|What's in Wilmington, NC?|
|What: Rescue intercepts Iron Man's flight path. But what did he leave in such a hurry for? And what's in Wilmington, North Carolina?|
"Man, JARVIS, this Road Trip Playlist really sucks. There's no AC/DC, no Rolling Stones, there's... is this Missy Elliot? Who changed my playlist?"
Streaking through the sky at speeds approaching Mach 1, Tony Stark should probably have a lot of things going through his mind. After all, he's dying from an as-yet-unrevealed techno-organic space virus that's turning his insides into metal, and he's trying to keep a man-shaped metal object flying even though that's a physical impossibility according to all known scientific principles.
But... since JARVIS is handling the flight plan, he's actually got plenty of free time to worry about the playlist...
"I'm sorry sir, but my programming does not allow me to make any changes whatsoever to file 'Road Trip Playlist.' The orders came directly from you, Tony. But it's most irregular, as I've been monitoring you continuously. You never gave any such order. My programming is unable to reconcile the error."
Great... looks like JARVIS' code is starting to bork under the 'Robots can't handle paradoxes' clause.
It took far more convincing than she would have expected, but Pepper managed to get JARVIS to tell her where Tony went. She promptly postponed the rest of her work for the day, hastily changed into a more travel-comfortable set of jeans and flat ballet shoes with her work blouse, and then Rescue was off and after Tony.
As much as she wants to, she doesn't push the armor to catch up with Tony. Well, that's not true. She totally does, but then slows back down to just over Mach 1 when JARVIS informs her that the red and gold armor is less than five minutes ahead.
"Does he seem upset in any way, JARVIS? Should I leave him alone?" Kind of late to ask NOW, but still.
"Actually, Miss Potts, he seems mainly preoccupied with deleting a Missy Elliot song from his playlist. He's been trying to do so for seventeen minutes and thirty three seconds. I think he'd almost welcome a distraction. But then... I fear he might be going quite mad."
The latest suit is also the only thing that's keeping Tony alive, and since many of the suit's systems have had to be repurposed to stop the spread of the disease, this suit isn't quite as fast as his previous ones. Or as fast as the current Rescue armor, for that matter. Which means that it isn't long before Stark's suit is in range of Rescue's scanners, and then in range of her eyeballs. Rescue can't help but smile a bit to herself behind Rescue's face mask. Everything going on, and he //would// be fussing over a song on his playlist. She slows Rescue further, so she's keeping pace with Tony instead of moving any nearer. "Could you help me with a little prank, JARVIS? Play this song next." She tells JARVIS which song she has in mind, and really really hopes he takes it for the joke that it's meant to be. ( https://youtu.be/7bQwin3Vv0k )
(Editor's Note: It's 'Somebody's Watching Me' by Rockwell)
"What the pissing, farting, fuck is this shit? JARVIS, you're fired!" Not only is the song one of Tony's least favorites, but JARVIS has actually cranked up the volume inside his helmet. "I'm serious! I'm deleting you and replacing you with a program with a sexy female voice. She's going to sound exactly like... PEPPER?!"
It's at that very moment that Tony happens to check his scanners, and he quickly realizes what's up. Seeing the little dot that is Rescue heading toward him on radar, he knows better than to try to rabbit. Better to let her catch up, and take his lumps.
"Okay, now you really ARE fired. But first I'm going to change your name to JUDAS."
Pepper asks across their shared commlink in the most innocent tone of voice she can muster -- the one that she knows Tony knows is completely and utterly faked, "Hello, Mr. Stark. Do you ever get the feeling you're being followed?" She does somehow manage to NOT chuckle over the open channel. "And don't be mad at JARVIS about that song. I asked him to play it to get your mind off of Missy Elliott." She pauses briefly. "Did it work?"
Of course, since she's in the habit of multitasking, while catching up and moving to fly alongside Tony, Pepper has been trying to place their destination based on the flight path that the AI has plotted. Where are you running to, Tony?
"Look, I know I pay you to do everything for me... but this is one of the extremely rare times that I'd actually like to do something on my own. I also know that you're not going to LET me do it on my own, which is one of the reasons I pay you so much... but still, I thought it was important to let you know that I'd rather you sat this one out."
It looks like Tony hasn't gone completely mad yet, if he's still able to chain together run-on sentences like a boss. But what could he possibly want to do in Wilmington, North Carolina? For the record, that's where his flight plan seems to indicate that he's going...
"Since you're here though, you might as well make yourself useful by telling JARVIS to play me some Beastie Boys. But if you ever eff with my playlist again, I'm going to make the next version of the Rescue armor with a transparent chestplate.
Another point in favor of the Rescue armor -- Pepper expression crumbles but there's no way for Tony to see it. She's very caerful to keep her voice normal, though. "I can do that, so long as you promise me you're not going to do anything that will require me to make a press conference later." Please buy that.
The teal armor begins to slow down, letting Tony pull ahead again. "When do you plan to be back in New York?" That probably sounds like she intends to make sure his work schedule takes this trip into account. She really hopes it sounds like that.
"Oh, and JARVIS? If you could play some Beastie Boys for Tony, that would spare me from having to hear about it later."
Fun thing about sharing an artificial intelligence across two armor platforms: Tony's playlist is now Pepper's playlist. Hope Pepper's a fan of the Beastie Boys...
Now that the joke is over, JARVIS has returned the speakers inside Tony's helmet to an acceptable level, and he's set the music level a bit below that of the voices, so it's not likely to cause either of them trouble communicating. But knowing Tony, it won't be long until he asks JARVIS to turn up the volume.
"I can't stand it I know you planned it I'm gonna set it straight, this watergate I can't stand rocking when I'm in here Because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear..."
"I'll be totally honest with you... I don't know that I AM going back to New York. I might be dead in a few days, and if I'm not... well... let's just say I'm about to go on an adventure."
Yeah. Mask is a good thing. "All right." She brings the Rescue armor to a hovering stop, letting Tony zoom away. And she can't bring herself to say anything else, like 'bye', or 'see you later'.
And the playlist is by far the least of her concerns. She never uses it anyway.
Surprise of all surprises... Pepper actually lets Tony go. He can't help but feel relieved that she didn't make a fuss over it, though part of him wishes he didn't have to do this on his own. Either way, if he manages to live through this next chapter, he knows he's going to have to have a serious talk with Pepper when he returns.
Or possibly by her something large and expensive.
"Okay JARVIS, if you're done playing jokes on me, it's time to get serious. Maya Hansen's got the answers that I need, and I'm going to pry them from her by whatever means necessary."
"Hopefully, she'll answer my questions if I promise to sleep with her."
JARVIS doesn't answer. Instead, the song keeps playing inside his helmet...
".... Oh my God, it's a mirage I'm telling y'all, it's a SABOTAGE!"