AN: This story includes some references back to my first story, "Avengers Plan B." Most of the references are explained fairly well, but you will get more context if you read that story first. You do not need to read the other story to understand what's happening in this story.
After seeing off Thor and Loki in Central Park, the Avengers disbanded. Steve Rogers decided to explore the country and see how things had changed over the past 70 years. Agents Barton and Romanoff chose to spend some time at their favorite shared safe house, in Key West, Florida. Tony Stark, meanwhile, had convinced Dr. Banner to spend at least a week exploring the tower's research and development labs before returning to India.
When the two scientists returned to Stark Tower, JARVIS informed them that James Rhodes had set up in workshop #3 to make some minor repairs to his War Machine suit. Ms. Potts was in the Stark Industries office working on a proposal to donate money to the Manhattan Relief Fund, and had requested not to be disturbed. On hearing that, Tony immediately directed Bruce to workshop #3 to introduce the scientist to his best friend.
"Rhodey!" Tony exclaimed as the doors opened with a beep. "What did you do to my suit yesterday?"
"Your suit?" Rhodey asked with a grin, striding over to clap his friend on the back with a grease-stained hand. "I seem to recall you saying this was my suit. I foolishly dropped a building on myself trying to save a family from getting pancaked."
"How'd you manage that?" Dr. Banner asked incredulously.
"I was helping a couple members of my team rescue this family from their damaged building," Rhodes answered. "The building shifted in my grip before they were clear, and we had to hustle to get the civilians out of the way. I just didn't move fast enough. Fortunately, no one was injured too seriously."
"Rhodey, this is my new friend Dr. Bruce Banner," Tony interrupted. "Bruce, Lt. Col. James Rhodes, also known as my sidekick."
"Sidekick? Man, I am not your sidekick; in case you haven't heard, Director Fury seems to like me," Rhodey said with feigned injury.
"Yeah, well just because you're leader of the other team doesn't make you any less my sidekick!" Tony laughed.
Rhodey snorted to hide a laugh, and turned to the other man in the room. "It's good to meet you, Dr. Banner," he said, extending a hand.
"Likewise, Colonel," Bruce said, taking the offered hand with a smile.
"Bruce here is the Big Man from our team," Tony grinned. "He should have a shirt that says 'My Other Body Can Play Catch with Your Other Car!'"
"I'd rather not advertise that, Tony," Bruce responded, embarrassed. "I don't think people around here have forgotten the last time I was in town."
"What happened?" asked Rhodey.
"I… um… kinda broke Harlem last time I was in New York."
"You did that?" Rhodes said with confusion. "The National Guard commander mentioned something about that yesterday, though he seemed to think he was responsible for that incident."
"Don't tell me General Ross is in the City," Bruce said with a groan, stepping back from the military man nervously.
"That's the one," Rhodey answered. Seeing the other man's reaction, however, he went on, "Don't worry, I'm not telling him you're here. Actually, the guy seems to have fallen apart since the incident: He's gone from being a Special Forces general to a National Guard general, and it doesn't seem to be agreeing with him."
"Yeah, I got that vibe," Tony remarked. In answer to the confused looks the others gave him, he added, "Coulson asked me to talk to him after the Harlem incident about attaching Captain Emil Blonsky to the Avengers Initiative."
"Why on Earth would S.H.I.E.L.D. want that Abomination to be an Avenger?" Bruce spat out furiously.
Tony shrugged. "Don't know, didn't ask. It didn't work out, and anyways I'm glad we got you instead of him. When I talked to him, the General was about a bottle of vodka in and looked like he hadn't been sober since the incident."
"He was in about the same condition at the briefing yesterday," Rhodey acknowledged.
"Well, I'm going to leave the two of you to talk for a bit," Tony said, clapping his hands together and moving toward the door. "Before doing anything else, I need to consult with JARVIS about this tower's security. Someone left the front door open yesterday for a megalomaniacal alien demi-god with daddy issues to set up an E.T. phone on the roof and I want to find out who!"
"So Dr. Banner, you'll have to tell me about your research into gamma radiation. I read one of your papers a few years back about your super soldier experimentation while doing research for a promotion," Tony heard as he left the lab. He walked over to the elevator and rode it up three levels to his personal lab. On the way he ordered JARVIS to pull all the security information from the previous morning when Loki had arrived at the Tower.
When he walked into his personal lab, Tony instructed JARVIS to begin playing the security feed and narrate to him what had transpired and how the security system had responded.
"Sir," JARVIS began, "you can see Loki's approach on screen 1, showing the basement loading dock cameras." Tony nodded as he watched a nondescript delivery truck pass through the basement security checkpoint without incident. The driver held a set of papers out the window, the computer scanned them, and the gate opened. The truck drove through, reversed, and pulled up to the loading dock backwards.
