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Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 03-14-2018

It was strange, Tony reflected, how peaceful the Tower looked from the outside. No passer by would suspect that the building was blacked out and locked down, and inside was a man corrupted to the core by an infinity stone doing God knew what to Captain America.

Tony hovered a few feet off the ground outside the entrance, feeling strangely calm. Almost... happy. It had been so long since he'd done something as uncomplicated as blast his way into a building to save the day. No politics, no friends to fight on the other side, just people who needed help. One of whom was incredibly annoying and had created the problem, but still. It was kind of nice.

Tony readied his unibeam, then glanced at Justin beside him. Not exactly the company he'd have preferred, but he'd worked with worse. By far. Recently.

"We'll blast though the front door," he told Justin. "Structurally, it's the weakest point. I assume the other Stark knows that, but I don't he's expecting brute force." He smiled slightly under his helmet. "Ready?"

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 03-14-2018

Having an actual mission was weirdly therapeutic for Justin. Since getting here, there had been a near constant effort to keep himself busy, to find his place, to sort out who was who, particularly in relations to him. He had to deal with the worst of his issues regarding some of the other Avengers, he’d struggled to cobble together a medical practice here in the Hub, he hadn’t known what to make of anything, including himself, in this strange place. Right now, though? This was natural. There was a problem, and they were Avengers. They’d do the job, and they’d do it well. It was too bad they didn’t have more backup, as always, they could do with Thor or Wonder Man to just plow through the tougher parts of the shielding, but this would be fine.

He looked over the entrance a moment, studying the structure. No, he wasn’t an engineer like Tony, but he did have experience with demolition. It was just like blowing open a door in the service… well, similar. Map out the weak points, destroy them. “Ready,” he said. “Blast in, try to make our way up to where they are… I don’t suppose it looks like it’ll be easier to blast out than it would be to blast in from another spot?”

His blaster set for maximum, Justin waited for Tony to open fire, then let loose with his own shots, aiming for the stronger parts of the connections that needed to be severed.

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 03-14-2018

If anyone knew how to blow his way into the Tower it was the man who built the damn thing.

Armored plating exploded inward, shearing under the combined stresses of the Ironman Unibeam and Justin’s weapon, shill alarms activated all calls on Avengers and SHIELD frequencies, automated weapons…

Did not activate.

In fact beyond that initial process NONE of the Towers automated activated; including fire suppression.

“I’m not here.” Friday’s voice crackled from the com on Justin. “No one is. The Tower is….dead.” The AI sounded spooked. If Tony tried to reach out with extremis he’d find nothing electronic to connect TO.

Sickly Orange light permeated the wall, illuminating the space beyond where the flammable furnishings where burning marrily.

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 03-15-2018

Tony grinned under his helmet as the Tower began to buckle along the seams. For all he loved to build, there was something immensely satisfying about demolition. Especially when it was so near to impossible to look at the tower without thinking of the last good times he and Steve had had, how Steve had come to him in the balcony one morning wanting to rebuild the Avengers and not taken no for an answer.

His grin slipping, he shoved the memories away, adding his hand repulsors and a shoulder rocket to the barrage. He answered Justin over the comm in his helmet, not even needing to collapse the words thanks to Extremis.

"The frame of the Tower is reinforced with adamantium. For, well, situations exactly like this, except for obvious reasons I had imagined us on the other side of the wall. We can blast in here, where there are gaps, but it won't be easy to punch through on another level."

Then they were in. As the noise of their assault died down, the silence that returned was eerie, punctuated only by the dull roar of flames inside and FRIDAY'S ominous statement. Tony reached out with Extremis anyway, a shudder going through him as he found the Tower as dead as FRIDAY had earned. He couldn't even connect to a damn security camera to see inside.

"We're going in blind," Tony said, gliding forward. "Justin, I'll take point, as long as you can handle concerning me." No doubt Tony taking the lead would become part of the man's narrative about his ego, but in his armor Tony would be better equipped to handle any artillery that was thrown their way. "We find them, grab them, and leave the way we came in."

