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Messages - Aries Jordan

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1
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 20, 2019, 06:56:54 PM »
Pepper was momentarily chilled by the thought of an Ultron hug, but an accidental injury that Deadpool no doubt recovered from quickly was rather minor in the current scheme of humanitarian disasters, so she made no further comment on it.

It was pretty clear that Ultron was doing a lot to mitigate the catastrophes caused by the Snap -- and also, the many previously-existing catastrophes that had nothing to do with the Snap.  The governments of several authoritarian countries -- North Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Congo, etc -- were screaming in panic, or trying to pretend that #robotuprising was theirs, or even that it didn't exist.  It was also clear that Ultron was engaged in a disinformation campaign and that it was more successful than anyone else's.  But he wasn't having it all his way.  There was a strong element, especially in Europe, that definitely remembered Sokovia the way it really happened.  There was also a mysterious someone who was putting unedited video of the Battle of Wakanda online, showing the Avengers and their allies fighting Thanos to their last man before the Snap.  The video kept disappearing as Ultron's internet bots discovered it and then popping up elsewhere.  #Avengers4ever was also trending, though not as popular.

Pepper responded to Ultron's message to the effect that there were a lot of abandoned real domesticated animals in need of new homes, but that robotic animals should be used where the children were too young or too emotionally troubled to care for them properly, and that human caretakers could help him figure out which children those were.
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"Boy, I'm not used to being ignored," Tony said in Ultron's direction.  "Now I know I'm a high-functioning narcissist.  Ignoring me is the kindest thing you could do for me right now, and yet I resent it."  He shook his head at his own idiocy.

"You do not want me the most, Wade," he urged Deadpool, trying to get him to stop provoking Ultron.  "I'm well down the list of things you wa -- ow!" he winced in sympathy.  He was racking his brain trying to come up with a way to distract Ultron from Deadpool without redirecting his wrath down upon himself and coming up blank.

"I know what you're doing," he said after Ultron broke Wade's arm. "But I think you should stop talking about me and get out of here and don't come back!"

2
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 18, 2019, 12:28:01 PM »
"Oh, Deadpool," Pepper said.  "Thank you, Jocasta, I know what Deadpool is."  She gave the information on the tablet a cursory scan and lost interest, although she added, "Has Ultron been hurting him?" as if concerned but not stricken to the heart about it.  "Would you start me a pot of coffee, please?" 

She freshened up in her bathroom, came out looking almost normal, and grabbed the tablet to start finding out as much as she could about what Ultron was doing out in the world.  Her first message to Ultron noted that a reasonable number of age-appropriate pets were a good idea for the orphans, if the kids were taught to care for the animals themselves.  It would be a good lesson in bonding and responsibility.
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"I could really go for a decent cheeseburger," Tony said wistfully.

He listened to the interplay between Deadpool and Jocasta with the sinking feeling he'd had all along coming back too strong now to ignore.  "Just blow, Wade," he said.  "He doesn't need to catch you here."   Of course, that would leave Tony to face Ultron's wrath which, Tony figured out by the time Wade threw a blanket over him, was what the merc was trying to avoid.  Was willing to endure excruciating pain to avoid.  "My hero," he said, dry yet sincere at the same time, muffled by the blanket.

He shuddered as Ultron came in, but pulled the blanket off his face.  Wade was trying to protect him, either by keeping Ultron from being reminded of his existence, or by preventing him from having to witness what Ultron did to Wade.   But Tony wasn't going to shirk his responsibility to do what he could, little though it would be.   "I could leave if you guys want to be alone."

3
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 17, 2019, 02:23:04 PM »
Pepper's tears dried as she listened to Tony's voice.

 "Would you please tell her -- I mean, Wade, ask Jocasta to please tell Pepper I'm okay?  That I said that I'm okay.  And, um... that I said 'keep smiling through.'"

A tentative smile appeared on her face as if the tears that had come before were just rain to make a desert bloom.  Tony's voice could easily be faked, but she didn't think Ultron would know to say keep smiling through.  Then she asked, "Jocasta, who is Wade?"
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"I'm not a baby bird, Wade.  But have one if you want."  Tony munched the cookies, crystallized sugar crunching between his teeth.  "Amazing how good hundred-year-old sucrose can taste." 

