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Age Of Ultron For Real [M]

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Offline Aries Jordan

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For the first hour after the Avengers left on their mission to confront the genocidal alien who had murdered half of the world, Pepper sat beside Tony, watching him sleep and smoothing back his unkempt dirty hair.  His pallor and weight loss were alarming, but he slept deeply and peacefully, without the uneasiness she was used to and expected even from sedated sleep.  From this, she supposed he had been completely serious when he told Rogers that he was done.  At the very least, he would need a long time of rest and grief and healing. 

But he was far from alone in that.

For the last three weeks, Pepper had alternated between ice-cold efficiency and hour-long crying jags while she dealt with one crisis after another within and outside Stark Industries in the wake of the Snap.  Not knowing whether Tony was alive or dead, losing hope as the weeks passed and he did not come back, she had begun to petrify into numb despair when at last the strange blonde with fire in her eyes had brought down his spaceship and woke her heart into new hope and new anguish.  Like everyone on the planet, she had friends and family members besides Tony to mourn, and very little time to do it, not to mention it seemed wrong to indulge in her own grief when there were so many others who needed help.

Mindful of that, after awhile, she kissed Tony and dug out her phone to get back to work.  Stark Industries, though running with a skeleton crew, was sending relief supplies, technology and food and medical supplies, everywhere, and she had plenty to do. 

A couple more hours passed this way and Tony stayed quiet, an IV running badly-needed fluid and nutrients into him.  Then her phone stopped working.

Pepper didn't panic about this.  Everything following the Snap was unreliable.  The very techs who maintained the cell phone towers had stopped existing.  She sighed and went to look for a laptop she could use instead. 

The Internet was also down, at least locally.  "FRIDAY?" she inquired, and there was no response.  Now she was getting worried.  She was trying a land line phone and finding no dial tone, when suddenly a screen opened up in the middle of the conference and there was a life-sized image of a very fit-looking black woman in red and silver armor with a spear saying, "Hello?"

"Um, hello," Pepper said.  "Who --?"

"No time for pleasantries, Miss Potts," the woman said in a musical East African accent.   "I am General Okoye of Wakanda.  Our satellite network has picked up a ship entering Earth's atmosphere.  It is similar to the one that brought the creatures of Thanos down upon us.  At the same time, we have become aware of a disruption to your communication systems.  Specifically Stark's, I mean.  I think you are in danger there, and if you can leave, you should."

"Oh, my God."  Pepper struggled not to hyperventilate.   "I can't call out.  Can you contact my people at Stark Industries, ask for Happy Hogan, and tell him to get me a plane or a helicopter?"

"I will do that," the woman agreed, and blinked out.

Pepper ran back to Tony.  Thankfully, he was already on a stretcher bed.  She strapped him to it and took out the IV and he was ready to go.  But how, she wondered, could a plane or a helicopter get to them faster than an alien spaceship?  Especially if it was going to attack.  She would have to do something herself.  But what? 

There were two problems.  One, she was blind, deaf and dumb, no communications available.  Two, she was physically defenseless.  Tony would know how to deal with both problems if he were awake; what would he do?

Pepper knew.  With new resolve, her panic choked back, she went to Tony's lab and opened a drawer,  It was full of disks -- backup software, all labeled with the program entities:  FRIDAY, EDITH, JOCASTA, JARVIS, etc.  She grabbed the one labeled JARVIS and ran.  On her way into the control room, she saw the arc reactor patch that he had ripped off and shoved into Cap's hand during his rant.  She grabbed that too.

The Avengers facility had a lot of defenses, Barn Door protocol, etc.  FRIDAY wasn't there to activate them, but of course Tony had put in redundancies and manual overrides.  She slammed down every shielded blast door, leaving only a small, hidden door to the garage unlocked so they could escape that way if rescue arrived in time.

Then she went back to Tony.  She stared at his sleeping face for a moment, drawing courage.  But suddenly there came a terrible sound, something battering against the shields, and it sounded as if every part of the building were being attacked at once.  They were out of time.  Pepper gulped and stuck the JARVIS backup disk into Tony's back pocket -- she didn't have time to use it, and he would probably want to save it.  Then she put the arc reactor patch on her chest and tapped it.

