The area around us was empty

05/10/2022

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When Old Vegetables Crash Computers in Italy,
New York has to deal with a lawsuit and an international incident.
The whole city is on lockdown for a day. All of the news channels are shut down as all traffic comes to a halt, and the entire world knows that it’s not just a power outage but something bigger. It’s like someone switched all the lights off inside their head, no matter where they go or how much they search, there is absolutely nothing else but blackness. No one can get home. Not even to their cars. They’re stuck inside their houses, locked away from society and everything they hold dear, trapped until the storm passes. That is if you consider the millions of New Yorkers trapped within their homes. Most are trying to stay indoors, praying that the worst of the storm ends before the sun rises. But everyone else? Everyone is wandering aimlessly around, waiting for their loved ones to come back. And they will have to wait because the streets are blocked by two massive concrete barriers placed across the entire city. The barrier is called the “Wall”, or in English, Wall Street. The Wall blocks off every avenue leading out of downtown Manhattan, leaving only two exits. One is a tunnel under the Brooklyn Bridge; it connects directly into the heart of Brooklyn. Another way out is at Grand Central Station. However, the tunnel goes straight up through the roof of the subway station. There’s no exit from that point. It seems that the safest route would be through the tunnel itself, which leads directly underground to a huge open sewer pipe system. There, there will be access to another subway system, leading right outside of NYC, heading toward the West Coast and New Jersey. If anyone were smart enough to take the chance, and get a boat, they could escape the city entirely and head west toward Lake Erie.
And so, here we are, standing before the wall that encases our city.
Our city…
“You know…” We all turned when we heard the voice that came from behind us. Standing there was none other than Tony Stark. He was dressed casually in khaki pants, a gray t-shirt and a baseball cap. He had his hands stuffed in his pockets, looking around and taking in the scene before him. When he looked back up and caught everyone staring at him, his face fell slightly.
“Oh, sorry!” He said nervously. “I didn’t realize I was interrupting anything.” Then he quickly looked away, as though he was ashamed of himself. After taking several deep breaths, he continued. “My apologies. I wasn’t trying to intrude upon your time. I’ll just-” He started walking away from us, only stopping when he heard Tony say his name.
“Wait,” Peter said softly. “We’re all going to be staying here for a while, aren’t we?”
Tony nodded, keeping his eyes on the ground as he replied, “Well yes, Mr. Stark Industries is closed until further notice, and my company is being held on lock down until it clears itself from any wrongdoing. As of now I am the CEO of Stark Industries.” He then turned back to face us and smiled. “But you guys don’t need to stay here if you don’t want to.” He added.
It was silent after that. Everyone seemed to be thinking about what the man said, and how much we wanted to leave. The thought scared some of us, while others found comfort in knowing that no one knew exactly where we were, and that we would have someone watching over us.
Peter decided to take charge. “So, what do we do now?” He asked. Tony glanced at Peter, smiling, but it faded quickly once he realized the question was serious. Peter noticed this immediately, and took a step back, realizing he should’ve been more careful with his words. “Um, sorry! Forget I asked that.”
Tony chuckled softly. “No, I’m glad you did ask. I suppose…what do you think we should do next?” He asked.
Peter shrugged. “What good would it do to stay here? What’s the point of staying if we can’t get anywhere without running into somebody?” He asked. He looked around, noticing that he had already walked past the barricade. A lot of people had already gone over the barrier as well, but most hadn’t managed to get out yet.
Tony sighed heavily, leaning against the barrier. Peter could sense that something was wrong, and was about to ask again when Tony spoke, his tone low. “What if you just…wanted to stay?” His question made everyone turn to look at him. Tony avoided eye contact, instead focusing on the cement floor. His shoulders slumped forward slightly as he muttered, “I’m sorry. Please, ignore me.” He then lifted his head, forcing another smile to appear on his face as he continued. “Anyway, what about it? You know you can stay here as long as you want to. You’re free to go wherever you please. There’s no security on the inside, either, so…yeah. Just stay safe.” He waved his hand dismissively, hoping the conversation was over. He stood up straighter when a small group of men came towards us, each wearing the same dark blue uniform and carrying a gun slung over their shoulder. Tony stepped forward and addressed the men. “Hey, guys! What happened here?” The soldiers ignored him. Their faces remained blank as they stared off into space, barely glancing in our direction. Tony’s eyes widened, recognizing them as the same guards who had stopped Captain America.
After a few tense seconds, he tried speaking again. “Listen, these guys are part of SHIELD, and they-” The soldiers didn’t seem to hear Tony at all. In fact, they had disappeared, leaving the only sound remaining being the faint hum of electrical sparks coming from somewhere near the Wall.
Peter shook his head. “He’s talking to them, isn’t he? Of course he is.” Tony shot him a dirty look and turned back to the soldiers, gesturing to us with his arms spread wide.
“Guys! Are any of you guys listening to me?”
Again, all that we got in return was silence. They didn’t even bother to respond to the billionaire’s questions.
Tony let out a sigh. “Fine.” He looked up at the sky. “Let’s see what happens when you leave this goddamn island.”
A large explosion rocked the air as another missile streaked overhead. It crashed into the Wall, shattering it instantly, revealing a section of the highway underneath. We all watched as cars and trucks were destroyed, their occupants thrown across the street like rag dolls. The men with guns turned to look at the debris floating in the air and rushed out, ignoring Tony completely. The rest of us followed suit and ran for safety. Once the men were gone, Tony returned to staring at the broken Wall. For a moment, he didn’t say anything, and Peter wondered if maybe he should’ve stayed with us and waited to talk to Tony. Finally, however, the billionaire turned around, shooting Peter a glare that told him to stay put. I bit my lip as I watched the Avengers team slowly retreat towards the exit. Once Steve and Natasha reached the edge of the Wall, they paused and shared a look, then headed back down the hallway.
Peter was getting worried about them. “Are you sure you’ll be fine?” He asked. Tony nodded as he grabbed a hold of Steve’s shield. “Yeah. I’ll be fine,” he said reassuringly. “Now get moving.”
Once Peter finally left, Tony turned back to the Wall. He raised the metal object above his head, preparing to strike it down, when a familiar whirring noise distracted him. Suddenly, a jet appeared, landing a little ways from the entrance. Several figures exited the plane, armed with a machine gun. Once their attention had settled, they began firing their weapons at the Wall. Sparks flew as bullets tore through the metal. Tony jumped back from the wall and shielded himself from the rain of bullets. “Damn it!” He cursed, wiping the sweat dripping down his forehead. “Why does everyone insist on attacking me?!”
I glanced back at Tony to check on him. He seemed annoyed, ready to attack the shooters, but stopped when he saw my glance. Instead he rolled his eyes playfully and gave me a cocky grin. “Don’t worry, princess,” he reassured me. “This guy won’t be bothering me anymore.”
I let out a nervous chuckle as the gunfire intensified. I felt bad about making him feel threatened when he’d been nothing but nice and helpful. “Sorry about that,” I said sheepishly.
Tony shrugged. “Hey, at least you kept the bastards at bay.” I chuckled again and looked around nervously for signs of danger. The area around us was empty, but I still couldn’t shake off the feeling of being watched.
I then looked over at the Avengers. Natasha had her back to us as she talked quietly with Sam. Wanda and Pietro were standing a little ways away from us as they watched, but neither one of them moved to help. Clint stood in the middle of the group, leaning against one of the walls, while Maria Hill hovered a few feet away from them.

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