He ate the whole pack of six, barring any that Deadpool snagged, then lay back on the stretcher bed.  He was a bit worn out, but the sugar was giving him a second wind.  "Seems like Ultron should've noticed by now that you're here, maybe he doesn't mind."  It could be that Ultron thought Tony would open up and say too much to Wade after a couple of days of isolation, but that would've been much more likely to work after a couple of weeks. 

"So what have you been doing since Ultron found you?  Anything interesting, or does he just want the pleasure of your company?"

4
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 15, 2019, 02:42:06 PM »
Pepper was ashamed of herself for breaking down; she wasn't going to be able to deal with Ultron at all if she couldn't control her emotions better.  But shame was lost in surprise at his reaction and she stopped crying -- except for a hiccuping sob here and there -- in sheer astonishment.  She blinked at him through tears.

If he was deceiving her, he'd become an awfully good actor, for an AI so lacking in direct experience with human beings.

"I don't know if you really care about my feelings," she said slowly.  "I don't know why you would.  But if you do, then don't.  Hurt.  Tony.  Ever."

Then she wiped her face yet again on a towel, wondering how she could possibly have contained as much salt water as she had lost, the past few days, and added, "Thank you for listening, anyway.  I'll talk to you later, okay?"
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"I was thinking more, massive amounts of alcohol, overwork and sex with complete strangers," Tony said.  "But I'm not judging you."  He might be judgmental in other circumstances, but he really didn't have the energy to care about the scumbags that Deadpool tended to kill just now.

He chuckled bitterly in response to Deadpool's surprise.  "He was fifteen.  He wouldn't recognize shit if you threw it at him.  Yeah, he did.  He was so damn shiny you didn't want to scuff him up.  Or disappoint him."

Wade's final words made him break down completely.  He let the merc cuddle him and sobbed for several minutes on his shoulder.  It might have gone on longer if he'd been in better shape, but he was depleted soon after getting Wade's leather soaked through.

"I'm really hungry now," he observed, sprawling half in bed and half in Deadpool's lap.  "Would you grab me an MRE with cookies in it?  The stuff with a lot of sugar tends to be the most edible years later."

5
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 14, 2019, 10:18:02 PM »
Pepper knew to blame Tony for neglecting her, in any situation in which blame really needed to be assigned, and she did have close relationships with several Avengers, especially Rhodey, Natasha and Bruce. 

She wasn't sure whether to hope Ultron was telling her the truth or to fear that he wasn't, that was part of the reason she was losing her composure.  "Good.  There will always something -- many things -- that need fixing," she warned him out of her experience as CEO of Stark Industries.  "You just get used to that after awhile.  You have to have the right goals, but recognize that process is more important.

"No!"  She laughed out of surprise.  "You'll end up with a lot of spoiled little sociopaths that way.  "Um, how many adults... I assume you mean to employ them, pay them, rather than kidnap them.  For infants, um, probably at least one adult for every four?  Older children need correspondingly fewer, you could get a twenty to one ratio for the older teenagers, unless they're very emotionally troubled.  I suggest you recruit among people who were already doing similar jobs.  Teachers and social workers and daycare employees."

She folded her arms around herself protectively.  "Thank you, it was... less frightening and painful than I imagined, speaking to you.  But I'll need to do research... I can't answer your questions as fast as you're used to having them answered." 

Then she lifted her large dark eyes imploringly to his face and blurted out, "Please don't hurt Tony!"  And promptly broke down weeping again.
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"Killing yourself is far from being the only way to avoid processing your grief, and you know it even better than I do," Tony pointed out.

"No, I didn't adopt him, he had an aunt... really kind of hot aunt, even if her fruitcake tasted like pencil shavings."  Tony would have given a lot for that fruitcake right now, actually.  "I just took him under the old Iron Man wing.  Uh, I found out almost the exact second I saw him when he and Yondu's people raided Ultron's secret hideout to rescue me."

Tony sighed and looked away and looked back.  "He could've been the best of us.   My smarts, Cap's honesty, Thor's stupid nobility, Nat's people instincts," he counted it all out on his fingers, and then rubbed his left hand with his right.  "Yeah, he's gone. He -- he -- fucking --"  Tony didn't want to cry, he wanted to scream, but his voice came out barely a whisper.  "--fucking turned to ash in my fucking arms, and -- and --" 

He punched the wall and made a noise of surprise and pain, as it hurt his frail hand more than he was expecting.  "I lost him.  I couldn't save him."