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 03-16-2018

For a minute, Justin considered arguing about the construction of the tower. Yes, it had been reinforced with adamantium in their world, but things just as often seemed to be from other-Tony’s world, and one of the things Justin had established was that that world didn’t have adamantium. The argument died before ever reaching his mouth, though, because the truth was, this building was just too unpredictable like that. They had to plan for the worst cases, and the worst case was that the thing was armored just that intensely. Damn.

And, all issues forgotten for the moment of truth here, Justin was far from complaining about the man who was essentially wearing a fighter jet going ahead of him. “I’ve got your back, Shellhead. Let’s just hope that it’s that simple. How do we want to do this… slow and stealthy, or breakneck speeds up the stairs to not give them time to react?” And even when they got there… He was sure he could get Steve out, but other-Tony was probably not going to take this lying down, was he. “If he starts fighting you, rip some part of the armor off. Expose some skin, and I’ve got enough tranqs to knock out a rampaging elephant.” Of course, the even better idea… “Or we can hope that he doesn’t have his armor on. I’ll knock him out right off if he doesn’t.”

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 03-21-2018

Friday was limited in the aide she could render; that helplessness grated on the AI. The best she could manage was limited sensor sweeps piggybacking on the equipment Justin had, and what on the Suit Tony left open for her to access.

In other words she was really just a glorified narration device at this point.

“Down.” She reminded them. Her Stark kept the Lab in the lowest levels of the tower, and that was where the last report had come from. At least- “unless they moved to the penthouse.” The AI gnashed mental teeth; she was blind without the internal security cameras, and when she peeked at Justin’s scanners they were...confused?

“-“ before she could more than vocalize a half breath of her observation, before them appeared….people.

Ghosts held the line between the lower levels; the forces, comrades in arms. Avengers old and new, Steve and Carol. “I don’t know what you boys are thinking-“ Steve hefted his shield, “But I suggest you turn back now.”

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 03-22-2018

Justin's use of the term Shellhead grated a little--that was a name his friends used--but Tony swallowed an irritated quip in the spirit of teamwork and the impending disaster unfolding behind the broken facade of the Stark tower.

"Fast is better," Tony said. "If he's anything like me--and unfortunately, he is--he'll be watching. Even if the Tower's systems are down, he won't be easy to take by surprise, especially considering the entrance we're making here. If he's in the armor I'll take it down." He'd made some adjustments to Extremis since the other Tony had forced his way in. He was looking forward to finding out whether they'd worked, and just how hard it would be to crack the other Tony's armor without FRIDAY running interference.

"Down it is," Tony said.

He started forward, one repulsor held at the ready, expecting Justin to follow him.

Then stopped. Figures filled the hallway.

They weren't real. They couldn't be. Tony had hallucinated enough dead friends in the weeks before coming to the Hub that the sight didn't stop him in his tracks entirely-- but as always, even when he knew it wasn't real, seeing Steve always made his breath catch. Especially when it was really HIS Steve, the older one, the fact of it all the more obvious after months of seeing imperfect doppelgangers.

He shoved the feelings down, and shot a repulsor blast directly at fake-Steve's face, hoping that would be all it took.

"Come on," he said to Justin. "Time's a-wasting."

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 03-23-2018

There was one little issue with Tony’s assessment, the other Tony wasn’t jacked into the systems like this one was, he relied on his AIs to tell him what was going on, and Friday sure wasn’t going to be doing that right now. Unfortunately, they still had to operate on the worst-case scenario, because that tended to be how things went for Avengers. “Well, for what it’s worth, my money’s on you. I’ve had a good look at his armor, and yours is better.” And, when it came down to it, the extremis probably gave Real-Tony a huge edge, although he wasn’t ever going to make the mistake of sounding like he approved of all the fucking around with his body.

