Earth-717: Iron Maiden Vol 1

Chapter 3: Vision
Tasha's sunglasses kept the rays of the afternoon sun out of her eyes. Stepping out of the jeep,
she looked around at the Chinese mountains surrounding her. Taking in the serene view, she then
looked over to the right to see a group of military officials standing there, who were guarded by a squad
of armed soldiers. Amongst the officials was a black man in an Air Force uniform who was just slightly
taller than her. Holding her champagne glass, she strutted over to the group, taking a sip as she did. She
walked straight towards the man and tapped the rim of her sunglasses.
“Here to show me a good time, handsome?” asked Tasha.
“I doubt you need it,” replied Rhodes.
Tasha chuckled to herself. Rhodes smirked. She then reached up and grabbed the side of his
face, and pulled him in for a kiss on the cheek. After pulling back, Rhodes shook his head while
smiling.
“Even after all this time, you're still trouble.”
“How's it hanging, Rhodey? Still the straight edge we've all come to expect and love?”
“Given that I haven't been discharged,” said Rhodes, “I would say that I still qualify for your
idea of a straight edge.”
“See? You still got some banter in you yet.”
Rhodes gestured towards the man standing next to him. He was a tall, older man with a thick,
grey moustache.
“Tasha, this is General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross,” said Rhodes. “He's the commanding
officer who will be evaluating your weapons demonstration.”
Tasha stuck out her hand. Ross nodded and shook it.
“General.”
“Ms. Stark.”

Tasha and Ross let go of each other's hands.
“You're not still chasing urban legends, are you?”
Rhodes glared at Tasha. Ross scowled.
“Eh . . . . never mind,” said Tasha. “Let's focus on what you came here to see . . . . me blowing
the tar out of the Chinese landscape of your choice.”
Tasha then started walking towards the missile launcher. It was a large contraption attached to a
wheeled kart. It was holding four of the tridium missiles, and was pointing them at a forty five degree
angle into the sky. Tasha ran her finger along the edge of the device as she walked past it. She then
turned around and looked back at Ross and Rhodes.
“This,” started Tasha, “is my personally designed, portable high-explosive weapon-launching
platform. Designed to be manoeuvrable through any kind of combat terrain, it is extremely durable and
capable of defending itself with built-in fifty cal automatic turrets which are guided by an internal
smart-computer capable of differentiating between friend and foe. As well, it has a built-in self-destruct
protocol to ensure that it cannot be captured by enemy forces. However, that's not even getting to the
juicy bits.”
Tasha then snapped her finger, and the missiles aimed at a higher angle.
“Strapped into this moving death machine are four tridium missiles. Now, they might not look
much different from your typical bunker busters, but what's inside them is what's important. The
tridium inside the missiles is capable of absorbing and temporarily storing solar energy. Give them a bit
of time to charge in the sun, and it increases their payload exponentially to the point that you've
essentially got a miniature and environmentally friendly nuclear weapon, without any of the
Chernobyl-esque side-effects afterwards.”
Rhodes and Ross nodded their heads.
“But . . . . you're not paying me to gab about it,” said Tasha. “Let's go level some mountains.”
Tasha walked over to the edge of the cliff and looked towards the nearest mountain. Tasha

pointed directly at it, and the missile launcher aimed for the peak. Ross, Rhodes and several other
military officials stood behind her. Stane walked up to her, holding a small hologram tablet. It was
composed of two plastic bars which connected a series of hard-light holograms that simulated a
viewing screen.
“Talk to me,” said Tasha.
“The missiles are charged and ready,” replied Stane. “Solar energy influx has the current
estimated payload at six hundred and eighty four percent.”
“That should be suitable,” said Tasha, laughing. “Fire when ready, Obadiah.”
Stane tapped a number combination into the hologram keypad.
“Launch sequence initiated,” reported Stane. “Missile locked. Firing now.”
Tasha smiled. The launcher locked the first missile into firing position. After a brief moment,
the end of the missile lit up, and it blasted off into the sky. A trail of smoke was left behind as it carved
its path through the air. As it flew towards the peak of the mountain, the missile began to glow with
bright, orange light. It then impacted on the peak. For a second, all sound seemed to drain from the
atmosphere. Then, a massive shock-wave shattered the top half of the mountain. The remaining rock
then imploded, and began to crumble on top of itself. Within ten seconds, the mountain was almost
completely disintegrated.
Tasha turned around to face the officials. She then held out one arm to the side.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you . . . . the Vindicator.”
The officials all clapped loudly. Rhodes smiled and nodded at Tasha, who winked back at him.
Ross walked up to Tasha. Stane looked at her and then turned and walked back to the jeep that they
arrived in.
“Congratulations, Ms. Stark,” said Ross. “I believe you've just made a very lucrative sale.”
“It's what I do,” replied Tasha. “My legal team will be in contact with the Air Force within the
week. We'll draw up a contract.”

