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Fanfic / Ferris

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Jocasta: We've found that this isn't a war ordinary tactics can win.

The pitch: A geek ends up in the XCOM universe. Good News: He's just the Chief Engineer's personal assistant. Bad News: The Chief Engineer is Tony Stark.

Ferris is an XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover fanfic by u63r. Later portions of the fic added elements from XCOM 2.

Eamon is an Irish geek who keeps traveling between fictional universes at the behest of some mysterious figure he calls "The Benefactor". One day, he wakes up in the body of a woman named Irene on a helicopter next to Tony Stark, who's just been hired as the Chief Engineer of XCOM.

Needless to say, the bad guys don't like that one bit. Especially when Tony starts building powered armor for XCOM troops. Oh, and did we mention that the aliens are working with HYDRA?

This crossover fanfic provides examples of:

  • Accent Relapse: When Eamon gets drunk after Laura dies, Irene starts to lose her Chicago accent and gain his Irish one. Tony just assumes she's drunk.
  • The Ace: As you might expect, Captain America is an expert at strategy, tactics, and CQC. She also speaks excellent Russian, is as good an actress as Black Widow if not better, has experience in covert and guerrilla ops, is a pretty good archer, and she's really, really getting tired of it.
  • Alternate Universe: For X-COM, obviously it's not the canon universe, but splits off from the first Iron Man movie when Tony is rescued by SHIELD and recruited by X-COM, instead of returning home after his captivity by Ten Rings.
    • Instead of Doctor Yinsen, it was Doctor Shen who helped Tony build the first suit of Iron Man armor.
    • The role of EXALT seems to have been replaced with the MCU organization HYDRA.
    • Doctor Vahlen's real name isn't Vahlen, it's Jean Grey. Yes, that Jean Grey.
  • Amazon Brigade: HYDRA seems to prefer female infiltrators.
  • Anyone Can Die: Well, it is about XCOM.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Bradford grows one after a failed mission, and keeps it.
  • Big Sister Instinct:
    • Ivanna Vanko becomes a sort-of-mentor to Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl) offscreen, presumably because she empathized with a (young) woman who lost her parents. She expresses similar sentiments toward Wanda.
    • Quill secretly arms Doreen with a plasma sword that saves her life, and says Bradford needs to stop treating her like a kid sister. Presumably he lost his parents in this universe too. Also, her nickname in XCOM translates to "little sister".
  • Bittersweet Ending: XCOM manages to save the day, but SHIELD is in shambles, there's a bunch of uncontrolled super-tech floating around out there, and Tony died. Also, Moscow is uninhabitable for the foreseeable future, and there are a lot of people with mutations. Did we mention the many world leaders who either willingly worked with the X-Rays or were mind-controlled? Yeah, there's going to be a lot of distrust.
  • Brick Joke: One of the first things we learn is how Reed Richards was the first choice for XCOM's Chief Engineer. The final scene is Commander Hill meeting the Fantastic Fo- the Future Foundation as they return to Earth. Reed wants to know what he missed.
  • Central Theme: Secrets and lies. Seems like nearly every main character has some kind of secret.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the first two acts, XCOM never quite manages to get the flight systems working in their armor. In the final battle, Schmidt says "Avengers: Ascend." Because "Tony, Irene, and Vanko had finally ironed out the kinks in the flight module."
  • Clone Angst: In the climax, Schmidt/Rogers taunts Diamondback by pointing out that she (and the other Sentinels) probably a genetically altered cyborg clone. And thus, disposable to the Ethereals. Diamondback almost feels conflicted, but the brainwashing - and/or her own denial - kicks in.
  • Comic Book Movies Dont Use Code Names: Played with. Some aliens have the same names they did in the game, while its Thin Men are called "Infiltrators". In the spirit of the trope, since the first one we see in the fic is a thin man, he's identified as such several times.
  • Composite Character: According to Chapter 32 and the spoilered text in the opening summary, the fic's Nick Fury is Nick Fury III, grandson of Agent Carter and the classic WW2 Nick Fury. Which makes him a composite of Nick Fury Jr. and Sharon Carter, AKA Agent 13.