Justin did, indeed, follow right behind Tony as they started out, and managed to not crash into his back at the sudden stop, spinning away from him instead so that they ended up side-by-side, facing opposite directions. Justin saw the ghosts filling the hall behind them, and felt the bottom drop out of his stomach. Avengers didn’t die too often, but they’d still seen their fair share of death, and not too recently. His blaster stayed steady, but he didn’t want to shoot at the spectres of Scott Lang, Jack Hart… “Thor…” Justin swallowed, hoping that these ghosts couldn’t pack as much of a punch as they could when they were living.

When Tony attacked, though, Justin jumped right to it, sending a flurry of blasts into the spectres behind them as he took off down the hall behind Tony. “You know, I liked this better when I thought we were going to be fighting robots and automated turrets,” he quipped.

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 04-19-2018

As far as Friday was concerned there was nothing there, her borrowed sensors where both blind and overwhelmed by the signals from Justin's medical equipment. What she DID know was the Armor was registering that Tony was hitting SOMETHING.

„Damn it Tony!“ Ghost Steve raised his shield just as quickly as the real one could have...after all here he was flesh and blood, as was proven by the droplets spilled by other specters when Justin or Tony got in a real hit. „Stand down! ShellHead! Stop!“ Steve and Carol moved with the same speed and agility their ‚real‘ selves were known for jumping to barricade the way again. „I don’t want to hurt you!“

„Comrades...please, this is not the way.“ The ghost of Thor pushed back throwing a blow at Justin‘s body. „Friend. Just leave us in peace.“

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 04-21-2018

Justin's money was on him. How nice.

He kept quipping, too, as they dove into the fray. Tony might have been amused if ghost-Steve hadn't just raised his shield and stopped Tony's repulsor blast, clearly as solid as the real thing.

"Yeah," Tony answered, his usual snark absent. "So did I."

But there was no time to wallow and so he didn't even though the memories of fighting his friends, of fighting Steve, were so fresh it was almost impossible not to see flickers of midtown on fire, to smell the burning and the chaos of the battle that had ended the war. This was the last thing he'd ever wanted to do again.

There was Thor, too, not the clone they'd created--the thought of which still made Tony want to drown in a bottle of scotch--but Tony's friend who'd never forgive him if he knew. And Carol, what the hell was Carol doing here? She was alive and well in Tony's time, or she had been the last he'd been there, but, God, did she not make it to Justin's point in the timeline?

Tony clenched his teeth, reminded himself that he didn't have the luxury of feeling, and fired at Steve again, aware (all too aware) that they'd never get past while he was still standing. Steve had started pleading with him, calling him Shellhead like they were still friends, and Tony faltered for a moment, caught with his hand outstretched but not firing. That was all he'd wanted, the sole thing, for that entire year.

This wasn't real. If nothing else told him that, it was Steve looking at him like that and asking him nicely to stop. Not to mention, Steve had had no compunctions about hurting him by the end. It wasn't real, and it didn't what this was going to do to him.

The repulsors weren't doing the trick. Steve was too fast, he always had been. So Tony leapt at him instead, catching him around the middle and slamming them both back into the far wall hard enough to crack the plaster.

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 04-22-2018

@starkly @kel

At least Tony wasn’t bitching at him in the fight. If there was one thing that burned him about teaming up with Tony, it was how the guy kept giving him the stink-eye, like he was the one who turned on his friends or something. That was a problem for later, though, he guessed. Right now, they had enough problems dealing with the ghosts without getting into it with each other.

There was no way that Justin was going to try to block a punch from Thor. Bracing yourself against a freight train just meant that you’d be ready for it when the freight train broke every bone in your body. Instead, he just flew backwards faster than the Thunder God could punch, blasting back at him as he did. That in itself was a futile gesture, he knew… unless the fact that these were ghosts made them susceptible to the blasts? Probably not.