JARVIS continued, "The truck Loki used was painted to look like our scheduled delivery of building supplies from the contractor. The driver had the correct identification papers. As such, the truck did not raise any red flags until it pulled into the loading bay." The time stamp jumped a couple minutes as JARVIS fast-forwarded the feed. The screen next showed four men dressed in black combat uniforms jumping out of the back of the truck. Automated security systems kicked in when the men's weapons were identified. A pair of machine guns descended from the ceiling and turned to point at the men as the loading bay doors began to close automatically. Two gunmen were shot in the head before the others could destroy the security guns. Loki exited next and blasted a hole through the doors with his staff.
"Why didn't I receive a warning alert as soon as that happened?" Tony asked angrily. "I thought our standard security procedure was to alert me first, then NYPD, and finally S.H.I.E.L.D. in the event of a security breach."
"That is correct, sir," the A.I. answered. "However, Loki activated a wireless signal jammer the moment that the door opened and the truck's occupants were identified as intruders. The jammer was powerful enough to reduce my wireless transmission abilities to a radius of 10 yards from the tower, rather than the entire globe. Unfortunately, when we took the tower off the grid, we also removed all ground lines out."
"Continue," Tony instructed. He glanced at the second screen as that security feed activated. He watched as the two remaining soldiers, along with Loki and Dr. Selvig, moved through the tunnels from the loading bay to the freight elevator, dragging the portal device behind them on a hand truck. The four intruders approached the interior security checkpoint, where the door had already been barricaded with impenetrable bulletproof blast doors. The hallway behind them was closed off immediately as well, trapping them inside. The machine guns planted in the wall activated, killing the last two gunmen before turning toward Loki and Dr. Selvig. Before they could fire on him, however, Loki melted them to slag with his spear. He then turned the spear on the blast doors, melting through them in an instant.
"From here on, my security cameras show Loki and Dr. Selvig taking the freight elevator to the roof and setting up the portal device," JARVIS said, as the other view screens showed footage of Loki walking through hallways with Dr. Selvig pushing the hand truck behind him. "We do not currently have any active security measures in the rest of the tower."
"Remind me again why our only active security measures are at the entrances to the building and not spread out more," Tony said, shaking his head.
"You will recall that when we designed the tower's security systems we determined that spreading out the security throughout the building would be cost prohibitive compared to placing preventative measures at the entrances and cameras throughout," JARVIS responded. "As such, our security measures are designed to prevent armed groups from entering the building, and identify and monitor potential corporate espionage threats. The security checkpoints which Loki blasted through were designed to withstand assault teams using anything less than a rocket launcher. Also, our security measures in the rest of the building succeeded, strictly speaking: They were intended to allow me to keep tabs on the intruders, which they did."
"If success means allowing a demi-god to phone home and invite a million of his closest friends to crash our planet's party, count me out!" Tony said sarcastically.
"Very well, I shall make a note of that in your calendar, sir," the A.I. responded equally sarcastically.
"Why did I design a sarcastic A.I.?" Tony grumbled. Louder, he said, "What are our options to prevent this from occurring again?"
"Our first option is to hire security guards for the Tower," JARVIS answered promptly.
"No," Tony said, shaking his head. "I'm not going to trust them with my security. Security guards can be bribed. They can betray us. They can be killed. Security guards would not have stood a chance against Loki. Besides, they would not be able to cover every area of the tower, since so many areas are classified. Next?"
"Our second option is to cover the tower with counter-assault measures which I control: Machine guns and other weapons covering every hallway, knockout gas in the elevators, lockdown doors every few feet."
"Tempting," Tony said, thinking hard. "But I think we still have to say no. Repairing the tower is going to be crazy expensive as it is, and turning the tower into a giant bad guy death trap would easily cost more than the repairs! Besides, some threats are just too unlikely to prepare for all of them. I mean, to protect from everything, we'd need rocket launchers in all the restrooms and mines in the air ducts! Next?"
"Perhaps you could ask S.H.I.E.L.D. to provide securi—"
"Absolutely not!" Tony interrupted. "I do not want S.H.I.E.L.D. snooping around this place any more than they already do, and I don't want my security people reporting to Cyclops. Plus, I don't want to owe Fury anything; I still don't trust him. Oh," Tony suddenly remembered, "that reminds me. Hack into the S.H.I.E.L.D. database and look for any information on the Avengers Initiative. I want to know everything."
"Yes, sir," JARVIS answered. "The process may take several hours." The A.I. was silent for a moment as it processed information. After a minute, JARVIS said, "Sir, I am at a loss for other viable security options."
Tony sat down at his workbench and put his feet up. Without being asked, JARVIS activated a hidden door in the workbench, raising a chilled beer from the hidden beer cooler. Tony grabbed it and mindlessly took a drink. He put the bottle down and clasped his arms behind his head. He stayed in that position for several minutes with his eyes closed to think. Suddenly, his eyes flew open and he sat up in his chair. "JARVIS," he said, "do you remember a few years ago Stark Industries was working on an automated security system project? What about that?"
"Sir, do you mean the 'VISION Project'?"