Captain America's warning came too late. Iron Man, floating in mid-air twenty feet above the choppy blue water, flipped around just in time to see a large black blur tackle him with the force of twenty pro-football players. They crashed through the surface of the water, sending a wave and a mist out in all directions around where they had entered the ocean.
The descent was fast, pulling Iron Man and his current enemy through the water at a rate that almost rivaled falling through air. The monstrosity, a freakish combination of man, lizard, and wolf, with the massive canines and claws to match, thrashed about, keeping a tight grip on the armor. While the armor itself was receiving superficial scratches from the claws, the creatures jaws chomped just as uselessly at the metal chest, neck, and head.
Tony pushed back at the creature, but the more he did so, the angrier the monster became. Underwater, his weapons seemed to be useless, as multiple attempts to launch electromagnetic blasts failed to produce even a fizzle. A missile would have only flown right past the monster, into some other unintentional target.
JARVIS began to rattle off numbers.
"One hundred feet below sea level….five hundred feet below sea level…one thousand feet below sea level….Sir, might I remind you that you haven't quite finished your SCUBA modifications to the suit? Granted you do have a air tight seal and a self renewing air supply…it's the pressure that I'm afraid will kill you…"
"The suit's taken worse hits…wait, one thousand?" Tony questioned while he tried to free either arm in an attempt to shoot his enemy with an electromagnetic pulse.
"Now One thousand eight hundred."
"How the hell are we sinking so fast?"
Between each of JARVIS's notifications, Tony had felt a violent jerking motion. He had attributed it to the monster that was currently latched to him, which wasn't an incorrect observation. On his vision screen he saw the monster's mean yellow eyes, long noseless snout, and sick teeth, the enamel of which matched its black scaly face in tone. Wisps of what must have been long fur floated and thrashed about the monster's head and pointed ears like tentacles of ink. Splotches of light blue and then increasingly dark blue showed up in Tony's line of vision now and then when the creature was trying to bite through its prey's invulnerable neck.
"Two thousand fi…." JARVIS's voice faded out just as the darkest shade of blue finally turned black. The violent jolting and thrashing of the creature could still be
felt. The soft glow of the targeting system and system analysis faded out.
"It's teleporting me deeper into the ocean…so the damn thing's suicidal!" he said through gritted teeth.
Just as he made this statement, he felt a chomp and a crunch on his chest, right where his power core was.
Though this bite wasn't at all painful, it was indeed fatal.
The visor screen went dark, and a few moment later, Tony himself blacked out.
The crash and crunch of falling rock echoed through the massive caverns that surrounded the City of Atlantis.
Queen Kida could recall the sound of gunshots from when she first heard them so many decades ago, but this sound was most certainly not a gunshot. It sounded a lot more like rock being blasted by a bolt of energy from one of the ketaks. Or maybe a ketak crashing into a cavern wall.
Whatever it was, it was not far away. Facing in the direction that the sound had come from, Kida caught the scent of smoke, even behind her massive hunting mask.
"Follow me!" she commanded in her native tongue, and her attendants obeyed.
In the dark cavern, she could make out a few wisps of smoke billowing up over a small hill of loose gravel. Carefully and slowly she climbed the hill so as not to slip back down to the bottom. When she reached the top, she looked down onto the other side and saw the yellow head and red chest of a man, or at least what was a crude carving of a man. It was covered in black scratches, scuffs, and teeth marks. In the very middle of the chest was a hollow point with a dim, off-white glow, around which were several deep puncture marks.
"What is it? Something from the surface?" asked the first attendant when he reached the Queen's side.
"Go get my husband, tell him we have something from the surface that he needs to look at…" Kida said, then she began to slowly walk down the hill towards the metallic man.
"My queen, wait!" The attendant called, but Kida paid no heed.
When was only a few feet away from the metallic man, its rectangular eyes lit up with a dim glow. Shocked, Kida raised her spear and held the sharp blade near the creature's neck.
"Do you come in peace?" she asked as she took note that the hollow point was dimming and brightening at a steady pace.
"Huh?" a voice with a metallic echo answered. "Am I dead? You…you a demon or something?"
Kida cleared her throat, and spoke again.
"Do you come in peace?" she said slowly.
"It doesn't really matter at this point. I'll be dead in a few minutes or a few days…not really sure which, though." The metallic man shifted in the gravel, struggling a bit before groaning in pain and falling back to its original position. "Oh, god, I hope it's a few minutes…"
Kida lowered her spear tip.
The queen took off her hunting mask, revealing her tribal face tattoos, and placed it and her spear on the ground. She then kneeled down, and with her right hand took a hold of the crystal pendant that she always wore.
"I can heal you…tell me, what kind of creature are you?"
"Human…" the metallic man answered. "Hold on, let me get this off…"
The yellow mask popped open, revealing only the face of a pale man with dark eyebrows, mustache, and goatee.
"If I have to die, I want to at least be breathing fresh air, or as fresh as it can be here underground. At least I got nice look at your face, beautiful," The man said with a smirk. Then he winced and said, "Goddamn, this headache!"
Before he even opened his eyes, Kida touched the tip of her crystal to his forehead, and placed her hand over it. A blue glow lingered and slowly faded where she had placed her hand as the man opened his eyes again and blinked several times.
"Wow…gotta use that for my next hangover…"
"Where else are you injured? I have to touch the wound in order to heal it. We'll have to dig you up," Kida said.
"That's nice of you, but don't bother. Unless my power core gets replaced, I really am a dead man…"
The man bowed his head and looked down at his chest, to the hollow point that was still flickering.
"It powers the suit, and keeps shrapnel from turning my heart into meatloaf…From the looks of it, I might only have a few more minutes."
"So you need a new power source?"
"Yes, but I don't think…"
Before the man could finish his sentence, Kida quickly tugged on her pendant, ripping the leather cord that kept it around her neck. Carefully, she placed it in the hollow and held her right hand over it. The dim white glow brightened to a steady shade of neon blue.
"Does this work?" she asked.
The man struggled a bit, wiggling his shoulders. He pulled his arms out of the dirt.
"I need you to lift your arms." Kida said as she undid her sarong with her left hand. The man's eyes widened a bit as he lifted his arms, but Kida didn't notice. Motioning to an attendant, she had the servant hold the crystal in place while she tore the cloth into strips. She then tied them together and wrapped them around the man's red metallic chest. The blue glow shined through the cloth, and the leather cord hung out from under it. Kida stood up and stepped back.
The man then struggled some more, pushing down on the gravel with his arms. He then popped out of the ground, spraying chunks of dirt and small rocks all around him. From his feet came bursts of flame as he hovered in the air for a few seconds. He then slowly came down to the ground and the fire went out. The man touched something on his wrist, and the helmet peeled back from his head, revealing short dark hair that matched his eyebrows.
"Thanks. The name's Tony Stark, by the way," Tony said as he held out his hand towards Kida.
"I am Queen Kidagakash," Kida said, taking Tony's hand with both of hers. "Welcome to Atlantis."