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Old 06-11-2012, 10:33 PM   #701
Eddie Brock
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Default Re: One Earth: The Marvel/DC RPG



Undisclosed
New York City
0415 Hours


Corben, Hannibal, and I are locked inside a storage container with our captive, Antonio. I don't know if I'm convinced he's a vampire, but I know he's a detestable soul at the least. He preys on innocent women - to whatever sick end - and for that, I have no qualms about our treatment of him. Hannibal's elected to take lead on the interrogation, citing his experience with vampires, which didn't sit well with Corben at first. After the two got done with their pissing match, we finally got down to business.

Antonio is stripped to his boxers and strapped to a chair in the center of the space, with just a dim lightbulb illuminating the area. Hannibal walks behind him with a strange-looking flashlight. "Waste our time all you want, Antonio, but that sun's coming up soon."

Antonio spits. "Go to Hell, traitor!"

"Traitor?" Corben says under his breath.

Hannibal turns on the flashlight, which shines brighter than any flashlight I've ever seen. He turns the beam on Antonio, shining it across his forearm. Antonio screams in agony as steam rises from his skin. When Hannibal turns the beam away, Antonio's arm is black and shriveled.

"Turn that lamp on yourself," Antonio growls. "See how you like it."

"This isn't about me," Hannibal replies, "and it's not even about you. It's about Deacon Frost."

Antonio glares at Hannibal. "Do your worst, human-lover. I'll never betray Frost for you."

Hannibal shrugs. "If you say so." He turns on the flashlight again, this time running it along Antonio's leg. After a moment of screaming and burning, Hannibal stops. "Running out of limbs, friend."

Antonio bites his lip. I see the flash of a fang. From the look on his face, Corben sees it, too.

Hannibal stands in front of Antonio and turns on the flashlight once more. As he runs the beam up Antonio's torso, he traces a trail of blackened, dead skin. He's halfway up the abdomen when Antonio cries out.

"Okay! Okay! Please, just stop!"

Hannibal turns off the flashlight and tosses it to Corben. Corben turns it on and places his finger in the beam. Nothing happens. He turns it off and tosses it to me. I decide not to recreate the experiment.

"Frost is... stationed in the basement... of Garwood Industries," Antonio confesses. "But it would be suicide to go there, even for you!"

"We'll take our chances." Hannibal turns his back on Antonio and walks towards us. "Come on. We need to come up with a plan."

"What about him?" I ask.

Hannibal looks over his shoulder. "He's only got a few hours until sunlight. If he wants to try and make a break for it, he better make sure he's out before the sun rises." He grabs the flashlight from me and opens the door to the storage container. We follow him out into the night.

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Old 06-12-2012, 03:46 AM   #702
Andy C.
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Default Re: One Earth: The Marvel/DC RPG





Ow.......ow.......ow........


If you've never tried to go to school the day after being shot in the leg, I don't recommend it. Literally every single step I've taken since getting out of bed has been a jab of blinding pain. I've had to leave class twice now to change the dressing on the wound and make sure the stitches are holding. I've been light-headed and nauseous from the pain for hours now; even sitting down isn't much fun.

On the plus side, no gym class today, so I've got 24 whole hours to figure out how I'm going to cover up a bullet hole in the locker room.

"Pete?"

Vision's blurring, too, while I'm thinking about it. Can barely remember where I am.

"Pete? You there?"

Head's swimming.....really should've gone to a hospital. Get some professional help. But how could I explain--

"Dude! Earth to Pete!"

I blink for a second, and see a concerned-looking Harry sitting across from me at the lunchroom table.

"Whuh? Oh, um, sorry, I just......kinda spaced out for a sec....." I say. "What were you saying?"

"I was saying you look like crap, man," Harry says. "I mean, you always look like crap, but usually that's more to do with, y'know, your clothes, and your hair, and your shoes, and--"

"Hilarious," I say before another wave of dizziness causes me to reel forward a bit.

"Peter, seriously, are you okay?" asks Gwen, and I just now notice she's been sitting next to me this whole time. "You look like you're about to pass out."

Well, that's appropriate, since I feel like I'm about to pass out. And that's probably because I am about to pass out.

"Guys, I'm fine, I just....." I try to finish my sentence, but another jab of pain shoots through my nervous system, and I double over.

"Peter!"

"Pete! Dude!"

"Nnnnngh!" I grunt, clutching my leg as I fall out of my seat. "Okay.....okay, maybe.....maybe I'm not okay...."