    • Vision is an AI who can split off and reintegrate like Multiple Man, hence the name "Project Madrox".
    • HYDRA combines its canon version, the MCU version, and EXALT.
  • Death of a Child: The first chapter ends with Eamon and the readers learning that HYDRA killed a kid, and in the Moscow Terror Mission, an entire school is attacked and implanted by Chryssalids.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Pointedly averted. Kirsten may have used her psychic powers to rape a guy while she was drunk, and both SHIELD and XCOM take it completely seriously. Cap even mentions how the UK's laws say a woman can't rape. We never find out if she did it or not.
  • Ending Memorial Service: For Tony. We don't actually "see" the funeral. We just get a recap and Fury's speech.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • In the first chapter, Eamon deduces where the sniper is, comes up with a plan, and charges their position with an SMG. This after being next to a man who was just horribly killed by the same sniper.
    • Director Schmidt, in the meeting where she meets Tony, informs him that the briefing tablet will be waiting on his pillow. He quips that he wanted a chocolate. She snarks right back that she was feeling peckish, and apologizes. There actually is a chocolate when Eamon finally gets to bed.
  • Fan Wank: The first suit rolls off the line about two weeks after Tony arrives. The justification is that in-canon, the Iron Man suit took a month or so to make, and so did the Iron Monger suit. Working directly with comparable scientists (his team), and making a less-advanced powered rig lets them shave off a lot of time.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In the climax, we learn the Uber-Ethereal bodyjacked Kirsten Arnadottir and made her into the Avatar. The Ethereal claims Kirsten is still in there. Screaming. Also, Loki captures one of the Sentinel cyborgs, and he says he didn't kill her just so he could give her to Vahlen, as revenge for injuring his old student Kelda.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the first things to happen in the fic; Schmidt just rolls with Tony's joke about a chocolate on his pillow. One of the last things that happens in the fic; Schmidt works with Tony to kill the Uber-Ethereal, thought Tony gets an eternal rest in the process.
    • Levin says he is gay, and may have faced covert discrimination, but Schmidt hired him anyway. He wonders how many other members of XCOM wouldn't fit in a more conventional force. In the MCU, the Howling Commandos were a bunch of men (and one woman, if you include Peggy) that were all marginalized by the standards of the time.
    • In "Ascendant", the chapter banner foreshadows that three members of the team will be killed by the end of the mission. The team leader won't be killed.
    • Eamon is technically an alien from another universe riding around in the body of a Ferris-verse woman. The Big Bad turns out to be an Ethereal riding around in the body of a woman.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: By the finale, Dum-E has been trained and upgraded to an outright AI and runs XCOM's ground combat drones.
  • Fusion Fic: Fusing the worlds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-COM: Enemy Unknown. And later XCOM 2.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: XCOM and SHIELD troops tend to insert random words from their native language, especially under stress.
  • Heroic BSoD: After STONE PROPHET goes pear-shaped, both Tony and Bradford blame themselves for the mission's failure. They're snapped out of it by Vahlen and Director Schmidt, respectively.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Irene/Eamon has one in the start of Chapter 2, after learning that the HYDRA assassination team killed a family, including a child, to take a poke at Tony. She defaults to analysing exactly how they died, hands over her weapon, goes downstairs, vomits all over the front hall, and then gets tranqued.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Bradford plays the guitar.
    • Pena reads poetry, and is apparently an Emily Dickinson fan.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: For the first two arcs, most of the chapter titles are quotes of some kind, usually from music. For the third arc, most of the chapter titles are single words starting with A. Except for the April Fools chapter, which suddenly turns into a Batman/XCOM crossover called "Blitz", and the climax, which 'counts down' through single words starting with F, E, D, etc. until it reaches the last chapter; Avengers. The epilogue is a song lyric...that starts with A.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The main feature of the alien Infiltrators, which are this fic's Thin Men. And that's before they get plasma sniper rifles.
  • In Medias Res: As the fic opens, XCOM has been operating for some time, and has already started to populate the Memorial Wall.
  • Kill It with Fire: Repeatedly. Chryssalids have a vulnerability to flame in this universe, just like they do in Enemy Within.
