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Old 11-04-2012, 06:24 PM   #151
Byrd Man
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The sounds of sirens got louder and the flashing lights of police vehicles could be seen rushing closer in the distance. Spider-Man looked at Tombstone, who was covered head to toe in webbing, and then at Daredevil.

"What say we make like a tree and get out of here while the getting is good?"
"Good idea."

Pulling his stick out, Daredevil shot a grapnel up towards an adjacent building. The hook caught on a fire escape and pulled him up into the air. Spider-Man followed right behind with a web line. A few minuets later, the two masked men were on a rooftop, looking down as the NYPD patrol and SWAT officers raided Lincoln's club.

"Hopefully the cops will find more drugs and illegal guns in there than you can shake a stick at. Although why you'd want to shake a stick at drugs and guns, I'm not sure. Regardless, thanks for the help tonight. I'm Daredevil. Uhh, the new Daredevil, I should say."

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Old 11-04-2012, 07:51 PM   #152
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"Good idea."

Pulling his stick out, Daredevil shot a grapnel up towards an adjacent building. The hook caught on a fire escape and pulled him up into the air. Spider-Man followed right behind with a web line. A few minuets later, the two masked men were on a rooftop, looking down as the NYPD patrol and SWAT officers raided Lincoln's club.

"Hopefully the cops will find more drugs and illegal guns in there than you can shake a stick at. Although why you'd want to shake a stick at drugs and guns, I'm not sure. Regardless, thanks for the help tonight. I'm Daredevil. Uhh, the new Daredevil, I should say."
"Spider-Man", Peter introduces himself.
"Now that you mention it...I do recall reading an old article about Daredevil a year or so ago. Writer seemed to think he was a myth. Glad that the writer was wrong. Thanks for saving my bacon, DD."

Spider-Man glanced down at the police below, noticing Detective Sawyer among the group.

"Well, that's one scumbag off of the streets...but, from what I've gathered, there's a much bigger fish out there. A Great White Shark, in fact."

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Old 11-04-2012, 08:57 PM   #153
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Spider-Man glanced down at the police below, noticing Detective Sawyer among the group.

"Well, that's one scumbag off of the streets...but, from what I've gathered, there's a much bigger fish out there. A Great White Shark, in fact."
"Is that who's pulling Lincoln's strings? I've heard nothing but rumors and rumblings, had to call in a chit with a source just to find out about Lincoln."

They watched as a group of armed officers and SWAT led the beaten and webbed up Linclon to an armored van.

"I don't know if the charges will stick, but we at least managed do disrupt the plans of whoever's running the show. At least for a little while. Always gotta love throwing a monkey wrench into the works."

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Old 11-05-2012, 05:24 PM   #154
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"Is that who's pulling Lincoln's strings? I've heard nothing but rumors and rumblings, had to call in a chit with a source just to find out about Lincoln."

They watched as a group of armed officers and SWAT led the beaten and webbed up Lincoln to an armored van.

"I don't know if the charges will stick, but we at least managed do disrupt the plans of whoever's running the show. At least for a little while. Always gotta love throwing a monkey wrench into the works."

"Yeah, it's the little victories of life that make you smile"
, Spider-Man replied.
"Hopefully one day we'll be standing on a rooftop in our spandex chatting about how we took down the big fish."

"And, hopefully, that day is a warmer one"
, Spider-Man said as a chilling breeze came in from the North.
"Seriously...it's getting ****ing cold out."

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Old 11-05-2012, 06:13 PM   #155
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"Yeah, it's the little victories of life that make you smile"
, Spider-Man replied.
"Hopefully one day we'll be standing on a rooftop in our spandex chatting about how we took down the big fish."

"And, hopefully, that day is a warmer one"
, Spider-Man said as a chilling breeze came in from the North.
"Seriously...it's getting ****ing cold out."
"Yeah, it is kinda cold," Dick said, looking down at the masked man's chest. "I didn't think spiders had nipples... but hey, you learn something new everyday. But yeah, this was fun. We need to go it again sometime."

Standing, Daredevil shot a grapnel line into the night.

"Ever need to look me up, just say my name. Apparently, that makes me appear. I'm part of an exclusive club with Beetlejuice and Taylor Swift."

He looked around nervously for a moment before he breathed a sigh of a relief.

"Thank God. I don't think I'm in the mood for either one right now. Anyway, we seem to make a good team. Have your beaten mooks call my beaten mooks and we'll do lunch sometime."

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Old 11-05-2012, 07:29 PM   #156
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"Yeah, it is kinda cold," Dick said, looking down at the masked man's chest. "I didn't think spiders had nipples... but hey, you learn something new everyday. But yeah, this was fun. We need to go it again sometime."

Standing, Daredevil shot a grapnel line into the night.

"Ever need to look me up, just say my name. Apparently, that makes me appear. I'm part of an exclusive club with Beetlejuice and Taylor Swift."

He looked around nervously for a moment before he breathed a sigh of a relief.

"Thank God. I don't think I'm in the mood for either one right now. Anyway, we seem to make a good team. Have your beaten mooks call my beaten mooks and we'll do lunch sometime."
"Sounds good to me", Spider-Man says as he straightens himself and cracks him neck.

"Pleasure kicking a giant albino's ass with you tonight, DD."

"Stay frosty out there!"


Spider-Man fired a webline to the building across the way and leaped off, swinging away towards home.

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Old 11-06-2012, 12:26 AM   #157
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New York City


She eyed her target from afar. He was a large, heavyset man in a pristine, pinstripe suit. Men in dark suits flanked him on both sides. The man in question was Sam "Sammy Fingers" Rogato, a high-ranking lieutenant in the Philadelphia mob. His escorts were government agents. Today was the day Sammy Fingers was due to testify in court. Organized crime in Philly would be completely dismantled if he were allowed to testify.

It was her job to see to it that he never made it to court.

She pulled her red hoodie up over her face and began walking down the sidewalk, following the men from the other side of the street. Her brain processed the dozens of ways to complete her mission. Every angle, every chain reaction, and every possibility went through her head.

A taxi coming down the street's front right tire had three weak lug nuts. Probability they would fall off: 40-90% given the proper force.

The mailbox next to her had two rusted legs. Probability it would collapse: 75%

A carpenter's ruck was parked on the other side of the street. Pieces of lumber were fastened to the top of the truck's rack. The strap holding it down was frayed. Probability it would snap: 96%

Rate of success: 82-98%

The odds favored her. She looked around to make sure the coast was clear before acting. She slammed her shoulder into the mailbox beside her. The legs snapped and the heavy box fell onto the road, scattering letters and packages on to the street.

The taxi driver swerved to avoid the box. The sudden swerving caused the lug nuts on the right front tire to snap. The taxi's wheel popped off, sending the car skidding across the street on three wheels.

The taxi slammed into the back of the carpenter truck. The frayed straps snapped, sending a sharp piece of wood flying forward. The wood whistled through the air and struck Sammy Fingers in the chest. The sharp tip went through, piercing his heart like an arrowhead.

Sammy Fingers fell to the ground, the shard of wood sticking upright in his chest. The federal agents around him panicked and tried to figure out what to do. But at this point, it was a moot point. Sammy Fingers was dead by the time he hit the ground.

Smiling, she turned away from the scene and started to hurry down the street. She turned the corner and ran into a familiar face.

"Bravo, my dear," Erik Lensherr said from his wheelchair. Fred Dukes, known as the Blob, was standing behind Lensherr's chair. "I wonder, how much money did you just make?"

"How about you leave me alone?" She asked, stepping around Lensherr and Dukes. "I'm not joining your little club. Pietro may have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I'm not buying."

"But I'm not selling," said Lensherr. He held his hand up and she stopped in place the metal belt buckle around her waist was holding her back. "This time, I'm in the buying business."

Turning his chair around, Lensherr looked up at the woman and gave her a small smile.

"Wanda, my dear, I'll say what I said before: You are maybe the most dangerous mutant I have met. I want to use that, but I'm no fool. How would you like to make a lot of cash in a quick amount of time?"

*****



Westchester County
New York


"Gentlemen,"
Hank said to the rest of the male X-Men. He led them through one of the recently renovated rooms. "Behold, the Danger Room!"

"This is it?" Scott asked, looking around. The room was white, with nothing in it but empty space.

"Only danger I see in here is getting bored to death."

"Now, fellas, maybe it's like that room in Mission Impossible. Scientologist on wires. Now that's danger."

"Oh, yea of little faith."

Beast cleared his throat and looked up.

"Computer, ID login: Hotel Omaha 0000. Run scenario: 1012BAA."

On cue, the walls and floor shifted around them. They were no longer inside the all-white room, but back in Buenos Aires. The Sugar Man stood in front of them, his tongue lashing out at them.

They all scattered as the bulbous mutant struck out. Jumping onto a tree branch, Hank spoke up. "Computer, ID login: Hotel Omaha 0000. Pause!"

Sugar Man stopped in mid-strike. His whole body, and the entire environment, was frozen in time.

"Hard light simulation," Hank said as he jumped down. "Looks and feels like the real thing. I can program almost any scenario into the computer. This will give us more of a wide variety situations and scenarios to work with."

"Hank, this is--," Scott stammered, at a lost for words.

"-- kinda creepy," Rex said, poking at Sugar Man's cheek.

"This is like something out of Star Trek, man. The holodeck."

"That was one of my inspirations for the project."

"Let's do it,"
Scott said, nodding towards Sugar Man. "Start it back up and we'll give it a whirl."

"But, we aren't ready for combat. None of us has our gear, you yourself are without your visor."

"Well, then, that'll be our scenario. The four of us have to take down Sugar Man without being prepared."

He smiled at Hank, his eyes glowing red. "Start it back up..."

"Computer, ID login: Hotel Omaha 0000. Resume scenario."

The Sugar Man moved again and the four young men jumped into combat with the simulated foe.

While nearly all the X-Men gave the Danger Room its test run, their teammate sat four stories above them in the professor's office. Jean was sitting with Charles on the floor of his office, both of them cross-legged.

"Telepathy is a burden, Jean. Make no mistake about that. The willpower to drown out the voices, the temptation to constantly read someone's mind for answers. It's not an easy thing to live with. When it manifested in me, I was nearly driven insane. But, I have faith in you. Your telekinesis has progressed so fast, I think it's time to remove one of those mental blocks. Are you ready?"

"Yes," she said nervously. "I mean, I'm as ready as I'll ever be, I guess."

"I'm going to take things slow. You'll only have low level telepathy. You can read thoughts and psychically communicate, but you can't probe into minds for information and memories."

Charles held his hands out and Jean took them. They closed their eyes and he reached out into her mind and found the mental block he had installed nearly a year ago. When he had first found Jean, she was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. It was that block that had saved her sanity, and now he was undoing that. As nervous as knew Jean was, he was just as nervous about the outcome of this experiment.

"There," he said, opening his eyes. He shut off his telepathy, trying his best to not broadcast his thoughts out. "Now, tell me what I'm thinking."

~You're wondering if you actually managed to turn off your psychic ability. You have.~

"Well done!" Charles said enthusiastically. Jean laughed and hugged her teacher. Their tender moment ended as the door to Charles' office burst open.

"Professor!" Rex shouted, stopping short as he saw Jean and Charles hugging. "Oops. Didn't mean to ruin the moment you guys were having."

"What's wrong, Rex? And why is your shirt collar smoking?"

"Umm... just a training exercise," he said, patting the his shirt. "Umm, but yeah, Hank wanted you to come see something on TV. It's about that doctor guy from Michigan."

Charles nodded and left the room. As he left, Rex looked at Jean and smirked. "If I cuddled up to him like that, wonder if I'd get the grades that you're getting..."

Jean rolled her eyes and flipped her head. Rex felt his feet push out from under him and he hit the floor hard. Grinning to herself, Jean followed Charles out the door.

"Help? Anyone? I think I broke my coccyx... Heh... coccyx."

Jean found Charles in the common room on the second floor. He was sitting with Hank and Jefferson, watching the news. The reporter talked over footage of a man in a courtroom.

"And the verdict has come in. Doctor James Bradley, guilty on the twenty-four counts of illegal human experimentation. Bradley was arrested last year for tampering with as many as twenty-four unborn fetuses. He injected stem cells into the unborn children, risking birth defects and causing at least three miscarriages."

"Guilty, just as you expected he would be."
"Yes... but something about this doesn't seem right to me. Why was Bradley experimenting on the fetuses? I can't place it, but his process seems vaguely familiar."

"The Nazis," Jefferson said. "Didn't that old Nazi and his buddies do something like that?"

"You're absolutely right. But, Adler and Schultz were injecting mutant blood into unborn fetuses."

"But it's the same methodology. Stem cells being injected into the fetuses could cause birth defects... but what, after all is mutation, if not birth defects?"

"Of course. So, this man has been attempting to do what? Make new mutants?"

"It seems that way..."

They watched as an armored car carrying Bradley rolled out of the courthouse parking lot. Protestors were gathered around the car, yelling and chanting.

"We spoke to the man leading the protests here today, Graydon Creed."

The TV cut to a man standing with the protestors. He was now clean-shaven and in a suit, but it was the same man that had tried to slaughter mutants in the Kentucky backwoods months ago.

"What has happened here today is the first step on the road to retribution. This Bradley man is the epitome of science run amok. He has experimented on the most innocent of innocents. If he isn't put to death for his crimes, then I and my followers will consider it an absolute miscarriage of justice. If no one will speak for the innocents, then the Friends of Humanity will."

"I think we need to go to Michigan," Charles said, leaning back in his seat. "I have a feeling that Doctor Bradley may not be long for this world."

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Old 11-06-2012, 01:45 PM   #158
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November 2009

"Has he lost his damn mind?!"

Being a friend of Tony Stark was not a luxurious position to be in. It defied common sense to ever believe that being in any sort of association with the third wealthiest man in the world would cause more harm than good, especially with the deep connections and the company that the 34-year-old made a habit of keeping. But most people didn't know Tony as well as Captain James Rhodes, who had long been a close friend of the billionaire playboy through their fathers' mutual friendship born from Stark Resilient's dealings with the United State military. At one point, Rhodes even considered Stark to be the brother he had never had. But then the inheritance check cleared and something changed. Gone were the days of a respectable boy genius who wanted nothing more than to live out his creativity through design and engineering - every day since he'd turned 18, Stark's life had been about three things: women, booze, and the money that could buy them both.

Harold Hogan tried to hide the sincere disdain at his assignment from his face as he stood firmly in the entrance of Stark's California mansion, the inside of which was blasting music so loud that it could be heard for miles. Tony was hosting another one of his infamous VIP parties, and - even as one of his closest friends, and even having worked security detail a couple of times for these damn things - it seemed that Tony didn't consider Rhodes to be a "very important person".