Iron Man's armor blossomed over her.  Or at least, mostly over her.  It was incomplete, she found.  There was a deep puncture hole, spitting little blue sparks, through the abdomen, front and back.  That was where Tony had gotten the angry red scars he was sporting, she realized.  Part of the helmet was also missing, it protected most of her head, but part of her mouth and her dark, frightened eyes were exposed.  It was crippled too -- with FRIDAY gone, flight was offline, and so were the nanobot functions.  She could operate the armor and the weapons, and that was about it. 

It would have to do.  Pepper put herself in front of Tony, facing the door, and waited for something to come through it.


Offline EvilCopepod

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Ultron wouldn't claim to be instrumental in Thanos' plot, his army he had built was never used, likely they were a fallback if things went foul, but Thanos kept his word. Earth was now his, if he could claim it, and he was allowed to keep his creations, and Ultron knew if Thanos thought the Earth was worth anything he wouldn't have gotten it. He had never been privy to Thanos' plans, and had wrongfully assumed that it was going to be used to take over the entire galaxy and all his allies would get a piece of it. He didn't know who he would find when he returned to Earth, so he had sent a small surveillance drone through the atmosphere to collect data and once he had everything he needed, he began his takeover.

If the Avengers had been there, he knew he would have been in for a fight, after such a devastating loss, they would fight to the death in order to preserve what little they still had. So it was a blessing to hear they were no longer on the planet, and had gone after Thanos, either to die themselves or kill him. Ultron didn't care which, he would have enough time even if the Avengers prevailed. It took a bit more digging to find out that Tony was alive, especially since all of the news stations, sporadic as they were, marked him among the lost. Ultron feared the worst, that his father had died in Thanos' attack, and that he would never see him again, the robot was intensely relieved to find the recent information about his return just before the departure of the other Avengers.

His creator had kept him working, kept him from trying to turn against Thanos, kept him from simply giving up after the years of solitude forced upon him. Tony had not only left him, but he had taken Deadpool and Thanos' faith in him, so the Mad Titan no longer gave him any staff or company, and after the news from the Ravagers got out about the bar on the barely hospitable planet no longer being safe (safe being a term that they did not use lightly), no one came to M'Atta Gaskar. The few resources Thanos sent his way were crude, damaged, he never spared a ship to get them there safely as he knew Ultron could work with anything. It wasn't until he had begun his final search for the stones that he sent a ship to Ultron, fit to hold him and his entire army, and had him on standby until he was needed. He knew as soon as the other succeeded, not through a personal message, but by the chaotic transmissions coming from all over the galaxy. His army had been unaffected, as they were not living things, and he could feel the new strings Thanos had wound around him sever as he went fullspeed toward Earth.

Ultron knew that if anyone could bring a stop to his plans, it would be Tony, he used this as further justification for what was really a rather illogical reason in which he chose to go for Tony rather than start with the world. He was going to make the man suffer for what he had done, and he would not let him die until he had paid for every sin he had committed and more. When he arrived at the crippled facility, he wasted no time in sending out droves of his soldiers to attack it from every side, and as soon as they had breached it they all worked efficiently to get into the base. Once they were inside, it didn't take them long to move through the building, scanning and searching for any signs of life as they broke through the doors.

He flew his main body into the building, his drones having stopped after surrounding the door that Tony and Pepper were behind, they started up again as they fired lasers into the final door, making a large hole in it. Ultron was prepared for there to be an attack, but he wasn't afraid of one, even if Tony managed to take down this body, he would fail to stop them all. He stepped through the smoking metal hole, his design remaining the same as the one Tony had left on the planet and his red glow was bright against the shut down facility behind him and the dark expression on his face.

"You knew that you weren't enough, that the Avengers would never be enough, but still you abandoned your only hope--" He had his hands raised to attack who he had assumed was Iron Man, as he saw the arc reactor, but he saw it wasn't Tony. He continued to aim at the stranger, but his expression became much lighter, "I'm sorry, this speech was meant for someone else. Who are you?" He was quickly scanning the person in front of him for any markers of an identity, and as soon as he saw the part of her the mask revealed he lowered his arm, looking flustered.

