded Howard all too much of the simple masks of comedy and tragedy in the quick ways it changed. "No more hurt…not like the mean ones."
Stark could do nothing as it lifted him higher though, even with its face then before it leaned that metal against him.
"Take Blitzwing home…just want to go." But it's voice was growing even quieter, weaker all the while as the red glow from the mouth and eyes continued to dim.
Stark noticed the grip was loosening around him as well, but as fortunate as that should have been, he couldn't remove his attention from the being.
"Hey!" Howard surprised himself as he abruptly found his own voice again as the support gradually fell away, and he had to grip to the body once more to keep from falling. Nothing had to make full sense at the moment, but he knew the sound of distress when he heard it. Where was the pilot? "If you're hurt, tell me where you really are!" The battle here was over, they could afford to offer a medic or two. Especially to whoever may have knowledge regarding what this thing actually was.
"Can you hear me!" Stark tried again, "Don't let it shutdown!"
There was something that almost sounded like a laugh, buried deep within the chest now as the panels started to seal regardless as the face went dark. "…nobody else…I'm here…where are you?"
Howard could only stare as the machinery fully silenced with that last sound. He tried to touch it again for some reason though, tried to make it respond. But even the heat had faded, drawn back away from him. He couldn't feel it anymore, and somehow that was even more stressful.
"Dammit." He breathed, trying to think again.
"What did you say?"
His head snapped back around at the words to see Rogers looking up at him from the doorway. Stark stared back at him almost dumbly for a moment, before realizing he should answer with something. He found his voice again after another awkward moment. "…We need to search this place. Make sure this machine doesn't have someone controlling it nearby. I'm going topside to get this excavation moving."
Reluctantly, he climbed back down at that, only stumbling a little as his feet finally hit the ground again. He hadn't realized his legs still felt like jello.
Steve's eyes got a little wider. "You're sweating. What happened?"
He flicked his torn shirt back open as if it wasn't obvious enough, before moving right past the Captain. "It woke up and said hello. But we're taking it with us. Just make sure we don't leave anyone behind when we do."
Howard only paused long enough to take a quick step backward on his way out and glance down at what Steve was carrying though. "And that is not a voltmeter." He gave the Captain a pat on the shoulder. "We're going over all of this one of these days, pal." But not today. Probably not even within the next few months.
Stark had a date with a German war machine.
A talking, ridiculously intricate, amazing machine.
to be continued?