“Very good,” said Ross. “Excellent work, as . . . .”
Ross' sentence was interrupted with a rocket colliding with one of the military jeeps. The
explosion knocked some of the soldiers down. Tasha looked at the explosion.
“Holy shit!”
The soldiers who were still standing turned around as bullets began to fire into the group. One
of the officials was cut down by gunfire almost immediately. Rhodes moved to push the other officials
to the ground as the soldiers took cover behind the remaining vehicles and began to open fire. Ross
shoved Tasha to the ground behind him and pulled out a pistol before turning towards where the gunfire
was coming from. Ross fired a couple of shots before ducking behind a nearby jeep.
Tasha, on her knees, looked out from behind the jeep to see the face of one of the soldiers get
ripped apart by bullets. As she crumpled to the floor, another soldier fired a grenade round into the
bushes outside the area they were in.
“Fire coming in from all directions!” shouted one of the soldiers. “Unknown number of
hostiles!”
“Rhodey!” shouted Tasha. “Obadiah?!”
Tasha looked around, but couldn't see either of them. As another explosion rocked the battle
ground, Tasha used the dust as the concealment she needed to dash towards the missile launcher. The
launcher unfolded its internal machine gun turrets and began to scan the area.
“Scanning for hostiles,” said the computer's voice.
The launcher portion twisted around towards the nearby bushes.
“Hostiles detected.”
The wheels on the launcher turned as the machine gun turrets opened fire into the bushes.
Screams were heard as the bullets tore through two of the enemy soldiers. More soldiers emerged from
their cover and began firing their weapons at the launcher. The enemy soldiers were wearing simple
clothes and face-masks, wielding assault rifles.

Tasha tapped a button on the side of the launcher and a keyboard popped out of the side. She
began typing into the console.
“Defensive mode activated by master command protocol.”
The launcher then began to move towards the nearby soldiers, providing them with covering
fire. Behind one of the nearby jeeps, Rhodes looked up.
“Tasha! What are you doing?!”
“Trying to keep your troops alive!” shouted Tasha.
Another enemy rocket hit the launcher, knocking Tasha to the ground. Rhodes shouted and fired
his rifle, cutting down one of the enemy soldiers. One of the machine gun turrets was shredded apart by
the impact of the rocket, and the other began firing wildly.
“Targeting impaired.”
Two of the enemy soldiers ran up to the launcher and climbed on top of it. Tasha's eyes
widened.
“No! Stop!”
“Unit integrity compromised. Self destruct protocol initiated.”
Tasha gasped and threw up her arms in front of her face as the launcher exploded. The two
enemy soldiers on top of it were ripped apart by the force of the blast. Tasha flew backwards into a
rock, smashing the back of her skull against it. As she collapsed on the ground, she felt the metal
shrapnel piercing the skin on her chest. Hyperventilating, Tasha could feel the blood pouring out the
lacerations on her torso as her consciousness faded.
****
“Stark . . . . Stark! Wake up . . . .”
Tasha was jarred into alertness by the feeling of cold water colliding with her face. Sputtering,
Tasha blinked furiously as she looked around. Shaking her head and gasping for air, all she could see
were blurred lines and coloured shapes.

