The story so far
Caught up in a space warp of unknown origin, the Armored Avenger and the beautiful Kree starship officer Mon-Dria found themselves hurled across space and, apparently, time as well.
Escaping the enigmatic being known only as the Gatherer, they returned to an Earth twenty years in their future-- an Earth divided into two armed camps, one controlled by Magneto, the other by Dr. Doom.
Now, as an
apocalyptic war looms on the horizon, our heroes must
confront the one man most responsible for it all...
by Van Plexico
"THE LONG, TWILIGHT STRUGGLE"
The battle raged on.
Iron Man and Mon-Dria hovered over a ragged Eastern European landscape, blasting away at the spherical, flying drones that sought to kill them.
High above, in Mon-Dria's virtually invisible Kree starship, Rumiko Fujikawa monitored the battle and relayed tactical information to them.
She shook her head, still amazed by it all. A few hours earlier, she'd been enjoying an evening to herself, at her New York City apartment, sipping tea and watching the vid, when an intruder alarm had brought her to her penthouse door, and shocked her out of her old life, into an entirely new one.
And, if the operation in which they were currently engaged was successful, her entire life, and her world, as she now knew them, would disappear entirely...
She fervently prayed this would be the case...
A few hours earlier, in New York City...
Tony Stark sat at his work table, surrounded by various-sized chunks of red and gold metal and wiring. Three spare suits of his armor, stored these twenty long years in this New York apartment, lay dismantled around him. Slowly, the parts he pulled from them came together, at the direction of his genius and determination and... something else?... into an entirely new suit...
"How's it coming?"
Tony straightened up, glanced back. Rumiko Fujikawa, the current owner of the apartment, stood in the doorway, watching him work.
"I'm getting there," he replied distractedly, his attention returning to the armor components in front of him. Carefully he fitted two pieces together, then blinked at the results, considered for a moment, and tore them back apart. With a speed that startled even himself, he reworked the circuitry on the inner surfaces of the pieces, reduced their size by more than half, and fit them together again. "Ha! Perfect! Why did I never think of that before?"
Rumiko watched him work a bit longer, amazed by his skill. She'd supervised many of her best technicians at Stark-Fujikawa over the years, but none came close to what Tony Stark was doing-- in her apartment, without a full industrial complex to back him up!
"Mon-Dria's been filling me in on everything," she told him after a time. "You're from two decades ago... unbelievable. You don't even know about the merger--about how my father took control of your old company, and reworked it into an international conglomerate."
Tony grunted, his back to her, his attention focused entirely on his work.
"He's been dead for more than ten years now, but he taught me well," she continued. "I'd like to think Jim and I would have made the company even better... if only... if not for..."
Tony looked back. "If not for Doom and Magneto," he finished for her. "I know. It looks like a whole lot of people owe those two for what they've done to the world." He turned back to work. "But we aim to do something about that."
Rumiko nodded, sipping her tea.
Tony glanced back at her again. "Who's Jim?"
"You said you and 'Jim.'"
"Oh. Yes, my late husband."
"Ah. Sorry." Tony looked abashed; he turned back to his table, wishing he hadn't said anything.
"Actually, now that I think about it, you knew him."
"Yeah?" Tony continued to work for a moment, then stopped, turned back, his eyes wide. "Wait. Not--"
"Yep." She smiled wanly. "Jim Rhodes. I think you called him 'Rhodey.' We got together after my dad took possession of your company. He was a great help to me, in showing me how you probably would have wanted things run." She gazed out the window, at the horizon, her voice very soft now. "He died when Dr. Doom took control of most of the U.S., five years ago."
"Five years ago..." Tony shook his head, sadness washing over him.
"Five years, three months, and twenty days, to be exact. Not that I've been counting or anything."
Iron Man brought his holographic targeting system up once more, lining up his shot to maximum efficiency. His repulsors lashed out, the shriek of their firing reverberating throughout the valley. Three attack drones exploded in clouds of smoke and fire.