    • Doctor Vahlen does this to several mutons... with her mind. Because her real name isn't Vahlen, it's Jean Grey.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At one point, the concept of bipedal robots is taken down; while intimidating, it's usually better to have them with wheels or treads.
  • Lensman Arms Race: The opening assassination attempt gives XCOM early laser weapons. Later on, HYDRA starts reverse-engineering their Powered Armor to make bipedal robots. This gives XCOM the idea to make their own autonomous robots, though they're more like SHIVs, albeit with AI based on Dummy. Later still, HYDRA not only has fully functional robots of their own, they've also got their own Unibeams with an electrical version of the repulsor. Also, they've cracked the Plasma Sniper, and are letting the aliens use both. This is all before the end of the first arc, mind.
    • In the final battle, the Uber-Ethereal steals and modifies Tony's plans for the Hulkbuster, and it rapidly modifies its forces to deal with XCOM's abilities. Oh, and it can modify "Buster" too. In short, it does what XCOM does, but better. Cap does not appreciate the irony.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Bradford loves his coffee. It's later revealed he was in the Navy.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Doctor Vahlen, aka Jean Grey, is from Phoenix, Arizona.
    • At the end of Arc 2, Tony suspects Schmidt is Captain America's granddaughter from an illegitimate child. He's wrong, but his theory is remarkably similar to the origin of Ultimate Red Skull, Cap's illegitimate son.
    • Jane Porter has a cousin named Ruth, who had to take a trip to Israel. Assuming Porter is as Israeli as Natalie Portman is, Ruth is probably this universe's version of Sabra, an X-Men character from the comics.
    • In Chapter 38, "Breach", Eric O'Grady (Ant-Man II) notes that he and Pym are both the same height. This is also true of Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd, because the characters wear the same suit.
  • Nerf: In the climax, the Uber-Ethereal is a lot weaker than it would normally be, since it recently downloaded into a modified human body.
  • Noodle Incident: What, exactly, Laura did in the garage in Chapter 05.
    • Arc 3 makes occasional references to "Moscow" and some kind of disaster. We finally find out what happened in Chapter 33; the aliens "accidentally" crashed a failing ship in the city (presumably trying to kill Thor) and turned it into Priypat 2.0.
  • No OSHA Compliance: None of the organizations featured are really subject to OSHA, but the trope gets a nod in Arc 3 when some XCOM auxiliaries (so to speak) infiltrate an Ethereal construction site as OSHA inspectors.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In Arc 3, XCOM ends up using basically the same radicalization and terrorist tactics as HYDRA did at the start of the fic. In Chapter 32, Miss Smith points this out to Captain America, to the latter's discomfort.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The finale ends with Tony dead. Not only does Rogers let her "Captain America" persona drop, but she actually says "goddamn".
  • Once a Season: Every Arc ends with a base defense mission. Specifically, Arc 1 ends with XCOM defending themselves. Arc 2 ends with XCOM and SHIELD simultaneously defending themselves, which both fail. Arc 3 ends with XCOM defending their Moscow base against aliens, while they're simultaneously assaulting the Ethereal mothership.
  • Painting the Medium: In the final battle, the Uber-Ethereal speaks entirely in bold text, as long as it's in the Buster suit. Also, Ultron gets precisely one line, in large, monospace text.
  • Power Copying: In the finale, the Uber-Ethereal imitates XCOM's pseudo-psionic packs after she sees them in action. Except for telekinesis, which she already has. She also imitates their weapons development methods (but much faster), and uses a modified "Hulkbuster" suit that Tony forgot to delete the plans for.
  • Product Placement: Parodied. The fic mentions Angry Birds and Jack Daniels whiskey a lot. The "End Credits" thank Rovio Entertainment and Jack Daniels distillery for Promotional Consideration.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Most of the equipment is named after Greco-Roman figures. Because Director Schmidt has a mythology degree.
  • Residual Self-Image: In Arc 3, some of the protagonists gather in an Asgardian "metaspace" for a remote meeting. Their avatars are based on their self-image. Eamon's self-image is...confused, considering that he's using the body and memories of someone he's very different from.
  • Retirony: In Arc 3, Schmidt says she wants to spend more time with her kids when the mission is done. Clearly she's going to get killed during the final mission. Nope, that goes to Tony, who made the mistake of saying he had Girl Back Home (Pepper). Note that he wasn't the only one thinking about the subject, so it was a deliberate misdirect.
