5 Interlude

Tony felt like he deserved a vacation right about now. He hasn't expected things to go like they had, who really did? How was he to know that the clown that considered himself Tony's rival would turn out to be a criminal? In hindsight... regardless, the threat was past.

This horrible night was over. Besides not all that happened tonight was so bad he thought as he looked at Pepper. All he wanted was to fly them home and celebrate the end of this night, and maybe make his relationship with Pepper official.

But the surroundings sobered him, the surrounding few blocks were ruined. Tony saw smoking fires, and craters, he could hear the sirens of the first responders trying to get the situation under control.

Worse than that, his sensors could pick up people crying, screaming for help... he knew there were casualties. One last attempt by Vankov to spite Tony... he had used his destroyed legion bots to bomb the city.

Tony clenched his fist in impotent anger before he sagged, how arrogant had he been in his certainty that no one could replicate his tech? It seemed so empty to him now, hubris how he had actually given advice to Vankov as a way of taunting him in prison.

Tony didn't feel like the smartest man alive at that moment, he felt like the dumbest. The world was vast, full of brilliant people... assuming no one could replicate his tech had been dangerously arrogant. He should have known better, and he didn't even know how many innocent people had paid for his arrogance.

In his mind, he knew this wasn't his fault, but in his heart, he couldn't help but wonder what he could have done to prevent this.

"What are you gonna do?" Pepper asked him softly breaking their hug, joining him looking over the city.

"I am gonna have a talk." In hindsight, it may not have been the smartest move to go confront probably the most powerful individual he had ever seen while his own armor was running low on power.

But Tony was always one to let his instincts lead him whenever he had to. Tony gave Pepper what he hoped was a reassuring smile, and flew over to the lone figure hovering in the sky.

He would never admit it, but he was nervous, maybe even a little scared. The power this mysterious man had shown was out of the world. Raw strength that could perhaps match the infamous Hulk going over the reports he had read, flight at a speed that surpassed his own, plus lightning, and fire. Tony wasn't there, but Jarvis could multi-task and had kept a look. But this man had helped Tony, so he couldn't be that bad.

All the same, Tony was nervous... that much power in the hands of one man? He hadn't gotten a chance to study the energy readings but Jarvis had done a rudimentary scan, and the results scared him.

Tony flew over to the mystery man unsteadily, hoping that his charming personality would win favor. He had his back to Tony hovering in the air with his arms crossed staring over the battlefield he had made.

"Hello there," Tony spoke coming to his side, lifting his mask and revealing his face, "Tony Stark, billionaire superhero, you might have heard of me."

Tony studied the man closely now, he was tall, well over six feet tall, striking blue eyes, raven locks of hair waving in the wind. He was well muscled too, he could see his arms thick with muscle, and had no doubts that underneath that gold, blue, and red armor his body was ripening with more. He no longer carried the spear with him. All in all, the man gave an impression as if he had stepped right out of history.

The man looked at him without turning towards him, before he muttered distractedly. "Not how I remember him looking."

"What?" Tony asked with a head tilt.

"Nothing, You can call me Morpheus." The man acknowledged him with a head tilt.

"Morpheus? Dramatic as far as names go," Tony responded. "Your parents must have conceived you in a theatre."

The now named Morpheus gave him an unimpressed stare. Tony winced, "Yea, sorry, I am off my game today."

"Understandable," Morpheus nodded, "What with an army of killer bots descending down on the city, and all."

Tony felt pangs of guilt stabbing him in the heart. This was all his fault.

"Say, they do sound like a nice idea... in theory," Morpheus spoke, and hurriedly continued on when he noticed the look on Tony's face. "Minus the 'killer' part."

Tony's skepticism must have shown on his face because Morpheus continued. "Just think about it, you have an AI, don't you?"

"How do you know about that?" Tony asked with a little interest, while Jarvis was not, strictly speaking, a secret, the number of people who knew about him was not particularly high.

"Just imagine," Morpheus ignored his question, "An army of Stark A.I. controlled suits built to evacuate, rescue, even heal people during an emergency. One such as this." Now he fully turned to him, and as their gazes met Tony felt uncomfortable looking into his intense eyes. The moment lasted one moment before a bashful look came over him.