Nearby, Mon-Dria swooped gracefully between two more attackers and neatly speared each of them with a cosmic blast, the energy lashing out from her golden wristbands and streaming into a devastating force as it reached its targets.
High above, Rumiko targeted and fired the ship's guns, as the Kree woman had shown her. She emitted a satisfied "Yesss!" as another drone vanished in flames.
This is going too well, Iron Man thought. We've only scratched the surface of what we're going to face. Grimly, he returned his attention to his task, his newly-redesigned, ultra-high-powered repulsors whining as he fired again and again.
The last of the drones shattered and fell to the ground. Dr. Doom's outermost defenses had been defeated. The road to Doomstadt lay open, as far as they could tell.
"I'll keep an eye on things here," Rumiko signaled them. "Go do what you have to do."
Wordlessly, Iron Man and Mon-Dria swooped down on Doomstadt.
Rumiko's apartment, earlier:
Tony stood up from his work table, his joints creaking in protest. He'd been sitting there for hours, but the results of his labors were plain to see.
Rumiko entered the room, looked at what he'd built, and gasped. "You mean...?"
"Wow, Tony," Rumiko breathed. "That's... impressive." Behind her, Mon-Dria entered the room, looked down at the table, and nodded agreement.
"I think it's about at the limits of what I can do," he replied. "But it's pretty sophisticated, yeah."
The armor lay on the table--if armor it could truly be called, at this point. It was incredibly thin-- almost like a suit of shiny cloth. The color scheme was the same as ever, with red and gold glinting in the light.
"This--this can do what your previous armors could do?" Mon-Dria regarded it skeptically.
Tony reached out, touched the "armor." Instantly it began to flow up his arm, slowly at first, then with increasing speed. It rushed over his entire body, as almost a thin film. Once it covered him entirely, however, it solidified, took on added dimension and thickness at the usual places. Within moments, it appeared very similar to his former armor.
"And its power levels are much higher. Of course, they needed to be, in order to power the defensive screens and new repulsors I built."
Mon-Dria and Rumiko both frowned. "You're telling us you did this--all of this--in only a few hours?"
Tony ran a hand through his frazzled hair. "Um... yeah!"
"But... that's impossible! Even for you, Tony! There's simply no way--!"
Mon-Dria nodded agreement. "There is something more at work here."
"Hey, I don't like this kind of talk. Nothing magical built this armor. I did it myself. It clearly represents the next logical step in how I would evolve the design."
Mon-Dria looked him squarely in the eye. "And meanwhile, I now have some sort of cosmic powers, remember? And I was not the only one to be zapped by those pseudo-Celestials. What does that tell you?"
Tony frowned. "Okay. Maybe so. Maybe they did do something to me... freed up something... but something that was already there, latent, waiting to be tapped. I'm simply thinking more clearly than ever before--the ideas just flow."
"In any case," Rumiko stated firmly, "you have functioning armor again, and we have a mission, yes?"
Tony and Mon-Dria both looked at her. "We?"
"Yeah, 'we.' I've got as much at stake in changing this planet's history as you do, Tony-- and more than she does. I'm coming with you."
The other two considered, shrugged, and agreed.
"Now, all we need is a plan..."
The plan was working perfectly, so far.
Mondy's high-tech spacecraft had gotten them over and past the outermost defenses Dr. Doom had established around the European continent. They'd fought their way through his drone army along the Latverian border. And now...
Iron Man studied the city in the distance. "It can't be this easy. There has to be more coming."
"Almost certainly," Mon-Dria replied.
And then the ground erupted in front of them.
Three pairs of giant, mechanical hands pushed up through the soil, grasping at the air.
An explosion of rock and dirt, and three gargantuan robots pulled themselves up out of the earth. Moving with freakish speed, one seized Iron Man while another grasped Mon-Dria.
Iron Man diverted most of his power into a massive jolt of energy surging outward from the surface of his armor. As if struck by lightning, the robot jerked and staggered, its hand relaxing enough for the Armored Avenger to tear himself loose.
