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Jan 27, 2023 1:25 PM
Unable to defeat Thanos, Tony Stark gets sent back in time to fix the last decade.
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Previously - or, perhaps, much, much later:

"Yeah, we got one advantage," says Stark, "he's coming to us. We'll use it."

"All right, I have a plan." He turns to the others. "Or at least the beginnings of one. It's pretty simple. We draw him in, pin him down, get what we need. Definitely don't want to dance with this guy, we just want the gauntlet." And - "Are you yawning?" he snaps at Drax. "In the middle of this, while I'm breaking it down? Huh? Did you hear what I said?"

"I stopped listening after you said that we need a plan," replies Drax.

"Okay, Mr. Clean is on his own page," Stark says.

"See, not winging it isn't really what they... do," Quill replies.

"Uh... what exactly is it that they do?" asks Parker.

"Kick names," replies Mantis, confidently. "Take ass."

"That's right," affirms Drax.

Stark stares for a moment.

And starts to realize that this really might be the end.

 

Dr. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, defender of the cosmos, isn't paying much attention to any of this debate. His eyes aren't open, but he's rapidly looking back and forth anyway, because he's seeing through the view of the Time Stone.

The Time Stone can't actually see exactly what will happen in the future, but it can view each of the limitless possibilities that might come from this, and that's what Strange needs, if he wants to formulate a plan that will defeat Thanos.

The problem is... none of them seem to involve defeating Thanos.

He has looked through millions, literally millions of futures, and in each and every one of them, Thanos wins. In the vast majority, he simply crushes them all in battle, regardless of what plans they come up with. In a few, they at least get closer - maybe by briefly wounding him, or grabbing his Infinity Gauntlet, in a few rare ones - but even in those, he manages to get it back within a few moments. Strange eventually found a few hundred timelines in which Thanos was defeated on Earth by blowing up the planet and killing everyone there, and he is seriously considering doing that because there is nothing better. Except that even in most of those, someone else eventually finds the scattered stones and causes more chaos, and if all of the superheroes are dead, they can't stop them.

A little after twelve million, he starts looking for timelines in which Thanos wins at first, but the surviving Avengers reunite and manage to defeat him later. But the problem with those is that not only are they vastly outnumbered, but Thanos usually destroys the Infinity Stones after a week or so, meaning that even if they do manage to defeat him, they won't have anything they can use to bring back all of the people Thanos will inevitably kill.

But he's still looking, and looking, and -

He's crossed fourteen million.

Fourteen million timelines, and not a single one has presented him with anything that doesn't involve the murders of at best many billions of people.

Why didn't he do this before now? He had heard of Thanos! He was on the list of possible threats to the universe - not anywhere near the top of the list, which in retrospect was a big mistake, but still, he should have tried to find out what would have threatened Earth, and fix it then. But now it's too late, and he can't change -

Well.

He could change things...

The Time Stone can't rewrite history on a scale of more than a few minutes, not on its own. But maybe in conjunction with other Infinity Stones... hmm. The Mind Stone's still on Earth. Maybe he could use it, and the Time Stone, to send his mind back into that of his younger self?

He looks through a few more timelines. Nope, looks like that doesn't work. First, because it would be tricky to do with his own mind instead of someone else's, and second, because - oh.

He needs the Soul Stone, too.

The problem is, Thanos already has the Soul Stone.

Okay. Are there any timelines in which they can steal the Soul Stone from Thanos, and then get both it and the Time Stone back to Earth, and get the Mind Stone out of Vision in time to send somebody back in time?

Well, he'll keep looking.

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Tony Stark and Peter Quill squabble about who will make the plan to beat Thanos, until Mantis brings to the groups attention that Dr. Strange is doing something very peculiar.

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Even for a day like today, that was a strange sight. Dr. Strange was floating off the ground while his head whipped from side to side so fast it looked like his outline was blurring.


It’s probably some magical fuckery going on but Tony has never before seen anyone look like they are glitching out of reality, so maybe he should be worried.

”Hey Strange? You alright?” Tony calls over, while slowly walking towards him in case it is not actually alright. As tony gets close Dr. Strange seems to snap out of it and fall back to the ground with a cry. Tony moves forward to grab his arms, “You’re back, you’re alright.” Whatever Strange was doing did not seem like a fun time to Tony, judging by the deep breaths and panicked look in Strange’s eyes just as he comes out of whatever trance he was in,

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"Hey, what was that?" asks a worried Parker.

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"Went forward in time," replies Strange. "To view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict."

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"How many did you see?" Quill asks, apprehensively.

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"Fourteen million, six hundred and five."

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Tony did not like where he suspected this was going, but he had to ask. “In how many do we win?”

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Zero.

"Time's... complicated. The problem is, even with knowing the future, there's enough randomness that we won't be able to know exactly how any given plan will turn out. Which is why we're going to need two plans." This is an outright lie, and he knows the first plan doesn't work, but he also knows that if he tells them from the start to follow the second plan, they won't.