“Friday, are you reading anything interesting about these things? Anything that might help us not die?” he asked, not having a spare moment to pull up his medical scanners himself. “Tony, don’t fight them! They’re ghosts, we probably can’t do anything real to them anyway! Just push through!” He found himself stalling, though, when coming up behind Thor (who’s failed blow had sent him sailing past) were Jack Hart and Scott Lang. “No… No, damn it…” Justin spun around, saw Tony’s current position, and snapped off a shot at ghost-Steve while he was pinned to the wall. They had to move, but where could they go? Friday said the lab was down, but the penthouse was up. Would Tony have them in the lab? Sure, he spent most of his time there, but… Steve? Swearing, he punched the activation for his medical scanner, spreading the holo-display out wide in front of him and turning it first up, then down, scanning for lifesigns and hoping both that the ghosts didn’t count and that he could get a reading through the floors.

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 04-23-2018

Friday didn‘t want to report what the Ironman scanners and Justin’s medical equipment were telling her; yet she had no choice when directly queried. „They are reading as human….for values of human.“ the readings had cleared, making it painfully obvious that between Hub and the Stone these were at least physically replicas of the data she‘d assimilated for the this Tony and Justin‘s Avengers. The only help she really had was „They do not appear to wish to harm you.“ Either of them really.

Honestly as she analyzed fight fit far better to sparing than ernest combat, which...why?

„The Lab.“ Friday flitted through the data, throwing a highlight on the twin icons fifteen floors below them.

„Cover your ears Justin.“ The best she could manage was a sonic feedback through his equipment, driving the three men converging on him to their knees at least for a moment.

Steve‘s shield kept the bulk of the Ironman armor off of him as Tony slammed him back into a wall. „Damn it Tony! You don’t understand!“ Steve pushed back on the shield, clearly not trying to hurt Tony badly.

@mike @starkly

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 04-26-2018

"I don't know if you've noticed, but they're not letting us pass through," Tony snapped back at Justin, still grappling with not-Steve. Friday said they weren't trying to hurt them--and the truth was Tony knew exactly how easily Steve could--but that wasn't making their job any easier.

Tony didn't like the idea of fighting through an army of ghosts, especially very solid ones, but he liked the idea of trying to reason with them even less. The soul stone was capable of producing an incredible amount of mind-fuckery to protect itself, as he had learned on that very weird afternoon when Other Tony had gone and kissed his Steve to prove some kind of point and the stone had sent him spiraling through the greatest hits of his nightmares. Engaging with the stone on its own terms, especially when its terms included not-Steve and a whole host of other people Tony cared a lot about, was probably not going to end well.

On the other hand, they were deeply outnumbered, and it was growing increasingly clear that brute force wasn't going to do it.

"Fine," Tony said, still practically sitting on Steve, "What don't I understand? What's the point of all this?"

@"kel" @mike

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 04-26-2018

God, he was stubborn. Yes, there were a lot of ghosts there, but the two of them could fly, the two of them could fly fast (much as he hated admitting it, Tony could probably match him for speed), and most of those here couldn’t. Justin was sure he could blast to top speed in no time flat and shoot down the stairwell before any of the ghosts could react, because he could have done it before any of his teammates could react (well, unless you counted Quicksilver, but did anyone ever count him?). He was pretty sure Tony could do something similar, but he was focused on Steve, which… figured. He looked at the path to the stairwell, then at Tony, and made a sound of frustration. Moving ahead would mean leaving Tony behind, and Justin wasn’t the one who turned on his friends.

He held his ears as well as he could, given that the sonic torture was coming from one of his wrists. His ears ringing afterward, he held his weapons pointed at the other ghosts. “Just stay back! We don’t want to hurt you either!” he snapped. “Fine, lay it out to us. Why can’t we get down to see our friends. Make it good and we might leave.”

@starkly @kel

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 04-26-2018

Well look at that they were trying to talk to ghosts, personally Friday was with Justin here; better to keep moving. Her creator was in danger and sitting here talking about feeling wasn’t getting them to where she could HELP!

The shades of the assembled avengers stopped their assult when the human pair did,moving simply to be a wall of flesh blocking off the corridor.

