Why is there a ray gun in this cave?
Iron Men and Bots
By Philip S.
Disclaimer: The Transformers and all associated characters and concepts are owned by Hasbro and Takara-Tomy. Ironman and all associated characters and concepts are owned by Marvel Comics. No profits will be made from this story.
Continuity Notes: The story is mostly based upon the Ironman movie continuity, but will borrow stuff from the comic books. The Transformers are loosely based upon the Generation 1 cartoon series, but will also borrow stuff from other TF continuities.
Author's Note: This idea popped into my head today and wouldn't let go. Only got a very broad outline finished, so let me know if there is interest to see this continued.
Chapter 1: Why is there a ray gun in this cave?
Anthony Stark, president of Stark Industries and one of the world’s premier weapon systems designers, tried to remember a day in his life when things had been worse than they were right now, but no such luck. He was a genius, a business tycoon, and heir to a large fortune, so his life had been pretty amazing so far. Right now, though, things had most definitely taken a turn for the worse.
He was a prisoner. He was a prisoner in some stinky cave, held here by some kind of rebel group, terrorists, whatever. He didn’t know what they were, who they rebelled against or what their overall goals were, but the long life and prosperity of one Tony Stark were certainly not among them, that much he was fairly certain of.
Oh, and not to forget: He was a dead man walking. His heart was only beating because of a car battery attached to his chest, the result of a very improvised procedure performed by his fellow prisoner, a man named Yinsen. Tony didn’t know whether to be in awe that Yinsen had managed to perform what basically amounted to open heart surgery in a cave with only junk for tools or to be scared because his survival depended on said man’s skills.
The most important question right now, though, was to find out what his captors wanted from him. He figured it was either money or weapons, why else would one want to kidnap Tony Stark? So when armed men came into the cave that was his prison, accompanied by what was obviously the boss of this little corner of hell, he was pretty sure what to expect.
Turned out, though, that he was quite wrong.
The boss guy shoved something into his hands, speaking in rapid-fire Arabic or whatever tongue they used in these parts. Tony had never bothered to find out. Looking down, he saw what appeared to be some kind of circuit board, though for the life of him he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was big, but at the same time incredibly thin and intricate. It weighed next to nothing, but didn’t bend in the slightest when he handled it.
“He wants to know whether you recognize this technology,” Yinsen translated.
Lying didn’t even occur to Tony, he was too flabbergasted by this piece of technology in his hands.
“No,” he answered. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
A moment later he froze, fearing that this had been the wrong answer. But looking up, he only saw a satisfied smile on the boss guy’s face. With a snap of his fingers he called two more guys to him, who were carrying something big and obviously heavy that was wrapped in a dirty piece of fabric. The men put it down at Tony’s feet and removed the wrapping.
For a very long moment Tony Stark strongly considered the possibility that he was hallucinating this entire episode, either because he was lying in the desert, bleeding to death, or because he’d finally found his upper limit for alcohol consumption and was passed out in a corner somewhere. Because he couldn’t really be seeing what he thought he was seeing.
It was a gun, that much was obvious, but not one of any design he had ever seen before. It looked like something out of some Science Fiction movie, all elegant lines and shiny metal. Or not so shiny metal, actually, seeing as the entire thing looked very worn and positively ancient, as if it had been lying somewhere, exposed to the elements, for decades.
The kicker, though, was the size. Though clearly something of a hand gun by design, it was more than half the size of Tony himself.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he asked, shaking his head.
“I assure you, it is not,” Yinsen said, speaking for himself instead of translating. “When they first took me here, I thought the same. This is not some movie prop, though. It’s clearly a piece of advanced technology and it’s been in this place for a long time.”
Again the boss spoke, pointing first at the ray gun and then at Tony.
“He wants you to...” Yinsen began.
“Make it work for him?” Tony interrupted, guessing at the guy’s intentions.
“Pretty much, yes,” Yinsen agreed. “He also wants your Jericho weapon, by the way, but this thing here has been his obsession for quite some time. He figures that if he can make it work, it will make him more powerful than even your weapons can.”
Tony nodded, his mind going over the possibilities. A terrorist or rebel with something like the Jericho missile in his hands was a terrible prospect, but if this thing in front of him was actually real... could it be real? It was quite obviously very, very old, and the idea that some primitive humans might have built something like this was preposterous. But that left... what? Aliens? Ancient Techno-Wizards? Maybe people from Atlantis while he was at it? Ridiculous, all of it.
“Is there more than these two?” Tony asked, indicating the circuit board and the gun.
Yinsen translated for the boss guy, who grinned and motioned to his men. Moments later two more of them came in, carrying a wooden crate. They carefully set it down in front of the boss, who motioned for Tony to open it. Slowly dropping into a crouch, Tony pried the lid of the crate.
His face was bathed in purple light. The inside of the crate held a cube-shaped... something. Tony had no idea what it was made from. The cube was about 30 centimeters on each side and contained what appeared to be some kind of fluorescent fluid. Carefully putting his hand on top of the cube, Tony felt a tingle and the hairs on the back of his hand stood up straight, as if from some kind of ionization field.