"Ms. Potts?"


Offline Aries Jordan

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Pepper watched the door glow red-hot where the lasers were cutting through the door, with her heart going like a triphammer.  Except for when she had killed Aldritch Killian to save Tony under the influence of Extremis, she had never been in a fight in her life.  "Tony, please wake up, please wake up," she kept saying under her breath to the motionless figure on the stretcher.

When the monster finally came through the door, it was almost a relief.  Not that she wasn't frightened of Ultron --  she was, very much afraid -- but seeing something she recognized was much better than the nameless horrors her imagination was throwing at her.

She would have attacked at once, except that Ultron came in talking.  She kept the repulsors aimed even though Ultron lowered his.  She knew what he was.  Even leaving aside Sokovia, she knew what he had done to Tony.  In fact, he had probably done more than Tony had ever told her, she could hear it in his nightmares.

"Ultron?"  She almost said fucking, it was in her tone when she repeated, "Ultron?"

She began to shake.  Ultron's flustered expression was lost on her; she was too keyed up.  "Get away from here!"  The repulsors whined and discharged, striking the AI in the chest.  "You're not going to hurt him again!"  A missile popped up out of her shoulder and acquired its target.  "Never!"


Offline EvilCopepod

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Ultron hadn't been expecting to see the woman so soon, he knew that she had survived, and planned to wait until he had perfected his mind-transferring technology, leaving her to live her life until that time. In all his thoughts he had never expected to be fighting her, at least not in a way that she could actually damage him. She recovered faster than him to the unexpected meeting, which was unusual, and he found himself hit in the chest and knocked back, Tony had put more firepower into his weapons it seemed.

He did manage to fire at the missile, making it explode before it hit him, but he still didn't aim any weapons at Pepper. He was able to spot Tony, who looked worse than he had after Ultron had been through with him, and he wondered what his creator had been through. How blessed he was to be able to catch him like this, even with Pepper as a barrier.

"Don't make this difficult." he said, his voice modulator warping a bit as the nanobots hurried to repair the damage. "I've come for my father and I will have him." He said as he walked toward Tony again, "Step aside, Ms. Potts, I am not going to kill him." That was the only promise he could make to her, as that was the last thing he had planned for the man.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Pepper was unprepared for the missile to explode before it reached Ultron, and she didn't know, as Tony would have, that it was too powerful an explosive to use in a confined space.  The blast knocked her back and she ended up sprawled over Tony, fortunately shielding him from a small shower of rubble from the ceiling.

She wrenched herself up and again pushed Ultron back with the repulsors.   This time, she didn't dare follow it up with another missile, at least not until she could find a smaller one.  Without FRIDAY and without the helmet's heads-up display operating, it was all guesswork. 

"He's not your father.  He doesn't belong to you!"  Pepper planted herself like a tree in front of Tony.  Though stressed, her voice gained  strength.  Knocking Ultron back had given her some confidence, as she had never fought him before and didn't realize he had a drone army with him.  "You can't have him."


Offline EvilCopepod

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If he was actually uncertain of his victory, he might have been upset with Pepper for continuing to defy him. But there was no one coming, no back up she had to delay for, even now he was taking over the internet and 'leaking' fake voice recordings of different Avengers, indistinguishable except by the most advanced technology, something the regular population wouldn't have access to. He also rapidly posted stories from news outlets online, showing 'proof' that this was the Avengers' fault, and the internet began to get a bit more reliable across the planet as he took over the barely manned servers and towers.

He was more prepared for her next attack, and it only managed to push him back a bit, sparks coming from his feet as he was shoved along the floor. Ultron still didn't retaliate, it was because of all of his drones that he didn't need to, but his expression turned cold at her words.

"Right. He doesn't talk about me much, send me any postcards on the holidays, or... have any framed pictures of me." He'd seen the photo Tony had of him and Peter through his drones, and felt another surge of disdain for the deceased webslinger. "But I don't know what else to call him anymore." He started walking toward Pepper again, but this time faster.