"What's up with Puny Parker?" asks Flash Thompson as he passes by, giving me a scowl as he turns slightly to cover up the cast on his arm. "So weak he hurt himself sitting down?"

"Knock it off, Flash," Liz Alan chides him. "Petey could be hurt!"

"Heh, and that's a bad thing?"

"Ugghhhh....I can still hear you guys, y'know...." I groan, sight and sound blurring.

"Flash, either shut up, go away, or preferably both," Gwen says--wow, never actually seen her buck up like that before, at least not to anyone besides me. "Harry, go get a teacher. Peter, we're going to take you to the nurse's office, okay?"

"That, umm.......that sounds like a plan....." I say, my voice croaking as the pain and nausea become too much, and my brain responds by shutting itself off for a while.










"Really, Peter, what were you thinking?" Aunt May scolds as she drives me back home from school. "I thought you'd lost that skateboard a few years ago anyway. 'Car-pooning.' I thought you were smarter than to latch onto some silly fad."

In my sorry condition, the only thing I could think of as an excuse for why I've got a big hole in my leg is that I was trying something called 'car pooning': sneaking out in the middle of the night with a skateboard and a magnet on a cable, then flinging the cable onto passing cars and hitching a ride on them. They did it in Snow Crash, which I just got done reading. Good book.

Anyway, according to my story, I was thrown from a ride and messed up my leg on a fence.

"I know, I know....." I say, my head still swimming, but now from the painkillers from the nurse's office rather than the pain itself. "Doesn't matter now....it fell onto the subway tracks."

"And then you didn't even tell me you'd gotten hurt?"

"I didn't want you to worry....."

"So instead you just scare me to death when I get a call from the principal saying you passed out in the middle of lunch," she says, biting her lip and taking a hand off the steering wheel to wipe the tears from her eyes.

"I'm sorry.....it was stupid....."

"Peter, I was so worried," she says, her tone now more sad than angry. "I barely know what to do with myself now that Ben's gone. I--.....I don't want to think about losing you, too."

"You won't," I say weakly, the bullet wound and the painkillers now no longer the reason I feel like crap. "I'm sorry, Aunt May...."

"Well, they said you'll be fine so long as you stay off the leg for a few days," she says after a long silence. "I should ground you for sneaking out and hurting yourself, but I think you already punished yourself enough. Still, I'm giving you a curfew, young man. I fully expect you to be home by ten o'clock this Friday night."

"Wait, what? Friday night?" I ask blearily.

"Of course," she says. "Since you're in no position to do any household chores, I expect you to at least fulfill that one obligation. Anna Watson and her daughter are coming into town on Friday, and you are still going to make sure Mary Jane feels welcome here."

Oh, right. My blind date with Miss 'Wonderful Personality.' Why couldn't Marko have shot me somewhere vital?

"Oh, and I do have some good news," Aunt May changes the subject. "We weren't able to hire a lawyer for the Thompsons' lawsuit, after you two had that fight and he broke his arm. But I got a call this morning from Oscorp. Your friend Harry's father is donating some of his legal team to take our case, pro bono, and handle all of the court costs. Isn't that wonderful?"

"Yeah, that's......wow, really?" I have to make sure I'm not hearing things. I've met Harry's dad a few times. From what I've seen, Norman Osborn is a lot of things, but charitable isn't one of them.

"Anyway, we're almost home," she says as she turns the car to our street. "You're going to need plenty of rest for your leg to get better."

That's the truth, but she doesn't know the half of it. Until my leg's healed, there's an awful lot I can't do, not just limited to school and chores. I'm not able to track down Marko and give him some payback. I'm not able to follow the tracer I planted on his van to wherever he took it. I'm not able to find whoever this 'Kingpin' guy is and take him down.

Long story short, until my leg's healed, Spider-Man's out of action.

At least I'll have plenty of time to level up my Witch Doctor in Diablo now.

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Old 06-12-2012, 09:42 PM   #703
Eddie Brock
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Now...

"Give it to me straight, Rayner," Tyler says over his fourth Long Island Iced Tea. "Is Alex 'the one?'"

I smile to myself and look down at the bar. Tyler has always shown a healthy curiosity regarding my relationship with Alex. In college, I didn't really date much. I used to make grand speeches about how I didn't want to be "tied down" to anything. I'm sure it must be weird for him to see me in a successful, long-term relationship. Honestly? It's a little weird for me still.

