By: Archer83 (Author, Brainstorming), Captiosus (Beta, Brainstorming, Posting), Envirosuit (Co-author, Brainstorming), Vergil1989the Crossover King(Co-author, Brainstorming), and whiteraven1606 (Co-author, Brainstorming)Inspired By: DN7 Summary:In a desperate attempt to save his life, after narrowly destroying an alien incursion, Tony Stark is forced to use untested technology... placing his body in stasis until a cure can be found. Stark wakes far into the future finding a vastly different world... one which he will change forever."Speech"
"AI Speech/Radio transmission"Chapter 8September 2nd 2183Crew Deck, Alliance Frigate SSV Normandy – Tony and Rebecca's POVTony would be lying if he said he wasn't nervous when the sudden appearance of a blue glow seemed to surround the woman he had just irritated. That said, he wasn't about to apologize to her anytime soon. That wouldn't be his style after all. "Yeah... so you can glow blue. I'm terrified.""You'll have to forgive Tony, he can be quite the handful even in the best of times."JARVIS audibly sighed, having made a communication connection to the Normandy from the Honorata, much to Joker's annoyance which was quickly followed by abject surprise, as he realized they were being hacked.Joker's worried voice rang throughout the Normandy. "Captain Anderson, something is hacking into our systems!""Oh sorry, that's just my annoying A.I./former butler, JARVIS. And JARVIS, I thought we agreed you'd keep a low profile?" Tony rolled his eyes since he could practically feel Jarvis's metaphorical eyes on him, doing about the same thing he had just done given his recent personality upgrade. Well, recent to him anyway."That was before you decided to be an idiot and provoke one of our potential allies into ripping you a new orifice. Sir.""Stark...you have ten seconds to give us back full control of this ship or I swear to God..." Shepard looked like she was about to have a stroke. She didn't like not being in control and this was about as far out there as she'd been in a long time. Even so, she wasn't about to toss anyone anywhere, especially with a critically wounded quarian onboard, but she wasn't above using it as a potential means of control either. Christ, I hope he doesn't realize I'm bluffing."Your friend isn't going to last long without our help... will she?" Stark knew a threat when he heard one. Crossing his arms over his chest, Tony gave Rebecca a death glare he had used only on one other person before, whom had had an unfortunate accident with the arc reactor set up at Stark Industries before Tony had officially announced that he was Iron Man."JARVIS... stop whatever you're doing. I get the feeling these people aren't happy with you tinkering onboard the ship."Shepard seemed to realize what Stark had actually said, her emerald green eyes opening wide in shock as she put the pieces together. She had every reason to be shocked since Artificial Intelligences were illegal for very good reasons, and all the proof she needed was in the medical bay. "Wait... that thing isan A.I.?! What the hell have you unleashed onto this ship?!""An excellent chess player and very good listener?" It was clear that she was very close to losing her head as a blood vessel became quite pronounced above her right eye. "Don't you blow a gasket on me, JARVIS is actually a very old and very dear friend of mine, so before you have a stroke, know that I wouldn't let him anywhere near me or your crew if I didn't trust him. He's the only person I CAN trust anymore." Tony had lost all trace of his normally cheeky attitude since he truly did feel as strongly as he had sounded to Shepard when he had talked about JARVIS."If I may speak for myself Tony, I would like to assure the entire crew of the Normandy that I wish you no harm in the slightest. I was merely seeking help for my friends. However, I can understand why you would be afraid of me, and I shall cease causing any interference immediately." JARVIS immediately fell silent and whatever system errors had been detected went with him at the exact same time.Shepard looked around warily anyway, as if she expected the air to be sucked out of the ship at any moment. "You can stop worrying Shepard, JARVIS is not in the Normandy's systems since you so rudely chased him away." Tony retorted, smirking despite himself as he watched Rebecca look around worriedly, still obviously expecting the 'rogue A.I.' to start screwing with the critical systems or something similar at any moment."You allowed an illegal A.I. to hack this ship... Do you really expect me..." Shepard began but Tony interrupted, still giving her his patented death glare for her troubles."I expect nothing from an obvious grunt like yourself. I've known a few and believe me, it didn't go over well. They follow orders and rarely think for themselves in most cases, kind of like what you're doing now by chance. Besides, if you did some homework on me, you'd find that I wasn't always such a nice guy." "As opposed to how you're acting right now?" She snapped right back with an equal amount of fire to her eyes which made even Tony a little nervous, and that wasn't easy to do, especially given his track record against his era's version of super 'villains'. He used the word loosely but that wasn't important at the moment."Commander! What the bloody hell just happened to our comm systems?!" Anderson bellowed as he entered the crew area. Shepard couldn't help but let herself stand straight as a pole, her angry stance disappearing in a flash as she stood at rigid attention. Her hands fell to her sides and she looked straight ahead, although she still let her eyes fall only on Tony since she wasn't about