Casting his gaze momentarily toward his Kree ally, he saw that she, too, had managed to free herself, and was circling about the robot, energy sparkling from the golden bands around her ankles and wrists.
The third robot, which had circled around them while they struggled, now struck from the rear. Raking Iron Man with eye beams, it sent him tumbling down into the earth. Then it strode forward, moving in for the kill.
Iron Man rolled over onto his back, and brought up a visual display of his power levels. A quick adjustment later, he unleashed a repulsor blast the likes of which he'd never managed before.
The blast smashed into the huge robot like a freight train, ripping a hole clean through its torso as it sent the big mechanism stumbling back. It collapsed in a heap, unmoving.
There was no time to celebrate. The first robot attacked again, its huge foot stomping down. Iron Man's boot jets fired at maximum power, just clearing him out of the way in the nick of time. As he took to the air again, he saw Mon-Dria direct a blast at the robot he was fighting, and the big machine turned its attention momentarily toward her.
That was all he needed.
Rocketing toward the robot at top speed, Iron Man brought his fists together ahead of him. He hit like a guided missile, spearing the machine directly through the head. Its arms twitching and thrashing about madly, the big robot staggered, then fell to the ground.
"Two down, one to go," he called to Mon-Dria.
The Kree woman was too busy to hear. She'd again been caught by the other robot, and she thrashed about, trying to get free. Her arms were pinned to her sides, though, so she couldn't direct fire at it.
One well-aimed repulsor blast later, and Mon-Dria was free--free to fry the robot's circuitry with an intense barrage of her cosmic energy blasts. The third and final robot slumped to the ground.
Iron Man had raced on ahead, to the top of a rise, where the main downtown area of Doomstadt lay visible.
Mon-Dria landed beside him and caught her breath. "Good work," she breathed. "And thanks for the assistance."
"My pleasure," he replied. "But stay on guard-- we've got to get to Castle Doom before they can hit us with anything else. We may be winning these fights, but they're slowly wearing us down..."
She studied the city that lay before them, and especially the ancient stone castle at its center. "What else could this Doom person have in store for us?" she asked.
As if in reply, a big, hangar-like building near Castle Doom opened its roof, and... something... in great numbers... flew out. Moments later, a roaring, whooshing sound reached them.
"I really don't want to know," Iron Man growled. But, nonetheless, he dropped telescopic lenses over his eyes and studied the objects-- objects that were clearly headed directly towards them.
"Oh, great. Great."
"What?" Mon-Dria squinted. "Ah..."
A veritable armada of human-sized, armored shapes flew towards them. The design of the armor was clear-- Iron Man's traditional armor. But the colors...
"Gray metal with green trim. What a surprise."
The army of Iron Men descended on them...
SOCK IT TO SHELLHEAD!
This month, we hear from Alex Fink--twice!
I've read through your run on Iron Man tonight. It's pretty great, more fun than I remember the actual comic being. I'm surprised you haven't had more feedback. I think it's one of the better things I've read so far here at MV1.
I really can't think of any questions to ask you, just wanted to drop you a line and say that we are indeed reading it. Keep up the good work.
Hi, Alex! Thanks for checking it out, and for the compliments. I'd love to get more feedback, but, to be honest, I have a feeling folks are waiting till we get to the end of the current storyline to write. At least, I hope so! And since the entire current run is one big storyline...!
And here's Alex again:
Okay, I've thought about it and I do have something to ask...
I've never seen Babylon 5 because I didn't have a TV for a long, long time (and then when I got one I didn't have cable...late bloomer). Am I missing significance in the issue titles? If so, will you be so kind as to spell it out to those less fortunate than yourself when your run is over?
Thanks a lot,
Alex, you're not missing anything in terms of these stories by not getting the B5 references. Don't worry a bit about it. I've just been having fun with it, trying to match B5 titles with stories that seemed fairly appropriate. Beyond that, no real significance.
But I do hope you get to see B5 soon. It's well worth the time invested watching it.
Okay, folks, next issue is the
Story © 2000 - 2001 by Van Allen Plexico