Fandom: MCU/Guardians of the Galaxy
Wordcount: This part, 728
Characters/Pairing: WAIT WHO'S THAT
Summary: "We should at least say hi. It's only polite."
Disclaimer: Not my characters, not my world, not my nothin'.
Notes: I'm pretty sure when I started writing this I made some kind of remark in the vein of "It shouldn't be a problem to finish before the end of 2016". I love this story because it's my baby but I also hate this story because it took so damn long and right now I'm more hate than love so I'm not going to do an elaborate goodbye here.
Future of this series basically comes down to probably not, but maybe, and if I do it will be after Infinity War, and I don't think I'll post it to LJ. (Will there even be an LJ in a year? Oooo.)
Like with "Detonation Imminent", this chapter is just a cute self-contained bit that doesn't require reading the rest of the story. It's also kind of a set-up for the thing I just said I wasn't going to write, but, whatever.
One thing you could say about life at the New Avengers Facility was that the technology was always up to date and working properly, the latest Stark Industries model of everything. Wanda didn’t like to depend on gadgets too much, but she appreciated having her own computer in the privacy of her room, designed specifically for her own modest needs.
Everything had an exception eventually, of course, and today her monitor showed nothing but an error message in huge letters. Wanda stared at it for a few seconds, tapped a few keys to no avail, then restarted it. The words on the screen didn’t change.
She was beginning to feel perturbed, not because she wanted to use the computer so much, but because this kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen and it was hard not to see it as a sign of greater troubles to come. Avengers had enemies. Some of them might be hackers.
Rather than let herself make too much of it, she knocked on Vision’s door to ask for his opinion. If anyone would know how to fix a computer, it ought to be a robot. She smiled ruefully. His origin had nothing to do with it; he was just good with machines because he was logical and intelligent. Anyway, she liked talking to him.
But Vision wasn’t in his room, and when she went farther down the hall to look for him, she found Rhodey instead. “You know where Vision went?” he asked her. “My computer’s acting weird, and I think he’s the closest we got to a pro here today.”
Wanda’s heart went cold. Quickly they compared notes and found that the error message was the same for both of them. They hurried on together until they reached Natasha’s study, and she called out from her desk, “I got him first. Come in here.”
Vision was stooped over her monitor, frowning at the now-familiar sight of large red letters on a black background, which read: CRITICAL FAILURE. “It’s on every screen in the facility,” he was saying as they entered. “But I’ve checked each internal system thoroughly, and I can assure you, there’s been no damage or suspicious activity.”
Natasha shook her head. “We don’t crash like this. Stark’s programs have a recognizable sequence that they play to warn of any malfunction, and this isn’t from any stage of it. Someone get him on the line.”
As they were waiting for his response, all eyes on the monitor, the words suddenly changed: SYSTEM TEST ERROR. DISREGARD PREVIOUS MESSAGE.
“Does that mean it’s okay now?” Wanda asked dubiously.
“No.” Everyone looked up; the voice had come from a holographic projection of Tony Stark on the wall that hadn’t been there a moment ago. “It means it was okay in the first place. They’re just messages. Everyone’s computer, phone, TV, microwave, Gigapet is fine. Few minutes more and I’ll have you back to whatever you were doing when it started.”
Rhodey looked skeptical. “So this was you?”
Tony rubbed a hand across his face, looking pained. “Let’s just say it was and then agree to never ask me why I did it.”
“...That was meant to be an obvious untruth, wasn’t it?” asked Vision with polite integrity.
“Yes,” sighed Tony. “There’s someone else at work here, it’s a long story, we’re not in danger.”
Natasha leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “The signal came from outer space, didn’t it.”
“Outer space?” repeated Wanda, her voice overlapping Rhodey’s.
Up in the little holographic window, Tony kept muttering and shaking his head, but Natasha looked over her shoulder at the others and said, “Oh, have I got a story for you.”
Wanda was about to ask more questions, but then the monitor on the desk changed again and she was the first to notice. “Look!”
SEE YOU IN A FEW
“Will we be sending a message back to them?” inquired Vision.
“Let me guess,” said Natasha. “We can’t.”
Tony was fussing with the controls on a panel at an angle they couldn’t see, but soon he gave up with a halfhearted shrug. “It’s a ring-and-run. Why am I not surprised.”
“Check this out,” said Rhodey, gesturing at a new phrase appearing on the screen. “A signature.”
THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Start at the beginning.
Read it on Archive of Our Own.
Read it on Fanfiction.net.