6
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 12, 2019, 05:24:43 PM »
"Good," said Pepper, as to the legal system, "because, you know, if the Avengers never come back..."  She broke off for a moment as horror and the threat of depression descended on her again.  "Excuse me."  She went to the kitchen sink, which was not far away, her duplicated condo having a modern open floor plan, and splashed water on her face to cover and stop herself from crying.  Coming back, she finished the thought.  "As time passes, it will become more obvious to everyone that you're in control and people will realize that anything that goes wrong must be your doing, even if there's no proof."

She was still shaky, her composure fraying again, and visibly struggled to answer Ultron's next questions.  "Empathy," she said.  "Human adults, or most of they anyway, just know most of the time what children need because they have been children themselves. You could probably figure it out, if you could address every single individual child every hour of the day, but robots that you're only supervising in a general way aren't capable of that.  And humans can teach them how to behave.  Look at this."  She indicated the screen where the children were throwing food in the cafeteria.  "These kids are being encouraged in unsocial behavior by being constantly cleaned up after, instead of being gently and patiently taught not to waste food and to clean up after themselves, just as an example."

"They also need to know how to bond with other people, even people they are going to lose.  At this rate, when they are adults, they won't know how to bond with other adults."
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Tony encouraged Wade to keep talking with compliments like, "Ellie's a cool name," and so forth, but he didn't ask who it was that made Wade forget her for however long it was.  One trauma at a time, right now was for grieving the child's death.  At the end, he offered Wade an MRE wrapper to blow his nose with, saying, "The only way to get through this, Wade, is to go forward through it.  When you're going through Hell, the only solution is to keep going."

About Peter, he sighed shakily.  "I've got plenty of fluids," tugging on his IV tube and showing Wade how it was practically bolted into his arm.  He had gone through the mill of Wade's grief with him and no longer felt like crying, but he knew that could change pretty easily.  "Actually, you knew Peter.  You met him on M'Atta Gaskar, when he saved my ass from Ultron the first two times.  He was Spider-Man."

((Don't even worry about it.  If it works out, great, but one game we're excited about is plenty.))

7
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 11, 2019, 05:24:57 PM »
"So... they'll just disappear and their friends, neighbors and family members will never know why.  That's not an improvement, Ultron."  Pepper sighed.  "But, you know what, this is not my area and it's not something I can make a priority, not while there are so many more important problems for people that I know are innocent.  Let's table it for now."

Pepper knew by now how to control her shock.  "I will...give you a list of suggestions," she managed to say.  "This is, um.  You've enhanced the safety and comfort level of quite a few of these children."  The sad part was, that was perfectly true, especially in areas of the world where children were trafficked for sex, slave labor or as soldiers.  "But the most important thing I can suggest for now is, they need adult human caregivers.  Among other things, they can figure out individually what's safe for each of the  kids to eat without giving them all that sugar, which is... very bad for them.   You could still use the foster care social workers and volunteers with parenting experience.  Under your supervision, they couldn't be any threat to the children."
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"I don't have anything to puke."  Tony didn't try to make Wade look up, but he looked in Wade's eyes so that he could see the soul of another man like him who had been through hell and was still going through it.  He noticed, but made himself pay no attention to the rest of Wade's face.  Since he had seen every inch of his skin below the neck, it didn't come as a shock. 

"How old was she?  What was her name?'  With these and similar questions, he coaxed Wade to talk and also to weep, arms around him, offering his shoulder when needed.  "You honor her most by remembering her, not by trying to pretend it isn't killing you." 

Not until Wade was practically exhausted from venting did he finally say, "I lost one too.  Not literally my kid, but damn, it felt like it," as he nodded toward's Peter's picture.

8
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 10, 2019, 02:12:00 PM »
"So, you're killing humans who haven't actually done anything wrong.  Because you think that they will."  Pepper  forced herself to address this calmly, fearing that an accusing tone might make Ultron defensive.  After all, this was a huge step forward for him -- from killing all humans indiscriminately to killing only those humans who harmed or might harm others.  "I think you should reconsider that policy.  It will make innocent humans afraid that you will come for them next, and that will lead to civil unrest."

She nodded as to him reading up on morality and ethics, but added, "There's an awful lot of material to cover and much of it contradicts the rest.  Give yourself time to absorb it and feel free to discuss it with me, please.  And remember, none of the people writing on those subjects actually contemplated ruling the entire world."  She eyed him almost with compassion.  "There are still four or five billion people here -- I don't know how even you can spread yourself so thin."