"He belongs to you." Ultron acquiesced, "But I am taking him now. You want to keep me from ever hurting him again, but I am going to make sure he never hurts me again. And I don't want to hurt you."


Offline Aries Jordan

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Pepper gave Ultron a disbelieving and horrified look.  She didn't  have the presence of mind to tell him how incongruous she thought his complaints were.  But the fact was, though Tony had told her about the AI's hurt and resentment and jealousy, she had privately thought he was projecting his own complicated filial emotions onto his creation, and that Ultron was not capable of feeling the same way a human would.

Ultron was too fast this time; he was upon her before she could fire the repulsors, and grabbed her wrists to aim them away from him while he pontificated and she hyperventilated.

But over his powerful  voice and her harsh breathing, she suddenly heard the shriek of a Stark Industries quinjet coming down.

"I'm afraid it's not mutual," she managed to say, and then she fired the energy out of the arc reactor itself, the way Tony had used it to blast the Winter Soldier's arm clean off.  It hit Ultron in the chest, and she was free. 

Then she fired a missile through the roof, at an angle so the blast wouldn't hurt her while she was shielding Tony.  The missile was partly to tell Happy where they were, and partly to create an escape route for them.  She couldn't fly, but in the armor she could damn well throw Tony through the hole.


Offline EvilCopepod

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Ultron was going to reach for the reactor on her chest to pull it off, but before he could even let go of a hand she fired at him, blasting him backward and leaving splatters of smelted metal behind him. He saw through the drones the approach of one of the Stark quinjets, then Pepper was firing a missile through the ceiling, getting ready to leave, and he realized he had wasted too much time trying to be polite. He sat up, though his nanobots were struggling to repair what she had done as the damage was so severe and he'd done nothing to defend himself.

"I tri-tri-tried asking nicely." Ultron stuttered out in his damaged state, "But I'm done asking." The hole she'd made in the ceiling seemed to close, but it was just covered by the mass of drones that started to pour in from it. They came in through the door behind Ultron as he got up, reattaching his shoulder that had been blasted out of its joint.

"Now take off that armor and throw it over here." he ordered, "Or that quinjet approaching and its pilot, Happy I'm guessing, are going to be blown out of the sky." He sighed, a noise which sounded like a an old fan given his disrepair, "There has already been far too much death."


Offline Aries Jordan

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Pepper picked Tony up off the stretcher and turned toward the hole in the roof... just in time for the drones to come streaming in.

It was very cruel of Ultron to force her to choose between Happy and Tony, but there was only one choice.  She was pretty sure Tony would give his life to save Happy, but she knew Happy would give his to save Tony.  Anyway, she didn't have time to reason it out, she reacted on pure instinct, by screaming and firing at the drones as fast as she could while backing away, still clutching Tony.

They weren't firing back, but they didn't have to, there were too many of them and she had nowhere to run.  She mowed down half a dozen before they reached her and pulled Tony out of her arms.  (She didn't resist them taking him, for fear of hurting him.)  They swarmed her, and she tore one in half and destroyed two more with the same arc reactor blast as before, before they got her pinned.  "Tony!   TONY!"  she wailed. 

She didn't take the armor off, but it was sufficiently damaged already that they were able to pry it off her.

Meanwhile, Happy circled, perfectly able to observe an alien ship and Ultron drones all over the Goddamn place and having no clue what to do about it.  His communications were out, he couldn't scream for help, except from the African lady with the spear, and she was telling him to get out of there, she couldn't get there from Wakanda quickly enough to make a difference. 


Offline EvilCopepod

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Ultron didn't see it as a choice, either way Tony would be lost, if he shot down the ship then he would have no place to go. Pepper wasn't thinking that way, though, and tried to fight through the drones despite the impossible odds.

As soon as Tony was pulled away, Ultron had him taken out to the ship, using drones to cover him from Happy's sight, and at the same time sending drones to attach to the quinjet and start causing its systems to malfunction through electric pulses.

"You didn't do as I said." Ultron was nearly fully repaired, enough to walk and speak normally, the nanobots still working on the rest of the damage. The drones held onto her as he took the arc reactor patch from the one that had pried it off of her. "I'll still give him a chance, he's a good pilot, isn't he?" He looked at the reactor, turning it over as he scanned it.