"I don't know, man," I answer with a laugh. "What does that even mean? 'The one?' Like, somehow in the grand scheme of things, the universe has set out some soulmate for all of us."

"You don't buy it?" Tyler asks.

I shrug. "I love her, and she loves me. Who cares if we're not 'meant' to be? Maybe it is random. Maybe everything's random."

Tyler has that stupid grin on his face. "Kyle, you're starting to get deep. I think it's time to switch to beer now."

Shaking my head, I slide my stool out from the bar. "Gotta take a leak. Be right back." Brushing the hair out of my eyes, I start the long trek to the bathroom through the crowded bar. When I finally get there, I'm annoyed to see a line out the door of intoxicated men waiting for an open urinal. Glancing around, I spot an unguarded exit door. Works for me...

Just as I suspected, the exit door leads to an alleyway. Normally, I'm above public urination, but I'm just intoxicated enough to put my objections to it aside. Besides, I just didn't feel like waiting in that line. I hate dealing with drunk people. I look around the alley. With no one else in sight, I unzip and begin my sordid deed.

As I'm relieving myself, I realize just how drunk I really am. The world shakes a little bit, so I reach out and brace myself up against the wall for support. "Might've overdone it, my friend," I say to myself. I turn my head and notice a pair of legs sprawled out lifelessly behind the dumpster. Not as bad as that guy, though...

When I'm finished, I zip up, but I can't stop peeking at the passed out guy by the dumpster. If he's not some bar patron who overdid it, he's probably just a bum, so he shouldn't hold my attention anyway. But there's something... unnatural about the positioning of his legs. I glance back at the door to the bar, but in my heart I know my decision's already made. Cursing under my breath, I start walking down the alleyway towards the man.

"Buddy?" I say out loud, feeling like an idiot. "You okay?"

When I turn the corner, I audibly gasp. The passed out guy isn't a drunk, and he doesn't look to be homeless, either. But I was right to be worried. He's covered in blood, and his body is positioned unnaturally, like a marionette that had been thrown aside. I'm so focused on the severity of his injuries that I don't take notice of his odd clothing at first. He's wearing a blue and gold suit - part spandex, part armor. And on his head is some kind of helmet that looks like an upside-down bucket.

"Oh, s***."

With no medical experience or expertise of any kind - and being slightly intoxicated as is - I try to think of what to do. In my mind, I know I should call 9-1-1, but I want to see if I can help this guy first. I fumble with his helmet, finally lifting it from his head, and that's when I receive my second shock. This guy isn't from around here. He looks vaguely human, but his facial features are shallower. His nose is flatter, and his forehead is wider. Even the tint of his skin is just a touch too orange.

Is this... an alien?!

I manage to get my phone out of my pocket. I need to call 9-1-1. They'd know what to do about this. This is way over my head, and I probably shouldn't have gotten as involved as I already have. Hand shaking - partly due to the shock and partly to the alcohol - I manage to dial.

"Hello?"

"Alex! You have to get down here right now!" I plead. "And bring your camera!"

... I know, I know.

In the fifteen minutes I'm waiting for Alex, miraculously no one comes through the alleywall. I find a discarded rug near the dumpster and use it to cover the body. Meanwhile, I can't stop pacing. When Alex finally arrives, I breath a sigh of relief. "Kyle?"

"Over here," I say, biting my knuckle.

"What was so important that you dragged me down here?"

I lift the rug, revealing the bloodied alien to Alex. "Think that's front page material, Ms. Dewitt?" I ask.

"Oh my God!"

"What do you think he is?"

Alex shakes her head. "Nothing I've ever seen," she responds while swallowing a lump in her throat. She turns on her camera and grabs a quick picture, as though she's afraid it'll disappear or something.

"He was wearing this when I found him." I hold up the helmet. "Weird, right?"

"Let me get a picture of it," Alex suggests.

I slide it over my head. "How about this?"

You are not the Centurion Nova-Prime, Rhomann Dey.

The voice seems to come from everywhere at once. It sounds like a hundred people talking as one. I pull the helmet off my head.

"What's the matter?"

Wide-eyed, I explain, "I think... the helmet talked to me."

Alex furrows her brow. "What did it say?"

"Some weird name..." I look down at the dead alien. "Maybe it was his name."

"Maybe," Alex agrees. "Look, leave it here, and let's get out. We'll call 9-1-1, tell them what we found." She looks around. "Where's Tyler?"