to look elsewhere, even with her superior glaring daggers at her."It seems that our 'guest', who I recommend becomes a 'guest' in our brig, has let an A.I. loose on the ship, sir." She said through clenched teeth, making Tony chuckle since he so badly wanted to blast her out of an airlock."You must be Nick's old friend. Tony Stark, playboy, billionaire, Iron Man? Any of these ring a bell?" Tony was quick as ever and Captain Anderson knew that things were about to get real interesting on the Normandy with the way his second and Tony were giving each other death glares."Sir?! You mean this ass- this person knows Admiral Fury?" Shepard could barely keep her jaw from dropping to the deck. Admiral Nick Fury was a living legend, to say the least. He had pulled their asses out of the fire during the Blitz after all, and even though he was a harder man to deal with than most, he obviously cared for those under his command, an impression she had gotten when she had came out of Elysium a hero."Yup, this ass is very well connected, honey bunch. Looks like yours is too." Stark took the just barely noticeable twitch in Shepard's right eye to mean that he just might have crossed the line this time. It was probably a good thing that he didn't know she could turn him into a fine paste at any moment with just a wave of her hand.Anderson had the good sense to separate the two of them before their was a new Stark-sized dent in one of the crew deck bulkheads. "If I might interrupt here. This man is, or was the owner of one of the biggest weapons production companies in our history, but he had an attack of conscious when he saw troops killed by the same weapons he had built. Personally in my books, he's a damn hero since how many people can you name that had the life he did ever try to redeem themselves, Commander?""Why I am I not surprised that this man got good people killed? Sir." The harsh look on Shepard's face softened slightly. "But, if what you say is true sir then I have to admit, not many at all.""Well, I got tired of being a completely selfish narcissistic asshole who sold weapons. At least I got rid of the selling weapons part." Tony was quick to reply when he had a chance, a little put off that they had started talking about him as if he wasn't even there. "Besides, when those good men and women died, I was captured and I didn't get out of that desert unmarked." Stark tapped his chest, as if to make a point. The sound of his finger tapping against something metallic was audible to both people, which made Rebecca quite curious to see what was under his shirt.Shepard subconsciously moved a bit closer to try and get a look at what it might be, but instantly stopped when Stark flinched at her approach. The fear she saw in his eyes wasn't a very subtle hint either. Something awful happened to this man, I'd bet my life on it.His brief summary didn't leave much to go on, but it gave a couple of ideas none the less."Mr. Stark I just want to say..." Shepard began but didn't get to finish as Tony held up a hand. He didn't need an apology since he had brought most of this on himself anyway.Stark saw something in this woman's eyes that was worse than the anger he had seen moments earlier though. Pity. That was one thing he could do without since he had put to bed most of his old demons long ago. "I made it my life's work after ending so many others to protect the same people I put in harm's way with my carelessness and selfish behavior. Save your pity for someone that needs it, wants it, or deserves it.""Alright then, I can respect that Stark." Shepard nodded and gave him a knowing look. "You're not the only one with a past, let's leave it at that for now." Considering she was a survivor of Mindoir, she could understand where he was coming from in not wanting any pity since she was the same way, in a sense."Awesome plan... how's Selfless doing by the way?" Tony made an exaggerated motion towards the med bay and the injured young woman therein. "Could I talk to her soon?" He wasn't about to admit he was worried about her or anything, but he probably didn't have to to Rebecca Shepard since Tony got the feeling she was good at reading people.Shepard felt more like using the man as a human punching bag right then, but instead she quickly used her omni-tool to comm Doctor Chakwas. "Doctor, how's your patient doing?" Any distraction was better than making herself look like a total rank amatuer in front of her commanding officer by punching Iron Man in the face...as much as she wanted to.The calm voice of the Normandy's resident CMO responded from the device on her forearm. "I'm nearly finished Commander, she will have a full recovery, thankfully. Also...did anyone else hear a strange British sounding voice a few moments ago? I found it very odd-""Everything's fine Chakwas, good job Doc." Shepard quickly cut the Doctor off, so as not to worry her about the crew or her patient. Turning back to Stark and Anderson, she continued. "So what's our plan for him, sir?" She was hoping he'd let her push Tony out the nearest airlock, or at the very least keel haul him, but she doubted that was going to happen, especially if Nick Fury was a part of this mess."Hey! Still waiting over here! Can I talk to her for a minute or not?!" Stark was more impatient than ever."Shut up Stark, can't you see we're trying to decide whether or not to keel haul your ass?" Rebecca snapped before she could stop herself. "Did I just say that out loud?" She literally face palmed herself as the realization sunk in she had said that out loud, in front of her commanding officer no less.A giant smirk started to appear on Stark's face at the slight blush on Shepard's cheeks. When