"Mr. Rhodes, I'm sorry, but you know how Mr. Stark feels about uninvited guests."

Rhodes furrowed his brow, but nevertheless realized that he had to get difficult if he was gonna talk any sense into the man inside. Forcing his way past Hogan, who stood relatively an inch shorter than the built military man, Rhodes marched into the front hall of the crowded mansion, with Hogan quickly following. Having to yell over the deafening music that several were dancing to, Rhodes turned back to Hogan as he double-checked the VIP list, praying that the Captain was on it and that he wouldn't be fired.

"Mr. Stark's about to feel a boot up his ass! Now where is he?!"

"He's, well... I don't actually know where he is!"

With their collaboration on a revolutionary new idea, Rhodes had been given reason to hold onto the last bit of hope that the old Tony would return. After a heart-to-heart two years prior, Stark had promised his closest friends and confidants that he would get help for his alcoholism and take more of an initiative to be responsible with his father's legacy. The solution to the latter problem was working with Rhodes to pursue the title of lead military contractor under the Pentagon's watchful eye. A title which, after a year of pulling strings, Tony finally attained. And their main project was now waiting to be assembled for it's first test run: Project Iron Man.

The problem was, without Tony himself to be there, the idea of a test run was lost. Given the secrecy of the project, only he knew the schematics, and only he could fix a problem on the spot. Rhodes had only served as a glorified consultant, offering input where it was needed. But even still, Tony was graciously willing to share joint credit for the project when they presented it to the Pentagon in three weeks. It was a sign that maybe Tony was able to leave his shallow days of partying behind him.

Tonight was a testament to the exact opposite.

"Then we'll go look for him!", Rhodes exclaimed, heading up the stairs. "Gotta be up here somewhere. Either the bedroom or the jacuzzi, or the jacuzzi in the bedroom..."

On his way, Rhodes bumped shoulders with someone who didn't respond too kindly. The man turned, the contents of his glass now covering the front of his shirt.

"Hey, watch it!"

Never one to back down from a fight, Rhodes instantly glared at the man.

"Man, you best step out of my way."

The man relented, leaving Rhodes to continue to the second floor and leaving Hogan to approach the disgruntled guest immediately after. "Mr. Downey Jr., I'm so terribly sorry. Here, let me find you a towel..."

"To an evening of enlightenment!"

The cork on the champagne finally popped, and a river of sparkling Venice came flowing from the bottle and dripped into the water below. The hot steam rising from the center of the room was momentarily cooled down, as Tony Stark poured three ice cold glasses for himself and his two female companions - one a redhead, one a brunette - who both wasted no time in accepting their respective glass. Tony smiled back at them as they raised their glasses, ready to agree to the toast. He replied in kind, and the three joined.

"Or is it enlightment? Enlightment, enlighten...", Stark momentarily mused. "Oh, who the hell cares. To carelessness!"

Just as soon as he said it, the two women joined Stark at either side, allowing him to leisurely drape himself with their bodies as he relaxed against the jacuzzi. Despite throwing the massive party for an even bigger turnout than he'd expected, Tony had never been one for the social scene. He preferred a more intimate touch, and that was exactly what he was planning to do. One of the women rested her head on his shoulder and stared up, particularly entranced.

"So, Mr. Stark..."

"Please, I don't want to feel 40 already. It's Tony."

"Sorry... Tony,", the woman corrected. "About my employment at Stark Resillient. You know, the job I asked about. What did you say my chances were of getting that again?"

Tony smirked back at her. "Oh, you're a clever little minx, aren't you?"

She grinned. "Can't blame me for trying."

"Hmm, let me think. A regular salaried position, ludicrous benefits, your own parking space at corporate..."

Leaning in and preparing for a kiss, Tony unwittingly ignored the other woman's annoyance at the attention being placed on the former.

"I think we can work out an arrangement that'll be mutually beneficial."

Just as their lips met, the door to Stark's jacuzzi room came flying open. And standing in the entrance was Rhodes, who immediately shielded his eyes, falsely believing that he'd barged in on something far more provocative than what he actually had.

"Jesus, Tony!"

Rather than taking offense at the intrusion, Stark smiled, glass of champagne still firmly in hand as he rose from the water of the hot tub, partially chuckling at his friend's unnecessary show of modesty.

"Rhodes! I'll be damned, didn't think you'd show up to one of these things!"

Angrily, Rhodes advanced as Tony stepped out, leaving the two women to look at eachother, puzzled by this new development.

"I wasn't invited, remember?"

Stark realized this was true, and immediately slapped his forehead.

"I knew I forgot somebody. Damn, I'm sorry about that. But hey, you made it anyway!"

"No, I don't want to be apart of some stupid ass party,", Rhodes replied, indignant. "What was tonight supposed to be, Tony? Where were you supposed to be right now?"

Blank-faced, Stark mulled it over until the realization slowly came upon him.

"Wait, that was tonight? I figured you had enough specifications to ship it out already, you don't need my permission for that. Well, I mean, you do. But I can sign that off in the morning."

"Tonight was supposed to be the the start of the testing phase. Remember? You and I were supposed to run diagnostics on the suit and the power source all in one go. Then you said you wanted to have me personally try the thing out so that I could assess a proper field deployment. Is any of this getting through to you?"

Tony shook his head, placing his hand on Rhodes' shoulder.

"Rhodey, that was me talking shop whenever we were still working out at the airfield. I can run diagnostics from my bedroom and I don't even need the suit here to do it. You're taking this way too seriously. We don't even have a demonstration lined for another month."

Raising his arm, Rhodey withheld an urge to slap his friend upside the head.

"It's in three weeks, and get your damn hand off me! You think just because we have a set deadline that we're not on a tight schedule? My superiors are breathing down my neck about this, man! We've got to show them that we're gonna be ready to make this happen, otherwise you can kiss your company's contract and my rank goodbye!"

Stark quietly sipped another gulp down of champagne.

"You need to relax. Here, have some of this..."

Slapping the glass away, Rhodes stared back at Tony with disbelief.

"You kidding me with this? You're not seriously this deluded."

"Deluded? I don't know if you've noticed from your little land of paranoia over there, marine, but this is a party! I'm allowed to be a little deluded if it gets me drunk, laid, or any combination of the two."

Rhodes was silent for a moment, trying to process what he was seeing as Tony turned to the two women waiting for him in the jacuzzi.

"Now come on, I never like to mix business with pleasure. Especially this kind of pleasure. You want one of them, you can have one. Maybe that'll get you to calm down for a minute."

"You know what... keep them."

Rhodes turned around, too disgusted to even look his friend in the eye.

"Keep all of it. Your damn money, your damn booze. After this project is finished, you can keep our friendship, too. You said you changed, but you really haven't. I'm done."

Tony spun around and watched him as he left the room, finally beginning to take him seriously.

"Rhodey? Rhodes! Don't be like that, I was just messing around!"

But despite his plea, Rhodes didn't come back. And for a moment - granted, only a short moment of the night - the same Tony Stark that had just made a toast to carelessness found himself regretting his actions. Drinking the very last drop up of the champagne, the rest having spilled from Rhodes' dismissal, a legitimately bothered Stark allowed the frown to wash away from his face as he turned back to the women. Realizing that he needed this even more than before.

"Sorry for the brief interruption, ladies... another idiot looking for corporate sponsorship. Now where we we?"

As the night of partying continued on, Tony Stark only proceeded to drink his troubles away.

It was a shame that he wasn't able to do that now.

Present Day

"It... it was supposed to work."

From within the confines of a dark and cold cavern, his home away from home for the last three years, a disheveled Stark stares down at the object in his hands in disbelief. Behind him stand seven armed men - each of them members of a dangerous terrorist cell known as The Ten Rings - who have their guns trained at the back of the former billionaire's skull. One false move by one of them and Stark's life would be over. But they know better than to kill him. He's their prisoner, and he's been kept alive this long for a very specific purpose - to re-engineer one of his own designs from scratch and build them an Iron Man. Up until yesterday, Stark had made considerable progress, given no choice but to comply to their demands on threat of death. He had built crude versions of the gauntlets and repulsors, the jets, and most recently the chest armor. Before now, a full suit would have only taken a couple of months to complete.

But the primary source of power for the entire thing wasn't turning on. Tony stared at the miniature arc reactor in his hands, having built it over eight months from top to bottom, dumbfounded at it's inability to activate.

"I don't understand. This wasn't supposed to happen,", he muttered, turning back towards the men who stared, displeased with the news. "I followed every instruction, every detail. I looked over the blueprints twice, for god's sake. I verified this. It should've worked. It has to work!"

The men turned to eachother and started speaking in a language that Stark didn't even understand. His frustration with that had extended throughout his entire time as a captive, and it was doubly annoying to him now. But one word that they uttered was one Stark knew quite well. Raza, the name of their leader. And a man that Stark desperately didn't want to see again any time soon.

"No! No, that won't be nessecary, I can fix this! I swear to you, I can fix this! Please, I just need more time!"

Ignoring his attempts to dissuade them, the men each walked away, heading towards the entrance of the portion of the cavern that they had reshaped into Stark's prison. All the while, he stared at them, tossing the ineffective arc reactor away in anger.

"I JUST NEED MORE TIME!"

But they didn't listen to him, and in moments, Stark was finally left by himself.

Alone and with nothing but his failures.

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Old 11-07-2012, 05:06 PM   #159
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THE DEVIL'S DUE

Part 6

"Jeez", Gwen exclaims as Peter piles yet another massive scoop of mashed potatoes onto his plate. Both she and Peter sat at their small dining room table, a nice meal spread of ham, potatoes, and green beans spread out before them.

"You're not pregnant...are you?"

"Haha, funny", Peter mockingly rolls his eyes as he swallows a spoonful down.
"No, just just up a real hardcore workout program recently after work. Things making me famished."

"Why didn't you tell me about it before"
, Gwen asked before taking a sip from her wine?

"I don't know, babe...I just didn't think it was a big deal. I'm sorry."

Gwen gave Peter a skeptical look, but let it go.

"Oh, here! Check this out", Gwen suddenly exclaimed as she passed Peter her iPad.

Peter took it from her and saw that it was a digital copy of the Daily Bugle, showing today's paper's headline. It was a picture of Spider-Man and Daredevil battling Tombstone out front of the club, with a headline of "Heroes Serve Up Mob Boss in the Kitchen."

"Oh yeah...I heard about this today at work. The two vigilantes took down a crime boss. Good stuff."

"Read the tag lines", Gwen bade him with a smile.

Peter looked down at the edge of the picture that showed the following words, "Photo by Gwen Stacy."

Peter was upset, but did his best not to show. Despite his concern over her well being, Peter was very proud of her. And that he did show.

"Wow, baby...front page? That's amazing! Congratulations", Peter beamed.

"Thanks", Gwen smirked.
"I was thinking we could celebrate by watching my favorite movie together later."

Peter groaned, "Oi...Titanic?"

"No, my...other favorite movie."

Peter looked confused for a second before it dawned on him.

"Oh, that movie! You naughty girl..."

"If you're lucky", Gwen cooed.
"Face it, Tiger...you hit the jackpot with me."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------


The room nearly black, save for a large monitor screen that stood next to a blackboard that was displayed by a tall, single white light on a flexible pole. The video running on the monitor was muted, but the images spoke louder: Spider-Man in action, battling criminals and even yesterday's fight with Tombstone.
With his back turned towards the monitor, Professor Ivo scratched away at the board, working on a rather long equation. Bach played softly in the background, as Ivo always said the classics help him focus.
Next to the Professor stood a regular wooden stool, and on it was a single glass of scotch. The good stuff.

"Hello, Ivo", Norman's voice drowns out the music and pulls the Professor from his work as he turns to regard Mr. Osborn, who has just entered the room.
"A little dark in here, isn't it?"

"It's perfectly fine for my needs, Mr. Osborn."

"Fair enough", Osborn stated flatly.
"I want to know how your work has been progressing, Professor. It's been a week without any kind of update."

"Don't fret, Osborn", Ivo sighs.
"I've gathered enough data to begin construction of the prototype. I should have the weapon fully functional in a month's time."

"Excellent news, Professor", Norman grinned.
"Very soon, you and I...we're going to reshape the world."

"And become blind, stinking rich in the process", Ivo added as he raised his glass in a toast.
"Here's to us, old boy."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------


Adrian Toomes sits back down onto his leather couch in his well-furbished Manhattan loft. Toomes leaned back and relaxed a bit as he made a very important phone call.

"Job's done, Mr. White. Lincoln's been dealt with."


"I know. I read the paper. Not as I planned it, but it's quicker than exposing him through the media."


"Yessir", Toomes agreed, "Either way, one of the final pieces of resistance to the organization is gone. As you say, quicker this way too."

"Yeah, but these heroes..."

There was silence for a few seconds as Toomes gathered that White was still thinking on the matter.

"Keep an eye on them. Scout them out. They both have already been interrupting a few of our lower level ops, but they could become a major thorn real fast. When that day comes, they'll need to be taken care of."

"Will do, sir", Toomes nodded.

"In the meantime...this reporter we were gonna use..."

"Basil Karlo."

"Yeah, Karlo...get rid of him. He's a loose end, and you know that I can't ****ing stand loose ends. You hear me, Toomes? I want you to handle this personally, got it?"

"Read you loud and clear, boss"
, Toomes stated coolly.
"Consider Mr. Karlo on borrowed time."

"I'm counting on you, Adrian...take care of this, and I'll take care of you."

"Consider the matter cared for, sir."

Toomes hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He needed to shower and get ready for bed. He's got a big day tomorrow, as he'll begin to plan out the murder of Basil Karlo...

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Old 11-07-2012, 08:51 PM   #160
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~Opening the Scars~

The spray of the sea and the cold waters of San Fransisco Bay splash against me as I climb up the rocky shores of Alcatraz Island. The rocks are slippery underneath my grip, the years of dirt and grime turning to a disgusting slush between my fingers. But it's not the first difficult climb I've ever made, and the anger in the pit of my stomach drives me to the level edge above me.

I roll onto solid ground, continuing into some brush on the edge of the installation. Kneeling in the brush, I scope out the setup of the base, getting ready to break through their defenses. A few guards walking around the perimeter, not much else. They didn't think anyone would dare come this far.

Slipping in behind a patrol, I trail them silently like a predator. Their conversation is light, and gives me no information about what's going on inside. Just a lot of anti-mutant crap and how much they hate us. The old me would have popped their heads off.

But I have a more important mission.

