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The story takes place after Tony's broken off his engagement to Natasha Romanov and Clint's, well, troubled. There's quite a bit of snark from all characters, so be prepared.
The story follows the events of Ultimates 2 and 3 and ends before Ultimatum. I've taken great pains for the story to be readily accessible for newer readers, but for help, please see:The Ultimates for information on the comic series and Wikipedia: Ultimate Marvel for more on the universe in general. Also, all five compilations for the Ultimates are now available in trade paperback, so the series is easy to collect. Just see your local comic shop!
The story also incorporates details from Warren Ellis' brilliant run on Ultimate Human and Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man. The main thing to take away from those two titles is that Tony utilizes nanites, or microscopic electromechanical devices, in his bloodstream to help him communicate with other nanites in his equipment and his armor. I'm quite fond of these nanites and have the tendency to anthropomorphize them, treating them like tiny mechanical golden retrievers. Please bear with me; I think nanotechnology is cute.
During the memorial service in Chapter 3, Steve quotes Lord Alfred Tennyson's In Memoriam, and during his talk with Thor in Chapter 5, the quote Steve uses comes from Robert Hayden.
Please note that this story underwent an intense beta period, and during that time, both the story and the beta process itself became deeply personal to me. My writing style has transformed into something I'm proud of. I know this journey isn't over, and I still have a lot to learn, but I hope you enjoy the story. I can only encourage those of you out there who want to improve your writing to find a beta that you click with, one who pushes you to and sometimes past your breaking points, and hold on until your fingers bleed.
Finally, I would like to express my deepest and most profound gratitude to jazzypom. Thank you for your days of hand-holding and cheerleading, the late nights that turned into early mornings, and your extraordinary patience. Without you, this story wouldn't exist. I believe Tony says it best: "I seem to vaguely recall you carrying me." Your Fast Friend xoxo Elly.
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