he saw the murderous glare directed at him, it died upon arrival. Wow... she's certainly going to be fun to be around. Maybe I should lay off the smartass routine a bit, and just focus on keeping my head attached to my shoulders. Yes, that sounded like a much better plan than getting into a fight without his armor on.Stark was distracted from his thoughts as Chakwas excited the med bay and gently put a hand on his shoulder. "Your friend is going to be fine, if you wish, you can talk with her for a few minutes." A more stern expression appeared on the woman's face before Stark could even complain about her touching him. "But...you will NOT agitate her in any way. Do I make myself clear Mr...""Stark, Tony Stark. By the way, anything you want from me in the future, it's yours. I... I don't exactly have many friends, and you just saved one of the few I do have." The sincerity in his voice wasn't easy to miss by anyone, but it still made Shepard raise an eyebrow questioningly at Stark all the same since she hadn't expected anything of the sort to come out of his mouth.Chakwas' stern expression faded away. "Don't worry about repaying me Mr. Stark, just be there for the young woman in my med bay. It's going to take a few days for her to recover fully from her injuries. I'm sure she can use any support she can get right now." Stark gave her a grateful nod before getting up from the table. He rapidly walked over to the medical section but found himself slowing down the closer he got to Tali's small isolation unit. She's going to hate me because of all this... at least I didn't get her killed, like everyone else.Tony distracted himself from his rather morbid thoughts by dragging over a chair and sitting as close to the quarian girl as possible. "Hey there beautiful, miss me much?" It took all of Stark's willpower to keep that shit-eating grin on his face, when all he wanted to do was beg the girl in front of him to forgive him for everything he had put her through.Tali looked over at Tony and couldn't suppress a weak laugh of relief from escaping her visored head. "Stupid bosh'tet...of course I did." She replied, although he had to strain to hear her since she sounded pretty out of it. Not to mention but she had just came out of extensive surgery, so it was reasonable to assume she had to be pretty tired as well."Oh good, I see they put you on the good drugs." Before he even thought about it, Stark had already placed his hand on the clear material separating them near where her hand was laying. "Ha! You like me... I knew you did, always being such a stubborn bosh'tet and rude to me, but I always knew.." Tali almost giggled at him in her drug assisted haze. He knew all about that since he had been injured a few times himself. Said injuries had been severe enough those few times that he had needed some of those same heavy duty pain killers, and then there was the palladium poisoning which he had resorted to heavy drinking to subdue. He chalked up her current comments to her drug induced haze and nothing more."Just take it easy Tali, it's the drugs talking, trust me." Stark could barely keep himself from smiling as Tali waved him off."You don't have to hide your feelings you big silly good-hearted moron. You're a good stupid bosh'tet, you know that right?" Tali asked, hoping to break through Tony's thick head but she'd have to try harder it seemed as he brushed her off again.Stark smirked at her boundless determination. "Uh huh... Alright you caught me I... I do care about you Tali. Just get some sleep, I'll be here when you wake up, I promise." It surprised him a little to realize he meant it."Alright, I am just a little bit sleepy, hehe. I suppose a tiny nap would be a good idea, but you better be here bosh'tet!" Tali tried to be intimidating, but she came off more as cute in Tony's not so humble opinion.Stark smiled even wider and made a big show of settling in next to her isolated bed. " See, I'm not going anywhere. Now close your eyes and get some rest Ms. Selflessness, or I'll sic the doc on you." He tried to make it sound like a threat, but Tony realized he came off as a big ol softie instead, and he didn't necessarily mind either."You can't order me around, Mr. Big Shot Stubborn Person." Tali quietly whispered as she closed her eyes and started to drift off to sleep.Sitting there, it suddenly occurred to Stark that he actually felt something he had almost never felt in his entire life, contentment. All was right with the world as long as he could at least keep this one girl safe. He was mildly surprised that the crew left him alone for the most part. Aside from Chakwas demanding that he eat something warm and try to get some rest himself, they basically let him be for the next several hours.Then things got interesting when he woke up and found that Captain Anderson and Shepard wanted a word with him, mostly in regards to the 'cargo' he had had asked be brought over from the Honorata. His Iron Man armor wasn't exactly easy to miss and as it stood then, they didn't have any good place to put it, so it had wound up stood up against the far wall of the cargo bay, by the workbench kept by the Chief.
