“So…thoughts, anyone?” Steve is the first to speak up after the ever-so-dramatic exit of Director Eye-patch.
“Thoughts? Yes, Spangles, I have many. Relating to this mission however: a) they aren’t giving us much to go on, basically just ‘hey guys, aliens are invading, and we don’t know when, how, where, or even what exactly, but you guys fight it!’, and b) we – me and Taylor specifically- need to know what to do, what modifications to make, in order to fight them to the best of our capabilities.”
“Right, thanks Stark. Natasha, Clint, you think you could find us more, anything else at all, on what we’re dealing with here?”
“We can try, Rogers,” Clint replies doubtfully, “but given Nat and I’s clearance, there isn’t much Fury knows that we don’t.”
“Hey, guys, just know if the legal approach doesn’t work, you do have the world’s best hackers sitting right here.” Dad pipes up helpfully.
“Tony, let’s save that as a last resort. Besides,” Bruce adds, ”we can go over what we do have and work as far as we can with that. We’ve done that thousands of times before.”
Steve nods his agreement. “Right, so we have the fact that we are fighting aliens…again. So that might mean space travel.”
Which would mean special suit upgrades.
“So, basically prepare for the worst, say, another Loki,”
literally everyone visibly shudders here, “because better safe than sorry.”
“Alrighty then. Then that means… “
“TO THE LAB!” my dad and I shout together, fingers up in the universal ‘charge!’ symbol as we run down the hall laughing like idiots.
“Okay.” My dad starts after he has collected himself, “So what are you thinking? I was thinking all-around protection. Up the heat, cold, space, water, electricity, and EMP shields.”
“Yeah, but keep mine light please. I’m smaller than you, and no matter how much muscle I may build up, sometimes too heavy is just too heavy.”
“Right. By the way, I know I don’t say this often, but I’m proud of you Taybug.” My dad’s eyes are gleaming with pride as he says this.
“Um...thanks, but you’re right, you don’t say that often. Why now?”
“This is your first non-sideline mission. And, sure, I’m not particularly happy with Fury sticking you straight into another possible alien war for your first time, but I know you’re ready. Mainly because, you know, you’re a Stark, and we are freaking brilliant.”
And-just like that-moment ruined.
“Thanks, but enough mushy touchy-feely stuff! Technology awaits!” I exclaim as I walk over to my suit, still in the same place I left it earlier. Really glad I had started my work early.
“Right. Jarvis, pull up Mark XXXII’s heat shield levels.”
“And do the same for Beta I.”
“So if we add a sheet here…”
With that, we fade into or familiar working pattern: tools clanging, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and the occasional Twisted Sister pouring from the speakers, only punctuated with the sporadic “hey, hand me that…” or “what if we did..”, and I positively loved it.
I take this opportunity to explore my own thoughts about this whole new maybe-alien-war thing going on.
My first real mission. That hasn’t even sunk in fully yet. This is what’ll get Iron Beta, not Taylor Stark, onto the front page. I’ll finally be in the heat of battle, not just manning communications or playing injured-member retrieval.
But, that evil little metaphorical devil on my other shoulder counters, you’ll also see the death, the blood, and the grief, not to mention the burning b-
No. I’ll be fine. My dad survived three months with terrorists in Afghanistan, and look how he turned out. Great, now I’m reassuring myself.
That is EXACTLY my point, Metaphorical Devil argues, he didn’t-
“Um…Taylor? I didn’t say anything.” My dad is looking at me funny.
“Not you…just that little voice in the back of my head, giving me pre-mission jitters. It’s nothing.”
“You’re 110% right, it’s nothing. You’ll be great. The second Stark on the battlefield. Look at me, leaving a legacy! It’s like a family business!” My dad claps his hands gleefully, and he will swear on his deathbed he never squealed.
“S.H.I.E.L.D is a family business for us now? That is a sad, sad, thought.” I chuckle as I duck to avoid the paper ball suddenly heading my way.
And turn around to see it hit Natasha – who had just walked in – right between the eyes.
“Ooooohhhhh, Daaaad, you just hit the Black Widow with a projectile! You’re in trouble now!”
“That ‘projectile’ was made entirely of paper, pretty sure it didn’t hurt. And I was aiming for you!”
A shrill taxi-cab whistle cuts me off.
“Honestly, you two act like you’re both six sometimes. I have a little extra info on what we’re facing, but Bruce says you have to come up and eat and interact before I give them to you.”
Cries (whines, really, who are we kidding?) of “Whhhyyy?” and “But humans are booorrrriiinnnggg!” ring out simultaneously.
Natasha just rolls her eyes, waves the files, and walks out the door.
Probably knowing that we followed, however reluctantly.