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Stark Wars Chapter 5: Red Snow

At the West Coast Avengers' headquarters in California - Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, and Hank Pym confront Iron Man about his recent activities. Hawkeye and Wonder Man, aggravated that Tony hasn't given any reason to the Avengers for trashing "armored types", demands an explanation for going after government workers like Stingray and Captain America. Stark obliges.

Starting from the beginning, he explains that he came across some of his own attack circuits while examining Force's impounded armor. He learned soonafter that Spymaster had stolen some of his secret technology and sold it to Justin Hammer. Hammer then sold the equipment to the highest bidders around the world, leaving a trail for Stark to pick up on. Unfortunately for Stark, the list wasn't completely accurate. Regardless, he went after each person on the manifest, feeling guilty for the death and destruction his inventions caused. He attacked the Controller, the Mandroids, the Beetle, the Raiders, and even Stingray. When his mission led him to disable the Guardsmen of the Vault, Captain America had to clean up the mess of escaped prisoners, putting an end to their long-time friendship. Tony concludes that his mission has made him a criminal, and reasons that if he had asked for help, the same fate might have awaited his friends.

Hawkeye says that although he and the rest of the team appreciate it, the team has unanimously concluded that Shell-Head's personal vendetta has to stop immediately, as it is clear that his actions will reflect back on the Avengers. Tony locks his helmet back onto his armor and flies off without a word.

At Stark Enterprises, Tony Stark and James Rhodes take off in a helicopter. Rhodey laments the affect their "armor wars" are having on his relationship with Marcy, and hopes it doesn't drag on any longer. While looking at a world map of the Soviet Union, Tony assures him that they are almost done.

In Moscow, USSR, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man land in unison at the Red Square before the Kremlin. Inside, the two enter to answer a summons made by the KGB. Gremlin is offered a chair to sit in as opposed to resting in the cramped confines of the Titanium Man armor, but he dismisses their hospitality as a chance to steal his armor. The board carries on with the presentation of Iron Man's recent endevours to eliminate his stolen technology. They conjecture that it is only a matter of time before Iron Man mounts an assault on Russian soil and therefore request the aid of the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, should such an attack ensue. While Dynamo proudly volunteers himself as a patriot, Gremlin makes off, claiming that the KGB are only using him to gain possession of his armor. Dynamo thinks to himself that he serves out of loyalty to his country, and despite his bravado, finds that he fears death more than most, as he is only one week away from retiring to a life of luxuries. Inside, the board acknowledges that Titanium Man's predictable belligerence will only work to serve their original plan to use him as bait.

Meanwhile, at Stark's mansion in Malibu, California, Tony and Rhodey are working in the basement. Tony explains to Rhodey the basic mechanics of the stealth armor he is preparing, namely that it sacrifices weaponry for stealth modules. Rhodey asks him what he is going to do after he has taken care of the stolen technology, Stark assures him that Abe Zimmer will come up with preventative measures to stop further use. Thanking Rhodey for his help, Stark tells him to take the helicopter back to Stark Enterprises and then rendezvous at predetermined coordinates in an hour's time. This is a ruse however, as Tony didn't want Rhodey to take any more risks helping him out. He promptly takes off from underwater in his stealth armor, using a rocket booster strapped to his back in order to save his suit's energy. Rhodey watches him from the helicopter and thinks Tony is going to get killed trying to save him. He wishes him godspeed.

In space, Iron Man rests at the Earth's atmospheric envelope, allowing the planet's rotation to position his destination below him. Hours later, Iron Man shoots down to Earth and disengages the rocket booster in Siberia, flying on his own to Bitterfrost. He believes the Gremlin should be based near there, but even if he isn't, there should be some clue to his current whereabouts in that location.