There was one slightly tense moment when one of the Normandy's techs had tried to get a closer look at the armor, which started speaking to him. "Please do not touch the armor or attempt to damage it in any way. The consequences would be...unfortunate and most unpleasant."Suffice to say, no one wanted to go near it after that. That was probably just as well.Stark had been taken, under guard, with Shepard to reassure her and the Captain that there would be no more surprises from any equipment they transferred to the ship. He let the techs work over anything they did bring over from the Honorata which was currently being pulled behind the Normandy, Tony having made it abundantly clear that he wasn't about to budge if they didn't make the effort to bring the quarian scout ship with them. He wanted to give Tali some closure if nothing else, and besides, she'd know what was best done with the ship better than anyone since it was a quarian vessel after all. He owed her that much for getting her friends killed."Alright, and you better be honest with me Stark... does any of this equipment pose a danger to the Normandy?" Shepard's icy glare told Stark this was not a woman to lie to. Tony didn't bother to acknowledge her, having a feeling that JARVIS would answer the question since he had been ever so annoying like that in the past. It turned out some things hadn't changed in the least as Rebecca found her omni-tool had been hacked this time."Let me assure you, Commander, that only a highly unlikely massive overload in some of said technology could cause the destruction of this ship." Stark facepalmed at JARVIS' 'helpful' statement.Stark flinched at the look Shepard gave him, while she ignited her biotics just to further emphasize her obvious displeasure at the whole situation with the A.I. "JARVIS... please stop trying to be so helpful. You're going to get me killed buddy.""Stark... if you're responsible for getting one member of this crew so much as mildly injured, I'll be taking payment out on your ass, are we clear?" JARVIS knew what was coming but he couldn't say anything in time to stop him from running his mouth...as always. Some things never changed, and that point was being proven yet again."So are we talking sexual favors or..." Stark didn't bother finishing his thought as a pistol lurched off a nearby table and flew into Shepard's outstretched hand. Maybe he should have taken those earlier warnings to heart a little sooner...He suddenly became much more productive after Shepard's little demonstration, explaining, more or less, the nature of his work without giving away anything he'd rather not let her know that could potentially bite him in the ass later. He had made that mistake with Obadiah; betrayal tends to be a very good teacher."So let's get my stuff unpacked, I've got a few ideas in mind and-" Tony began but was interrupted by Shepard who still looked pretty pissed at him. He had earned her wrath perhaps but it wouldn't make things any easier in the long run."No way in hell Stark. I'm only putting up with you as it is because the Captain ordered me to. Do you really think I'm that stupid, that I'd let a weapons designer, who I don't trust, let alone like, tinker in this ship's cargo bay?""I build neat things. I bet you'd love 'em." Stark saw that his cheerful offer fell flat on it's face. Maybe it was time for a new tactic. Perhaps he needed to share a little more personal information about himself that would hopefully set her at ease, at least a little bit. If he was to be stuck with her for any length of time, it might have been a better plan to get her and her crew on his side first before pissing them off..."Listen, it's probably obvious to you that I don't exactly have a lot of friends. What I do have is a crazy psycho on my ass, a badly wounded friend, and my brilliant mind which I will somehow use to get my ass out of this mess I find myself in. I figure you're helping to keep me alive right now, so lucky for you I can upgrade just about everything onboard this ship, given enough time and materials." It wasn't a boast; it was a simple statement of fact since Tony had it in him to do it and do it quite well."What the... My work area?! Skipper, what's all this crap doing down here?" Stark's eyebrows shot up as a fairly attractive woman stomped over towards Shepard and himself, obviously pissed off. Considering that he had been called the 'Da Vinci' of his time, calling the Iron Man armor crap was like calling the Mona Lisa just a picture, but he wisely held his tongue...for the moment."Take it easy Williams, our 'guest' had some luggage and it seems he's willing to use this 'crap' to our advantage." She wasn't thrilled about it but Rebecca wasn't about to throw away a potential ally and his supposed 'brilliance', but she wasn't about to let him wander about the ship freely either if she could help it, Captain's orders or not. Part of her discomfort was because of his unshackled A.I., but the rest was just his attitude in general. "However Chief, if he so much as acts suspiciously even once, feel free to toss him out of an airlock if I don't do it myself first.""Skipper?" Ashley was obviously puzzled since the short time they had known each other, she hadn't seen her Commander so obviously on edge. Facing down geth had been easy for her even though they hadn't been seen past the Veil for over two centuries, yet something about this man was making her twitchy? "What'd I miss?""You'll figure it out soon enough darlin'." Tony replied, holding out his hand to Ash as he introduced himself. "Tony Stark..." He didn't get any further as realization dawned on the Chief's face right before she delivered a right hook across his jaw, dropping the man to the deck a moment later as spots danced across his vision. "Not normally the greeting I get...""I take it you know of him Ashley?" Rebecca asked, barely able to suppress the grin that was threatening to take over her face at the sight of Stark on his butt at her feet. She had been wanting to do that all day."This... this son of bitch got my great-great-grandmother killed while she was trying to protect his sorry ass! But I doubt you ever gave a shit, she was just one more