They pass by my target, and I slide up against the building, popping off an airduct entrance and sliding into it. In 1962, three men used this duct to escape the prison and reach the mainland. The irony of trying to break in the same way isn't lost on me.

The duct is small, and I barely fit in it, but I manage to shuffle far enough to reach the next grate, and drop down into a utility hallway, which the men dug into to escape.

It's obvious that the military has done some serious infrastructure upgrades. High duty information cables run along the walls, and some power cables I'm not even familiar with.

I slide along the corridor, finding a door at the end, cracking it open ever so slightly. Not hearing anyone within my range, I slip into the industrial, spotless, white hallway I've seen in far too many labs. Which makes me realize I've made a bit of a miscalculation. I'm filthy from the approach. I'll leave a trail anyone can follow.

Luckily, I spot a maintenance closet out of the corner of my eye. Popping the lock off with my shoulder, I find a jumpsuit inside and slip it on. I also take the time to bring out a mop and bucket, cleaning up the tracks leading from the utility corridor.

As I'm sweeping the floor, a group of researchers pass by me, a single one sliding into a lab by himself. I follow him in after the others have passed, startling him.

"What are you doing here!? This area's restricted."

The handle of the mop cracks against his head, knocking him out. I bend down, making sure I didn't kill him, and snatch his access badge off his labcoat. Picking up his limp, unconscious body, I stuff it into a closet, and head back into the hallway.

Searching the rooms lining the clinical area, I come to a large door at the end of the hall. Figuring whatever is really going on here is happening behind that door, I swipe the access card through the reader, and the door hisses open.

Pushing it open, and slipping into a dim, cold room, I keep my eyes open as wide as they can, allowing my heightened sense of sight to adjust to the low light.

And when they do, I'm taken aback by what I see. It's a morgue. Or at least it seems to be. Plastic lines the walls and floor, bodies lie on cots and gurneys half dissected, and scientific testing equipment is on tables next to them.

I walk the rows of dead bodies, horrified at what I see. These are obviously the experiments going on that Xavier told me about. They're worse than I thought though.

The mutants that looks differently than humans almost look like they've been skinned, and more samples have been taken from them.

At the end of the row of cadavers, a lone scientist sits at the one illuminated computer in a row of them, typing away as if nothing horrific is happening behind him. He picks up a coffee mug and takes a nonchalant sip before placing it down and returning to work.

He notices someone is behind him though, and he says without looking, "Is that you, Jenkins? About time you showed up."

That's when the back of my hand cracks against his face, sending him to the ground hard. He looks up at me through a swollen eye and probably a few broken bones, backing away from me as he does, "Who are you? How did you get in here?"

"I'm one of the guinea pigs, doc," I smile at him, picking up a scalpel , twirling it around deftly in my fingers. The anger coursing through my veins burns like acid. "Or do I not look like a freak enough for you to realize."

"God...how did you get in?"

"The military isn't as on top of things as they think, bub," I respond with a smirk. "And I'm the best at what I do."

"You...," he says as I get closer, inspecting me like you would a petri dish. "I know you. You're Logan. Your record doesn't lie. You are an impressive specimen."

"Well, I ain't no science project, but I'm glad you've heard of me," I respond, hovering over him. "And neither are the people you've butchered in the name of science. No matter how we look, we're people. Just like you. And it's scum like you that spreads the lies that keep us the monsters in the dark."

"No...not at all," he smiles and continues to back away. "I don't spread anything. I learn. I understand. I target. Your kind is a lot easier to understand than you think, Logan. And you'll be easier to destroy than you think. We don't make you the monsters here. We're here to kill the monsters."

With that, he goes for a silent alarm, but instead gets the scalpel through it, pinning him to the ground. He screams in pain, and I smile, "Now you're going to tell me where Katherine Pryde and Victor Creed are. And maybe I won't kill you."

He laughs in pain, his eyes locked on his damaged hand, "Never heard of either of them. The only mutants I've taken are in the room now. None go by that name."

I stand and turn my back to the man, allowing my anger to get the best of me. Another dead end. Another false lead and no clue where to turn next.

But I don't have time to think about that now. In my momentary lapse of attention, the scientist pulls his hand over the scalpel, freeing himself and hitting the alarm.

As I prepare to make my escape, the scientist laughs again, looking up at me, "Your kind isn't going to win this war, Logan. Soon enough, we'll wipe you out."

"No. You won't. People like you always lose. Always."

Taking the scientist's laptop, I head to the door and barricade it before searching for another way out.

Which is when a weak call draws my attention to one of the gurneys. I approach it, and find an emaciated blue figure looking up at me, "Brother...help me."

One is still alive. I must have missed him in all the death. And it wouldn't be hard to do. He's almost wasted away here under the government's watch. Skin and bones. Or should I say tail and bones. His eyes glow with a faint yellow tint, and a tail weakly swishes off the gurney.

"Do you know another way out of here?" I ask, helping him sit up. He says nothing, but his eyes dart to the IV in his arm.

Bullets slam through the glass of the door, and our situation becomes more dire. My new friend paws at his arm with a three fingered hand, and I realize the IV must be stopping him from doing something. I pull it out, and instantly, the world around me goes black.

BAMF

I reappear on the San Fransisco shore in a cloud of smoke. In the distance, searchlights illuminate the night, searching for me in vain.

Out of the smoke stumbles the mysterious mutant, and before collapsing into my arms, he mutters, "Thank you, mein friend. My name is Kurt Wagner."



**********

Back on Alcatraz, Doctor Nathaniel Essex puts pressure on his bleeding hand as the military guard finally enter the room. Their incompetence has almost cost him his life tonight. He'd have to talk to Stryker about this.

Losing the computer is also a setback, but at least most of his research is in the installation's database. Only the most recent findings were on the lap top, and the samples were fresh enough to gather them again.

But the important thing is he's alive. Alive, and came out relatively unscathed against one of the most powerful and skilled mutants known to history.

The leader of the security team approaches, "Doctor Essex, are you okay?"

"I'll be fine, no thanks to you," the geneticist snaps.

"The one live specimen escaped, sir."

"I was in the room, corporal," Essex answers the obvious. "But it matters little. No one will listen to his story the way he looks. And we already know the X-Gene suppression serum works as long as it's given in constant doses. We have our first real trump card in this war."

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Old 11-07-2012, 10:00 PM   #161
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Jean found Charles in the common room on the second floor. He was sitting with Hank and Jefferson, watching the news. The reporter talked over footage of a man in a courtroom.

"And the verdict has come in. Doctor James Bradley, guilty on the twenty-four counts of illegal human experimentation. Bradley was arrested last year for tampering with as many as twenty-four unborn fetuses. He injected stem cells into the unborn children, risking birth defects and causing at least three miscarriages."

"Guilty, just as you expected he would be."
"Yes... but something about this doesn't seem right to me. Why was Bradley experimenting on the fetuses? I can't place it, but his process seems vaguely familiar."

"The Nazis," Jefferson said. "Didn't that old Nazi and his buddies do something like that?"

"You're absolutely right. But, Adler and Schultz were injecting mutant blood into unborn fetuses."

"But it's the same methodology. Stem cells being injected into the fetuses could cause birth defects... but what, after all is mutation, if not birth defects?"

"Of course. So, this man has been attempting to do what? Make new mutants?"

"It seems that way..."

They watched as an armored car carrying Bradley rolled out of the courthouse parking lot. Protestors were gathered around the car, yelling and chanting.

"We spoke to the man leading the protests here today, Graydon Creed."

The TV cut to a man standing with the protestors. He was now clean-shaven and in a suit, but it was the same man that had tried to slaughter mutants in the Kentucky backwoods months ago.

"What has happened here today is the first step on the road to retribution. This Bradley man is the epitome of science run amok. He has experimented on the most innocent of innocents. If he isn't put to death for his crimes, then I and my followers will consider it an absolute miscarriage of justice. If no one will speak for the innocents, then the Friends of Humanity will."

"I think we need to go to Michigan," Charles said, leaning back in his seat. "I have a feeling that Doctor Bradley may not be long for this world."



Lansing, Michigan


"What do we want?!" Graydon Creed's southern drawl boomed through a bullhorn.

"Justice!" The crowd in front of him yelled back.

Creed stood on the steps of the Michigan state courthouse. A hundred or so followers were gathered at the foot of the steps, many of them holding signs that condemned baby killing, abortion, and mutants.

"This man," Creed continued, "He tampered with at least two dozen unborn babies. Why? Because he could. He killed two babies in the name of science. And make no mistake about it, friends, he did in fact kill those children. They were unborn, but they were alive. And our government isn't charging him with murder. They're charging him with lesser charges. Does that sound right to you?"

"No," the crowd roared in unison.

"If this man has been out there for God knows how long, poisoning our youth, how many others have their been? How many more murders is it gonna take before our government realizes what's going on? That the truth is, this doctor is the first wave on an oncoming invasion. A mutant invasion! Make no mistake, my friends, their a full-scale invasion going on throughout this country. Mutants threaten our very way of life, and this doctor represents their beliefs and their values. If he doesn't die, then the mutants will have won. It'll be the first step in an age old process. A process called extinction. Human extinction. Is that what you want?!"

"NO!"

"Then stand with me, friends. Stand here on these steps day and night and show the government. Show them that we will not back down, we will not be moved, and we will stand together. We may be the Friends of Humanity, but we are also its defenders. Will you stand with me?!"

"YES!"

Creed threw his hands up in celebration while the crowd roared their approval. While his supporters cheered, a group of on-lookers watched from across the street.

"This is the same guy we fought back in Mutant Town?"
Metamorpho asked with an arched eyebrow.

The X-Men and Xavier were inside a minivan parked across the street from the courthouse. They watched as Creed took a bow and proceeded to walk down the courthouse steps.

"What gives? A few months ago, this guy was like the guys in Deliverance. 'I don't reckon I like them thar mutants! Now, who wants to watch me play mah banjo?!'"

"Perhaps it was a speech pre-written by another person and he just memorized."
"Or he could have taken a public speaking course. The Y offers them for very reasonable rates."

"It's not either," Xavier said from the driver's seat of the van. "During the speech, I reached out to his mind. There's something in his mind. A block, a barrier. Something."

"A block means that he's been in contact with a psychic."

"You can't tear through it just like you did with the government agents and Adler?"

"I'm afraid not. This block is stronger, stronger than the one that was in Adler's mind, and much stronger than the one the government had in its operatives. If I try to break through, the psychic backlash could cause brain damage to Creed, or even myself."

"Look at that," Jefferson said, pointing towards the crowd. Creed had emerged through the throng of people and approached a beautiful blonde woman who was standing at the edges of the group.

"Wow. Maybe there are perks to this whole being a mutant hating bigot thing. Is it too late to change sides?"

"I think now would be an excellent time to try out your telepathy abilities, Jean. If we can't read Creed's mind, we can try to read his friend's. Try it."

Jean looked at her teacher and then over to the boys, who were all looking at her. She let out a breath, licked her lips, and then closed her eyes. Jean felt her consciousness floating out of her body and drifting towards the courthouse. Her abilities zeroed in on the blonde woman and her mind. Jean began to probe the woman's mind when she recoiled back in pain. The only thing she could see was diamonds. A wall of diamonds.

~Naughty girl,~ a condescending voice said in her head.

"Professor," Jean shouted in alarm. "That woman is the telepath."

The group turned back towards the courthouse. Creed and the blonde woman were hurrying down the street away from the courthouse. Creed was shouting, pointing towards the van. His followers turned from the courthouse and began walking towards the van.

"Oh, my stars and garters..."

"If, umm, if anybody happens to have the mutant ability to kick a hundred people's asses all at once, now would be a good time to use it!"


Muttering to himself, Charles started the van and pulled away from the parking spot in a hurry, a few of Creed's followers attempted to give chase, but they were unable to keep up with the speeding minivan.

As the van sped away, a young woman in the crowd watched the car disappearing from sight. She began to walk away from the group, pulling her red hoodie up around her face. Putting her hands into her pockets, Wanda Maximoff disappeared down a side alley.

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Old 11-08-2012, 10:44 AM   #162
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The Joker and his men arrive at their location in a white van for what The Joker has called a day of fun.

The Joker says, "All-right everyone get your gas masks on and get ready to hit them with The Venom."

One of the men asks, "What? Here? The DMV?"

The Joker looks at him with an expression of both anger and wonder. The other 3 back away quickly.

The Joker lets out a laugh and He says, "HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh watching you three back away pricelees! Now concering why we are here. Remember I said we were going to liven up the dullest place on the planet. Is there anything duller than the DMV? So many people just wanting to get in and out of here never taking any joy here."

The henchmen look at one another and The Joker says, "Besides I usually give you all jobs to do. In this case I'm gonna let you do some improving. See a cell-phone you like get it! Want some quick cash? Have at the cash drawer! Wanna have some fun with someone go ahead! Make it quick though! You follow me?"

They all nod and are much more agreeable and The Joker says, "Good! Only one rule when it's time to go! We go! Anyone not moving it to the door let me say it'll be your last mistake."

The group exits the van behind the alleyway behind the DMV and they release the Venom Gas in through the airvents. Hearing the sounds of hysterical laughter The Joker nods and says, "Sounds like they're having a good time! Let's join in boys! HA HA HA HA!"

The Joker kicks open the back door and they enter. His henchmen scatter as The Joker walks over to one of the computer terminals left open.

He says to a worker rolling on the floor with laughter, "Well that was awfully nice of you to have the computer already set for me!"

The Joker pulls out an I-Pad and begins to copy and download dozens and dozens of records.

The Joker sees the information he has gotten and says, "Perfecto! This ought to be good for a start."

He looks out and sees his men committing various acts and he says, "Oh my children. Having so much fun they probably never have a better day than today. So why bother trying to top it."

With that The Joker presses a button and The Henchmen suddenly realizes their masks are now filling up with the Venom Gas. They too fall over dead laughing.

The Joker says, "Well now that they're all happy guess it's time for me to go."

The Joker exits the DMV and gets into the sewer system after he is a few feet away he presses a button and the van explodes taking the DMV with it.

He nods and says, "Gonna have to make sure I catch this on the news."

The Joker makes his way back to his hideout.

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Old 11-08-2012, 12:45 PM   #163
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Hanger 24 at LaGuardia Airport is a rather busy hub of activity as Fulton Walker's private Gulf-Stream is being prepped for flight. Edward strolls through in a blonde wig and fake mustache, a black leather trench coat and sunglasses.

He gets to the supervisor's office and glances at he name on the door and the secretary's name. Edward flashes a badge at a secretary and says, "Owens TSA need to talk to Mr. Hansen right now."

She asks, "Do you have an appointment Mr. Owens?"

Edward replies, "Surprise inspection need to see him now."