  • Rousing Speech: Tony tries one, gets sidetracked, and admits he's just not that good at speeches.
    • Captain America turns out to be much better at them, of course.
  • Rule of Drama: Inverted. In the Epilogue, Eamon/Irene asks why he doesn't have the body dysmorphia (from being in a body of the wrong race and gender), and the literal Author Avatar says "It seemed neater." In other words, he avoided adding another subplot to a story that already has a lot of dramatic balls in the air, two of whichnote  already involve LGBT characters.
  • Rule of Fun: The author's notes for the Moscow Terror Mission say the scenario in the fic would be nearly unplayable, and not much fun. He also says that the game's version - saving a few dozen people in attacks that kill thousands - isn't really that notable.
  • Running Gag: "Not exactly" in response to a question, both in-story and in discussion.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Due to the opening assassination attempt, XCOM gets early access to not only laser weapons, but precision lasers (sniper rifles) and scatter lasers (shotguns). They put it to good use.
    • Subverted in Chapter 4 when it comes to killing the Sectoid Commander during the "tutorial" mission. The Director doesn't allocate funds to the psychic research, because it's an unproven field and may not actually be replicable in humans, compared to Tony's suits.
    • XCOM and SHIELD give Thor additional weapons before he returns to Asgard, including ICER weapons. So Thor is able to capture Loki, the Rainbow Bridge remains intact, and Asgard starts setting up relations with Earth. Which scares the Ethereals so badly they kick off their takeover early, force XCOM into hiding, activate their HYDRA infiltrators to control SHIELD, and hold Earth hostage until Asgard backs off.
  • Shipper on Deck: The staff seems very supportive of Irene/Laura, as well as Bradford/Director Schmidt, despite the latter being technically against regs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • XCOM has multiple Skyrangers, like in Stardust, as well as taking (David) Bradford and (Moira) Vahlen's first names from them, as per Word of God.
    • The mayor of Vancouver is one Pierre "Pepe" Tucker, a reference to popular and prolific Spacebattles writer Peptuck. The writer said in the spirit of the MCU's Stan Lee cameos, he would be played by Sid Meier. It's not clear whether he knew Meier is actually Canadian.
    • When someone points out how hard XCOM's job, is, a squaddie responds "We do it, so you don't have to."
    • Chapter 3 has a marksman, AKA a sniper, by the name of Mundy. Mundy is the name of the Sniper from Team Fortress 2. It also turns out that Sergeant Dunayevsky has a doctorate in Russian Literature. Again, Word of God confirms he's the Heavy.
    • In chapter 5, they encounter a private security operative (you know, a mercenary) named Wilson who is very good with weapons and constantly makes goofy remarks. It's not a particularly subtle Deadpool reference.
    • Chapter 9 has a discussion about animal names in regard to Squad Names. The first two mentioned are Mako and Hammerhead, which are the names of the two types of driveable ground vehicles in Mass Effect.
    • Chapter 22: an Asgardian says, "It's the moment of dawning comprehension that I live for."
    • Chapter 28: Much of the chapter takes place in a 'data vault' run by the Epiphyte Corporation from Cryptonomicon. Okoye sits at Randy's desk, eats his Cap'n Crunch, and looks at the picture on his desk. Apparently Randy and Amy had a kid.
    • Chapter 30:
      • An explicit ripoff of the war room from Dr Strangelove.
      • Another character wears a USS IOWA baseball cap, much like Tom Clancy.
      • One character enters a scene with Batman's "Relax everyone, I'm here" from The LEGO Movie.
      • A third character directly quotes Wolfenstein: The New Order;
        Count to four, inhale. Count to four, exhale.
    • Chapter 31:
      • In the opening scene, Eli tries to tell the team "No rushing." before the elevator arrives and interrupts him.
      • One character takes out the last enemy, and jokes "Terrorists win." It's doubled-up if the reader realizes the whole chapter is about a team of "terrorists" in civvies and disguises fighting through uniformed "counter-terrorists" to plant a bomb.