He seemed a little apologetic, and nervous before he hesitated, "Assuming your A.I. can do all that."

"I'd have to make some major upgrades to Jarvis," Tony spoke more to himself in thought. In all honesty, he could make it work, it would be expensive, and require a lot of resources but that wasn't something he lacked. The biggest concern was if Jarvis could handle an army of suits all while helping him run his own. Jarvis would need some serious upgrades to process that much data, but the guilt he felt made him decide to give it a shot.

A small petty part inside him felt glad too, he would take Vankov's idea of a drone army, and make it his own. More than that, it was looking at the ruined city below, with who knew how many casualties… he could help contain those levels of damage in the future.

Morpheus followed his gaze and spoke softly, "It's just an idea."

"I like ideas," Tony responded but he decided to run simulations when he went back to his lab. He owed to the people down below to at least consider the possibility seriously.

They hovered there in silence for a moment, Tony was acutely aware of his suit's low energy reserves when he broke the silence.

"Who are you?" He asked, all traces of joviality gone from his voice. Normally, he wouldn't be so direct, and would charm, joke, and get to know people instead of demanding their identity. But this was not a normal day. A stranger with this much power just showing up was bad news on a good day, and today had everything else.

"Hm, you'll figure it out." Morpheus gave him a knowing smile, "If not, I'll tell you all about it the next we meet."

"Next?" Tony asked his curiosity peaking, "planning to make this a repeat performance? Sorry to break your heart but I am not accepting any applications for a sidekick."

Morpheus chuckled again. "I missed this quick wit of yours." And he lost Tony there, he was pretty sure he had never met this man before but before he could say so, Morpheus continued. "Here, consider this a parting gift."

A flash of light blinded Tony as he raised his arm to shield his eyes. He felt his skin prickling and crackling filled his ears as he felt himself being struck in the chest gently.

[Energy readings: 120%] Jarvis intoned through the speakers in his helmet.

"Jesus Christ!" Tony exclaimed watching Morpheus blowing on a finger gun crackling with electricity.

"You're welcome," Morpheus smirked at him. "I'll see you around, Tony."

"Wait!" Tony reached out but Morpheus was already drifting away.

"I am afraid not, the suits are already here." Morpheus' face darkened slightly at that. "Tell Fury I'll come if I am needed, but I don't appreciate being chased. I am not Banner, I am gonna bite back."

Tony looked below to see that indeed a group of black indistinct cars had parked down below, with teams of armed soldiers, and agents in black suits gathering below. Starting at them.

"How do you know Fury?" Tony asked, and by the time he looked back up Morpheus had already disappeared.

"Huh," Tony muttered. That's creepy.


Fury pov: 2 hours after the Expo:


This was officially the worst week of Fury's life... which was saying a lot when you ran an international spy agency. What had started off as a normal week had derailed very quickly, and in an epic fashion.

First, it was Tony Stark... dying. When he had gotten that call, alarms went off in his head. Tony was an asset, for humanity as a whole, and if he could be guided, he could be a pillar of light to them all. He could not be allowed to die just like that.

Fury had mobilized all of the very considerable assets et S.H.I.E.L.D's disposable to save him, only to realize he could not. Tony would have to help himself. The best of what Fury could do for him was to halt the poisoning in his blood, and talk him through to the right path.

If that was all, it was manageable, but then it kept getting worse. Coulson's team detected massive electromagnetic spikes building over New Mexico with signs pointing toward possible 0-8-4.

And as if that wasn't enough of a kick to the balls, Ross, and his band of idiots had decided to track Bruce fucking Banner into USA.

Bruce Banner, who also happened to be a giant raging monster chased right into the middle of one of the most populated countries on the planet.

Bruce Banner, who most likely, was the strongest being on the planet. Or so he had thought up until a few hours ago when a new headache had presented itself.

An unknown enhanced going by the name Morpheus had quite literally shown up out of nowhere, with enough power to scare him senseless. He just happened to be in the neighborhood, and decided to help out of the goodness in his heart.

'Yea right,' Fury scoffed in his heart. He did not believe in coincidences, nor did he like surprises. More than that, he hated unknowns.