She says, "I'm sorry sir Mr. Hansen is in a conference call right now."

Edward says, "Look Mrs. Billings you either get Mr. Hansen for me right now. Otherwise I will not only cite you and Mr. Hansen for interference with a Government Officer but I got friends at the I-R-S how would you both like to audited back to the Stone Age?"

Billingsly replies, "One moment sir may take your badge to show Mr. Hansen?"

He gives her the badge and she leaves the area. A couple of moments later she re-enters and says, "Mr. Hansen will see you right away Agent Owens."

Edward nods and follows her back to Mr. Hansen's office. Billingsly leaves and Hansen asks, "What can I do for the TSA today Agent Owens?"

Edward replies, "Hansen Fulton Walker flies an awful lot overseas and we in the Government are somewhat curious about his possible dealings with certain, shall we say, people who's interests could be seen as counter to ours in someways. I just need to do a quick check on the plane to make sure he isn't smuggling anything into the country before he leaves again."

Hansen nods and asks, "Do you have the SG-2446 form and a warrant?"

Edward looks at Hansen and smiles as he replies, "Good you know your procedures."

Edward pulls out from his pocket the proper forms and hands them to Hansen. He studies them and says, "All-right Agent Owens the plane is yours. Go on out there I'll call my people off. Will 2 hours be enough?"

Edward replies, "I'll be done about half that time. I'm checking specfic areas It's not a nose to tail besides I know you got better things to be doing than playing baby-sitter to a Government flunkie."

Hansen hands the papers back to Edward and says, "No offense but you're right. I gotta get back to my call and we're busy enough."

Edward says, "None taken. Once I'm done, since technically I'm not supposed to be here, I'll just leave unless I find something odd."

Hansen replies, "Fine by me."

The two men shake hands and Edward leaves the office and boards the plane.

He slips on a pair of gloves and begins studying the plane. Eventually he pulls out two bottles of booze and sticks them into the wet bar.

Edward sees no one around and leaves the hanger. He goes around the corner and pulls off his tenchcoat and flips it twice. The coat now looks like a pair of coveralls and he then flips the wig which is now a baseball hat. Edward then flips his badge which now looks like an employees badge.

Edward then proceeds to make his way through the outside of the airport to a parking garage to a blue chevy that he unlocks. He sees no one around and rips the coveralls off revealing a shirt and tie. Edward throws them in the car and drives away.

Edward arrives at his home and then parks the car in a secret garage. He walks through the garage into a workshop/weapons room.

Edward then texts the following message to the FBI & NYPD servers:

Riddle me this if the Greatest Generation bombed a city today who would their rally cry be?

He says, "The answer is Walker Away."

Once he sees the message has been sent he presses a button under a shelf. An oil-drum sized hole opens in the middle of the floor containing a barrell of hydrocoloric acid. Edward drops his airport disguise in the acid along with the phone he used to text the message.

Edward then has a bottle of water and reviews his plan.

When the jet reaches it's crusing altitude those bottles will crack and when those chemicals touch other they'll start a chain reaction with all the other alcohol and then boom. Between the altitude and the ocean all the evidence is destroyed and it'll be labled as a plane crash.

24 hours later the world is shocked to learn that Billionare Industrialist is killed in a plane crash.

Edward then checks his special account and sees that Norman Osborn has made his payment on time.

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Old 11-08-2012, 08:18 PM   #164
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A CALL TO ARMS
Part 3

"Take 'em down!"

The remaining thugs opened fire on Isamot, but the Lantern erected an emerald shield around his body, their plasma bolts absorbed into it's shimmering surface.
One of the goons pulled out a grenade and rolled it at Isamot.

Norrin immediately revealed himself and created a dome that covered the explosive just before it blew up. Attached to the dome was a funnel that led the fiery destruction from the blast right to the sentient who had thrown the bomb. The funnel covered the man before he could react, and he was instantly incinerated from the fire.

The remaining two thugs fled the bar, but Isamot was hot on their heels.

"You don't get off that easy", the warrior Lantern snarled at the villains as he ensnared them both with an emerald net.

Helpless, Isamot walked up to the terrified criminals, appearing as intimidating as possible.

"You threaten that man or any of his again", Isamot began as Norrin floated up.
"What we did to your friends will seem like paradise to what we'll do to you. Got me?"

The thugs quickly shook their heads in agreement, and Isamot dispelled the net, letting them sprint away in defeat.

Norrin Radd looked around at the large crowd of awestruck sentients that surrounded them. A crowd that was growing bigger as word of two real life Green Lanterns began to spread.

"This isn't good", Norrin Radd commented.
"We need to go, now."

"Yeah"
, Isamot agreed as the growing mass made him feel uncomfortable.
"Let's go find our wayward Lantern."

Norrin Radd and Isamot Kol silently flew into the night sky, heading out into the rocky badlands towards the self-exiled Green Lantern that they needed to convince to come home...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------


The streak of yellow fire scorched a path through the void of space, rocketing to a small, brown planet. The yellow object slowed down and came to a stop just outside the world's orbit, revealing itself to be a Fear Lantern, radiating a powerful aura of yellow energy.



The Fear Lantern pulled his ring in front of his face, and it began to shine brightly.

"This is Omega Lantern Reptyl reporting. I have traced the energy signature of two Green Lanterns to a remote world. I will send another message as soon as I have identified them and have dealt with the vermin."

Reptyl end the transmission and looks down at the worthless ball of mass underneath him.
As an Omega, he was chosen as one of the elite in the service of fear, and was granted a special gift from their Lord, Parallax. Reptyl is unique among his peers in that he has the ability to track anything across the vastness of space, as long as he first is able to catch it's cosmic "scent."
And, much to the doom of Norrin Radd and Isamot Kol, Reptyl has tracked them and is moving in for the kill.

Like a bolt of lightning, the Omega descended down to the planet, moving to engage his hated enemy...

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Old 11-08-2012, 10:42 PM   #165
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Gwen Stacy walks through the busy main office of the Daily Bugle. Mid-day on a Thursday, every employee was working on finishing articles and pieces meant to go out for tomorrow's edition. Gwen circumnavigated the ordered chaos with practiced ease, making her way to the desk of Betty Brandt, which sat in front of the office of J. Jonah Jameson.

"Morning Betty", Gwen smiled.

"Hi, Gwen. Here to see Mr. Jameson?"

"Yes, he wanted to see me."

The pair didn't speak as the heard the faint sound of screaming through the supposedly soundproof walls of Jameson's office.

"Enter at your own peril..."

Gwen took a deep breath as Betty informed Jonah and let her in. Inside the office, Mr. Jameson was busy tearing Basil Karlo a new one.

"What the hell were you thinking, Karlo!? Because of you I have to print a retraction in tomorrow's paper! All because you didn't have your ****ing facts straight!"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Jameson...the numbers...they looked legit. They were legit. I don't know why things are different now. It doesn't make any damn sense!"

"You expect me to believe that garbage!? Your on a leave of absence until I deem otherwise!"

"Wait a damn minute! You can't-"

"I damn well can", Jameson growled as he rose from his seat and leaned over his desk, glaring at Basil.
"Feel fortunate it's a paid leave, and that you're still employed here. Now get the hell out of my office. NOW!"

Basil didn't waste any time, turning around and storming off in anger, giving Gwen a glance as he passed her.

"Sorry you had to hear that, my dear", a suddenly smiling JJJ said as he regarded Gwen.
"Come, have a seat."

Gwen sat down in the seat Basil occupied mere seconds ago, still a bit off guard by the encounter she just witnessed.

"I have a number for you, Ms. Stacy. Fourteen percent."

"Fourteen percent of what, sir?"

"That's the increase of sales of yours and Basil's Hell's Kitchen Heroes collaboration. And that picture you took of the scene is a big reason for that. It captured the entire breadth of the event that was being portrayed in the article."

"Thank you, Mr. Jameson", Gwen politely smiled.
"That means a lot to hear you say that."

"I'm going to cut down to the business, Ms. Stacy. That was an amazing photo you took, so I'm charging you with getting me more pictures of Spider-Man. I want as many as you can get me, and I'll give you a very hefty bonus...depending on the picture's quality of course."


Gwen didn't know what to say.
"I...yes...thank you, Mr. Jameson. I'm sure I can handle that."

"I'm counting on you Gwen", Jonah smiled, "and I know you'll do the Bugle proud."

Gwen left Jonah's office and walked by Betty Brandt, not even hearing Betty's goodbye as her mind was trying to discern what just happened. She was so deep in thought, Gwen didn't even notice Robbie Robertson as she accidentally bumped into him, causing him to drop some papers he was holding.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Robertson"
, Gwen said as he began to pick up the papers she knocked out of his hands.

"It's all right, Gwen. Accidents happen", Robbie assured her as he knelt down to help.

"Hey", Gwen said as she noticed one of Robbie's papers was a familiar photo...hers.
"This is the photo of that B&E/kidnapping scene I took for Basil."

"Yes, it is", Robbie confirmed.
"We were going to run it in the main section, but it's getting canned."

"Canned? Why", Gwen questioned?

"Because one of the witnesses Basil question claimed to have seen a little girl taken by some giant humanoid monster that took her into the sewers."

Gwen didn't know what to say. She was shocked Karlo would have included it in the cut he'd present to Robbie. Then again, Basil was a strange man.

"Wow...okay, I can see why."

"Sorry, Gwen. It was a good picture. Anyway, I gotta run. Some major stuff just went down in the city today and we're scrambling to make it the focus of tomorrow's edition."


"What happened", Gwen asked, curious.

"Some lunatic destroyed the DMV downtown. Don't know if it was terrorists or not. Reports are still coming in. Lot of people are presumed dead though."

"Oh my God", Gwen said, shocked.

"I know"
, Robbie sighed and frowned in disgust.

"It's hard to imagine how somebody could do such an act", Robbie shook his head.
"Be safe out there, Gwen."

"I will, Mr. Robertson", Gwen smiled.

Robbie and Gwen parted ways, and Gwen left work to head home and figure out just how she can get her hands on another picture of the Wall-Crawler...


UNNATURAL SELECTION
Part 1

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Old 11-09-2012, 01:02 PM   #166
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"Are you sure about this?" Alfred says through my earpiece. I've altered it to also become a two way radio, as well as the police scanner that's already been built into it. I figure if I'm dead set on doing this, I should have a link to Alfred in case of the need of a quick getaway.

"As sure as I can be, Alfred," I respond.

I've known this would be necessary eventually. I had hoped to put it off for a while, but the recent discovery of a military grade hallucinogen being used in Gotham, it can't be put off.

It's time to butt heads with Oswald Cobblepot, Mayor of Gotham City.

"We all know where his money came from before he was mayor. We know why he's always been so well connected with the mob here," I say, as I perch myself on a ledge overlooking the Iceberg Lounge, patrons filing into the nightclub owned by the mayor below me. "A high class weapons dealer doesn't stop because he's mayor."

"But are you ready for this? Your equipment can't handle ballistic weapons. You only have a few smoke bombs and a grapple gun," Alfred pleads. "You're out of your league, Bruce."

"The equipment is nothing. The training is everything."

Firing the grapple gun to the other side of the street, I zip over to the lounge's roof, landing quietly above the entrance. From beside me, I hear the heavy footsteps of a guard patrolling the roof.

Cobblepot is nervous.

Good.

I kneel and press myself against and HVAC unit, hiding myself from view. As the guard comes by, I spring into him, slamming my palm into his chin, sweeping out the legs, and slam him into the roof, knocking him out.

Reaching into my belt, I remove a special smoke bomb I've created using some household items, and drop it into the same HVAC vent I just used as cover. It won't go off until I set off a detonator on my belt.

I just hope it works like it's supposed to.

The roof access door is open, propped that way by the guard I just incapacitated, I imagine. Gliding silently and carefully down the stairs, I make sure to listen in for any approaching guards, but from the sound of it, the last one was the lone sentry up here.

Slipping onto the darkened catwalks above the club's dance floor, I'm taken aback by the inside. Cobblepot sure knows how to put on a show. A huge, real chunk of ice sits in a makeshift ocean, with penguins swimming in the water. The dance floor surrounds it, and the bar is around that.

Enjoying their time below are Gotham's elite. Only the rich of the rich are able to get in here. A small part in the back of my mind wonders if I'd be down there right now if my parents had survive. What kind of path would I be on now?

Shaking my head and banishing these idle thoughts from my head, I reach for the detonator and press the signal, and a loud, booming thud echoes through the club.

The patrons below stop for a second, wondering whether that was the bass from the speakers, or something more troublesome. That is, until thick clouds of smoke begin pouring from the ceiling and the vents around them. They begin yelling and filing out of the building, leaving only the guards and me.

And the guards know this isn't a fire. Cobblepot doesn't hire idiots.

I've never been here before, but I have to assume Cobblepot's office is the cluster of windows located over the penguin enclosure. One entrance, one exit. And a guard standing pat outside the door as the smoke envelops him.

I fire my grapple at the rail next to him, and swing down, gaining speed as I pass under the platform entrance to the office. I garner enough speed to come completely around the platform, slamming into the guard from the other side, and sending him tumbling into the water below.

The other guards will now be on alert, so I need to be quick.

I go into the office, heading straight for the computer, plugging in a flash drive I worked on at work for the majority of this past week. It should locate Cobblepot's recent business transactions in, hopefully, only a minute or two.

Because that's about all I'll be able to handle with the guards on to me.

The smoke from outside begins to seep into the office, and I slip into it, waiting for the guards to enter. I can hear them coming too. Two of them from the sound of it.

The first one enters and I allow him the pass by me. But I step out behind the second, slamming my fist into his kidney, an area where his bullet-proof vest doesn't protect. His gun discharges, shattering the glass on the opposite side of the office. I kick the gun away, just as the second guard spins around.

Dropping into a roll to dodge his random fire, I throw myself into him, knocking him down and getting the gun out of his dangerous hands. But this guy is strong, and well trained. He throws me off of him, and we both quickly get to our feet.

Unfortunately he gets up quicker. A ham of a fist slams into my face, and then he grabs me in a judo throw and tosses me over his head, and my backs hits a bookcase, my head facing the ground.

I get up and shake the cobwebs out of my head, and get ready for the next barrage from the guard. He speeds towards me, and I realize he's using the smoke just as well as I am at this point.

He throws a well timed punch, but I dodge at the right time and respond with a quick combo that backs him up. As I do, I notice the program has finished running, and I snatch the flash drive and secure it.

But that gives my opponent an opening. A kick comes towards my head, which I manage to fight off, but it backs me up towards the ledge of the office. And the guard presses his advantage, and even begins taunting me, "You're the guy that has the boss so worried? Dunno why."

