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They say moss can survive without water for forty years, and revive at the first rain it gets. That moss is the first sign of returning life, with the way it will grow literally anywhere, from rocks to the coats of animals like sloths.

Well, it's been seventy years, and the ground is still barren. Still lifeless. And there are six such areas. Areas that are seemingly actively avoided by people and wildlife alike. As though they can feel residual rage and fear.

After the battle that had raged between the Captain and his enemy, the dark mage Red Skull, a series of increasingly massive explosions caused by forces unknown wiped out all living things in each of those six areas, culminating in one of about a 50 mile radius near the Arctic Circle. Destroying everything, right down to the bedrock.

Forcing down a sigh, Tony turned his armour back towards the Atlantic shoreline and Eastern seaboard. Wasting time in the armour, hovering over craters in northern Europe, wasn't the most productive thing he could be doing right now. Even though the hum of the armour's systems -- which he could almost physically feel with his new abilities -- and JARVIS' voice in his ear were both very comforting and helped keep the nightmares at bay.

There were definitely perks to being a technomancer, even if that didn't automatically translate to having mage powers or being able to sense them. The sensations of his tech and JARVIS' presence were familiar and comfortable in a way that the armour and his growing link to it weren't. He'd been able to sense and manipulate electronics and tech for nearly as long as he could remember. It was in large part how he'd built his first circuit board at four. That intimate knowledge of how parts fit together and affected one another was as much a part of him as the armour seemed it would become.

Of course, now that he had the mage powers in addition to his technomage's senses, and would have to train them.

The thought made him scowl, reminding him as it did of past events. His tangle with Obie, no, Stane, was what had gotten him into this mess, even if Stane had initiated the conflict. And, in retrospect, it was really for the best that Stane had never found out about his newfound mage powers. That could potentially have been an even bigger disaster.

It had been strange and disorienting to see Rhodey again for the first time after his captivity. Seeing Rhodey as he remembered him, and also being able to feel the mage powers he kept carefully in check had been just weird. Sure, it was like he could suddenly see his best friend more clearly, like a veil had been torn away. But it was simultaneously unnerving. And on his return to the US, he'd had a similar experience with Pepper. Neither of them had been exactly thrilled to find out that he now somehow had mage powers, either. Rhodey had lectured him on the flight home, pretty much incessantly, despite the way Tony was doing his level best to ignore every word. Pepper had rolled her eyes and rolled with the new development with that way she had. She'd known him too long to let much of anything faze her anymore, but he could tell she was worried and upset. It showed in the set of her chin and the tightness around her eyes.

Shaking his head to clear it of the thoughts that were getting him no closer to untangling his own feelings about the whole mess, Tony started the trip home. He needed to get back, and continue working on defining the new direction he had in mind for Stark Industries. After his announcement to the Board and the world at large that he and his cadre weren't going to produce weapons anymore... well, unless he could produce something convincing to back his position -- and soon -- the Board was going to mutiny. Stane had very carefully plotted and positioned that little event, and not even his death had changed the situation. It was one more problem Tony knew he’d have to resolve, on top of a lot of others that Stane had handed him.