Beneath the ruins of Bitterfrost, Gremlin believes himself to be safe and hidden in a secret bunker. Unknown to him, the KGB has tapped the bunker with listening devices, and a number of operatives are holed up in a trailer closeby. Among them are the Crimson Dynamo, who is ordered to dispatch whoever is left alive between Titanium Man and Iron Man. He reluctantly agrees. To the Gremlin's surprise, Iron Man breaks through the ceiling of his bunker, catching him without the benefit of his Titanium Man armor. Gremlin wonders how Iron Man managed to bypass his automated defenses and opens fire with armor-piercing rounds from his pistol. Iron Man notes to himself that his armor is vulnerable to Gremlin's weaponry, and that his armor's energy only compliments three repulsor blasts.

The Crimson Dynamo flies slowly over Bitterfrost, taking his time in hopes that the victorious of his opponents will be in no condition to resist. Unfortunately for him, Gremlin's automated defenses shoot him down, severely weakening his armor, as well as alerting his presence to everyone. In the wake of Dynamo's unintentional distraction, Gremlin hops into his Titanium Man armor. As Gremlin closes the doors shut, Iron Man fires one of his repulsors at the chest. Iron Man notes that the Titanium Man's armor and weaponry is vastly superior to his stealth suit, and flies out from the hole he made in the ceiling. Titanium Man deactivates the automated defenses and prepares to go after Iron Man.

The Crimson Dynamo fires at Iron Man, but once again, draws unwanted attention to himself. Iron Man uses his second repulsor assault to force Dynamo's gauntlets up to his face, leaving his body exposed. Iron Man rams his torso into the snow, wounding the Crimson Dynamo severely. Defeated, Dynamo declares that he will die proudly for Russia, but Iron Man insists that "no one dies today!" He attaches a negator pack to the Crimson Dynamo's armor, causing the circuits to fuse, rendering the suit useless. Titanium Man fires on Iron Man but misses. Iron Man uses the last of his repulsor shot on the Titanium Man, blasting him into the snow. When Titanium Man recovers, he sees that Iron Man's stealth suit has gone from a black color to an adaptive white, reflecting the environment around him. As Iron Man readies his last negator pack to fuse the Titanium Man's circuits, the Titanium Man crushes it in his hand, insulted that Iron Man considered him as easy an opponent as the Crimson Dynamo. The two break apart and Iron Man is hurled into the snow, noting to himself that he has exausted his armor's weaponry.

The Titanium Man searches for the camoflauged Iron Man, melting the snow with its eye beams. When Iron Man knocks him off-guard, the Titanium Man hits him with the eye-beams, sending Shellhead crashing back down into the snow. Attempting to slow the Titanium Man down, Iron Man hurls a boulder in his direction, which is swiftly blasted apart. Gremlin activates the Titanium Man's stasis beam, and freezes Iron Man long enough to take ahold of him in a bear hug. He tells Iron Man that he is not a barbarian, and that he will see that his remains are sent to the American Consulate.

On the ground below, the KGB recover the fallen Dynamo and witness the battle overhead. Iron Man directs all of his suit's power to the booster jets, in an attempt to break free. In such close proximity to the Titanium Man's own booster jets, the extreme heat causes the Titanium's suit to ignite. As Iron Man breaks free, the Titanium Man explodes from within, killing Gremlin in the process. The KGB agents below open fire on Iron Man, branding him a murderer. Numb from the battle, Iron Man flies away to a helicopter rendezvous with Jim Rhodes.

On the East Coast of the United States, Edwin Cord hosts Senator Boynton at his estate. The two conspire to bring "Project Firepower" to completion. Cord exclaims that in a matter of days, Iron Man will be nothing but a memory.

At the Avengers Compound in California, Hawkeye leads a meeting with the West Coast Avengers to discuss Tony's actions. Iron Man has been branded a traitor by the state department, the world refers to him as an outlaw, and the Russians want him extradited for murder charges. Tony states that he went into Russia to save lives, not to take them - insisting that Gremlin's death was an accident brought about through self-defense. He makes no apology. Hawkeye dismisses Tony from the room to take a vote among the five of them. After a while, Mockingbird tells Stark to come back into the room. Hawkeye exclaims that as distasteful as it is, he HAS to ask Iron Man to turn in his I.D. card - as of right now, he is an Avenger no more.

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