"Really? Because whoever trained you didn't teach you to account for every variable!"

I spin the grapple gun up from my belt and fire it at a metal table past the guard, bringing it speeding towards the two of us. He dives out of the way, while I spring out of the office through the open window, while detaching the magnets from the table, and then fire the grapple back into the catwalks above, then proceed to make my escape.

**********

Oswald Cobblepot tours his club, seething at the destruction the Batman has brought upon it. A guard is fished out of the penguin habitat, hurt but alive. Two others were found unconscious, one on the roof and one in Oswald's office.

But what happened to the office is what really has the mayor angry. The Batman hacked into his accounts. The vigilante now has the weapons deals he's made over the past year.

It's not a threat to his operation yet, as he can begin damage control now, and no one in Gotham would touch him. But if the tide continues in the current trend, it will be a problem sooner rather than later.

"Mister Masters," the mayor calls to the head of his private security. The man was the only one that stood toe-to-toe with the Batman. At least that's what he's said. If it's true, his services were not overblown by the ones that recommended him.

"Yes, sir?" he asks, shaken out of going over the encounter in his head.

"You said you think you could take on the Batman?"

"In a fair fight, yea," he nods. "But he's got some damned gadgets. He's not interested in a straight up fight. I've seen his type before. He works off fear and intimidation."

"Well then...I think we may have to look into leveling the playing field. You're dismissed," Cobblepot waves the guard out of the office before sitting at his desk.

Picking up the phone, he dials an old acquaintance, "Roman. It's Oswald. I think we need to schedule a meeting."

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Old 11-10-2012, 09:32 PM   #167
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UNNATURAL SELECTION
Part 2


The police sirens echo loudly off of the buildings as the two squad cars pursue the blue van down the city streets. The van swerves recklessly, narrowly hitting other vehicles and pedestrians as the police attempt to stop the run-away vehicle.

"No rest for the wicked, as they say..."


Spider-Man swings in low, skimming between the squad cars as he approaches the van, the midday sun reflecting brightly off of the vehicle windows. Using the momentum from his swing, coupled with his speed, Spider-Man let go of his webline and flipped onto the hood of the van, looking two very surprised criminals eye to eyes.

"Lucie! You have some s'plannin' to do!"

Peter's spider-sense goes off as the man in the passenger seat pulls up a shotgun from the floor and fires off two shots. Spider-Man leaps out of the way, a split second before the criminal fired the weapon, and onto the roof of the van.

"Skeet!"

Peter ducks into the passenger window and fires a gob of webbing into the gunman's face, covering his eyes and rendering him blind.
The man panics and backs into the driver and fires off a shot of the shotgun that goes through the roof of the van.

"Watch it with that thing, god dammit!"

The driver tried to keep the vehicle steady but the van swerved straight for a pole. Spider-Man leaped away just before the van smashed into the pole. The force of the crash leaves the two criminals in no state to flee and are easily apprehended by the police.

Allllllrightythen. That's two less dirtbags on the streets, Peter thinks to himself as he watches the arrest from the perch of a nearby building.
Now then, back to the important mission I was on before getting sidetracked...

Spider-Man stands up and dives off of the building, firing a webline out and swinging away from the scene.

Hopefully Uncle Ben won't kill me for being late...




--------------------------------------------------------------------------



3 Hours Later...

Peter let out a long sigh as he sat heavily down on the front porch of his Aunt and Uncle's home. He had been helping his Uncle Ben for the past few hours building a shed in the backyard. Now Ben had gone to the store to pick up some roofing nails so they could fix some of the leaks.
So Peter took the opportunity to sit down and relax a bit as he sipped on a beer.

"Hey there, Pete!"

Peter looks up to see the familiar smile of Mary Jane Watson walking up the sidewalk.



"MJ", Peter returned the smile, "How's it going?"

Peter has known Mary Jane since high school, and she has been one of his closest friends since. MJ was even the one who helped set him up with Gwen, and who was currently dating the fourth member of their quartet, Harry Osborn.
Now MJ lived only a few blocks down the way from Aunt May and Uncle Ben's house, having taken over her mother's old home after she passed away.

"Can't complain", she smirked.

"So what brings you down this way?"


"I drove by a few minutes ago and saw you sitting out here", Mary Jane answered.
"Figured I'd come say hi."

"So, I hear you've gotten promoted at work. Congrats, Pete."

"Harry told you?"

"Naturally. Don't be modest, Peter, you work hard, you deserve it."

"Thanks", Peter finally blurted, still a bit uncomfortable in the back-patting.

"How's the theater gig going", Peter quickly asked to change the subject.

Mary Jane smiled knowingly before answering, "I absolutely love it. I'm learning so much from the other actors, and I'm in the running for one of the main supporting roles in the next production."

"That's awesome, MJ", Peter replied.
"It great that you're going out and living your dream. I think that's fantastic."

"Thanks"
, MJ blushed.

Uncle Ben pulled up and parked out front, prompting Mary Jane to say goodbye.

"Well, I've got to go. Harry's taking me out to dinner tonight, and I have to go get ready."

"It was good talking to you, Pete"
, MJ smiled.

"Always a pleasure, MJ"
, Peter responded.
"Tell Harry I said 'hello'."

Mary Jane departs, saying hello to Uncle Ben as she passes him, as he and Peter get back to work on fixing the roof.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------



It's past eleven when the car pulls up out front of the house, and Mary Jane steps out wearing a coat and short black dress. While holding a pair of heels in her right hand, MJ turns back to the car, thanking Harry for a amazing night out and gives him a kiss goodnight.
He tries to convince her to stay at his place, but she has to decline. She's got to be at the theater early tomorrow for auditions.

Harry wishes her luck and drives away as MJ walks up to her front door, unlocking it, and stepping inside.

As she hangs the keys up on the rack by the door, and takes off her coat, Mary Jane begins to smell something.

"Ugh...something smells like sewage", she stated with a cringe.

"I hope a pipe didn't bust", she sighed in dismay as she tossed her coat onto the couch and walked into the kitchen and turning on the light.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"


Her heart nearly leaped out of her chest and her eyes widen in terror as she came face to face with the source of the stench that was standing in the middle of her kitchen...
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


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Old 11-11-2012, 03:15 AM   #168
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Previously


Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post


Lansing, Michigan


"What do we want?!" Graydon Creed's southern drawl boomed through a bullhorn.

"Justice!" The crowd in front of him yelled back.

Creed stood on the steps of the Michigan state courthouse. A hundred or so followers were gathered at the foot of the steps, many of them holding signs that condemned baby killing, abortion, and mutants.

"This man," Creed continued, "He tampered with at least two dozen unborn babies. Why? Because he could. He killed two babies in the name of science. And make no mistake about it, friends, he did in fact kill those children. They were unborn, but they were alive. And our government isn't charging him with murder. They're charging him with lesser charges. Does that sound right to you?"

"No," the crowd roared in unison.

"If this man has been out there for God knows how long, poisoning our youth, how many others have their been? How many more murders is it gonna take before our government realizes what's going on? That the truth is, this doctor is the first wave on an oncoming invasion. A mutant invasion! Make no mistake, my friends, their a full-scale invasion going on throughout this country. Mutants threaten our very way of life, and this doctor represents their beliefs and their values. If he doesn't die, then the mutants will have won. It'll be the first step in an age old process. A process called extinction. Human extinction. Is that what you want?!"

"NO!"

"Then stand with me, friends. Stand here on these steps day and night and show the government. Show them that we will not back down, we will not be moved, and we will stand together. We may be the Friends of Humanity, but we are also its defenders. Will you stand with me?!"

"YES!"

Creed threw his hands up in celebration while the crowd roared their approval. While his supporters cheered, a group of on-lookers watched from across the street.

"This is the same guy we fought back in Mutant Town?"
Metamorpho asked with an arched eyebrow.

The X-Men and Xavier were inside a minivan parked across the street from the courthouse. They watched as Creed took a bow and proceeded to walk down the courthouse steps.

"What gives? A few months ago, this guy was like the guys in Deliverance. 'I don't reckon I like them thar mutants! Now, who wants to watch me play mah banjo?!'"

"Perhaps it was a speech pre-written by another person and he just memorized."
"Or he could have taken a public speaking course. The Y offers them for very reasonable rates."

"It's not either," Xavier said from the driver's seat of the van. "During the speech, I reached out to his mind. There's something in his mind. A block, a barrier. Something."

"A block means that he's been in contact with a psychic."

"You can't tear through it just like you did with the government agents and Adler?"

"I'm afraid not. This block is stronger, stronger than the one that was in Adler's mind, and much stronger than the one the government had in its operatives. If I try to break through, the psychic backlash could cause brain damage to Creed, or even myself."

"Look at that," Jefferson said, pointing towards the crowd. Creed had emerged through the throng of people and approached a beautiful blonde woman who was standing at the edges of the group.

"Wow. Maybe there are perks to this whole being a mutant hating bigot thing. Is it too late to change sides?"

"I think now would be an excellent time to try out your telepathy abilities, Jean. If we can't read Creed's mind, we can try to read his friend's. Try it."

Jean looked at her teacher and then over to the boys, who were all looking at her. She let out a breath, licked her lips, and then closed her eyes. Jean felt her consciousness floating out of her body and drifting towards the courthouse. Her abilities zeroed in on the blonde woman and her mind. Jean began to probe the woman's mind when she recoiled back in pain. The only thing she could see was diamonds. A wall of diamonds.

~Naughty girl,~ a condescending voice said in her head.

"Professor," Jean shouted in alarm. "That woman is the telepath."

The group turned back towards the courthouse. Creed and the blonde woman were hurrying down the street away from the courthouse. Creed was shouting, pointing towards the van. His followers turned from the courthouse and began walking towards the van.

"Oh, my stars and garters..."

"If, umm, if anybody happens to have the mutant ability to kick a hundred people's asses all at once, now would be a good time to use it!"


Muttering to himself, Charles started the van and pulled away from the parking spot in a hurry, a few of Creed's followers attempted to give chase, but they were unable to keep up with the speeding minivan.

As the van sped away, a young woman in the crowd watched the car disappearing from sight. She began to walk away from the group, pulling her red hoodie up around her face. Putting her hands into her pockets, Wanda Maximoff disappeared down a side alley.



Lansing, Michigan


The X-Men, in their civilian clothes, were in a hotel room watching TV. Jean sat on the edge of one of the room's double beds, Scott on the other one. Jefferson and Rex sat in chairs on the right side of the room. Hank was upside down, watching the television while hanging from the light on the ceiling. The news from judge presiding over the trial of Doctor James Bradley had only come out an hour earlier. Bradley was sentenced to serve life in prison for the two dozen counts of human experimentation that he had been charged with.

While the students watched the pundits discussing the sentencing, Charles sat on the bed behind Scott. He had a laptop resting on his legs. Cables and wires ran from the computer to an odd metal helmet that was resting on Charles' head.

The wires and cables psychically connected him to the computer, that then connected him to an array of satellites that were in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth. With the satellites, he could reach out and touch every living person on the planet with his psychic abilities. The machine, dubbed Cerebro by its co-creator Erik Lensherr, gave Charles the ability to find and locate mutants. It was with Cerebro that he found the five mutants that were in the room with him now. The government had been pushing to locate and map out the locations of all the mutants in the United States, but Charles had not so politely refused. If the government saw the map of mutants, they would know the truth about the mutants. And then, what he feared most might come to pass.

Charles' eyes fluttered open as he closed the Cerebro program. Closing the laptop, he put it on the nightstand beside him and stood.

"I have some news to report," he said, walking towards the TV. "The woman who was with Creed was in fact a mutant, Cerebro was able to confirm that. There is also more. She wasn't the only mutant at the courthouse today. There was another somewhere in the crowd with Creed's followers and one inside the courtroom with Doctor Bradley. Sitting where Doctor Bradley sat during the sentencing hearing."

"Wait," Jean started. "That means..."

"Of course," Hank said, flipping down to the ground. "Why else would Bradley be so passionate about trying to create mutants if he himself was not one?"

"What about that other mutant, Professor?"


"The scan seems to indicate they left soon after we beat our own hasty retreat from the area."


"So what's our next move? Creed's here and his has a mutant helping him, a very hot one at that. But do we confront him or what?"

"Creed is a hate monger, but he hasn't done anything wrong. I want us to continue to keep an eye on Doctor Bradley. He's being moved soon. If Creed and his Friends of Humanity are going to make their move, that's when they'll strike."

"Well, we need to move sooner than later," Scott said, nodding towards the TV. "They just said they're moving him to a federal prison in Indiana today."



*****



The crowd gathered around the courthouse's back exit. They yelled and booed as Bradley was led out in chains by six police officers and baillfs. He looked at the angry mob and their signs and smirked.

"I'm a monster?" He yelled over the din. "Look around, you goddamn knuckle draggers! You're the monster! I'm an agent for change! I'm the future! You're obsolete!"

The security escorts continued to march Bradley towards a reinforced prison van. Amongst the protestors, the X-Men walked. They kept their civilian clothes on, two of them adopted radical disguises. Rex's multi-colored skin was replaced with the skin of a normal Caucasian male, his bald head now covered in a thick crop of blonde hair. He had managed to change his outward appearance. Even now, only minutes into shapeshifting, he was having trouble concentrating and keeping his form.
Hank, meanwhile, looked like a normal, stocky young man with glasses and dark hair. His change in appearance was due to the small device on his belt. The holographic image shifter, a top of the line camouflage Hank had "liberated" from the government was able to hide his furry form behind a thin layer of hard light.

~Alright,~ Scott said through the team's telepathic link. ~Keep an eye out for Creed and his pal. Look for anything odd. Suspicious behavior, familiar faces.~

~Wow, this chick is hot. I wonder if she'd like to take a ride on the ole--~

~Rex!~

~Dude! We just heard all of that!~


~Get the hell out of my mind, you pervs!~

~We're not in your mind. You're broadcasting out like you've got an antenna in your forehead.~

~I believe the solution is to quite literally keep your more scandalous thoughts to yourself.~

~C'mon, focus. We've got work to do. Jean, try a psychic sweep and see if you catch anything.~

Jean reached out to the people around her and began to read her thoughts. She flinched a bit as so many voices filled her head. Dozens of voices droned in her head loudly. She gritted her teeth and focused, honing her telepathy down to just a few voices. The volume in her head went down and she began to focus her telepathy on just a few people at a time, reading their minds and moving on.

~So far, I'm not getting anything. There's the usual hate and fear, but nothing out of the ordinary.~

~Tsk, tsk, tsk,~ a feminine voice said in a British accent. ~You just need to try harder. Here, sweetie, let me help!~

Jean felt a click in her head. The thoughts came racing back into her head. She head them all. All their thoughts, all their hopes, dreams, fears, and fantasies. The collective thoughts of nearly a hundred people all filling her head at once. Jean fell to her knees, pulling at her hair. She screamed and threw her head back. In her rage and confusion, she let out a telekinetic wave that sent the people around her off their feet and to the ground.

~What the hell just happened?!~ Scott asked the rest of the team. A loud feedback noise hit the rest of the team and made them flinch.

The backlash caused Rex to lose focus. His shape shifted back to his regular form. The people around him screamed, a woman pointing at him angrily. "MUTANT!" she shouted. "MUTANT!"

"Heh," Rex said, holding his hands up. "Would you believe I was framed?"

The crowd seemed to turn their attention from Bradley towards Rex. Looking around nervously at the encroaching mob, he chuckled and squeezed his hands. gas poured out of his skin, filling the air with tear gas. They began to scatter and run away. Meanwhile, the police and guards rushed Bradley into the armored van.

Scott reached into his jacket pocket and pulled his visor out. He slipped it on and turned around to see a diamond-clad fist hurling towards him. The blow hit him in the chest and knocked him to the ground.

Gasping for breath, he looked upwards through the ruby filter and saw the sparking, diamond-covered woman standing over him with a raised fist.

"You know," she said with a snarl. "I really hate busybodies."

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Old 11-12-2012, 10:51 PM   #169
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2000



Dick leaned forward and placed his hands on his knees. Sweat dripped from his brow, the muscles in his arms and legs burned like they were on fire. His lungs hurt with every deep breath. He was spent, but that didn't matter to his teacher. When the old man had challenged him to a fight, he thought it would last a few minutes minutes. Matt was old, he had a limp, and to top it all off, he was blind. That had been hours ago.

"C'mon," Matt said as he pranced around the roof of their building. "Fight me."

Dick went on the offensive. He jumped gracefully and tucked his legs to spin over Matt's head. He was in the process of landing when Matt's foot struck him in the back. Dick landed awkwardly and fell flat on the ground. This had been the story now for the last two hours. Dick tried to play offense, the blind man easily dodged his blows and countered him with ease. He played defense, Matt knocked him down with equal ease.

"Can't go on," he said as he struggled to stand. "Too tired."

"I know," Matt said, sweeping his legs out from under him. Dick hit the ground again, his lungs sucking desperately at the air that rushed out of his body. "And that's why I win."

Matt helped him up to his feet and steadied him with an arm.

"That wasn't fair. You barely fought."

"Exactly. You don't fight to hurt or cripple. You fight to win. The best offense can be a good defense. Remember that."

"But it took you two hours to wear me down. That's not too efficient."

"Better to win in two hours, than to lose in five minutes. C'mon, let me cook you some breakfast. You need to be at school in an hour."

Matt led Dick towards the stairwell. He opened the door and they climbed down the stairs towards the apartment.

"By the way, I'm cooking chocolate chip pancakes. Figured you just earned them."

Today was Dick's birthday. He was twelve years old.


Now
Brooklyn Docks
1:43 AM


Decked out in his full Daredevil gear, Dick calmly walked away from the burning shipping container behind him. All around him, the unconscious and semi-conscious bodies of criminals were scattered on the ground, their weapons scattered among them. The smell of cordite hung thick in the air, alongside the heavy smell of gasoline and burning metal.
An escrima stick in his hand, Dick grabbed one of the conscious men and held him up with his free hand.

"Look at the fire behind me," he growled. "That's twenty-five thousand dollars worth of coke going up in flames. Tell your boss that he's lived in sin for far too long. It's time for the Devil to collect his due."

He tossed the manback to the ground and disappeared into the night.



*****



Harlem
9:30 AM


Morgan Jones looked out at the New York morning from his office window. Two of his lieutenants stood behind him, both of them traded uneasy looks. Behind them an Asian man in a suit sat in a chair, passively watching everything in front of him.

"This is the third straight night that ****sucker has burned my goddamn product. What's the damage up to, Phil?"

"After last night, it's sixty-eight K," one of the men behind him said.

"Sixty-eight thousand dollars. Sixty-eight thousand dollars of my money up in smoke. Get the hell outta here. Both of you."

The two lieutenants hurriedly left the room. As soon as they were gone, Morgan turned from the window and stared at the man sitting in front of him.

"How much, Mister Drakon?"

"For the Devil?" Drakon asked with an arched eyebrow. "A hundred thousand. In advance."

Morgan stared the hitman down for a long moment before sighing.

"Very well. Just know that if you fail, I will take that hundred thousand dollars back.

"You can try," Drakon said as he stood. "But it will not come to that. This Devil is a man. His bones break. I am a mortality specialist, Mister Morgan. I will see to it that this Devil meets his."

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Old 11-13-2012, 11:43 AM   #170
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UNNATURAL SELECTION
Part 3

"Maybe you didn't hear me the first time, but MJ's been kidnapped, probably due to dating me and who my father is! So please excuse me if I can't calm the **** down!"

Harry Osborn was upset, understandably so. He had come to Peter and Gwen's apartment a mere ten minutes ago, hysterical, saying somebody broke into Mary Jane's home yesterday evening. There were signs of a struggle police say, and Mary Jane has been missing since without a trace.

Peter and Gwen were worried as well, but Peter tried to remain calm, knowing that acting as Harry is would only compound the matter.

"It's going to be okay, Harry", Gwen consoled, "my father and the rest of force will find her. She'll be safe, Harry...it's important to believe that."

"Yeah", Harry nodded as he took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes with thumb and index finger of his right hand.

"You're right...she'll be okay. And whoever did this is going to pay. I'll make sure of that", Harry stated, his face turning into a scowl.

"I'll be back", Peter said as he went to grab his jacket.
"I'm going down to talk with Detective Sawyer...see if she's knows anything about what happened. Any news I hear, I'll call immediately and let you know."

"Don't worry, buddy", Peter said as he knelt down next to Harry, reaching out and grabbing his shoulder and giving it a reassuring squeeze, "we'll get her back."

"Thanks, Pete", Harry said as he forced a smile.
"And thank you too, Gwen. Both of you are amazing friends. I don't think I could deal with this without you two."

Peter said goodbye to Harry and Gwen and left. But he didn't go to talk with Maggie Sawyer. Instead Peter made a trip to Mary Jane's house. Waiting until he had a window free from prying eyes (a window easily discerned thanks to Peter's spider-sense), Peter made his way past the police tape that was still up, and inside the house.

"Ugh", Peter said as he pinched his nose closed and cringed, "smells like the old frat house in here."

Peter presses through the stench, making his way into the kitchen, where the signs of a struggle are apparent. The table is split in two, a chair lays broken into pieces, as though it was smashed over something, and, most glaring of all, was a large hole in the wall where the kitchen window once was.

Failed to mention that in the report, Peter thought as he stepped closer, noticing strange claw marks around the edges of the breech.

Interesting, Peter thought as he was filled with a bit of dread at this revelation.
Whatever did this was definitely not human. Mutant perhaps? Either way, I think Spider-Man should definitely look into this.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------


Compared to the events of earlier in the evening, all was quiet now in the residence of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Harry had left to go home to try and get some rest, and Gwen was sitting quietly at the dinner table when Peter came home, sipping a cup of coffee as she stared blankly ahead, lost in her thoughts.

"Hey"
, Gwen spoke as she rose to greet Peter, having been snapped back to reality from her thinking.
"Any news to report?"

She was really worried, Peter could tell. MJ was one of Gwen's best friends, and with Harry gone and her by herself, Gwen had time to sit down and be alone with her thoughts. Something that can be a bad thing for a worried person.

Peter thought about not telling her the truth of what he found, that it'd only worry her more. But, something made him go against that logic.
So Peter told her about what he found, and how he thought it wasn't human. Gwen was predictably taken aback, but surprisingly to Peter, was more in a state of shock due to revelation than to horror.

"Oh my god...", Gwen exclaimed in a hushed tone.
"Basil's article...he couldn't be right..."

"Basil's article", Peter asked, confused?

"Basil Karlo, a reporter at the Bugle, wrote a piece on a rash of home abductions of late that have the police running in circles. I took a few crime scene photos for the article"
, Gwen explained.

"I don't recall ever seeing an article like that", Peter states, still a bit perplexed.

"That's because it never ran"
, Gwen answered.
"They all seemed to happen in the dead of night, and so there are only a couple of supposed witnesses. The reason it was never published by the Bugle is that one of the few witnesses claimed to have seen a large monster taking a little girl into the sewers the night a girl went missing in the same vicinity. But when I took the pictures, I never saw any claw marks or anything else to indicate it could've been possibly a mutant, or some kind of...monster."

"Maybe this time they just got a bit sloppy", Peter suggested.
"Either way, it seems there's a bit more to this thing than just MJ."

Like quite possibly this is a sign that the Jackal has resurfaced. Which would mean it's time for round numero two with that scumbag.


"I can see it possibly being some evil mutant, but I can't believe it's a monster."

"I ever tell you how much I love your skepticism, baby"
, Peter asks with a smirk as he leans in and gives Gwen a kiss.
"But these are strange times we're living in, what with flying men with capes and people being born who can read minds..."

"I suppose..."

"I was going to go check on Harry if that's cool with you", Peter asks.
"Make sure he's doing okay."

"Definitely, go. Harry could use a best friend right about now", Gwen said with a warm smile.
"And if you hear anything call me and tell me. I don't care what time of night it is, okay?"

"You got it, baby"
, Peter said as he leaned in and gave Gwen a goodbye kiss.
"I love you."

"I love you too."

"Peter"
, Gwen called out as Peter was reaching for the door handle before turning to regard her.
"Be careful out there, okay?"

"Don't worry, babe", Peter smiled, "I'll be fine."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------


2 Hours Later...


"Love you too, baby. See you in the morning...good night."

Spider-Man stands outside a large storm drain where water is rushing into the man-made caverns that is New York's maze-like sewer system.

After a brief stop by Harry's to make sure he was going to be okay, Peter went and did a bit of research on the reported monster siting as well as pulling up schematics of the city's sewer system.
Armed with the information, Peter donned his Spider-Man garb, and as the Web Slinger, he made his way to the nearest entrance into the Night Below.

It was now eleven fifteen at night, and Peter was just finishing a call to Gwen, letting her know that he was going to stay at Harry's tonight and go to work from there.

Feel like I'm a freakin' kid again with all this duplicity, Peter sighed as the thought crossed his mind.

"Such is the glamorous life of the costumed hero", Peter exclaimed, and the Wall Crawler leaped down, sticking to the wall above the storm drain.

"And into the abyss I go..."

Spider-Man crawled inside the pipe, traversing the ceiling, the water rushing past him below as he entered the eerie darkness...

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Old 11-13-2012, 07:05 PM   #171
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The Joker begins thumbing through the pictures and information that he downloaded from the DMV attack while sitting at a desk with the TV on.

Just then he hears Snapper Carr discussing the bombing at the DMV. The Joker turns and sees the carnage of burned bodies, twisted metal, and remains of the van.

The Joker turns the channels and sees it on CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS and even the BBC!

He throws the remote in the air and begins dancing around and yells, "Yes!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I've gone international! YES!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!"

He sits down in an easy chair and looks at a picture of Charles Manson and says, "So what do you think Chuck? You think I did good? Not saying I've measured up to your standards by any stretch but you gotta admit it's pretty good. Right?"

The picture says nothing...and The Joker pulls out a gun and blows a hole in the picture and says, "You're wrong! I can do better! Just watch!"

The Joker then begins making notations on the pictures, and says, "So many sad faces. Sad sad faces. Time to liven them up and the first lucky soul is...."

He holds his finger above his I-Pad and touches it a blown picture with an address appears and The Joker says, "Emily Stacy! Come on down!"

The Joker pauses and says, "Stacy why does that last name sound so familiar?"

He shrugs his shoulders and says, "Oh well time to get moving on!"

The Joker puts his I-Pad in his bag grabs a few more items and heads out to the Stacy Family home.

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Old 11-13-2012, 07:42 PM   #172
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Edward enters his sprawling home and calls Brenda his recepitionist at home and says, "Good evening Brenda sorry to bother you at such a late hour."

She replies, "Not a problem Dr. Nygma how did the evening go?"

Edward replies, "A good time had by all. I finished up the notes for the last two weeks before I left this evening. They're on my desk make sure the Medical Transcripts company gets them by the lunch tomorrow. I'll be taking care of a couple of patients for some lengthy work tomorrow and I want to make sure it's done."

Brenda says, "No problem I'll call the company in the morning."

Edward replies, "Thank you Brenda. Tell them they did a fine job last time and to take their time with these since I'm heading out of town for about two weeks. The schedule is clear and I got nothing going on here might as well indulge one of my favorite past-times."

Brenda asks, "Another ski trip?"

Edward replies, "Nope, this time a catching some hoops on the road. I need to recharge and just have a good time just killin some brain-cells."

Brenda says, "Have a good time Dr. Nygma. I'll take of the transcripts."

Edward says, "Thank you Brenda. I'll call when I get back."

Edward hangs up the phone and gets out a cell-phone with a voice and location scrambler.

Edward calls Don Tormasino and The Don says, "Hello?"

The Riddler asks, "Riddle me this: What do you use to hoe a row, slay a foe, and wring with woe?"

The Don replies, "Your hands."

The Riddler replies, "Impressive. It's how you killed your first person Don Tormasino. You picked up on that quickly truly a keen mind."

The Don says, "High praise from you Riddler."

The Riddler replies, "I know. With that in mind you have passed your final interview question. I will take this assignment. In 10 days Dr. Slayton will die and full payment is to be made within 12 hours of confirmation of his death otherwise I will be seeking you out. This is the last we will speak. Goodbye."

The Riddler hangs up the phone goes down to his workshop, drops it into the vat of acid and watches it dissolve.

Edward goes back upstairs and fixes himself a glass of wine.

He cuts on the news and watches a story on how Dr. Edward Nygma bought out every Luxury Suite at Madison Square Garden for Navy Personnel on leave in New York. How Dr. Nygma also arranged a meet and greet between them and players from both the Miami Heat & The New York Knicks.

Edward smiles and says, "Made a good peice of change at the office, did a good deed at the Garden, and will soon be collecting 10 million from a mob boss."

He sees his reflection in a window, raises his glass and says, "Good Job Edward!"

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Old 11-13-2012, 10:59 PM   #173
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Previously




Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
Lansing, Michigan


The X-Men, in their civilian clothes, were in a hotel room watching TV. Jean sat on the edge of one of the room's double beds, Scott on the other one. Jefferson and Rex sat in chairs on the right side of the room. Hank was upside down, watching the television while hanging from the light on the ceiling. The news from judge presiding over the trial of Doctor James Bradley had only come out an hour earlier. Bradley was sentenced to serve life in prison for the two dozen counts of human experimentation that he had been charged with.

While the students watched the pundits discussing the sentencing, Charles sat on the bed behind Scott. He had a laptop resting on his legs. Cables and wires ran from the computer to an odd metal helmet that was resting on Charles' head.

The wires and cables psychically connected him to the computer, that then connected him to an array of satellites that were in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth. With the satellites, he could reach out and touch every living person on the planet with his psychic abilities. The machine, dubbed Cerebro by its co-creator Erik Lensherr, gave Charles the ability to find and locate mutants. It was with Cerebro that he found the five mutants that were in the room with him now. The government had been pushing to locate and map out the locations of all the mutants in the United States, but Charles had not so politely refused. If the government saw the map of mutants, they would know the truth about the mutants. And then, what he feared most might come to pass.

Charles' eyes fluttered open as he closed the Cerebro program. Closing the laptop, he put it on the nightstand beside him and stood.

"I have some news to report," he said, walking towards the TV. "The woman who was with Creed was in fact a mutant, Cerebro was able to confirm that. There is also more. She wasn't the only mutant at the courthouse today. There was another somewhere in the crowd with Creed's followers and one inside the courtroom with Doctor Bradley. Sitting where Doctor Bradley sat during the sentencing hearing."

"Wait," Jean started. "That means..."

"Of course," Hank said, flipping down to the ground. "Why else would Bradley be so passionate about trying to create mutants if he himself was not one?"

"What about that other mutant, Professor?"


"The scan seems to indicate they left soon after we beat our own hasty retreat from the area."


"So what's our next move? Creed's here and his has a mutant helping him, a very hot one at that. But do we confront him or what?"

"Creed is a hate monger, but he hasn't done anything wrong. I want us to continue to keep an eye on Doctor Bradley. He's being moved soon. If Creed and his Friends of Humanity are going to make their move, that's when they'll strike."

"Well, we need to move sooner than later," Scott said, nodding towards the TV. "They just said they're moving him to a federal prison in Indiana today."



*****



The crowd gathered around the courthouse's back exit. They yelled and booed as Bradley was led out in chains by six police officers and baillfs. He looked at the angry mob and their signs and smirked.

"I'm a monster?" He yelled over the din. "Look around, you goddamn knuckle draggers! You're the monster! I'm an agent for change! I'm the future! You're obsolete!"

The security escorts continued to march Bradley towards a reinforced prison van. Amongst the protestors, the X-Men walked. They kept their civilian clothes on, two of them adopted radical disguises. Rex's multi-colored skin was replaced with the skin of a normal Caucasian male, his bald head now covered in a thick crop of blonde hair. He had managed to change his outward appearance. Even now, only minutes into shapeshifting, he was having trouble concentrating and keeping his form.
Hank, meanwhile, looked like a normal, stocky young man with glasses and dark hair. His change in appearance was due to the small device on his belt. The holographic image shifter, a top of the line camouflage Hank had "liberated" from the government was able to hide his furry form behind a thin layer of hard light.

~Alright,~ Scott said through the team's telepathic link. ~Keep an eye out for Creed and his pal. Look for anything odd. Suspicious behavior, familiar faces.~

~Wow, this chick is hot. I wonder if she'd like to take a ride on the ole--~

~Rex!~

~Dude! We just heard all of that!~


~Get the hell out of my mind, you pervs!~

~We're not in your mind. You're broadcasting out like you've got an antenna in your forehead.~

~I believe the solution is to quite literally keep your more scandalous thoughts to yourself.~

~C'mon, focus. We've got work to do. Jean, try a psychic sweep and see if you catch anything.~

Jean reached out to the people around her and began to read her thoughts. She flinched a bit as so many voices filled her head. Dozens of voices droned in her head loudly. She gritted her teeth and focused, honing her telepathy down to just a few voices. The volume in her head went down and she began to focus her telepathy on just a few people at a time, reading their minds and moving on.

~So far, I'm not getting anything. There's the usual hate and fear, but nothing out of the ordinary.~

~Tsk, tsk, tsk,~ a feminine voice said in a British accent. ~You just need to try harder. Here, sweetie, let me help!~

Jean felt a click in her head. The thoughts came racing back into her head. She head them all. All their thoughts, all their hopes, dreams, fears, and fantasies. The collective thoughts of nearly a hundred people all filling her head at once. Jean fell to her knees, pulling at her hair. She screamed and threw her head back. In her rage and confusion, she let out a telekinetic wave that sent the people around her off their feet and to the ground.

~What the hell just happened?!~ Scott asked the rest of the team. A loud feedback noise hit the rest of the team and made them flinch.

The backlash caused Rex to lose focus. His shape shifted back to his regular form. The people around him screamed, a woman pointing at him angrily. "MUTANT!" she shouted. "MUTANT!"

"Heh," Rex said, holding his hands up. "Would you believe I was framed?"

The crowd seemed to turn their attention from Bradley towards Rex. Looking around nervously at the encroaching mob, he chuckled and squeezed his hands. gas poured out of his skin, filling the air with tear gas. They began to scatter and run away. Meanwhile, the police and guards rushed Bradley into the armored van.

Scott reached into his jacket pocket and pulled his visor out. He slipped it on and turned around to see a diamond-clad fist hurling towards him. The blow hit him in the chest and knocked him to the ground.

Gasping for breath, he looked upwards through the ruby filter and saw the sparking, diamond-covered woman standing over him with a raised fist.

"You know," she said with a snarl. "I really hate busybodies."



Lansing, Michigan


The diamond-clad mutant was knocked off her by Hank's large sneaker covered feet. She hit the ground and skidded across the parking lot.

"I had heard that diamonds were a girl's best friend, but I had no idea to this extreme."

Hank helped Scott to his feet. The holographic image inducer on his belt flickered off for a moment, revealing his true form, before it flickered back on.

"Where's everyone at?"

"I don't know," Hank said, looking through the tear gas haze Rex shot out of his hands.

"Marvel Girl's down. Find her and see if she's okay." Scott said as he pulled his visor from his jacket pocket. He clicked it over his eyes and activated it. "I'll deal with our friend here."

"Very well."

Hank jumped away through the mist and Scott turned his attention to the diamond woman. Or where she had been. In the few seconds he'd looked away, she had managed to vanish.

~Professor, can you hear me?~ Scott said as he attempted to mentally reach out to Charles.

~No can do, love,~ the woman's voice said in his head. ~Your teacher can't hear you. He's blocked off from the entire area.~

Out of the mist, a sparkling diamond fist flew. Scott ducked and shot a blast upwards, knocking the woman back a few feet. She deflected Scott's optic blast with her hand and charged again. Scott side-stepped and tripped her with a sweeping leg.

"Come on, lady," he said with growing confidence. "I fought practice dummies smarter than you."
Chuckling, the woman came at him again. Scott began to dodge, only to be struck by a diamond-encrusted fist. He yelled in pain as he felt his collarbone snap. Struggling with the pain, he tried to fire another blast. He strained his eyes, trying to will the optic rays to fire out. But they wouldn't.

"Rule one when fighting a psychic, darling," she said, lashing out. Scott stepped to the right and was met by a hardened elbow to his chest. "Don't fight a psychic. They can hear your every thought and every planned move. They can access your brain and shut off your little light show. They can also manipulate your every nerve ending and make you feel emmense pain."

Scott screamed and fell to the ground, wriggling as every nerve in his body felt like it was being stabbed with white-hot knives.

"Or they can make you feel the greatest pleasure you've ever known..."

The pain shut off in his brain just as quickly as it had came. It was replaced with an entirely new sensation. Now, Scott wriggled on the ground... but for entirely different reasons.

"Hey!" Jefferson shouted as he came out the fog. "What do you think you're doing?!"

He thrust his hands out and shot two lightning bolts from his palms. Smirking, the woman easily shook off Jeff's lightning attack.

"Diamonds insulate electricity."

Reaching out to Jeff's mind, she dropped him to the ground as well. While Scott and Jefferson were at the mercy of the diamond woman, Rex was busy with his own problems. He was trying to fend off attacks from a dozen Friends of Humanity who had not turned and ran when Rex had tried to subdue the crowd.

Shifting his body from flesh to steel, he reached out and grabbed an aluminum baseball bat by its barrel and ripped it awya from the attacker wielding it.

"Aluminum?" He asked with an arched eyebrow. The color of his body changed again as he shifted from steal to aluminum. He held the bat by its handle and looked around at the now nervous and unsure hate mongers. "Batter up..."

While Rex turned the tables on his attackers, Hank was helping a semi-conscious Jean up onto her feet.

"Can you hear me?" He asked, switching his image inducer off. "Marvel Girl? Say something. Jean?"

"Aspirin," she said weakly. "I need lots and lots of aspirin."

"There you are," Charles said as he came through the mist. He nodded at Hank and looked Jean over. "I felt Jean's psychic backlash, and then lost contact with everyone. Jean, are you alright?"

"I'm okay. I just... that lady got into my head, she flipped a switch. I could hear everything everyone was thinking. I couldn't take it."

"Believe me, I know what that's like. Where are the others?"

"Scott was engaging in fisticuffs with our mutant friend. I have no idea where Jefferson or Rex are."

"Someone call my name?"
He said from the haze. Rex came into view, a baseball bat over his shoulder. "Sorry, I was taking some batting practice. What's going on?"

"Go find the others, help them. Try and distract her and break her concentration. If you can do that, I can knock her out."

Charles took Jean's shoulder and helped her as Hank and Rex ran towards where Scott was last seen. They came through the haze and saw Scott and Jefferson on the ground, both of them now passed out. Standing in between them, the diamond woman watched and waited.

"More boy toys? Marvelous."

Growling, Hank leaped into the air and prepared to pounce on her. The woman dodged his claws easily and grabbed Hank by the arm. She slammed him to the ground like a ragdoll and turned her focus to Rex.

"Come on then, b****," he said, his body shifting colors and compositions. ~Professor, I need you to run interference for me in this one. Shield my thoughts.~

~I'm with you, Rex. Keep her busy, I can do the rest.~

Running towards the woman, Rex hit her with a titanium fist. The diamond coating bucked, but didn't cracked. Snarling, she struck kicked Rex in the knee. While the two of them traded blows, both Jefferson and Scott began to stir.

~Scott, Jefferson, I need you both awake and ready,~ Charles said in their minds. ~I can only communicate with you while she's distracted with Rex. Our shot will be limited, but here is the plan.~

Charles transferred his thoughts to Scott and Jeff. Standing, the both nodded and saw Rex, who nodded towards them. The woman turned and saw the two young mutants standing and ready.

"The bloody hell?"

The woman was knocked backwards by two titanium coated fist. Scott saw the small crack forming in her shielding and let loose with a powerful blast. She screamed as the optic blast tore into her skin. On instinct, she dropped her diamond form. Pointing his finger, Jefferson zapper her with a lightning bolt. Unshielded, the electricity hit her and knocked her to the ground.

Rex pounced, pinning her to the ground while Scott and Jeff rushed to help. Cyclops stood over the woman, his visor glowing ruby red.

"You move or even try to use those psychic powers, I'll make you pay,"

"Damn children!" She spat. "You just all made the biggest mistakes of your short, insignificant lives."

"Last guy we fought said that. Didn't work out for him."

"And I'll have you know we all live very significant lives filled with adventure and video game playing!"

"Why are you working for Creed?"

"Working for Creed," she chuckled. "I don't work for that unwashed hick."

"Really? Why did you try to attack Bradley?"

"I didn't try to attack him. I distracted you. Successfully."

Looking up and around, Scott traded a look with Rex.

"We need to go..."



*****



The three SUVs were parked off the side of the rural highway. Creed sat in the passenger seat of the lead car, a pistol in his lap. There were four men in the car with him. They watched as an armored van rolled by "MICHIGAN STATE CORRECTIONS" stamped on it.

"That's it," he said. One of the men in the back passed out ski masks to the rest of them. Creed slid the mask over his face and put a walkie-talkie to his mouth. "Alright, we're moving out. Remember the rules. Don't kill the guards. The mutie is fair game."

The SUVs started and pulled out on to the road, following the armored van down the highway.

Three miles down the road, Wanda Maximoff stood on a bluff overlooking the highway. She spun a rusty nail in her hands and watched the road intently. She ran the probability and numbers in her head.

The odds were in her favor.

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Old 11-15-2012, 07:24 PM   #174
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UNNATURAL SELECTION
Part 4

"Gah", Peter pinched his nose as he slowly walked along the sewer tunnel, heading deeper into forever night below New York.
"What a wonderful smell I've discovered."

Spider-Man has been searching the sewers for almost an hour now, with no signs of any life other than hundreds of large rats. Along the way, Spidey did run into some very curious things.
Things that suggested this whole "monster" angle might be true.

Peter had come across three carcasses of dogs and one of what was once a police horse. All had been nearly entirely devoured, and, judging by the bite marks on the kills, whatever it was was big.
Peter had also happened upon random piles of animal droppings. Piles that were made by a very large creature. There was definitely something down here that, by all evidence, isn't too friendly.

As if on cue, his spider-sense go's off. Searching for the source of the danger, Peter notices a pair of eyes staring up at him, just sticking up above the surface of the murky sewage water running in between the two walkways on either side of the tunnel.

"Oohhh, this is gonna suck..."

Spider-Man jumps up and clings to the ceiling just as the massive lizard man springs from the waters and lunges at where Spidey once was.

"So, I take it you're the monster who's been kidnapping people?"

The lizard man hisses at the Wall Crawler and lashes out with it's tail. Spider-Man rolls out of the way as the tail smashes into the concrete.

"You got a name, gruesome?"

The lizard man bellowed, it's throaty roar loudly echoing off of the small confines of the sewer tunnels, and leaped at Spider-Man. Spidey let go of the ceiling and dropped back down to the walkway as the lizard man's claws sunk in to the spot where Peter once was.

"Not the talkative type I see...or is that you can't speak?"

The lizard man comes at Peter in a rush, savagely striking out with it's jagged claws and it's snapping maw. Thanks to his spider-sense and heightened reflexes, Spider-Man was able to avoid the majority of attacks. But the creature was quick, and a claw sliced him across his stomach. Luckily for Peter, the wound was not deep.

"Hey, watch it, pal! You know how long it took me to make this outfit!?"

Spider-Man lashed out, connecting with a quick and basic one-two combination to the lizard man's head and body that backed the beast off of him.

"All kidding aside, playtime is over. I'm taking you down and then I'm going to find those missing people."

