Dedicated to Isilarma, whose fantastic fanfiction Some Things Aren't Funny inspired this fic and who was kind of enough to allow me to take up the idea and run with it. Thank you, hon! *hugs*
If you haven't read Some Things Aren't Funny then I seriously recommend that you go and do it ASAP. It's brilliant.
Some spoilers for Iron Man 2 and general stuff for the Avengers.
Note: Dialog that appears in italics indicates either JARVIS or conversation held over a comm line.
Looking back, there had never been anyone that Tony Stark had ever truly hated more than Justin Hammer.
Seriously, the man was like a whining, smug-without-cause, human-in-form version of a rat. Or a weasel. Or a hybrid of both.
He had always gotten on Tony's nerves. Always. The fact that his Hammer Drones had almost killed both Rhodey and Pepper had definitely not reconciled him any in the playboy's eyes. It didn't even matter than Ivan Vanko was the one who had both built the drones and set them off. As far as Tony was concerned Hammer was just as responsible as the vengeance-hungry Vanko had been.
Yet in spite of all that the weasel had somehow managed to worm his way out of prison. Now, six months later his Hammer Drones, newly upgraded and out for blood, were back and currently decimating half of Los Angeles. "JARVIS, have you located Hammer's signal yet?"
"The long range scanners cannot find the source of the drones' control signal. I'm afraid that whoever activated them is currently out of -"
"Behind you, Stark!"
Tony spun mid-air just in time to see Thor crush a drone that had been aiming head-on for the armored hero. The kamikaze-bombers were the worst of the updated drones and there were more than too many of them around the field. That was the second to have attempted to take Tony out, and the others had dealt with at least that many themselves.
Nodding in thanks to the golden-haired god Tony whipped around again to find himself faced with yet another incoming kamikaze which he blasted just in time, though not soon enough to avoid the inevitable explosion. For a brief second his visor and flight stabilizers sputtered and blinked as the blast hit his already damaged suit with full force. He barely managed to right himself before he slammed into the shattered pavement below.
Yeah, he really hated Justin Hammer.
Blasting another drone - this one carrying a machine gun - just in time to prevent a live Captain America from becoming a dead Captain America, Tony shot up again and looked around, taking out enemies as he could. "What's the count, JARVIS?"
"Scanners indicate that there are still nearly two-hundred seventy five Hammer Drones left on the ground."
Taking in the information Tony felt his stomach plunge. Around and below him the team still fought, battling on in spite of the overwhelming odds. Black Widow and Cap stayed on the ground while Hawkeye fired from above and Thor alternated between earth and sky. The Hulk was somewhere a block or two over smashing drones to his heart's content. For a team who had managed to defeat the Chitauri the odds weren't that bad.
But they'd already been at it for hours and most of them were hurt somehow. That made the odds infinitely less pleasing.
He repeated the numbers through the comm to inform the others and could practically hear the slowly-creeping desperation and exhaustion that was beginning to prey on all of them. Even Natasha sounded edgy, and when that happened you knew things were getting bad.
There was no way they could keep it up for too much longer. Someone had to do something. Fast.
A cry of pained surprise followed by a gasp sounded in Tony's ear and he dove for the ground again to land in a protective crouch beside the fallen Super Soldier. Steve lay panting but with Tony's arrival struggled to rise.
"Fine," the soldier gasped, but the blood streaming from a cut on his head and the burns on his chest and side suggested otherwise. Bullets rained down on them and Tony bent over Rogers as they pinged off of his armor and shattered the ground around them. "We could use some help over here!"
A few seconds later the sky roared and a bolt of lightning fried every Drone within a hundred yards. Thor landed beside them and quickly helped to pull Steve to his feet. "Are you alright, Captain?"
"I'm fine," the solder repeated. "But we've got to end this. I don't know about you guys but I'm starting to get hungry."
It had been a joke between them all since that first battle. They wouldn't say tired, hurting, so instead they said hungry. War now, shawarma after because I'm starving. For some reason though it didn't seem so funny just then, when they were surrounded on all sides by robots who wouldn't even be allowed to exist had the system not let a worm like Hammer slide through their fingers.
"Guys, more drones coming up on your four and eleven," Hawkeye announced. Natasha appeared beside them, battered and looking as worse for the wear as all of them did. Sliding a new magazine into her handgun she stood back to back with Thor and Steve while Tony shot upwards again.
"Barton, how's Banner doing?" the playboy asked as he sent a pulse blast in the direction of the oncoming drones. "Any trouble?"
"None. He's just smashing away like always," Clint replied as the sound of distant explosions sounded behind him through the comm.
"Keep me posted."
"Hawk? Barton!" Tony raced through the air towards the archer's position but Clint replied a moment later, panting and sounding angry but fine.
"I'm good. Damn kamikazes. I'll keep you posted on Banner."
The armored hero still flew over Barton's perch just to be sure, taking out a drone or two on his way by. The things were like ants, crawling into every crevice and up climbing every wall. Not to mention the fact that their armor had been seriously improved upon since the last time he'd face them. They were taking too long to wipe out. What was needed was something powerful, something that would take down a large number at once.