“As far as I can tell,” Yinsen told him, “this is some kind of fuel cell. I have never seen anything like it before. Our hosts originally had two of these.”
“What happened to the other?” Tony asked.
“The man carrying it stumbled, dropping it on a rather sharp-edged piece of debris, I believe. Thankfully there were not a lot of people nearby.”
Unstable then, Tony assumed. Well, if this fuel cell, if that was indeed what it was, was as old as the gun looked to be, that was hardly a surprise. What fascinated him a lot more, though, was the casing that contained it. It felt solid, almost like plastic, and was unyielding. Yet it was completely transparent and seemed to have almost no mass of its own. It stumped him completely and he wasn’t stumped that often.
He didn’t know how long he just marveled at this piece of strangeness before him, but he suddenly found himself roughly pulled to his feet and brought eye to eye with the boss guy.
He didn’t really need a translator to make sense of the next sentence.
“Can you do it?” was clearly the question. And by the look of his eyes, Tony knew that there was only one possible answer that wouldn’t end with him lying dead on the floor of this cave within the next thirty seconds.
“Sure,” he said, shrugging. “No problem!”
“I am not certain that this is a good idea,” Yinsen said.
“I’m not hearing any better ones from you,” Tony replied, trying to reign in the much sharper reply he’d had on his lips. Yinsen had saved his life and was the only help he had. Unless the two of them could pull this off, they’d both die, it was that simple.
“What about your original idea to power this ARC reactor with the Palladium from the missile?”
Tony shook his head. “Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wish they’d stolen more of my weapons. There isn’t enough in that one damaged missile and besides, I’m going to implant this thing in my chest. I don’t want to escape here alive, only to die from Palladium poisoning a year down the line.”
“All valid arguments, but we are dealing with an unknown, possibly alien power source here. It might kill you a lot faster than that.”
“Possibly, yes. But I don’t really see any alternatives.”
Over the last few days Tony had gotten an idea on how they’d get out of here. There were all the necessary materials here to build the kind of powered combat armor he’d envisioned some years down the line, the only thing missing was a proper power source. His father’s old ARC reactor design would do perfectly if he could make it work, but it still needed something to serve as reaction mass. Palladium would have worked, yes, if he’d had a sufficient quantity of it and didn’t mind poisoning himself.
Enter the liquid purple alien fuel. There was no way to do a proper analysis with the tools at hand, but it was a) quite clearly very powerful and b) available in sufficient quantity. Yes, it might be unstable. Yes, it might well poison him, too. Yes, there were dozens of unknowns involved in using an ancient alien power source for untested, cobbled-together weapons technology.
He just didn’t see any alternative.
Just trying to figure out a way to extract some of the purple liquid from it’s strange storage cube without blowing them all up had taken some time, but finally Yinsen and him had found a way using what basically amounted to a syringe. The cube seemed to be self-sealing as long as the hole was small enough. The two prisoners extracted an amount to use in the work they did just for show, while a second, smaller amount was reserved for use in the ARC reactor.
Tony held his breath and found himself mumbling a half-remembered prayer as they inserted the liquid into the ARC reactor. No explosions so far. Finished, he looked at Yinsen.
“Well, one way or the other, we’re on our way out of here.”
Closing the ARC circuit, he let go of his held breath when the reactor began to glow and hum softly without exploding in their faces.
“That’s step one then,” he said.
Some distance away from the cave, buried deep underneath the sand, a long-dormant device became active. It had been here much longer than human civilization existed and would, if necessary, remain here until humanity itself was dust. It was a computer, basically, barely any smarter than those humans managed to build these days, with a rather simple set of programming parameters. One such parameter had changed just now.
ENERGON DETECTED, an alien voice announced, though there was no one there to hear it.
The computer had just one purpose: to keep the sentient being entrusted to its care alive until one of two things happened. One would be the arrival of outside aid, something that hadn’t happened yet. The second thing, though, was a different matter. For the computer had found an Energon-based energy source.
Now the computer possessed the means to revive its charge, but only for a very limited time before it would expire from lack of energy. So far the computer had judged the risk too great. Now, though, with a power source within range, the odds that its charge would be able to survive long enough to reach it were favorable. More favorable, at least, than to continue lying here, waiting for aid that might never come.
REVIVAL PROCESS INITIATED.
For the first time in eons the massive body of the alien visitor began to stir. Servos whirred, metal limbs groaned, and optics gleamed with the light of awareness.
“Si-situation?” the visitor asked in an alien tongue.
EMERGENCY REVIVAL INITIATED. IMMEDIATE PROCOURMENT OF DETECTED ENERGON SOURCE NECESSARY TO PREVENT PERMANENT DEACTIVATION.
“Well,” the visitor grumbled, slowly rising. “Isn’t that just Prime!”
End Chapter 1