dead grunt right?" Ashley all but spat down on Tony who had slowly gotten to his feet again, all humor gone from his face and his voice as he remembered all too keenly what she was referring to."Your great-great-grandmother... she was in the U.S. Air Force, wasn't she?" Stark's initial shock at being belted in the face quickly turned into a very deep guilt as he realized exactly who this woman was angry about. "I'm sorry she died in that convoy, if it makes any difference to you. I would have rather been the one to suffer instead of all those soldiers I saw being slaughtered right in front of my eyes by the same weapons I had created to protect them. And yes, I gave a shit about them, I never stopped. As a matter of fact, I carry a reminder of that day with me wherever I go since it's the only thing keeping me alive." He tapped at his chest plate once again to emphasize the point. He probably shouldn't have mentioned that, but Tony was too overcome by his part in that same slaughter to care what might come of it later.The anger in Ashley's eyes died away, replaced with sadness and curiosity. "Tell me, did she at least go down fighting?" Small comfort regardless of the answer, Ashley still wanted to know since her great grandmother had still been a Williams, and the Williams didn't know how to die silently or with a whimper. Every one of them had a similar story if they didn't make it back home to their family, and she wanted to know, needed to know the truth.Stark may have been a heartless bastard at times but not always, as he saw that the soldier in front of him needed to hear that her ancestor died well, so he lied. "Not only did she do her best to try and save my worthless ass, but I saw her take down five enemy soldiers before they finally got her. I'll never forget what she and the other men protecting me did that day." Some of the best lies had grains of truth to them, and while the fact she hadn't managed to take down any of those bastards, they had died protecting him, and Tony would truly never forget them for that since if not for them, he most likely wouldn't have become who he was now. At least one good thing had come out of that whole bloody fiasco.Ashley still looked angry with him, but not as badly as a few minutes before. "Thank you... I never really knew exactly what had happened to her, but I'm glad she was at least able to do her duty, even if it was protecting an ass like you."Tony could only nod as he looked away, remembering that the woman related to Ashley Williams in his part of the convoy hadn't even managed to get out to join the fight before being blown away by one of the terrorists. She didn't need to know the truth though. Sometimes a harmless lie was better than the cold hard truth.Stark was mildly bothered by the fact Shepard gave him the oddest look, but he wasn't about to risk irritating her, yet again, by asking her why the hell she was staring at him. Thankfully her creepy focus on him was interrupted after a few moments."Ma'am, we've finished transferring everything from the docked shuttle. Is there anything- Chief, are you alright?" Shepard noticed as Kaiden's normally calm expression turned to a worried look as he saw the sadness in Ashley's eyes."I'm fine LT, just talking about some family business with our new passenger here." Kaiden smirked as Ashley gave Stark a punch to the shoulder, earning a grin from the man this time instead of a shocked expression. At least she didn't want to beat him to within an inch of his life now. That, in Tony's not so humble opinion, was a step in the right direction. Now he just had to get Rebecca Shepard on his side. How hard could that be?"Good work Alenko." A mischievous grin appeared on Shepard's face. "Lt. Why don't you take Mr. Stark here up to see the cockpit, I'm sure we have to be nearing the Citadel by now." She gave Stark a slight wink. "Enjoy the show Stark, you're not going to want to miss this."Somehow Tony wasn't comforted in the least by Rebecca's eagerness to get him to the cockpit. Or the fact that he would have to deal with the bearded jackass who had insulted him on the way into the ship. Not to mention the fact that the airlock was right by the cockpit. It wouldn't take much effort on Shepard's part to carry out her threat with him so close to the 'exit' "That's okay Shep, I think I'll pass. Once you've seen one cockpit, you've seen 'em all.""Have it your way Stark." Shepard shrugged and left him in the capable hands of Ashley and Kaiden.
Seeing the looks that Ashley was still throwing his way, Stark wondered if being near the airlock might be the safer of the two options. Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Great, why couldn't things ever be simple in his life?"Let's get to work shall we? Or are the two of you going to just stare at me all day?" Stark glared at the two crew members that seemed to have had made it their mission to watch him like hawks. Just need a bottle of Jack, the soundtrack to AC/DC, and I'd be set."No. You can get to work Stark; we'll supervise." Why was he not surprised by that answer? Considering it had been given by Ash, it wasn't surprising since she still understandably held a grudge against him despite his effort to mend some of his past history with her family and all."Here, I can help you get settled in Mr. Stark, although I have no idea how long the Captain will be allowing you and your friend to stay onboard." Kaiden gave Ashley an annoyed look as he turned back to Stark and motioned towards his gear. "Are you really the same Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man?" Kaiden had to ask, and although the armor gave that away, it never hurt to confirm