I R O N M A N
Underwater Facility, New Midaeum - Present Day
Issue 1.01.04: The World We Knew
Stark stood shocked as his eyes scanned every inch of the contraption that was standing over six and a half feet tall at the end of the hallway. The machine had the general visage of a man, if one had exposed gold wiring and swords for hands. The chest remained covered with a golden hoplite cuirass, with a matching golden Athenian helmet that revealed only two blue glowing lights underneath. To anyone other than Anthony Edward Stark, this machine would be impressive and intimidating to some degree. The billionaire inventor turned his gaze towards the business mogul. "What is this?"
Midas didn't even bother to look in Tony's direction, as he was too busy beaming over the machine. "This... this is my personal security force! I call them the Centurions... even if the name isn't historically accurate."
Midas finally turned to recognize Tony, and instinctively took a step towards his machine when he noticed the bored expression. "Do you not see the resemblances to your own creation? You have no idea how many engineers I had to hire to create-""A poor imitation?"
Midas ground his teeth at the remark, shaking his head as he turned his back to Stark and kept walking down the tight hallway. The right wall, floor, and ceiling were all colored gold... or rather, consisted of gold, if JARVIS' readings were correct. The left hand wall, however, had a floor-to-ceiling reinforced glass window that showed off the local flora and fauna under the sea. Fish zoomed in between the long strands of seaweed that floated up towards the surface. A much more fascinating view as Tony kept pace behind Mordecai Midas, who broke the temporary silence."Did you fly all the way here to insult my creations, Mr. Stark?"
Tony's gaze turned back towards Midas, who had suddenly stopped to look out at the sea himself. "Not quite... I came to see your facility and where exactly-""Bullshit, Mr. Stark."
Tony's jaw slacked in surprise as Midas continued looking out at the sea before him. "In all the years I've invested in your enterprises, you've never once bothered to ask where the gold plating and wiring had come from. Now, out of the blue and on a moment's notice, you want to fly out here with your chief of security to get a 'tour' of my factory... Please stop insulting my intelligence."
Tony stood in silence for a moment, his own gaze turning out towards the sea. He was talking to one of the few men on Earth far richer than he was, and an important business partner for Stark Unlimited. Tact was key here: unfortunately, tact was one of the few skills that Tony Stark could never learn. "I came here to find out why you would try and hack our systems, Midas."
Mordecai's eyebrows raised, before the large man turned and looked with shock towards Tony. "Wh... What are you even talking about?"
Tony grit his teeth as he pulled his phone from his pocket with his free hand, his other still clutching the heavy briefcase. With a single button tap and a flick of his phone, the cameras and lights on the back produced a holographic projection in the space between the two billionaires. Projected were a copy of the email that had been intercepted, and a string of code with an IP address highlighted in red. "Whoever you hired to try and sabotage the Iron Legion project left a little something behind that traces itself back to this very facility. Care to explain how that happened?"
Midas shook his head, rubbing his temples. "Why would I sabotage your project, Tony?"
Without giving him any time to answer, Midas continued. "I've invested millions of dollars into this without a single question! You made a call for investors, and I answered. I've even provided your project enough gold to buy myself another island, just because you said you needed it. And now you come here and accuse me of sabotaging your project?!"
Tony gave almost no breathing room for Midas as he began shouting back his response. "Then explain to me why the IP address is connected to one of your servers! How could that have happened? Who could have done that?""I don't... oh no."
Midas' gaze fell to his hand as he took a couple steps away from Stark, his eyes wide with sudden shock and realization. "You... you need to leave. Now."
Midas' command was firm, his jaw tightening as his firm gaze returned to Stark.
Tony's grip tightened around his briefcase, his voice lower but firm. "Who did this, Midas? I just need a name."
Midas merely shook his head. "He'll kill me if I tell you... Centurions! Get Mr. Stark out of here!"
With that, Midas turned his back to Tony and began walking away.
Tony heard the sound of metal colliding with metal in rhythm as the Centurion behind him approached. As Tony began to turn to walk back the way he had come, he noticed the Centurion kept walking past him. He could have sworn for a fraction of a second he had even seen the once blue eyes had turned a dark red. Of course, that was the least of Stark's concerns when he saw the Centurion raise it's right arm blade up and point directly towards Midas. In an instant, Tony muttered under his breath. "Arm me."
To Tony, time seemed to slow down. In that moment, the large briefcase handle began shifting and molding around his hand while shifting color into a red. As it was finishing locking in place, he raised his hand with his palm facing outward towards the robot's head. A whirring sound filled the space as the disk in the suit of armor on Tony's left palm lit up and then released a blast of energy. As the short beam of light escaped his hand and shot through the Centurion's helmet, the machine was able to get a quick swipe along Midas' back.
With the machine out of order, Tony kicked the briefcase while muttering, "JARVIS, zip me up."
Within moments, the briefcase began to unfold and unpack with metal stacking on top of metal to reveal the front half of a lightweight Iron Man suit. The inventor stepped in, and extra metal plating slid around Stark to engulf him entirely within the suit. It took another two seconds for the eye-pieces of the suit to glow yellow as the Heads Up Display began showcasing various statistics about the suit's power levels, arsenal, and general information about Tony's surroundings. As Tony's gaze fell upon Midas, an orange rotating circle surrounded Midas for a moment before displaying basic bio-metric readings and a tag in bold red letters: Needs Medical Assistance.
Tony rushed forward towards Midas, his footsteps echoing and clanking down the gold-plated hallway. He was quite a bit faster in the suit, able to bridge the thirty foot distance in a few bounds. Despite spending quite some time out of the armor, using it was like riding a bike. Iron Man knelt down next to Mordecai Midas, who was grunting and groaning as blood had poured out of the open wound to pool around where he was lying down. Tony's voice came from a speaker on the outside of the armor's faceplate, the quality a little garbled. "Midas, what's going on?"
Iron Man turned the business mogul slightly to see his face, and the look of fear shone through the painful grimace. "You... you can't stop him, Stark. He'll get us all."
Before Tony could say anything further, Midas began screaming and convulsing. It took the hero a couple seconds before he could see exactly why: coming from somewhere on Midas' left side, his skin was changing color into a rather bright yellow hue. As the color changed, Midas' movements became rigid, and within those seconds he could no longer scream. Tony had only removed his armored hand from Midas to realize that his former business partner had been transformed into a statue of pure gold. While the man knelt in silent shock, the mechanical voice in his ear spoke up as a new circle focused on Midas' left hand. "Sir, I saw a strange burst of energy coming from Mr. Midas' left hand. It appears to be coming from a...""A ring."
The inventor couldn't help but exclaim the obvious as he saw a small golden ring with green trimmings and markings. Iron Man pulled off the ring from the statue's finger, it seeming to strangely glide off with ease. He lowered it towards his waist, where a small container opened up to hold the ring before closing back into the armor.
As Tony opened his mouth to speak, loud sirens began wailing as red warning lights on the walls flashed. A female, almost robotic voice began calling out over the speakers. "WARNING! WARNING! PLEASE EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! OCEAN WATER DETECTED! WARNING!"
The voice repeated the warning in Greek, before continuing to repeat the warning while alternating between the two languages. Tony Stark sighed."Alright JARVIS, let's see just how waterproof I made this thing."