It all started the day Tony, Thor, and Bruce suddenly went missing. No one in the tower was quite sure when the trio had vanished. Steve remarked seeing Tony and Bruce in the living room some time earlier that day, but that was hours ago, and they could be halfway around the world by now.
Normally this would not be a problem. After all, they were not being kept prisoner in the tower, they were all free to come and go as they pleased. Though normally when someone would leave they would at least be available in case something happened. However this time they were unreachable and their absence was becoming an increasingly dangerous problem now that the team had suddenly lost half of its members they day a major SHIELD weapons facility had been broken into by some wannabe super villain, leaving the team not only without the only two members that could fly, but also their more bulletproof teammates. Though the remaining Avengers were able to dissolve the situation, their teammate's absence was definitely noticed.
"I swear," Clint began as he took his seat at the table in the Helicarrier's conference room. "I am going to punch Stark in the throat once I find him. I'm sure this is all his fault. No way Bruce or Thor would be this irresponsible." He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "I bet he took them all to some secret billionaire beach resort and left us to do all the dirty work."
"I'm sure that's not the case," Steve sighed from his seat. "If they went out like that, Bruce would have sneaked a communicator along, left a note, or something. He wouldn't just run out because Tony said so."
"Hey, I've read the guy's file," Clint retorted. "If anyone's a fan of up and vanishing it's Bruce Banner. He's done it almost more than SHIELD can count. I wouldn't be surprised if he was the one to formulate their little getaway plan."
"That may be true," Steve admitted. "But this is all too odd. I mean both Tony and Thor disappearing at the same time as Bruce. Even if Bruce ran away and Tony and Thor went looking for him, that still would not explain why they would not answer when we called."
"What are you saying?" Natasha chimed in. "That they were kidnapped?"
"Well, maybe this is all part of some larger plan? Half of our muscle has gone missing. Anyone of us could be taken next."
"This wasn't a kidnapping." Director Fury said as he walked into the conference room. "I went to Stark's building and his AI said that he has no records of Stark or Banner ever leaving the tower, and absolutely no record of Thor being in the building at all for about a week. I also have security camera footage of every exit around the tower for three blocks that agrees with me. However," Fury took in a deep breath before continuing. "The AI said that they are not in the building at all. Further scans for gamma radiation and the arc reactor turn up negative around the tower as well, and we have no idea how to track Thor."
"So if they did not leave and weren't taken, where did they go?"
"As far as SHIELD can tell, those idiots have up and vanished into thin air."
One week earlier
Tony was disappointed that he did not think of this earlier. He was a futurist, he was supposed to be inventing tomorrow. He was supposed to have so many advanced toys that in a thousand years all of his tech would still be modern. So why did it take an old episode of Star Trek for him to realize that his life was desperately devoid of teleportation technology?
He grabbed the tablet from the countertop as walked to the bar and began running though the numbers, already thinking what color he should paint the new tech and what to name it. So far, it seemed theoretically possible; all he had to do was send a bunch of atoms to another place instantaneously. Or nearly instantaneously. He figured he could stand a delay of a few milliseconds if needed. Anything longer than 3 seconds just would not be worthy of the Stark logo.
Not to mention anything longer than 3 seconds would involve a lot of calculations. He already had to factor in the rotation of the Earth, the Earth's rotation around the Sun, the Solar System's place in the galaxy, and then its place in the universe. It would not be impossible, but it sure wasn't going to be easy.
But starting from scratch was going to take longer than he would have liked. If he started the project right away, he could very likely get a prototype done by the time Thor started going gray. And that was if he could work nonstop without having to save the world, go to board meetings, sleep, eat, and basically fulfill any bodily needs.
He could probably solve the problem a bit faster if he had something to work from. Sure there were some theories about wormholes, but there was not much about how to control them. Maybe he could raid SHIELD's databanks to see if they were looking into a teleporter? Maybe Dr. Doom? The X-Men? Hell if he was going to ask Reed Richards for help after he beat Tony out of scientist of the year because hey, apparently the judges like looking at boring rocks from other dimensions instead of enjoying their lives free from alien tyranny. Okay, Tony could admit that he did not put all of his effort into any scientific discovery, but come on, he had been busy. His clean energy project could have won if Loki did not decide to play Risk with his planet.
But at least Loki's appearance did provide some good news. Tony put the tablet back on the counter and poured himself a drink. "JARVIS, tell Thor I need to see him."
"Right away, sir."
It did not take long for Thor to step out of the elevator. He had been getting used to Tony's technology rather well considering. All of those classes he held for Steve and him really seemed to have paid off after all.