“Ms. Stark.”
She felt something lightly tapping her left cheek repeatedly. Closing her eyes for a moment as
she slowed her breathing, Tasha then reopened her eyes for a clearer view. She could see that the
ceiling above her was made out of rock. She blinked a couple more times as the tapping stopped. She
then looked to the left to see a man sitting next to her on a stool. He was an older man with large
glasses and wrinkled features. He smiled at her.
“Ms. Stark,” the man said. “Welcome back to the realm of the living.”
Tasha closed her mouth and began breathing through her nose. Swallowing the saliva that was
in her throat, she then looked around at her surroundings. The entire room was made of rock and dust,
and there was a large amount of haphazard mechanical parts laying around.
“Who are you?” asked Tasha. “Where am I?”
Tasha began to move, but the man put his hand on her shoulder to stop her.
“Don't move,” he commanded. “It's not fully charged yet.”
“What's not fully . . . .”
Tasha looked down at her chest to see various wires plugged into it. However, they were going
into her flesh; a circular hole had been carved out of her sternum, and was filled with a metal tube. The
wires entered the tube, from which a small amount of light was emanating.
“Oh shit . . . .” said Tasha. “Oh shit . . . .”
Tears welled in her eyes. She began hyperventilating again.
“Oh fuck . . . .”
The man stood up and placed his hand on her collar bone. He pressed down very gently. She
swallowed again and kept breathing through her mouth.
“Calm yourself, Tasha,” he said.
She stared right into his brown eyes.
“Am . . . .”

Tasha took a moment.
“Am I going to die?”
“No,” he replied. “The contraption I made will keep you alive . . . . for now.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Yinsen. Doctor Ho Yinsen. I built an electromagnet that's been embedded into
your chest. It's the only reason you're still alive.”
Tasha closed her mouth and began breathing through her nose again.
“Where are we?”
“A cave . . . . somewhere . . . . I cannot be sure. I'm just as much of a prisoner here as you are.”
“Prisoner of whom?”
“A group that calls themselves the Jade Dragons. They've been terrorizing these lands for quite
some time.”
Yinsen looked over at a machine that was out of Tasha's line of sight. He then looked back at
her.
“Charging is complete,” he said. “You can move now.”
Tasha pushed up off the metal slab using her elbows. She moved her legs so they were hanging
off the edge of the bed. Taking a moment to breathe while in the sitting position, she then looked over
at the machine Yinsen had been looking at.
“Is that . . . . a car battery?”
“It is indeed,” replied Yinsen. “Amazing, how one can find uses for things in the direst of
situations. That car battery is powering the electromagnet in your heart. Without it, the shrapnel in your
chest would've ripped your insides apart.”
Tasha was silent for a long while, staring at the floor. She then looked at Yinsen.
“Thank you.”
Yinsen smiled and nodded in response. A banging noise was then heard from the door. Tasha

looked up and Yinsen turned around. The door opened, and a group of armed men entered the room.
They were followed by a man in a green coat and a long scarf. The man, with narrowed eyes, surveyed
the room and then look directly at the two prisoners.
“Yinsen,” said the man. “Will she live?”
“She will,” replied Yinsen.
The man sneered and walked closer. He stared directly at Tasha, who returned his gaze. He then
raised his neck, elevating his face above hers.
“Well . . . . how the tide has turned,” said the man. “The great and untouchable Tasha Stark . . . .
reduced to nothing more than a shrivelling cripple in captivity.”
The man chuckled. Tasha scoffed.
“Well, you're not exactly offering the service of a Kempinski . . . .”
The man backhanded Tasha across the face. Yinsen cringed. The man glared at her.
“Don't you dare mock me, Stark! I could end you at any time.”
Tasha furrowed her brow and looked back at him.
“So then why am I alive, good sir?”
“Because you are going to do something for me, in gratitude for allowing you to live.”
“What would that be?”
“We attempted to take control of your mobile missile platform,” explained the man. “Obviously,
that plan has failed. However, while we do not possess the weapon we desire, we do have its
manufacturer.”
Tasha let out a single laugh.
“So . . . . a missile launcher,” said Tasha. “Sure you don't have one already?”
“Glib will not keep you alive, Ms. Stark. Your engineering skills will. Your job is to assemble
my weapon. Doctor Yinsen's job is to keep you in working condition. I will have the materials you
require delivered to you. I suggest you get to work as soon as you can.”

Tasha glared at the man and fumed. He smirked.
“One last thing,” said Tasha.
The man raised an eyebrow.
“To who do I owe the thanks for such gracious hospitality?”
The man glared at Tasha.
“I am Wong-Chu. And I am your master now.”
Wong-Chu turned around and left the room, followed by his guards. The door slammed behind
them, and the sound echoed throughout the room.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful