“If we know that this Thanos guy needs the Infinity Stones to do his dirty deed, and we’ve got one right here—then why don’t we just put this one down the garbage disposal?”
Tony watched the Asian guy and his facial hair bro tense before the witchdoctor said “it’s not that simple. As a member of the mystic order, my primary duty is to protect the time stone,” he said grudgingly, as if he hated having to reveal this secret to Tony and the other average mortals in the room.
‘Right,’ Tony thought. ‘So, we need to make sacrifices, but THEY’RE not willing to do what it takes. The story of my life.’
Tony considered for a moment.
“Well, ok, then. I’ve got things to take care of,” Tony said, clapping his hands together and beginning to stride out the door.
“Wait! Tony, are you going to call Steve and the others now,” Bruce asked desperately. Tony gave him a sidelong look before responding.
“Don’t worry, Dr. Banner. I’ll handle this. You guys weren’t so interested in this issue when I brought it up years ago, and you were more than willing to throw me under the bus when the initial idea I created to handle it blew up in our faces. I know how to take care of things.” Tony spared Bruce one more thoughtful look, shook his head, and strode out the door.
“OK, Fri. We need immediate contact with the Vision. Why don’t you start by tracking any unseen suicide trends and general mind manipulating mayhem. He won’t be far off,” Tony said with a sigh.
“Right, Boss. I actually know where Vision and the Witch are,” she added guiltily.
“Really,” Tony asked curiously.
There was a pause before Friday said in a strong brogue “I’ve been streaming Wanda Maximoff’s worst hits since he left last time.”
“Thant’s my girl,” he said with a grin. Maybe it was the body that ruined the human condition, he thought idly? Jarvis and Friday were both generous and loyal to a fault. Vision was his only creation that seemed distressingly selfish and flawed as he grew. “Let’s get him on the line.”
A moment later Vision’s voice rang throughout the lab.
“Tony, you have need of me?”
Tony rolled his eyes.
“We have an issue. I need you to come in for this. And keep a line to your girlfriend. This is mindstone stuff” he added before signing off.
“What are you thinking, Boss,” Friday asked with real curiosity in her voice. Tony smiled, appreciative of how much she’d grown.
“You’ll see,” he said with a shit-eating grin directed towards the nearest camera.
Vision arrived by fazing through the lab walls. Tony rolled his eyes before turning away from the screen, sure that Vision was doing it for dramatics by this point.
‘All powerful being my ass,’ Tony thought. ‘If he was even half of what Jarvis had been he wouldn’t have been taken in by the witch before her little temper tantrum, but especially after when she’d actually attacked the android. It’s like Cap’s little clique and their stupid was so contagious that it could even infect an AI and an Infinity Stone.’
“You needed my help, Tony,” Vision said in that way that now came off as condescending to Tony. Jarvis’s distinct personality and sass was a lot more personable, frankly.
Tony explained what he had been told by Bruce and Dr. Strange.
“You need me to contact the others,” Vision said, tilting his head curiously.
“Not at all,” Tony said harshly. “We have a way to stop Thanos right now. As I’ve said, he’s coming to collect the final Infinity Stones. Dr. Strange is unwilling to do what is necessary, but we still have one stone left.”
Tony’s face was stony and serious as he faced the Vision.
“What is it that you wish from me, Tony. I do not see how I can help?”
“Jarvis sacrificed himself to bring you online and save the world. You said once that you would do what it takes to save humanity. Is this still the case,” he asked seriously.
“I . . . you wish to destroy the mindstone,” he asked timidly. It was the most human Tony had heard the android behave.
“Maximoff has the same powers as the mindstone. Ergo, she should be able to destroy it.”
“She will not consent to this,” Vision said, shaking his head.
“Maximoff is adamant that she has all the control she needs. If that’s true, then she should be able to, essentially, remove the stone with enough precision to then destroy it. If she’s as good as she says, you should be fine. It’s Jarvis’s coding and the arc reactor inside your body that provides your necessary bodily functions. The stone was a stabilizing influence, but you’ve existed long enough that the coding and the body should work fine on it’s own,” Tony urged.
“I am . . . unsure,” Vision said nervously.
“Look, Vision. I’m very sorry about this. It’s hard, what I’m asking you to do, but there is a chance that you’ll be fine. And frankly, that’s more than I thought I had when I flew that nuke through the wormhole in New York. The life we lead dictates that we make these sacrifices when necessary. Can you condone not doing this when the fate of half the universe is at stake?”
“No,” Vision said.
“We can’t trust him, Vision! Steve should be here,” Maximoff said with a belligerent huff.
“Last time I had Vision in a lab, Steve tossed a vibranium shield at my unprotected chest to try to prevent even bringing Vision online. You really want the technophobe here so he can decide that anything ‘different’ is scary and needs to be destroyed,” Tony asked with a loaded look.
“You and your weapons are dangerous! He had every right to fear.”
“Let’s be frank, the only weapon that ever did anything that it wasn’t supposed to was the one that you and scepter had a hand in influencing, Maximoff.”
Tony didn’t dare say more. He had a feeling how this was going to turn out, but it was mostly guesswork at this point.
“We must do this, Wanda,” Vision said softly. “I love you. I trust you.” Tony gagged a little in his mouth even as Maximoff was softening towards the android and his wishes.
“OK, then. Let’s do this. I’m monitoring now.”
Maximoff nodded, kissed Vision lightly on the lips—Tony shuddered—and began weaving her red-devil magic with a look of intense concentration. After several long minutes the stone was removed and encased in a secure box.
“Now what,” she asked Tony, looking intensely at Vision, who had been as close to sleeping as he could get during the procedure. “Why isn’t he responding,” she asked desperately.
“I’m looking at his functions now. He’s just recuperating, so-to-speak. Everything reads as normal,” he said with a smile that Maximoff returned before grimacing once she realized what she had done. “So, now, you just need to concentrate on destroying the stone, Maximoff.”
She hesitated, looking first at Vision and then glaring at Tony in suspicion. Tony simply stared back innocently. She clearly suspected he was up to something. And he was, but she couldn’t know that. He was wearing his reactor for protection from her mindwhammy powers.
“You’ll really be the hero that you’ve said you want to be, Wanda. You’ll have saved HALF the UNIVERSE,” he added with a serious look. “No other Avenger can say that. They’ll never be able to question you again,” he added in a seductive whisper. If anybody had an ego that constantly wanted stroking, it wasn’t Tony.
Maximoff nodded, and then began her schtick for a second time.
Vision sat up slowly and looked around with a much more human expression than the android had ever had before.
“Sir,” he said softly; disbelievingly.
“Viz,” the Sokovian woman said, leaning in and taking Vision’s hand, but the android jerked back with an obvious look of disgust.
“I am not the Vision. The contaminating influence has been removed,” Jarvis huffed.
Slowly, Maximoff turned towards Tony who had a desperately hopeful look on his face that she absolutely hated.
“Jarvis, are you there,” he whispered, hesitantly.
For the first time, Jarvis, in his new body smiled at Tony, took his hand and said, “For you, sir, always.”
Tony burst into tears, just as Maximoff started to do her hand waving mumbo-jumbo. But nothing happened.
“What have you done,” she screeched, trying to throw herself at Tony, but Jarvis quickly pushed his vibranium body between them and shoved her back, causing her to fall and begin sobbing.
Once Tony and Maximoff had both quit sobbing and calmed down, Maximoff looked desolate and pathetic on the floor while Jarvis held Tony in a tight hug, Tony explained.
“I suspected the mindstone was specifically influencing Jarvis. I hoped that once it was removed, he would have the control that Bruce and I initially sought to give him to battle Ultron. The mindstone wasn’t evil per se, just . . . indifferent? That’s why Vision struggled with feelings. It wasn’t that he was young at all. Jarvis’s coding was actually well past adolescence. And Jarvis never had trouble learning to feel,” Tony said with a soft smile at the android that held him.
“My powers,” Maximoff asked weakly.
“You destroyed their source. What did you think was going to happen, Ms. Maximoff,” Jarvis said with all the sass that Tony had known, loved, and desperately missed.
Jarvis and Tony worked like they never had before to prepare a small battalion of the Iron Legion, equipped with the ability to function in space. Each carried a small arsenal of nuclear and other weapons. When Thanos came to collect the stones he was met by the voice of Friday, who was to remotely co-pilot the legion soldiers alongside Tony and Jarvis.
“You’ll find that there are only four stones now, buddy,” she lilted at him. “We destroyed the mindstone months ago.”
With that, they unleashed the full power of the battalion on Thanos’s hoard. The Titan had arrived only to meet the Merchant of Death. Thanos’s army was devastated, though not destroyed. He left to regroup. suddenly everyone was much more supportive of Tony and his weapon-making ingenuity. The earth was finally willing to listen to Tony and heed his warning that they needed a better defense for outside threats.