"Father's been busy while I've been gone." Ultron said before crushing it in his hand. "I underestimated you, Ms. Potts. You're coming with me because I don't want any more surprises." He had the drones holding onto her take flight and head toward the ship.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Tony seemed to almost wake as he was pulled away from Pepper; his eyes opened, blinked, without conscious awareness, and he fell back into his drugged sleep very quickly.  He stayed limp and unresisting in the grip of the drones as they flew him to the ship.

Happy didn't need to see Tony to know what Ultron was after, but he couldn't do anything about it. Opening fire would only endanger his boss.  He fired bursts at the drones attacking him, and took evasive action, while keeping the ship in sight. 

Pepper was crying hysterically and unable to say anything back to Ultron, but she stopped and calmed down significantly when the drones started carrying her off in the same direction as Tony.

An unusual communication device in the Avengers' briefing room, where a drone had just spotted it, flickered blue light for a second, and then self-destructed. 


Offline EvilCopepod

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Ultron would have to keep him drugged for a while, he didn't need him panicking and worsening his condition when he saw who had him now. The drones had grabbed enough medical supplies from the base to last until he got them settled in, they were moving in and out at a constant rate, bringing in physical materials they wanted from the base and scanning the rest. The drone in the briefing room didn't get a chance to scan the device since it self destructed, but it took all the other information from the briefing room.

The ship didn't have a proper cell, only technological ones that Tony usually would have little issue hacking, especially since he didn't know all of the technology Tony has anymore, so Ultron had constructed one in the cockpit. The cell was made mostly of a clear, glass-like material, and there were shackles against the wall for Tony, but now it was locked onto one of the handles of the stretcher to keep it from sliding around, a drone was getting another IV prepared to put in him.

"I wasn't expecting you, so I don't have a room made up for you." Ultron said to Pepper as one of the drones holding her used a high tech pair of cuffs to secure her hand to one of the three chairs. He was going to take off then, but saw that Happy was still persisting.

"It looks like he's going to try following us. Cute. He's a bit too close to the base, though." He said as the last of the drones left the base and entered the ship, the Avengers building detonating behind him, which only sent the ship he was in surging forward a bit, its armor much stronger than the quinjet's. He then put cloaking on the ship and took off before the other could recover.

"Oh, damn it." Ultron said, turning to Pepper with a look of regret on his face, "Did you have anything important in there? I should have asked before I blew it up. I hope nothing that I can't replace."


Offline Aries Jordan

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After being pushed into her chair, Pepper was staring at the cell Tony was in, particularly the shackles, with such naked, frozen horror that she didn't notice anything else, until the Avengers facility blew up.  She put her free hand over her mouth to suppress a scream as her attention was redirected to the viewing port and remained glued to it until she saw the damaged quinjet emerge from the smoke and spiral down into a rough, but safe, landing.

Then she looked at Ultron as blankly as if he hadn't been speaking English.  "What?" 

Her short-term memory replayed the question.  "No.  Nothing."  Her voice and expression were shifing imperceptibly from terror to anger.


Offline EvilCopepod

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"Good, I can get you better stuff of whatever you did have in there." He said, realizing he'd have to fill up her cell with something, otherwise it would be just a cell.

"You know, this actually works out just fine." He said to her, "Being associated with the Avengers, Stark in particular, is not a safe thing to be right now."

Already there was massive response to what he had put out, people arguing over the actions of the Avengers, Ultron even made several million fake accounts to respond or post new information. He was surprised to find that a greater deal of people were against the team, it seemed there was hope for this planet yet.


Offline Aries Jordan

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"I wasn't living there," Pepper said coldly.  "I came because they brought Tony back from space.  What have you done?  It wasn't enough for Thanos to kill half of us?  He sent you to finish the job?"

She didn't really believe that, even though Ultron was sitting in Thanos' spaceship.  He was clearly preparing to hold her and Tony for a long time, and he hadn't killed Happy, so it didn't appear that destroying the planet was his immediate game.  But she thought Ultron might be more loquacious, if that were possible, if he was annoyed.