"I've got a plan," Tony suddenly declared, spinning mid-air and heading in the direction of the still flocking super-bots - and away from the rest of the team. "JARVIS, on my mark send all our power to the weapons."
"Sir, the suit has already sustained heavy damage. Rerouting power may cause a -"
"Just do it, JARVIS."
"...Of course, sir."
"Guys, do what you can to send them my way," Tony called though the team's comm line, aiming for the main force of upgraded Hammer Droids that were flocking their way. "I've got an idea."
"Where are you going?" Steve asked, his voice tight and rushed through the comm. The bullets were flying again.
"I've got an idea," Tony repeated.
"Care to share it with the rest of us?"
"Give me a minute and I'll decide," he lied. If they knew what he had planned they'd probably object and there wasn't time for that. He would just take the flak for it later, when the drones were gone and Steve was in full on 'you're going to get yourself killed if you keep rushing in to things like this, Stark' mode.
Grunting as bullets and micro-missiles ricocheted and pinged off of his armor, sending various alerts and warnings flashing across his visor, he crashed hard into the ground and as his flight stabilizers stuttered. Two blocks from the others. Hopefully that would be enough.
"Power at sixty-seven percent," JARVIS announced. "Are you certain you wish to continue with this?"
"Positive," Tony replied, shoving himself to his feet and firing off blasts of plasma as the drones continued their attack. "As soon as the majority of the drones are in range send every ounce of power we have into the repulsers. We're going to blast these tin-heads."
"Is that safe? JARVIS, is it safe?" Barton demanded suddenly, distracted but obviously uncertain, wary, and paying enough attention to be concerned. The playboy was up to something, he could tell.
The billionaire clenched his jaw as he realized that JARVIS had left the line to the rest of the team open. One of these days he was going to have to reprogram the AI so that he wasn't so damn sneaky. "It'll be fine," he answered with more confidence than he felt, and before the AI could butt in and do it for him.
"Look, we don't have time for this," he said, grunting again as one of the drones' micro-missiles slammed him in the back and sent him sprawling. "There are too many for us to pick off one by one."
He closed the line before Natasha could continue, knowing that he'd be hearing about that later as well. If everything went as planned, of course. Unfortunately for him nothing ever seemed to go as planned.
"Sir, seventy-eight percent of the drones are now within one half block of your position," JARVIS announced.
"No kidding," Tony gasped as two drones crashed into him at once, one pounding on his helmet while the other drove a two fisted blow at his chest. With a quick blast Tony threw them off, but instantly there were more. An explosion sent him flying as yet another kamikaze-bomber just missed him. Rising as a hail of bullets and lasers rained down, he grit his teeth. "Send all power to the weapons. Now!"
"Rerouting power now," the AI complied, and darned if he didn't actually sound hesitant.
Tony immediately felt the change as his visor dimmed and the weapons surged with enhanced energy. Blasting his way through the drones became easier, but the longer he went the more he came to admit that there were more than he could handle on his own. He went down again and JARVIS alerted him to the decrease in power levels.
"Twenty percent. Sir, you need to pull out now. The arc reactor cannot keep up with the demands. It needs time rebuild its reserves."
"How many drones are left, J?"
"All total there are one hundred forty-nine Hammer Drones left."
Switching on the comm that would connect him to the team again, Tony listened in, each grunt, gasp, hiss, or crash only serving to increase his resolve.
"Send everything to the chest-piece, JARVIS," he ordered quietly, calmly.
"Sir, your reactor can no longer sustain that level of power. It will cause a crash," JARVIS informed him, equally quiet and solemn.
"Tony?" Barton quickly shouted into the comm., sounding mildly alarmed now and more than a bit angry. "Dammit, Stark, answer!"
Ignoring the calls and warnings that were now coming at him through the line Tony swung another drone away and blasted a second. "I know. Do it, J."
"Of course, sir."
As soon as the AI began to reroute the power Tony could feel it, building up in the suit while draining away what little energy was left in what was basically his artificial heart.
"Are we clear?" he asked, no longer able to see any data on his visor. He couldn't do this if there was anyone near by to get hurt.
Taking a deep breath, Tony nodded. "Blast 'em, J."
The force of the explosion that filled the area was blinding as plasma shot forth from the armor's chest, obliterating every drone in the area and then some. The shockwave blew even Tony back, sending him flying limply through the air.
Landing hard against a half-crumbling building he fell to the ground and stayed there, gasping for breath that wouldn't come and trying to quash the burning memories that suddenly forced their way into his subconscious. His first taste of real war, the pain that had blossomed in his chest as the bits of metal ripped into his skin and flesh. The ringing in his ears, the heat of the blast, everything suddenly reminded him of that desert in Afghanistan.
As the last dregs of power allowed his visor to flicker to life and beep at him in alarm, Tony's eyes slid closed.
"Iron Man...ome in. S...rk? Answer...!"
He barely heard the frantic voices that burst through the static of his broken comm to demand his response, nor did he hear the angry roar as Hulk smashed his way through the city towards him.
Bahahah! Cliffhanger! *evil laugh* Don't worry, chapter two is all written and ready to post in a day or two (after I skim over and edit it a few more times). Reviews are love!
And don't forget to check out Some Things Aren't Funny. You won't be sorry that you did.