facts."Oh no..." A frown appeared on Tony's face. "You're one ofthose over obsessive fanboyswho actually liked me... aren't you?" He had a soldier girl that hated his guts because he had gotten one of her great great grandmother's blown up, a Commander that would have loved to tear him apart with her mind, and now he had a fanboy to worry about. Jesus... could this possibly get any weirder..."I wouldn't say overly obsessive..." Kaiden began, trailing off as he wiped his forehead, as if he was feeling the effects of high temperatures that no one else could notice. "But yes, I am a fan...you wouldn't mind answering a question would you?" Oh Christ... it begins... Stark thought, but put on a cheerful smirk and decided to give the guy a break. This Alenko had been one of only a few who Tony had been able to get along with so far. "Shoot."Kaiden looked shocked that he'd actually said yes. He had expected Tony to say no, especially since he didn't seem in the mood for a million questions after having received such a cold reception from Shepard and the Chief. "Uh... okay. I've always wondered, has that umm..." He pointed towards Stark's chest. "worked well as a nightlight.?" Tony couldn't help it and laughed at the question, having honestly not expected that at all. Most people wanted to know where he got his ideas, how many Iron Man armors he had, stuff like that, but Kaiden's question had been a good one since it was a much needed change of pace. "It oddly enough has on occasion, keeps me from bumping into things in the dark, which is of use to me when I need a midnight ... snack." Or used to need one all the time anyway. Palladium poisoning, it had sucked on so many levels. His nightfly flings had gone out the window, as well as his health until he had found an alternative solution to his arc reactor's power source. He certainly didn't trust anyone around him now enough to share that particular bit of information about himself. "Thanks! I mean um... thank you very much for indulging my curiosity Mr. Stark." Stark just chuckled again and nodded as Kaiden kept to himself for the most part after that. Maybe working with these folks wouldn't be so bad after all?"No worries Kaiden, and just call me Tony." Kind of reminds me of Rhodey, if Rhodey hadn't had that stick up his butt. Tony sighed mentally to himself as he turned towards the workbench, unsure if he should waste the time to get set up or not since he wasn't sure how long he'd be around. If things worked out the way he wanted them to go, he would get Tali embedded as part of the Normandy's crew, but that was hard telling at the moment. As for himself, he probably wouldn't mind sticking around, but there was no way in hell that this Commander 'Righteous Bitch' Shepard would want him on this ship for any length of time.When he started to feel the ship slow down as the inertial dampeners kicked in, giving him a slight sense of vertigo, Tony perked up as he heard Joker say over the intercom, "Now arriving at the Citadel, the biggest artificial piece of crap in the known universe... also home to any form of porn you can possibly imagine." Seeing Ashley blush slightly while facepalming really added to Stark's day. Yep, he was going to enjoy his stay here, for however long it turned out to be. And whether or not Shepard doesn't push me out the airlock."Stark? Normandy to Stark?!" Tony almost jumped when he realized a now armored Shepard, he instantly disliked her suit's color scheme, had walked up to him while he was pondering, and was now standing right next to him. She was a friggin ninja compared to some people he had once known. SHIELD could have hired her and she'd have scared the crap out of some of those stiff necks most likely."Jesus! What is it with you military types and sneaking up on people?!" Tony complained as an evil smirk appeared on Shepard's lips. "Why do I get the feeling I'm about to regret this?" Tony asked, suddenly very afraid for his life and he was seriously considering jumping into his Iron Man armor. He never got the chance."Alenko, Williams get geared up A.S.A.P. We're taking Mr. Stark here on a little field trip, apparently his injured friend just told Dr. Chakwas that he has some and I quote ' Terribly urgent information that the Council needs to hear.' By the way, thanks for sharing Stark." Shepard roughly slapped a hand on his shoulder and started to guide Tony towards the elevator, which Stark was already planning on ripping apart and redesigning from square one after riding it once. He swore Shepard had to have been screwing with him when he first got to see this deck, no sane person would have made an elevator that was as slow as a snail's ass on purpose."Who in their right fucking mind made this elevator anyway? If I was you I'd be sure you kept the receipt for this piece of junk and get your money back." He had to say something since Rebecca's royally pissed stare was still giving him goosebumps."After we get this 'urgent information' you didn't bother to even mention to me or the Captain to the Council, maybe that could be your first project then Mr. Stark. The crew certainly wouldn't mind, the ones you don't get blown up anyway, or sucked out an airlock by your rogue A.I." She couldn't have said that any harsher if she had tried, but Stark noticed the dangerous look in her eyes and realized she was being entirely serious. "I look after my crew Tony; as long as you do the same and don't do anything to threaten their safety, I might be able to put up with your bullshit.""I would advise massive amounts of patience when dealing with Tony, Lt. Commander Shepard. As for any threat you believe I may pose, I will not interfere with this