When put to the direct question Steve seemed to hesitate to find the words, it was Scott who rolled his eyes and bluntly stated:“Because some version of him should be happy, even if Stark can suck it,.“

The not steve under Tony sighed, „Because they are both for once getting the life they want. Isn‘t that what we fight for Tony? To let people live in peace?“

Not Steve‘s blue eyes met Tony‘s „Peace Tony. That’s all we ever wanted.“

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 04-28-2018

Justin had pulled back to hear the ghosts out as well and Tony shifted his position slightly, aiming to be able to cover Justin if any of the ghosts tried anything. He still didn't trust the ghosts to let them go--or at least let them go for long. In all fairness, most of the experience Tony had with "ghosts" had taken the form of Extremis hallucinations, which had a habit of popping up when he least expected or wanted to see them. But he still had a hunch that even if they were to shake this bunch, they could just as easily turn a corner somewhere else and run into them again.

Not Steve was talking about happiness. About peace. About what he'd once wanted. Tony let out a harsh laugh, even as his gut twisted painfully.

"You're not Steve Rogers," he reminded the ghost (reminded himself). "The last I checked, Steve was a soldier. He never did very well with peace. Tell us what's going on down there. What you mean by them getting the life they want. What's the stone doing to them?"


RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 04-28-2018

“Yeah, I’m getting that too,” Justin said. “Scott Lang had no reason to say that about Tony Stark,” he said, a bit louder, to the building in general… since they weren’t really talking to these faux-Avengers, were they? “That’s just what the Soul Stone saw was the best way to get me to side with someone, since my brand of stubborn is that I can’t let go of this guy… of thinking this guy stabbed all of us in the back.” He jerked a thumb indicatively over his shoulder at Tony, even while realizing that now that he’d said it out loud, it was probably going to be a good idea to think it over a lot more in depth later.

He did have a pretty good idea of what the stone was doing to Steve and Tony, though. According to Friday, better-Tony’s Steve had been his lover, but then had died (after some falling out? He lost track of all the different worlds sometimes). Steve couldn’t seem to let go of the rift between him and Tony. Now what would make both of them happier than they’d been since they came to the Hub? “The only one that keeps Tony Stark from being happy is Tony Stark! Same for Steve Rogers. They’re the most headstrong, willful people you’ll find. And you know that, don’t you? You’ve been trying to be more than a rock stuck in his reactor for months now, and he’s been fighting you. Even worse, he’s been managing to be successful at it. Well, look inside both of them. You know they’re going to realize that they’re being controlled, you know that they’re going to both resist this, and then you’ll have to be fighting both of them. Does this still sound like a great idea?” He paused, letting that one sink in for a second.

Then, holstering his gun, he went on. “Well, I’ve got a counter proposal for you. Tony Stark doesn’t believe in magic. He doesn’t believe in anything he can’t understand, like souls, and to top it off, he’s a control freak. That’s who you’re trying to bend into working with you. Well… let us go down there, let us get them out of there, and let me take that reactor out of Tony before it poisons him. I’ll get the shrapnel that’s killing him out of him, I’ll patch him up, and then we’ll make a new housing for you… for the stone. Then you get me.” Justin, the Avenger who always felt like he was fighting just to be able to remain among all of the heroes that seemed larger than life, larger than him, who lately hadn’t even been able to reassure himself that he was real and not just a copy made by the Hub, wanted desperately to get his friends (which… pissed at him or not, he had to admit that Tony was) out of there, but would have to admit that he also desperately wanted to prove himself. He was terrified that this would be a weakness that could undo him, but he also had to admit that it did seem like the only option available to them that was likely to work at the moment.

It would end up with everyone else being free, wouldn’t it? And maybe he really could manage this where a scientist wouldn’t. "You've already peeked at me to make that," he said, gesturing at not-Scott and not-Jack and not-Thor. "Take a closer look. Tell me if you think it'd make more sense to try working with me."

@Kel @Starkly

RE: Crashing the Party - F.R.I.D.A.Y - 05-02-2018

The imperfect copy of Scott Lang paused, „really? You‘re gonna play the hot potato game here?“ It was a devil's bargain and the entity that was the Soul Stone was as heartless as its host. Which at the moment was incredibly litteral wasn’t it.