"We have to ambush him. I'll draw his attention at first, as soon as he arrives, then Stark hits him from the air. Which won't be enough to knock him out, so Parker, Quill, Drax, you're going to help me engage him on the ground. And then out of nowhere, someone's going to arrive to help us - some blue cyborg, I don't know her name, and then that should be enough for us to distract him long enough for me to portal Mantis onto his head, and put him to sleep. Only very briefly, though. So we'll have to all pin him down, and then take the gauntlet off of him in just a minute or so."

"And if anything goes wrong with that - " which it will " - which I don't know if it will, then we have to go for the Soul Stone. That's one of the four Infinity Stones Thanos already has, the orange one. We need that stone to have any shot at defeating Thanos, if we don't win this battle immediately. So plan B is, we claw the orange one out of the gauntlet, and then run to Earth as fast as possible, and try to use the three stones to - " go back in time and redo everything " - fight Thanos from there."

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What does Strange mean that he wont be enough to knock Thanos out? He’ll find the biggest god damn thing to hit Thanos with, that’ll show Strange who can’t knock things out. Tony can already see something floating in the weird gravity, a building sized chunk of ship? Probably from a ship, sure looks techy enough to be from a ship. Lets see Thanos walk off a building to the face! Nobody gets to tell Tony Stark he Isn’t enough.

”I’m taking that as a challenge.”

As to the rest of the plan, using alien sleep powers sounded pretty good, a lateral thinking engineers solution of sidestepping how strong Thanos was and just stealing his gauntlet.

If it were up to Tony for wich stone to steal, he would steal the space stone, so Thanos has to take the long way to anywhere, while Strange can just portal the Avengers and stones around as needed. But he’s not the one with future sight so he guesses he will just have to trust Strange that the soul stone is the important one.

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"Uh, hang on, blue cyborg sounds like Gamora's psychopathic sister," interjects Quill. "Meaning Thanos's daughter. Nebula. What's she doing here?"

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"Trying to kill Thanos, it looks like."

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"And she just shows up right now. Sure. Well, you heard the cape dude. Mantis, you... I don't know, go do space jumping jacks over there until it's portal time. Drax, you finally get to fight Thanos."

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"I will tear off his neck and shove it down his throat!"

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"You'll hold onto his leg while the rest of us defeat him."

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"And I will hold it so hard that his veins burst open like Quill's mixtape!"

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"Dude, is that what happened to it? I had to spend a month getting that fixed, and you said 'I would never touch such a worthless device - '"

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"That is not what my voice sounds like!"

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"We have ten minutes!"

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These ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ downright made Tony look mature. Charming antics was his thing but these idiots took it to man-child levels. Plus this was half of the life of the universe at stake here, no time for antics.


Tony glares at Starlord, this guy seemed to be the idiot in charge of these aliens. ”I’m the richest guy on earth, I will buy you a mountain of tapes if you get serious. Hell you can own the music industry if you get your heads in the game. There’s too much at stake here to be wasting time arguing like children.” 

Tony jets off before he can get a response to go manoeuvre the absolutely huge floating piece of ship up to above and in front of where Dr. Strange will be waiting to get the Titans attention, ready to slam it down once Thanos is in position. His jets strain to move that much mass but he can position it in time.

Over suit coms he calls Peter. “Hey kid? If he’s still up after my initial strike, don’t try to take this Thanos guy head on alright? he sounds like a powerhouse and your armor is a lot thinner than mine, focus on tying him up and stopping him from using the stones against us. Can you do that for me?”

He hates that Peter got pulled into this fight, he’s just a kid, a brave kid but still a kid, and he admits to himself he would feel so bad if Peter got hurt. Tony did call Peter in for the sokovia accords thing but none of the Cap’s friends would have seriously injured the kid, but this was not a fight till one side surrenders kind of fight.

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"I... I mean, sure, Mr. Stark, I'll try to tie him up and all, but I can handle this. I'm an Avenger now."

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How does the kid always manage to pull at his heartstrings like this. “Yeah kid… you’re damn right. You are an Avenger.” Tony is too proud of a man to let all the pride and worry he is feeling leak into his voice, but some slips through.

“Be careful alright? Your aunt would kill me if I brought you back injured.” If we survive at all… is not a thought he says out loud, morale was important.

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"All right, Mr. Stark."

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A few minutes after everyone is in place, Thanos will arrive.

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"Well, you look more like a Thanos," says Strange. He has practice, in making sure he isn't trembling.

Strange will keep Thanos distracted, let him give a speech about his plans and all, until Stark is ready to attack.

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Extra thrusters on! And Tony SLAMS the office building size chunk of ship down into Thanos. The ground cratering under the impact site. Not even a hulkbuster suit could just tank a hit that big.

Tony can’t help but brag a little because that impact was pretty damn awesome. “Peace of cake, Quill.” He smugly says over the coms.

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