She agreed as to the robot.  "Yes, it is, it's fit mainly for small children, ten and under.  Either word is fine... Um, you're looking after kids, are you?  Yes... there are a lot who lost their families.  May I see your childcare facility plans too?  Or even a live feed from one of them?"
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Well, it's not like it was original for Hawkeye.

Tony stiffened up and trembled in Wade's embrace.  "Oh, God.  Oh, Wade," he said softly.  If he had been alone, if his arms hadn't been full of the merc, he would have grabbed his left hand with his right, always his gesture of trying to make it better when nothing ever could.  He would have broken down crying himself, except this was Wade's turn. 

He pulled back enough to look Deadpool in his eyepieces.  His face was as gray and stark as it was when Peter had  turned to ash in his arms with horrified sympathy.  "Let me see your eyes?" he asked.  "Please?" 

9
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 09, 2019, 11:47:22 PM »
Pepper blanched and stared at Ultron in shock.  "How are... what criteria are you using to decide which humans should be killed?" she demanded.  "And what level of proof.... are you sure, do you know for a fact that they are guilty?"  She reeled suddenly at the thought of all the potential disasters that could result from Ultron's blunt interactions with the humans he now ruled.  "I'm not going to be enough," she said.  "We need a whole think tank here.  Lawyers, administrators, ethicists..."

She was grateful to focus on a smaller aspect, although responsibility for the mental health of the entire planet was actually huge.  "Yes, I will, and I'll make furniture and decor recommendations too.  Although those will only be valid for the United States and maybe Canada and Europe.  We'll need experts in other cultures for other parts of the world.  And no, of course not," she added.  "I want people to be comforted, not terrified.  Here, this is just an example of something that would appeal to kids..."  She punched up an image of a small white plastic and steel robot with large, round blue eyes and a solemn sort of expression.  "I'll make some dialogue suggestions too."
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"Thank you, Jo," Tony said gratefully.  "I will."

He put his other arm around Deadpool too.  "No, you don't need to call Ultron, I got this," he told Jocasta, and put his hand on top of Wade's, gently moving it away from the holster.  He wasn't really strong enough to stop Wade, of course, but the merc wasn't exactly putting his whole strength into his moves, he was too upset. 

"He just needs to let it all out.  It's okay, Wade," he said.  "This is the place where it's okay to cry for as long as you need.  I'm right here."  He tried to move Wade's head down onto his shoulder.  "You don't want to make Ultron come down here and clean up your corpse and break my arms for talking to you.  You need work through this, not run away from it.  You can tell me anything."

10
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 09, 2019, 01:50:48 PM »
Pepper couldn't bring herself to say thank you, but she gave a nod to indicate a tablet would be acceptable. 

"How are they being taken care of?" she asked in a flat tone in regard to those people.

She nodded again about finding volunteers.  "There are probably people willing to do it who just need organization, publicity and proper resources.  Safe places to meet, comfortable furniture and so forth." 

She hesitated about the robot idea.  "Other human beings would be the most effective, but robots would much better than nothing.  And there are some people who would actually respond better to robots"  People on the autistic spectrum, for example, or too traumatized to trust any human.  "But they will need to be designed to be... more appealing.  More reassuring.  Although they can't look human, then we'll have the uncanny valley problem.  Get me that tablet and I'll show you a few appropriate visuals."  The Iron Giant movie was coming to mind, although obviously, nothing that big.

She ran a hand through her hair and noticed that she was actually hungry.
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"I wonder when he made her," Tony said dryly, Ultron's tirade about suffering and abandonment drifting through his mind.  "Yeah, why can't I discuss the Snap with him?" he asked.  "Is the whole topic forbidden, or is there something in particular that Ultron doesn't want Wade to know about?  Um, ask her, would you?" he said to Deadpool when she didn't respond to him.

"Jocasta!" he repeated in mild surprise, but was more interested in Pepper's condition.  He swallowed hard.  "Would you please tell her -- I mean, Wade, ask Jocasta to please tell Pepper I'm okay?  That I said that I'm okay.  And, um..." he searched his mind for an appropriate code phrase... "that I said 'keep smiling through.'"  It was too obvious, Ultron would figure it out, but oh well.

Feeling Wade's reaction to the news, Tony suddenly had to fight tears.  He tightened his arm around the merc's muscular back.  "She's fine," he repeated, although at this point, he didn't know where she was or what was happening to her.  If the Avengers had gone after Thanos, she would have gone with them, no question, but he wasn't going to mention that.  "I'm so sorry, Wade.  Who did you lose?"  His eyes strayed over to the photo of Peter, but then firmly back to Wade, who needed his attention right now.