Right! Tyler! "He's inside. I got so wrapped up, I forgot about him."

"Well, go get him. We're getting out of here."

Alex begins heading down the alley towards the street. I take one last look at my discovery. Then, I look at the helmet in my hands. Leave it here, Alex said. But I... can't. My curiosity has the better of me. Just then, the helmet folds in on itself and shrinks down. With Alex not looking, I slip it into my pocket. Then, I run inside to find Tyler and try and explain why I was gone for twenty-five minutes.

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Old 06-13-2012, 04:38 AM   #704
bkhedr
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"It's not a good situation," I respond, taking a sip from a now cold cup of coffee. "HYDRA isn't in the business of playing nice. Whatever they took Hawkeye for won't be pretty. I don't know if your father ever told you about HYDRA, but we aren't walking in to take out a bunch of amateurs here."


Tony nods

"Yeah." He says "I'm familiar with Hydra. Bastards couldn't have picked a worse place to set up shop too."

Tony turns and gestures to the bar "Want anything stronger than that Coffee?"

Captain America shakes his head and Tony shrugs his armored shoulders slightly then starts pouring himself another whiskey

"You probably haven't had a chance to get caught up on all that you missed while you were on ice Cap, so let me sum up the geopolitical situation on the Latverian - Symkarian border in a word: Explosive. Fact is Von Doom, that's the monarch of Latveria, claims territorial rights over significant chunks of Symkaria. Of course he can't act on the claims, not with the US supporting the Symkarian royals, not because he's afraid of us mind you, but because he's too smart to go all rogue state. He wants to make sure he can claim the moral high ground, at least publicly. Now that he's got Hydra and alien bugs on his door step he's probably got all the excuse he needs to at least encroach on Symkaria's border"

Tony faces Cap once more with a fresh drink in hand.

"And that's without factoring the Ultimates going in into the equation. Believe me if Doom's got any proof you were there, or if he gets his hands on Hawkeye. Well, Hydra and their bugs will be the least of our worries."

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Old 06-13-2012, 05:36 AM   #705
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I turn to Thor interested in this celebration. The man is apparently a living god, and I'm not going to pass that opportunity up. But before I can our rings go off, Lanterns, report to Oa. The Guardians request your presence.

"Oh man," I grumble. "Seriously? Always when I'm going to have some fun, isn't it?"

"You heard the rings, Lanterns," Sinestro responds as he begins to float off the surface of Ego. "We have a job to do."

"You're good in a fight, long hair," Killowag says as he punches Thor in the shoulder. "Hope to sling with you again."

"Farewell, Asgardian," Tomar-Re bows.

Approaching Thor, I put out my hand, and he shakes it. Hard. Like way too hard for a normal friendly handshake, "Well, I guess this is it. In our line of work we'll probably run into each other again. Don't hesitate to ask for help next time you're on Earth."

I lift off Ego and speed towards space, and again towards Oa.



Thor waves at the Lanterns as they head into the void then, once he is alone, stops to look around and take in his surroundings. The planet is dormant and will likely remain so for the near future but Ego would surely awaken eventually and Thor has no doubt that when he does the Living Planet will good on his promise to attack Earth and the Lantern planet Oa. Then there was the matter of the Colonizers. Another new threat that would have to be dealt with eventually. He would have to talk to Odin when next the opportunity presented itself, for while he was eager for his exile to end, it was quickly becoming obvious that this plane was going to need his protection for longer than he had initially thought.

But now there was another matter than needed to be dealt with and Thor lifts Mjolnir above his head and sets is spinning so that the hammer's energies flow outward and form a vortex of mystical energies which quickly engulfs Thor. Then in a crack of Thunder both he and the vortex are gone from Ego's surface.

The vortex dissipates moments later as Thor's slows Mjolnir's motion and allows the hammer to come to a halt.

"Back so soon?" Terrax sneers at Thor from his green prison on Earth's moon. "I don't see your Green Lantern friend so I guess he's dead and you're running."

"Nay Terrax. It is not Thor who has tasted defeat this day, but Ego." Thor says, noting with satisfaction the way that the alien's eyes widen.

"Impossible." Terrax growls "Ego cannot be beaten."

"Ego has been beaten" Thor insists "And I have come to offer you your freedom."

"Freedom?" Terrax looks off into the distance as if in a trance, when he repeats the word. He can scarcely believe that he is now being offered that long abandoned dream. "Can it be?"

"Aye."
Thor says as he raises Mjolnir "Now stand back."