ship in any way, save any actions needed to protect Mr. Stark, or the Normandy's crew from harm. As you've seen for yourself, I am quite capable in cyberwarfare; perhaps you could requisition a software upgrade?" Shepard had jumped when her omni-tool activated, and suddenly became talkative in the elevator. "Umm... I'll give it some thought...JARVIS right?" She had to bite her tongue when she saw Tony grinning, making her want to say something truly harsh. She was getting used to the strange couple, but it was going to take more time than had passed so far for Rebecca to ever truly get used to Tony Stark and JARVIS."Yes ma'am. And you said not to take over the Normandy's systems, so I must apologize for exploiting your unintentional logic loophole in my hacking of your omni-tool to communicate." Rebecca did have to smile at that since she had indeed said she didn't want JARVIS in the Normandy's systems, so she let his small interruption slide. Tony noticed that Shepard also didn't tell JARVIS to never contact her omni-tool again.As they exited the lift, Stark more or less swaggered out of the elevator. Tony couldn't help gulping slightly as they neared the ship's airlock. I'm sure were already docked by now... I hope, He thought as the idea that Shepard might just be playing nice so she could space his ass occurred to him. He really wouldn't put it past her, but Stark internally sighed with relief when Alenko and Williams ran up behind them less than a minute later and proceeded to follow Stark and Shepard into the airlock. A short while later they exited yet another excruciatingly slow elevator, onto what looked like a large observation deck. "You're gonna love this Iron Ma- umm Mr. Stark, the Citadel is amazing!" Somehow Tony didn't find Kaiden's cheerful words all that reassuring as he was blown away by the view in front of him. Even he could be surprised beyond words, and while it was on very, very rare occasions, it had still been known to happen. To sum it up, the Citadel was fucking huge! How the hell does something this fucking gigantic even hold together?!Five gigantic arms covered in skyscrapers, hover cars flying everywhere his eyes could see, and an honest to God internal atmosphere, with terrain, in the shape of a giant ring. It kind of reminded Tony of the ideas from Ringworld or the Halo video games. "Ok, I'm impressed." Tony had to admit it was very impressive since it showed how far this new age had come. Even he could only have dreamed of this level of technology in his own age, and now he was a part of this unimaginable future. But at what cost? If what JARVIS had pulled from those mercs' omni-tools was anything to go by as well as what Tali had managed to pull from the geth, then the cost was going to be great indeed.
Something needed to be done, and he was just the man for the job. He would have to single handedly, as always, save these people from the massive trap they seemed to have allowed themselves to fall into countless times if JARVIS was right. And he knew JARVIS was always right, because Tony had made him after all."Iron Man? Did someone say Iron Man?" Tony was brought out of his thoughts when he heard a woman ask if someone had mentioned Iron Man. When he turned, 'Iron Man' had to glare at Kaiden for opening his big mouth when he had since he had hoped to keep, for once, a low profile by his own choice. The woman in question wasn't even human, but a blue skinned...alien...girl thing. A very hot looking alien-girl-thing, in Tony's not so modest opinion. Suddenly Stark wasn't upset with Kaiden any more."Well hello there beautiful...nice shade of blue you got going on." Tony put his hand on Kaiden's shoulder. "My friend here is absolutely right, I am Iron Man." Shepard didn't know who she wanted to kill first, Kaiden for opening his mouth, or Tony for trying to get lucky in full view of the public, but she wasn't about to let this happen either way as she got between him and the asari woman before 'lifting' the supposedly Invincible Iron Man with her biotics and dragging him behind her."We don't have the fucking time for you to get laid by every asari you see Tony. And Kaiden, don't say another word if it means feeding his ego. That's an order Lt." Rebecca growled in the back of her throat as she continued to carry the man with her biotics, a blue glow shimmering around them both as Tony remained a foot off the ground.As Kaiden quickly apologized, Stark opted to piss her off further by waving to the highly curious crowds that had gathered to see what exactly was happening. "Coming through, treasured hero coming through here!""Can I shoot him now Skipper?" Ashley asked, really hoping that the Commander would give the order since they were drawing quite a big crowd now with Tony's antics. She hadn't been the only one that had wanted to keep a low profile since Ashley actually appreciated the need for haste and Tony was not helping in that area in the least."Ask me later and I might just help you remove his fingernails one at a time Chief." Shepard growled as she looked over her shoulder at the infuriatingly smug bastard floating behind her.Suddenly a woman near the back of the crowd caught Stark's attention, and Tony went uncharastically quiet as he could have sworn he sawher face. If nothing else, it was a very close match, especially with her long slightly greying auburn hair done up in a bun. She always wore that bun when she was working, always so predictable but functional, and so her. No one else saw the her since he was the only one floating a foot off the ground, so he had a pretty good line of sight at that moment. "Put me down Shepard. As crazy as this is going to sound, I