11
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 08, 2019, 11:17:07 PM »
"That would be very helpful," Pepper said.  She didn't  soften toward Ultron, but her tone was stiff and business-like rather than hostile.  Public knowledge would be a million times more knowledge than she had now, as Ultron hadn't given her internet or even cable TV access.  "When I understand what you are doing, I'm sure I'll have a few suggestions."

"It isn't strictly necessary in an emergency like this that we use only licensed therapists," she observed.  "Anybody with an ability to listen and sympathize will be helpful.  On the other hand, there will be some predators, sociopaths, child molesters and that sort who will try to take advantage of a position of trust, if we're too indiscriminate."  She looked Ultron over curiously.  "Can you call for volunteers?" she asked dubiously.  "Does anyone trust you?  How are people reacting to your reappearance... considering Sokovia?"
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"As arousing as that sounds to me, I think it would be like making love to a toast rack for you," Tony said.  He was trying to kill his own libido, drive a stake through its heart and bury it at the crossroads under the lightest tone he could manage, but he was so glad to see Deadpool, he had to concentrate to keep his hands off the man.  The most effective method was reminding himself that Ultron was monitoring him.  The thought of sex for Ultron's amusement was definitely a mood-killer.  "I'll tell you all about that in a minute," he said, as to what had turned him into a scarecrow.

"This IS applesauce," he said when they were sitting together on the bed, holding up what looked more like a brown rice cake with a couple of bites missing.  "It's just more chewy than you'd think."  He took another bite.

He jumped a little when Jocasta's voice came.  Aside from Deadpool and the faint mechanical sound of the faceless drone, it was the first sound in his cell that he hadn't made since Ultron left.  "Ultron has a squeeze?" he said, and then shut up and blinked his way through their conversation. 

"She has a point.  Ultron's gonna kill -- uh, do something horrible to you when he finds out you were here."  Tony's expression sank into gloom.   It seemed Ultron was not paying attention now, but he would surely catch up on whatever he missed.    "Is Pepper okay?  Uh, can you ask whatshername if Pepper is okay?" 

He leaned against Wade, trying to maximize contact for fear it wouldn't last long, put one arm partway around him and rested his cheek against the merc's muscular shoulder.   "I saw Nebula," he said, to pay Wade back for the information about Pepper.  "She survived the Snap."

12
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 08, 2019, 06:14:45 PM »
Pepper's eyes and mouth narrowed and her voice turned icy.  "We are just going to have to agree to disagree." 

She also hesitated after Ultron surprised her with his implied offer, first processing her emotions, and then gaining a sudden and unpleasant insight into his intent.  Pepper's  intuition was just as sharp, in its way, as Tony's logical processing ability (for in fact, she was aware of Deadpool's presence in Tony's life, although she did not know his name).  She probably saw further into Ultron's motivations than Ultron did.

He is wooing me.  Not, obviously, for sexual or romantic reasons, but...To torment Tony.  That's why the luxurious quarters and the compliments and this offer of helping him help the world.  He is seducing me to be on his side, and when he thinks I am, that's when he'll let me see Tony.   Or more likely, let Tony see me.  I am here (again) to be a trophy.

Could she beat Ultron at this game?   Did it help to know you were walking into a trap?  Pepper folded her hands together, studying Ultron's weirdly expressive face with wonder and doubt.  The only thing she was sure of was that Tony would take the risk, if it were him in this position. 

"I would... have to know the specifics of what you're doing, before I could offer you any advice," she said hesitantly.  "But if there's one area where human insight would help more than in any other, I suppose it would be mental health issues.  Grief and trauma counseling."  She wondered if Ultron had even thought about it.  "That's got to be hard to arrange when everyone qualified to provide it is suffering grief and trauma of their own."
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"Hah!" Tony chuckled -- the first laugh he'd had for weeks.  "I was just thinking that."  He saw the pink sparkles start up again.  "Uh, there's not a lot of room --"  There was a crash as Wade knocked over the food trolley.  "--in here.  That's okay, but I'm gonna have to ask you to clean it up.  I can't even lift that damn thing right now."

"I hate to give Ultron his due, but he's not responsible for this."  Tony waved a thin hand at his half-starved condition.  "In fact, he's nursing me back to health, in his own unpleasant way.  Doesn't want me to drop dead before he gets his kicks."