Terrax backs away and a bolt anti force strikes the emerald prison causing it to shimmer then fade away.

"Free." Terrax says disbelievingly as he looks at his hands "Free to go where I please, do as I please."

He looks at Thor

"But I attacked you. Tried to destroy you. Why would you do this for me?"

"Because no sentient should live as a slave." Thor says as he puts a hand on Terrax's shoulder.

"My people?"

"Are gone I fear. While Ego saw fit to allow you to retain your sense of self he showed no such mercy to them."

"Hmmph." Terrax grunts "Believe me it was no mercy."

Thor's heart aches for this alien, who was once a warlord but he can think of nothing to say so he simply nods in response.

"What am I to do now?"


"Here." Thor says as he hands Terrax the cosmic axe he once wielded "Take it and do as you wish. Stay on Earth or travel the cosmos, all I ask is that you remember what happened here today and treat others with the same decency I now offer you."

There is a long pause as Terrax considers Thor's words, then he smiles toothily and accepts the axe.

"I thought you were nothing more than a puny primitive but you've earned my respect Thor." he says before a hunk of moon rock separates itself from the surface and rises, taking him with it. "Perhaps one day our paths will cross once again."

With that he leans forward on his stone platform and shoots off into the blackness of space. Thor watches him go then takes off himself, making for Earth and home.

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Old 06-14-2012, 02:46 AM   #706
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Previously

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

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Gotham Natural History Museum
8:45 PM


Alfred pulled the car up to the museum, the engine idling while I gave myself a quick once-over in the rear view mirror. Two days since the events in Antarctica, and Gorgon has fallen off the grid. All the sources and contacts at my disposal and I can't find any trace of where he disappeared to, or who is harboring him. As much as I dwell on that, tonight is not a time for dwelling.

"So what's the plan tonight?" Alfred asked from the front seat.

"As soon as I give my speech, I'm out of there," I said, adjusting my bowtie. "It's back to Wayne Tower and back out again."

"So, business as usual?" He said with a raised eyebrow.

"So it seems," I said, exiting out the car. A row of photographers perched outside the car snap my picture as I climb up the stairs towards the museum entrance.

Gotham's best and brightest (re: richest) are already mingling in the rotunda of the museum, looking at the museum's newest exhibit: The Treasures of Wakanda. Animal fossils, tribal tools, and weapons are all behind glass cases. Displays of old and new Wakandan dress are on mannequins. Paintings from Wakandan artists adorn the walls, sculptures and musical instruments are on display. The prime attraction of the exhibit is the golden crown worn by Wakanda's kind. The gold is encrusted with onyx stones and rubies.

"Bruce," a voice said from my right. Lincoln March, owner of March Ventures, held out his hand. I shook hands with him and offered up my best smile.

"How are things, Lincoln?"

"Business is business, my friend. Is WayneTech going strong?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," I said with a shrug. "I keep spending, and so far they haven't cut me off. That's a good sign."

"I would hope so," he said with a laugh. "Come with me, Bruce, let me introduce you to tonight's guest."

I followed March through the gathering, smiling and gland-handing any familiar faces I happened to come across. He led me to the center of the rotunda where two black men were in front of a collection of Wakandan banners.

"Your Highness," March said, bowing slightly to the taller of the two men. "Allow me to introduce you a bit of Gotham royalty. This is Bruce Wayne, Prince of Gotham. Bruce, this is King T'Challa of Wakanda."

"Your Highness," I said with a bow. "Don't listen to Lincoln, the title is a joke."

"Do not sell yourself short, Mister Wayne," T'Challa said. "I have heard of the good deeds you do for this city, proving to be an example for all the city's wealthy. I am impressed."

"Thank you, Your Highness."

"T'Challa, please."


"T'Challa," I said with a nod. "I honestly believe that those with the most power to create change should do all they can to make this world better. At the end of the day, it is the wealthy who can change this city, not some man in a mask."

"You speak of the Batman?" The king's companion piped up. "Tell me, what do you know of him?"

"David," T'Challa said with stern glance back at the young man. The two men quickly exchanged words in their native tongue before the king turned back to me. "Forgive him for speaking out. David is the finest officer in my royal guard, but he can be a bit impetuous. He has a interest in this city's protector."

"It's fine,"
I said, nodding at David. "I don't know how much of a protector this Batman character is, but I'm the last person qualified to speak about him. Why the interest, if I may ask?"