      • Another Cryptonomicon ref. Specifically, the main POV character dies in a near-identical way to Bobby Shaftoe, except Bobby was going to die anyway. Mike would just rather avoid getting captured alive. Also, he just got his wife killed.
    • In Chapter 33, a secret agent quotes Michael from Burn Notice. The writer is a self-admitted fan. For bonus points, it's set up in a way that references The Princess Bride.
      "I want my life back!"
  • Shown Their Work: Like With This Ring does with Young Justice and DC comics, this story heavily references obscure bits of the MCU and Marvel comics in general. For example, minor Iron Man villain Bruno Horgannote  works for SHIELD instead of going after Tony, and the X-Ray eye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is foreshadowed as a scanner during the French convoy attack, then shows up properly in Arc 3. And at Tony's funeral as a scanner again.
    • The series also tends to use Gratuitous Foreign Language, and appropriate idioms. Such as when a Japanese character describes herself as a "sticking up nail". Later on, a nickel drops instead of a penny for a Canadian character, because Canada discontinued pennies a while agonote .
    • Chapter 31, Ascendant, takes place in and around Chicago, and anyone familiar with the area may realize most of the action is set on the Trump International Hotel. When a shot comes from the only higher building in Chicago, one character says it "came from the South, across the river". Which is roughly the correct direction for Willis (Sears) Tower. Ironically, the writer seems to have mistaken the 16th floor restauraunt and lounge for the rooftop one. The top floor is actually a penthouse.
  • Shut Up Elves: In chapter 20, a group of Asgardians, superhuman beings who are nigh-immortal, practically immune to bullets, and practically view themselves as gods, joke to one another how weak these aliens are (and how the Puny Humans must be overestimating their threat)... right before their leader literally walks into a Muton and gets most of his torso obliterated. One of the other team members manages to kill the Muton, but the group was panicked and later seemed traumatized.
  • Sue Donym: Stephanie Rogers took the fake name "Paula Schmidt", which is just "Paula Smith" in German. Several readers thought she was secretly the Red Skull (Johann Schmidt), or a descendant. And in religious terms, the apostle Paul is introduced watching the coats of the mob that lynched the apostle Stephen.
  • Take That!: Averted. In Chapter 31, Ascendant, the bulk of the chapter takes place on the roof of Trump Hotel, in Chicago, though it's never explicitly described as such. The authoritarian aliens decided to put their surveillance/communications tech there, which might read like a shot at Trump. The author note at the end of the chapter says the location was chosen years prior, long before Trump was elected, because he saw a construction documentary. The implication is that it's not actually a political reference, just random chance.
  • Technology Porn: When new equipment or weapons are used, they're sometimes accompanied by a brief description explaining what they are, in order to inform the reader of how the poor X-ray or HYDRA terrorist on the receiving end is about to get hosed.
  • Tempting Fate: In Chapter 20, a newbie Asgardian team of mages is sent to assist XCOM. To keep up morale, the leader quips about how the aliens really aren't that dangerous. Then he's nearly killed when he walks into a Muton, loses an arm at least, is incapacitated for the duration of the chapter, and is presumably sent back to Asgard for treatment. He's absent the rest of the fic.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Psionic communications often carry emotions as a sort of subtext, especially if the user is very powerful.
  • Token Minority: Parodied. XCOM is very diverse, but Eamon-as-Irene notes that Irene is a very mixed-race middle-aged female engineer (who's working under a rich white straight guy). Then he checks her social media and finds out she's bisexual. Later in the fic, he points out that he's technically also transgender. Just not in the usual sense.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In Chapter 3, Eamon is surprised to find that XCOM starts with six-man squads, not four like in the game. His internal chiding asks him whether he thought they would move on a grid.
  • You Are Too Late: In the climax, Cap tells the Uber-Ethereal that XCOM could just use the Bifrost to destroy the Temple Ship, or get Hank Pym's help to smuggle nukes on board somehow. XCOM is not on a kill mission, they're on a capture mission. This inverts the usual trope. And it also means XCOM can just destroy the ship as a last resort.
    • Later on, the Uber-Ethereal hacks Tony's suit. Tony tries to directly edit the code through his neural link, but UE's already gotten root access and locked him out.