He was in Deadpool's arms as soon as the merc opened them, gripping him as tight as arms like chicken wings would allow.  Wade had always been taller and denser with muscle than Tony, but now it felt like he had eighty or a hundred pounds on him.  "It's okay, I'm not gonna break."  Not unless Wade really tried.  He inhaled the smell of blood and gunpowder and general Deadpool-ness like it was ambrosia. 

"You don't know about the Snap?" he said, after they broke apart.  He started to be incredulous, then remembered this was Deadpool, after all.  He could well have slept through the whole thing.  "You didn't notice half the people in the world turning into dust and floating away on the wind?  Here, get that thing out of the way," meaning the cart, "and let's sit down.  Have an MRE," he offered, grabbing the one he'd been eating and sitting down on half of the bed.

He responded to the blatant innuendo with a brief grin and a slower blush, but said, "I'm asking because Ultron claims he's holding Pepper prisoner.  Which is really putting a cramp into all my escape ideas," he lied, "so I'd like to know if it's true."

13
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 07, 2019, 11:35:25 PM »
Pepper had suspected that Ultron was monitoring her, just because he was an AI and she was used to near-constant surveillance first by JARVIS and then by FRIDAY -- only they were friendly and responsive to orders.  She agreed she wanted it stopped, but did not fully believe Jocasta when she said it had been.  Jocasta could just be humoring her; how would she know?

When Jocasta announced that Ultron was coming in, Pepper got up to face him.  She was sick and tired of fear; it was time to remember that she was the CEO of Stark Industries, and try to behave accordingly.  At least she was still dressing the part, although she had to smooth down her clothes and put her hair back so she could stare back at Ultron with a little more self-possession than she had been displaying lately.

Once again, Ultron's sheer ignorance -- or sheer effrontery, it was hard to tell which -- made her jaw drop.  "What is wrong is that you're holding us prisoner and torturing the man that I love!"

But since Ultron was not going to stop doing those things just because they made her miserable, she tried looking for a compromise that might work to her advantage.  "And also I -- I'm not being useful," she said.  This was perfectly true.  She wiped her eyes, being careful out of habit to avoid smearing makeup, though she wasn't wearing any.  "I -- I'm used to spending my time running a company and helping people who need help.  I'm completely useless here.  I might as well not exist."

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"It's, uh, in here," Tony said.  He said this because the crazy idea of luring Wade in and jumping him for his teleportation device occurred to him.  But there were several objections to this plan, the most important being obvious danger to Pepper, and the least important being that Wade could probably break him in half with one hand right now.

He brushed tears away on the blanket he was wearing around his shoulders and leaned as close as he could to the merc.  "Yeah, not dead yet.  You either.  I didn't know if the Snap got you.  Or if it would take, with you.  Good to see you, buddy."  He tried to reach a few fingers through the mesh.  "I'm not sure, but I think it's only been three or four days.  Have you seen Pepper here?"

14
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 06, 2019, 07:41:54 PM »
Although Ultron probably didn't realize it, Pepper was suffering quite a bit more than Tony was, even though her captivity was far more cushy.  She did not have Tony's ability to solve problems that looked unsolvable, nor his ability to distract himself in situations of stress and boredom.  Her apartment was being put together around her, but this only disheartened her more, as it clearly demonstrated Ultron's intent to hold her and Tony indefinitely, and it scared her that she did not know why he wanted her.  If she were just a hostage for Tony's good behavior, there was no reason for all this physical comfort; there must be something more sinister going on.

She could do nothing, except observe, interrogate Jocasta, and wait for an opportunity.  She ate meals, not because she had any appetite but because she could not afford to be weak from hunger if and when a chance to escape occurred.  She used her treadmill one hour a day on the same principle, feeling like a hamster in an exercise wheel.  Sometimes she managed to distract herself with a book.  But most of the time, she just sat, preferably in small, enclosed spaces, weeping, depressed, frightened, and uncommunicative.  Sometimes, she held herself and rocked.
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When Tony realized that Ultron was trying to wear down his nanobots through attrition -- a good tactic, as Tony didn't have any food to give them -- he took a break from working on JARVIS and switched his attention to a nanobot upgrade he had always meant to do.  There was an obvious source of nanobot food: other nanobots.  In a couple of hours, he had them reprogrammed to cannibalize any that they captured, and they started stripping Ultron-bots down into their component elements and rebuilding them into Tony-bots.