An unknown enhanced with wider list powers than anyone he had ever seen... even more so than Carol Danvers was a cause of concern. Among the list of impressive abilities this unknown had demonstrated, super-strength, similar durability, super-speed, ability to generate, and control lightning, and possibly storms, and Pyrokinesis on top. And whatever trick he had used to disappear while conversing with Tony, though he wasn't sure if that was some application of his apparent control over the storms, or another ability to add to an already long list.

Fury felt veins bulging just thinking about it. No one, and he meant no one should have that much power in their hands. And worst of all, he had literally come out of nowhere, with no trace of his existence. No social media, no social security, no birth certificate, not even a damned library card. It was like he had materialized out of thin air.

The only reason they even knew his name was because the agents at the scene had managed to isolate the sound waves and recorded the conversation between Morpheus, and Tony.

"You mean to tell me a team of the world's premier analysts cannot find me a record of one man? He didn't just spawn out of thin air! I want everything to know about him, and I want to know it yesterday!" Fury ranted at the team of analysts working in their base off Manhattan Island.

In all honesty, he had an idea of what he was dealing with. Greek-style armour, a spear that could teleport like magic based on the footage they manage to cobble together, plus the wide range of abilities... and a damned Cyclops had painted a clear ugly picture that did not bode well. He just desperately wished he was wrong.

"Director." A nasly voice spoke up rushing up to him. The head doctor was a balding middle-aged man with a hawk-shaped nose.

"Walk with me," Fury said to him ignoring the report he was trying to hand over, a bunch of numbers, and energy readings he could not make sense of.

The doctor hurried to keep up, panting, and out of breath. "Right," he muttered realizing Fury had no intention of grabbing those papers. "We, uh, we've done some preliminary reports, but we'll be doing more thorough research into the unknown enhanced to give you a more accurate report later."

Fury did not bother to respond, he would once the doctor said anything useful. "Ok, umm, so going over the energy readings based on the leftover electromagnetic particles in the atmosphere, we cannot give you an accurate estimate but our guess that the storm he generated was more than 300 million volts, higher than natural lightning indicating he doesn't just channel lightning, but instead generate it. We believe it is possible that this same enhanced is behind the readings in New Mexico."

Fury missed a step, turning to stare at the Doctor who sweated under his piercing gaze. "We, uh, think the power he generated should have been enough to vaporize more than a few city blocks at the minimum. All of this is guesswork since we don't have an accurate energy sample."

Fury tightened his fists. This was worse, much worse than he had thought. A threat level 8… at least. Someone that could threaten cities, maybe countries given enough time. The only other level 8 in their database currently was Hulk.

Fury stood there silent, thinking… wondering what to do. This was quite frankly beyond them. S.H.I.E.L.D could not handle threats like this, more reasons why they needed the Avengers initiative.

But first, he needed to address this new complication. Morpheus could be their greatest asset, or their biggest nightmare. What gave him pause was that Morpheus knew who he was... had called him by name.

There was a serious breach their security, and when he found out who was responsible, there would be consequences. Fury took a deep breath to calm himself. Anger would not help, he needed to think, and especially about that last little jab Morpheus had made towards him.

'I do not appreciate being chased.'

Fury stood still thinking, a corner of his mind aware of the quietly shuffling feet of the head doctor scurying away in fear of his wrath. But his mind was occupied to be angry. Too concerned.

S.H.I.E.L.D had absolutely zero records of this being's existence before today, and Fury had most certainly never authorized anyone to "chase" him as he put it.

That meant two possibilities. First, Morpheus was wrong and had mistaken them for else, which would be nice, and make his life easier but the universe hated him so that was a remote possibility. Especially given that Morpheus knew about him.

The second, a higher possibility, was that someone inside his S.H.I.E.L.D. encountered Morpheus before, and took armed action without his permission. He was not dumb enough to think he unequivocally controlled everything inside S.H.I.E.L.D, no there were factions inside organization. Those that answered to the World Security Council over him, or those that acted as insiders for Alexander Pierce.

But he was the Director, none of those factions had ever openly worked under his nose without his awareness, if not approval. This needed further investigation. Someone inside S.H.I.E.L.D was working behind his back but first, he had to have a talk to have with Tony Stark, and god help him if Tony didn't have answers.