think... I think I just saw... put me down dammit! Now!." The chances were zero to none, but he had to know. Apparently something in Tony's voice caught Rebecca's attention since she lowered him to the ground and watched as he took off.Catching up wasn't hard since the woman in question had stopped at a small floral vendor off the main thoroughfare, but he didn't even have to get her attention to see that it wasn't her when Tony got a good look at her face. He sighed as he briefly took a look at her face again just to be sure from across the way, but didn't bother the similar looking woman before moving away, stopping at the edge of the walkway as he waited for Kaiden, Ashley, and Rebecca to catch up. Seeing the forlorn look on Tony's face was all Shepard needed to make sense of what had just happened. "Not her?""I...I should have known but I had to be sure." It occurred to Stark that Nick Fury probably had his brain in a jar for all he knew, and since he hadn't seen Nick in the flesh, it was entirely possible the image he had seen was digitally created. For the first time, Stark suddenly realized the painful truth that Harper had most likely been toying with him when he had shown him that video of Pepper. It was most likely a false image of Pepper designed to allow TIM to get his psychotic hands back on Tony quickly, and it had almost worked. The chances of Pepper actually finding a way of surviving for this long were highly unlikely, and even if she had, she would be a hell of alot older than the fleeting image Tony thought he had seen of her in that vid and now here. Just wishful thinking on my part. Still... Creepy Eyes might not have been bluffing, one way or another I have to know the truth. Too bad I apparently can't trust Commander Bitchy to help me with this, I'll just have to take the fight to Harper by myself. That shouldn't be too hard, provided JARVIS doesn't get in my way again.Leaning on the railing of the walkway, Tony sighed heavily as he looked over his right shoulder at Rebecca. "In case you're wondering, I've been on ice for over a 170 years, and I have no idea what happened to most of my old friends. I guess I was hoping one of them, someone who was special to me, had made it to this century, but I should have known it was just a stupid hope on my part."She didn't know what to say to that, and some of her earlier anger disappeared since it was clear the decision to be put on ice hadn't been an easy one. Someone like Tony Stark wouldn't have done it without a very good reason. "Who were you hoping it was?" She instead asked, wondering if he'd tell her then or not, but her money was on him brushing the subject to the side."Her name was Pepper." He didn't brush the subject aside, but Tony chose not to talk about anything else about his past as he walked away towards where they were needed then and there. Kaiden moved to put a hand on Tony's shoulder and Stark quickly jerked away from the man, glaring at him once again for an entirely different reason. "Come on, I wasted enough of your time Shep, let's just get this over with and talk to these Council idiots.""Bout time." Ashley muttered to herself, but her own earlier vehemence had disappeared as well since she couldn't imagine what it was like to be a stranger in a strange land, a saying that had literal meaning in Tony's case. She doubted any of her father's old poetry classics covered this situation."As I told my crew shortly after we shipped out together, I have an open door policy Stark. If you ever feel like talking, I'm there, even if you are an ass." Tony didn't have a snappy comeback ready but he still nodded since Rebecca's heart was in the right place, but he wasn't the couch type, never had been."Not likely going to happen, but thanks anyway Commander Freud." Stark was oddly silent after that, as he quickly followed Shepard and Kaiden, with Ashley walking, surprisingly, at his side. Who'd have thought it after he had found out she had a relative in that convoy? Just an hour ago she had wanted to paint the deck with his brains. Strange how things like that work out.Whatever came later, maybe things wouldn't be so bad? Besides, he had Tali to worry about now. If he was going to care about anything, it might as well be her. She'd never replace Pepper, but he had to live for something since otherwise he'd end up like he had been before he had gotten himself captured and nearly killed those many decades ago. Keeping that kid safe is enough to live for.Closing notes; Vergil; I don't know what the others might say but I am personally hoping this 8k chapter will become the average from here on out. We'll talk about it amongst ourselves first and see, but beyond that, I want to thank the awesome team of writers for letting me work on this with them. This is Vergil1989 the Crossover King, signing off. Archer, anything to add there bud?Archer; Hello everyone, thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed this chapter! As you can see, our chapters are going to be getting a tad longer in the future, we hope you don't mind. :) Please continue to send us your reviews, we're always happy to receive new ones!Vergil; And if it's not too much trouble, feel free to send us a few asari strippers as well. :DArcher; Actually that's not a bad idea... by all means to do that too!Envirosuit: You two are terrible.Vergil; We're doing an Iron Man/ME fanfic, what did you expect? :PEnvirosuit: Not asari strippers...Vergil; No imagination, I swear. :PEnvirosuit: I reserve my imagination for more important matters Zaeed/Vergil.Vergil; Whatever you say there Miranda/Enviro. :DEnvirosuit: Let's just end this conversation before it becomes more awkward.