The lizard man charged Peter, but Peter rolled back at the last second and, using the lizard man's momentum of the charge, kicked out as the monster stumbled over Peter and launched the beast into the stone tunnel wall.

"And you better hope that I find them still alive and well", Spider-Man finished as he rushed the lizard man as it slowly rose, catching it in the chin with a solid knee that put the beast out for the count.

Okay", Peter exhales as he cracks his neck.
"Thank Zeus that's over. Guess I'll just web you up, ugly, and leave you here while I look for-"

Suddenly his spider-sense blares in his head.

"Oh, for the love of-what now?"

Spider-Man looks around him as lizard men move in from both ends of the tunnel. Quickly Peter finds himself surrounded and staring down at least a dozen of the things, most just as big as the one he had just faced, and a few even bigger.

"Well now...this a ****** twist. Somewhere, right now, M. Knight Shyamalan is laughing all the way to the bank..."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Basil Karlo tosses his smoke onto the sidewalk and puts it out with his shoe before entering the diner. Ignoring the hostess' welcome, Basil scans the eatery and finds the person he's looking for. Karlo strides over towards the secluded booth in the corner where Mr. Toomes is sitting.


"Hello, Basil. Lovely evening, isn't it?"


"Shove your lovely evening, Toomes", Basil quietly snarled, "you screwed me!"

Adrian Toomes frowned, "I did nothing of the sort."

"********", Basil uttered through gritted teeth.
"You gave me false information! Lied about it tying to Warren White! I'm on a suspension right now! I'm lucky I didn't get fired because of you!"

"You need to calm yourself, Basil", Toomes' eyes narrowed.

Karlo took the hint and, though still obviously pissed off, sat back in his chair and ended his rant.

"Now then, I apologize about the information. The bookie I got the ledgers from set me up. It was all part of White's plan to take down one of the few remaining competitors to his reign."

"Needless to say, that bookie learned the simple rules of reactions"
, Toomes smirked.

"But, before he...went away, the bookie did give me a nugget of info that he thought would save him. Tomorrow night, at the old Stagg Enterprises factory in Manhattanville. There's going to be a rather large shipment of guns being sold, by Mr. White to some very unsavory people. You get the deal on video, you get Warren White."


Basil eyed Toomes skeptically, "And how do I know this isn't a bunch of ******** too?"

"You don't", Toomes shrugged, "but this is a golden opportunity to end White's grip on the city once and for all. I'll be there with you to provide back up. Just in case."

"So, Basil...are you in?"


Basil Karlo remained quiet for a moment as he mulled it all over. Eventually though the prospects of fame were too great to pass up, and vanity overrides common sense.

"Okay", Basil nodded in agreement, "I'll be there."

"Excellent", Toomes grinned.
"Make sure you bring a good camera. Should be quite the show."

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Old 11-15-2012, 11:42 PM   #175
Byrd Man
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Default Re: Ultimate One Universe RPG: IC Thread





Previously



Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man View Post
Charles took Jean's shoulder and helped her as Hank and Rex ran towards where Scott was last seen. They came through the haze and saw Scott and Jefferson on the ground, both of them now passed out. Standing in between them, the diamond woman watched and waited.

"More boy toys? Marvelous."

Growling, Hank leaped into the air and prepared to pounce on her. The woman dodged his claws easily and grabbed Hank by the arm. She slammed him to the ground like a ragdoll and turned her focus to Rex.

"Come on then, b****," he said, his body shifting colors and compositions. ~Professor, I need you to run interference for me in this one. Shield my thoughts.~

~I'm with you, Rex. Keep her busy, I can do the rest.~

Running towards the woman, Rex hit her with a titanium fist. The diamond coating bucked, but didn't cracked. Snarling, she struck kicked Rex in the knee. While the two of them traded blows, both Jefferson and Scott began to stir.

~Scott, Jefferson, I need you both awake and ready,~ Charles said in their minds. ~I can only communicate with you while she's distracted with Rex. Our shot will be limited, but here is the plan.~

Charles transferred his thoughts to Scott and Jeff. Standing, the both nodded and saw Rex, who nodded towards them. The woman turned and saw the two young mutants standing and ready.

"The bloody hell?"

The woman was knocked backwards by two titanium coated fist. Scott saw the small crack forming in her shielding and let loose with a powerful blast. She screamed as the optic blast tore into her skin. On instinct, she dropped her diamond form. Pointing his finger, Jefferson zapper her with a lightning bolt. Unshielded, the electricity hit her and knocked her to the ground.

Rex pounced, pinning her to the ground while Scott and Jeff rushed to help. Cyclops stood over the woman, his visor glowing ruby red.

"You move or even try to use those psychic powers, I'll make you pay,"

"Damn children!" She spat. "You just all made the biggest mistakes of your short, insignificant lives."

"Last guy we fought said that. Didn't work out for him."

"And I'll have you know we all live very significant lives filled with adventure and video game playing!"

"Why are you working for Creed?"

"Working for Creed," she chuckled. "I don't work for that unwashed hick."

"Really? Why did you try to attack Bradley?"

"I didn't try to attack him. I distracted you. Successfully."

Looking up and around, Scott traded a look with Rex.

"We need to go..."



*****



The three SUVs were parked off the side of the rural highway. Creed sat in the passenger seat of the lead car, a pistol in his lap. There were four men in the car with him. They watched as an armored van rolled by "MICHIGAN STATE CORRECTIONS" stamped on it.

"That's it," he said. One of the men in the back passed out ski masks to the rest of them. Creed slid the mask over his face and put a walkie-talkie to his mouth. "Alright, we're moving out. Remember the rules. Don't kill the guards. The mutie is fair game."

The SUVs started and pulled out on to the road, following the armored van down the highway.

Three miles down the road, Wanda Maximoff stood on a bluff overlooking the highway. She spun a rusty nail in her hands and watched the road intently. She ran the probability and numbers in her head.

The odds were in her favor.



Michigan


The three SUVs roared down the road towards the armored van. The driver of the van saw the cars in his rearview mirror and cursed. "Call for help," the driver said to the guard beside him. The three cars began to catch up to the van. They were a car-length behind when masked men leaned out the SUV's open windows, submachine guns in their hands.

"****!" The driver shouted, trying to pick up speed as the men opened fire. The bullets ricocheted off the van's armored plating and slowed the cars down. The van came around a corner with its attackers hot on its heels.

Wanda Maximoff saw the van coming around the corner with the three cars in pursuit. She scowled as the probabilities and odds around her changed. Each potential future, and their mathematical probabilities, were laid out to her as the van approached. Still holding the rusty nail in her hands, she saw the course of action that would work.

Timing it, she tossed the nail over the bluff she was standing on. It bounced down the hill and on to the pavement just as the van passed over it. The bouncing nail shot up into the van's undercarriage and hit the armored car's faulty universal joint. The U-joint snapped in half, dropping the back of the van's drive shaft down into the pavement. The speed, coupled with the force of the drive shaft hitting the road, cause the drive shaft to act like a pole vault. The shaft propelled the van upwards, flipping it in the air. The armored car came down on the pavement roof-first. The hardened roof took the brunt of the force and buckled slightly from the crash.

Behind them, Creed's cars swerved to avoid the flipped van. Creed's SUV dodged it, but the car closest to his clipped the van and spun out into the grass, slamming into a large tree. The driver of the third car slammed on the brakes. The slowing SUV rammed the van and sent both cars skidding across the pavement and to the shoulder of the highway.

"Goddammit!" Creed yelled as he climbed out the passenger seat of his car. "Someone go check on the others."

Creed cocked his pistol and began to walk towards the overturned van with a pair of armed men. Wanda burst from the side of the road, taking out one of Creed's men with a kick to the knee. She spun, grabbed the injured man's gun, and aimed. Wanda opened fire, striking the other armed man in the shoulder. She turned her gun to Creed and began to crunch numbers in her head.

"I suggest you drop the gun right now," she said.

"Sorry, mutie, you're not taking him."

"You're going to stop me?"

"Damn right," Creed said, pressing the trigger of his pistol. A loud click issued from the gun.

"Would you look at that. Seems like there was a sixteen percent chance your pistol's firing pin wouldn't work. Funny that it still jammed."

Smirking, Wanda drove the butt of her pistol into Creed's head and knocked him unconscious. Hurrying to the flipped van, she shot the locks off the back doors and opened it up.

Lying on the roof of the van, which was now on the bottom, was Doctor James Bradley. His arms and legs were shackled, and he had a bruised and swollen face.

"Doctor Bradley," Wanda said with a nod.

"Who the hell are you?" He asked weakly.

"I'm your ride. Seems that some powerful people want to see you elude federal custody."

Sitting up on his knees, Bradley coughed and looked up at Wanda.

"And who would be that generous?"

"Why me," a voice said behind them.

Wanda and Bradley turned and saw Lensherr on the road in front of him. He sat in his wheelchair, the teleporter Bolt behind him.

"Hello, Doctor, I'm Erik Lensherr. Have you heard of me?"

"You're Magneto. The mutant freedom fighter."

"Ah, so you're a fan. I must admit, I'm a fan of your research. Mostly."

Standing, Bradley eyed Lensherr suspiciously. "What's this about?"

"Tsk. You break a man out of prison, and he wonders about your intentions. Is that what passes for gratitude? I'm offering you a chance, Doctor. A chance at freedom, a chance to make a true difference. Have you heard of the Greek goddess Nemesis?"

"Goddess of revenge, right?"

"Right, but she stood for more than just simple revenge. She stood for divine retribution, striking down those whose hubris had run rampant. True and absolute justice was her policy. Under my watch and guidance, you will be able to get revenge, you will become an agent of the will of evolution. You will strike down those that wronged you, those that laughed at you, and those that tried to kill you. You will become Nemesis personified."

"And what will I have to do for this?"

"Work alongside me and my Brotherhood. For your contributions as a physician, I will help you continue your research on the origin of mutants. I only have one request: No more live experiments. Not now, not ever. You experiment on live humans and mutants, you are no better than the cavemen we are evolved from. Understood?"

"Yes," Bradley said with a nod. "I understand."

Nodding, Lensherr waved his hand. The chains around Bradley's arms and legs snapped and clattered to the floor.

"And you, my dear Wanda? My offer still stands."

"Just give me my money."

"Very well. Gather around, and we'll leave."

Bradley and Wanda approached Lensherr. They placed their hands in his hands while Bolt held his hand to Mangeto's shoulder. In a flash of light, they disappeared from the area.



*****

"We missed them," Charles said with a sigh.

He and the rest of the X-Men were walked through the wreckage that hadn't yet gotten cold. Unconscious men were scattered on the road and Bradley was nowhere to be seen.

"What the hell did this?" Scott asked. He was bent over, looking down at the unconscious Grayden Creed.

"Whatever it was, it doesn't appear to have been done by Creed and his 'Friends'. Someone was here and they fought back. I can smell them... familiar scents."

"Erik was here," Charles said as he examined the overturned armored car. "I can feel his psychic imprint in the area."

"Magneto broke Bradley free. Why exactly?"

"He's showing out with everyone watching. Creed and the Banjo Backstreet Boys here were trying to do, but it blew up in their faces."

"Exactly. Bradley's a mutant, a high-profile one at that. This case has been in the media for a year now. Why hid in the dark when you can flex your muscles with the rest of the country watching? He sent a message here today."

"You send a mutant to jail and he perceives it to be unfair, he'll bust them out."

"Jail cells and prison walls are simply obsolete to an entire people who can simply destroy them with a thought..."

"We can wax poetic later," Charles said, looking down the road. "We have to go. The police will be here soon."



*****



Manhattan
Two Days Later


The large, burly man walked out onto his penthouse balcony. Graydon Creed sat in a chair, looking out at the New York skyline with a blank and distant stare. The left side of his face was black and blue due to bruising.

"Emma," he said to the blonde woman standing beside Creed. She flipped her hair back and smiled.

"Mr. Savage."

"I saw the news. What went wrong?"

"Two groups of interlopers," she said with a scowl. "A group of children attempting to play hero, and then a group of thugs trying to play revolutionary. I was outnumbered, my king."

"I don't expect the White Queen to make excuses, Miss Frost. I expect the White Queen to do as I say. And I told you to deliver Bradley to me. Alive and in person."

"Well, he is still alive."

"Or so you think," Savage looked at her with a look of slight contempt. He walked forward and leaned against the balcony railing. "This Magneto character, what do you know about him?"

"I gleaned some mental information from the group of children I fought. They've faced him before. He is apparently an old friend of their teacher, an angry mutant named Erik Lensherr."

"Lensherr?" Savage asked with a mischievous grin. "Now there's a name I thought I would never hear again. What about these children's teacher?"

"His name is Charles Xavier. He and his students were apart of a mutant taskforce run by the government. They were the ones that beat Creed in Kentucky."

"Interesting... General Williams said at the last meeting that the Pentagon had been breached by powerful mutants. Someone that turned tail and ran, but not before wiping out the memories of every human they came in contact with over the past six months."

"Xavier is a psychic. A powerful one, at that."

"Interesting."
Savage stroked his goatee and contemplated his next move. After a few minutes of silence, he spoke. "I have a job for you. There is a facility in the San Francisco Bay. On Utopia Island. That's where General Williams said it the mutant strike team and is based. Go there, use your abilities to talk your way into their midst."

"To what end, my king?"

"To make them remember. Remember everything about Xavier and his students. What they can do, what they did to them, and where they are. Lead them up the primrose path to his doorstep. No more interlopers, Emma. See that they're taken care of."

"Yes, my king."

Frost bowed to Savage. She stood and turned to Creed.

"Move," she said with an edge in her voice. Creed stood and followed her inside the penthouse without any resistance. Savage stayed on the balcony and waited for them to leave before he walked inside.

"Donald," he said as he came into the kitchen.

A tall, blonde haired man was in the process of washing dishes. As soon as Savage said his name, Donald stopped his work and stood up straight.

"Yes, sir?" He asked in a dull and monotone voice.

"Search the internet for any combinations of the following names: Charles Xavier, Erik Lensherr."

"Commencing search now."

Savage watched as his android manservant stood still. Inside, Savage knew that his powerful CPU's wifi was working overtime, combing the internet for any traces of the men he had only knew the names of a few minutes ago.

His plan was a meticulous one, he had it calculated down to the nth degree. There was not much wiggle room. Men like Xavier and Lensherr were variables. They could challenge the outcome of his plan, they could undo his hard work.

Vandal Savage was playing a long game, even long by his standards. The past two hundred years had been building up to this. He was a patient man, but if either Lensherr or Xavier were anything close to being serious threats, he would crush them as quick as he could.

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