He was not quite sure how to begin talking to Thor. For as long as he had been in the Avengers, he only really spoke to Bruce, Steve, and occasionally Clint. For some reason he never tried speaking to Thor one on one. It was not that he was nervous around the demi-god, more that it just never came up. Maybe he should work on his Earth-Asgard relations a bit more. After all, there was apparently an entire world being left out of his marketing demographic and the business man in him could not let that go.
"Hail, friend Stark!" Thor boomed as he walked closer. "What seems to be the trouble?"
"No trouble, just wanted to ask you a question." Tony poured a drink for Thor and motioned for him to sit at the bar with him. "I noticed when you took Loki back to Asgard that you, well for lack of a better term, were beamed up. Do you know how exactly that works? The inter-realm travel I mean? Do you think it's possible to localize and control that?"
Thor took a short sip of his drink, considering the question. "Aye, though I am not as well versed as others on the subject, I will do what I can to answer your queries. Loki and I used the Tesseract's power to return to Asgard. However the Bifrost has long since been repaired, and has and shall again serve as the main bridge between the realms. I am unfamiliar as to the exact magic behind the Bifrost, only that it is a very ancient magic that has bound the nine for as long as I have known."
"What about intra-realm travel. Like teleportation. Is that possible?"
"Verily." Thor laughed softly. "I myself am not versed in that magic; however Loki is rather talented in the art. He would oft use that very skill to escape after setting one of his pranks."
"Great, more magic." Tony took a long drink, letting the scotch sit in his mouth. He wanted something that made sense, not a quick copout to keep people from questioning how things worked. If only that worked at board meetings, he would be able to get more things done without all the questions and subsequent lengthy dumbed down explanations. 'How do you expect to make clean energy for the whole world and still make a profit?' 'Black magic, peasants!' queue big flashy exit complete with ravens and doves for contrast as a bunch of old investors pee their pants from shock. Hm, no wonder Loki was so showy. Magic seemed like it would make even the humble Steve put on a show of things. Perhaps it was worth looking into.
"Would it be possible for someone like me to use magic?" Tony asked sheepishly. He sounded like the wimpy kid asking the hot girl next door to the prom. Pull yourself together man! You're Ironman, Master of Science and Technology! This isn't Hogwarts!
Thor seemed to deeply consider the question. "'Tis true that Midgard does possess some knowledge of magic. Though I have yet to know a mortal who could use it properly."
"Oh," Tony sighed taking another drink. Maybe it was too much to hope that he could have used the magic cop out.
"However, if any mortal could jump the divide between Asgardian and Midgardian magic, I see no reason why it cannot be you, friend Stark."
"Really?" Tony sounded almost too excited and tried to compose himself a bit more. "That would be amazing! Could you bring me back some books from Asgard? Do you guys have the printing press there, or do you still use scribes? Wait would they even been in English? They speak English in Asgard, don't they? You speak English. Though now that I think about it, that makes no sense. Do you speak Asgardian? Is that a language?"
"I speak the Allspeak. It is a speech understood by all creatures. You hear English you said it was called? When you speak, I hear it in Asgard's tongue. I do not know if this applies to our writing. I cannot recall a mortal attempting to read it before. Shall we test it? Do you have any parchment and ink?"
"Do you really think I keep paper in this house? That is too old school for me." Tony popped a stylist out of the side of the tablet and handed it to Thor. "Use this, and don't push so hard, you'll crack the screen."
Thor's hand was a bit too big for the small stylist but he managed to scribble a few complex characters onto the tablet before pushing to towards Tony. At first the characters just remained intricate squiggles but suddenly they began to rearrange themselves and spelled the words 'Toni Stark'. Tony could not help but laugh.
"You misspelled Tony. You spelled it the girl way."
"So you can read it?" Thor smiled. "That is wonderful my friend! I shall make the preparations immediately."
Tony was beginning to be a bit jealous of Asgard. Turns out that they were not as far back in the past as he had thought. They had pursued magic instead of science, and they lived longer too, no need for as many medical advances as humans needed. They favored hand to hand and magical combat, so they did not need any advancement in weapons and armor; everything could just be magic-ed better and stronger.
The businessman in Tony was having a field day. If he could crack the secrets of magic and blend them with technology, the possibilities would be endless. Take that Richards! Magic and technology combined had to make him scientist of the year, if not century. Modern day Merlin! Yeah, he liked the sound of that.
"JARVIS, take a screen-cap of the tablet and tell me what it says."
"Sir, characters cannot be matched to any known language in my databanks. Shall I start a log file?"
"Sure, and make note of a new side project, 'Universal Translator', mark it under future business projects. I'm sure ending international misunderstandings would win a Peace prize or two. If anything I won't have my comments censored at the international board meeting anymore."
"Very good, sir."