Despite Ultron choosing unpleasant food, Tony could have told him that the only thing needed to make an MRE the food of the gods was three weeks of semi-starvation prior to eating one.  He was chewing his second bite with an expression of pleasure when pink sparkles made him think there was something wrong with his eyes.  And then there was the voice.

"Oh, God," Tony said.  He started laughing and crying at the same time; then he got up and went to the tiny barred window, trailing the IV tubing.  "Wade, you idiot, what are you doing here?"

15
Fandom / Re: Age Of Ultron For Real [M]
« on: August 06, 2019, 05:26:46 PM »
Tony maintained a grim-faced silence when Ultron mentioned Pepper; it was the only point at which his face betrayed anger bordering on hatred for the AI.  His look when Ultron left him the photo of Peter was just an ironic brow cocked -- I see what you did there.  The gesture, which would border on thoughtfulness in others, was clearly intended as torment by Ultron.

When he was alone -- although he doubted he was unobserved -- Tony allowed himself ten minutes for losing his shit, emotionally speaking: he curled into a ball and sobbed, he hugged the photo and sobbed some more, he kicked the wall and hyperventilated, and then he let sleep take him down.

But first....

Tony was ordinarily very good at multi-tasking, but during the conversation with Ultron, he was too groggy and too distracted to do much with his processor and nanotech but run a systems check and diagnostics.  His external nanotech had been all but depleted during the battle with Thanos, but the internal bugs were doing fine, thanks to Nebula, who had shared her nanobot food along with everything else on the Benetar.  Ultron must know it was still there, but of course, he couldn't know how Tony had evolved and upgraded it.

Now, before drifting off, he made sure the little bugs were massing at his IV port to prevent any of Ultron's nanobots from getting inside him.  It was an obvious tactic for Ultron to pull, but Tony had the advantage of numbers and of there being a bottleneck that alien bugs had to use.  Ultron could put nanotech in his food as well, but that was a problem for later. 

He also told them to investigate the hard object in his back pocket.  He didn't want to pull it out and look at it, because he was sure Ultron had learned his lesson from the last time Tony was his prisoner, and was watching him constantly, probably through miniaturized cameras.  But he was pretty sure from the shape that it was a disk or small hard drive.  He set up a firewall in the bots that were going on that mission, in case it turned out to be something with a virus planted by Ultron, and wished them good luck.

When he woke up, not knowing how long after -- the drone with the trolley had barely disturbed him -- the bots had a report for him: the object was a backup hard drive, and the ones that had interfaced with it did not appear to be contaminated by any virus.  So, while he used the toilet and investigated the trolley's contents, the nanobots formed a conduit that went from his processor down his back under the skin and built a little disk-reader at the other end so that he could examine the code.

What he found made his heart leap; he was hard-pressed to keep the stolidly miserable expression on his face.  He went back to bed as if he were not hungry yet, pulling the blanket over his head so he could grin unseen.  JARVIS! 

That was going to make his plan so much easier.  It would've taking him weeks to create infiltration software from scratch; with JARVIS, it was more than three-quarters done already.  JARVIS had beaten Ultron from the inside back in 2015.  Of course, Ultron had gotten a lot of upgrades since then, so JARVIS would need all the improvements Tony could give him before they did anything together.
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Time passed.  The silence was unnerving, the unpredictability of the lights even more so... although it would have been worse if Tony hadn't had a means of keeping track of time in his head.  He knew what Ultron was up to: depriving a person of stimuli and knocking his circadian rhythms out of whack was a standard means of disorienting a person and breaking down his resistance.  Ultron was probably reading every human treatise there was on the subject.  It probably would have worked, except Tony wasn't bored.  He was tense, he was frightened, he was grieving, he was often anxious, often depressed, but he had plenty to do.  He couldn't talk to JARVIS, the program was too dense to be downloaded entirely into his processor (for the moment), but he brought him in a piece at a time, for upgrades and improvements and compression. 

The fear of the disk being discovered was a serious one, so after a bit of thought, he had the nanobots perform a little surgery on his ass cheek and conceal the thing within the gluteus maximus muscle itself, and repair the surrounding tissue.  Now the main problem was keeping control of his expression while he was living in his own head so much. 

Eventually, of course, he had to check out the MREs.  He picked one that was easily digested by someone whose digestive system had gone underused for awhile, ate a single bite, and had his bots analyze it before eating any more.

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