„It‘s giving them exactly what they want.“ Steve took up the answers, brow furrowed, „Yes im a solider but damn it tony im also a man!“ Connected to A Steve Rogers the stone reflected more of what that particular man felt at this moment.

As the full offer came to light Scott touched Justin‘s chest, „Just one problem here bucko-„ He grinned with a little shrug, „You do you love anyone enough to sacrifice them to control the Soul Stone.“

Steve, the rest of the Avengers faded away, leaving Scott. „Because that's the deal. A soul for a Soul. Give the thing you love the most in this universe, feel it rip from you. Think you can do that?“ Scott glanced over at Tony. „What about you? You already lost what you love the most...but there is another isn‘t there? He‘s not even supposed to be here...You two could be together...forever inside me.“ And That was what the Stone had been whispering to Tony Stark for months, everything fixed, everything he lost restored. Every temptation possible. Until he broke, until Steve come into his influence and sealed the pact.

„OR how about we just blow everything up and bury you!“ It was Friday frustrated by the Stone, and impotent.@starkly @mike

RE: Crashing the Party - 616 Tony Stark - 05-04-2018

Justin's plan was a terrible one, for about a thousand reasons. Number one being, it wasn't like any of them were just going to let the stone have him. He traded places, it was going to be up to Tony (and maybe Obnoxious Tony and Not-Even-Remotely-His-Steve, once they were free of the stone's influence) to get him out. And as much as he hated to admit it, Justin was one of the few Avengers in the Hub right now that Tony trusted to have his back.

Number two being, if one of them was going to sacrifice themselves for the stone it didn't make any sense for it to be Justin. The stone already had a Tony Stark, so presumably it would be more amenable to taking Tony as a trade than Justin. In any case, it wasn't like Tony had a whole lot left to live for.

He didn't get a chance to voice his protest, though, because the stone answered first.

Tony closed his eyes briefly as the stone stated, like it was simple fact, that Tony had already lost what he loved most. It was true, but... he was really starting to miss the days when no one had known. Privacy had never exactly been a part of Tony's life, but he'd managed to keep his feelings for Steve to himself for so long he still felt naked when anyone brought them up.

Only, the next thing was even worse. "I am NOT giving you Steve," Tony snapped. "You can't make him want anything to do with me, and even if you could. I would never do that." He smiled slightly at FRIDAY's suggestion. "That's a much better idea."

@kel @mike

RE: Crashing the Party - Justin Halloway - 05-04-2018

Maybe he had been deluding himself, thinking that since this thing was attuned to the soul, it had some inherent good value. Maybe he had been that eager to prove himself that he’d thought he was the one who could do what other people couldn’t. So many maybes… but none of them mattered. The soul stone was evil… and he wasn’t going to get to prove himself, possibly ever. It wasn’t exactly a happy thought, but at the very least it gave one thing: A clear course of action, and resolve.

“You want to play it like that, fine. Don’t say I didn’t give you a chance,” he said. There were holes in the stone’s argument, of course. Tony hadn’t sacrificed anything to get this thing in his chest. He’d had those sacrifices made for him… but then, that might be why he couldn’t control it. Whatever. It didn’t matter anymore, all that mattered was the way forward.

“Tony. Quit playing footsie with the fakes and try to keep up.” He aimed a shot each at the head of each fake-Avenger the stone had made, just for good measure, then jetted toward the staircase, plowing through any unfortunate ghost that happened to be in his path. He liked the idea of the one with the armor clearing the path better, of course, but the sad truth was that sometimes, you had to shove forward to get Tony to stop overanalyzing and move. He blasted the hinges off the door, slamming it open with his body weight, then… dropped. He wasn’t going to walk down the stairs, obviously, so he started weaving back and forth between the staircases, dropping straight to the bottom in a fall that would leave most people either screaming or dizzy. To Justin, though? Flying like this was just Thursday.
@Starkly @Kel