"It is because of David's clan,"
T'Challa said, pointing to the banners hanging up behind him. One of the banners was yellow with a black emblem of a bat's silhouette on it. "He is from one of Wakanda's smaller clans: Ukoo Wa Popo or Clan of the Bat."

"Yes, I am interested in any man who wears my clan sigil as an emblem."

"Fascinating," I said, taking the banner in. The coincidence in logo similarities is astounding. "What about you, T'Challa? What clan is yours?"

T'Challa smiled and pointed to the largest banner hanging up. A jet black banner with the white outline of a panther across it, the panther in mid-swipe. "I come from Uko Wa Paka. Clan of the Panther."

"Of course. I have heard rumors of the Black Panther's exploits. Will he treat us to a show here tonight?"

"If the Black Panther shows up, it will not be for a show. I can promise that."

"Your Highness," the museum curator said as she walked up. "We're ready."

"Of course," he said to the woman before turning to me. "Mister Wayne, it was a pleasure."

"Same here,"
I said, watching T'Challa and David walked off through the crowd. Everyone began to gather around a podium set up on a stage. March and I navigated through the group towards the foot of the stage.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the curator said. "Before we begin, I'd like to thank Mister Jacob Kane, the chairman of the museum's board, for working tirelessly on the details to get this exhibit to the city. Special thanks to the Thomas & Martha Wayne Foundation for providing the funds of transport for the exhibit as well as. I'd like to remind everyone that all the proceeds from ticket sales of tonight's event, as well as all tickets to the Treasures of Wakanda exhibit go to charity, half going to the Gotham City Food Bank, the other half to the Aid for Africa organization. Now, without further ado, I'd like to introduce our guest speaker. Without his consent and approval, this beautiful exhibit would not have happened. The man who made it all happen Wakanda's royal ruler, King T'Challa."

The crowd applauded and cheered as T'Challa shook hands with the curator and came to the podium. His bodyguard stood just inches behind him, shadowing his every movement.

"Thank you," the king said once the applause faded. "I come here today bearing tokens and gifts of Wakanda's past. My country does indeed have a rich past, but it is not the past I am interested in. I look forward, to the future. Wakanda has always been a closed off nation. Highly secretive, bordering on xenophobic. I wish to change this, expand my nation's horizons. I have been king now for two years, and I have made progress, but there is always room to do more. This is why I come to America. I wish to open a dialogue between my country and yours. I believe that the nation of Wakanda would be a powerful ally to the United States..."

T'Challa continued his speech, but I droned it out as I noticed a flash of movement out the corner of my eye. Tiny, red, and moving fast. A laser sight, running up T'Challa's leg and coming to a stop on his chest.

"No!" I shouted, jumping forward and pushing him away from the podium.

KRAK!

Glass from the museum skyline above shattered, a bullet ripped through the podium and sent splinters of wood flying in the air. I fell to the stage as T'Challa's bodyguard jumped over me and made sure his charge stayed down on the ground. Screams and panic began to fill the museum, people running out the exit. I looked up towards the skyline. The laser sight had disappeared, but a building looming over the museum provided a perfect vantage point.

I stood, running out of the museum alongside others. I came out on the street as Alfred pulled up.

"I heard the shot," he said as he drove off. "Check under the seat there's a change of clothing..."


*****





I swung upwards over the building, coming down hard on the rooftop. I activated the thermal lenses in my cowl. The area lit up in a UV filter, showing a print of a heat signature, just a few minutes old. The signature also showed a pair of footprints, headed away from the museum. The footprint is wide and long, a man's foot. The tread on the footprint looks like a boot. A combat boot. The forensics had me so involved, I didn't hear the gravel crunching behind me until it's almost too late.

I spun around just in time to dodge a billy club to the face. My attacker swung backhand at me, but I crouched to avoid it and kicked them in the stomach to drive back.

"You," my attacker said, recovering from the blow.




"You tried to kill me. Unfortunate for you."


I blocked a furious round of blows from my attacker, a man I was just chatting to minutes earlier.

"Surrender," T'Challa hissed, swinging a powerful kick at me. The blow struck just under my chin, knocking me back.

"You're confused," I said as I jumped back, avoiding a claw to the face as I did. "I didn't try to kill you."

"Bold words, masked man."

"You should talk," I growled, sweeping my leg and tripping him up. "Your Highness."

He struck out at me again, I tumbled backwards to avoid another slash with his clawed gloves. I moved to strike back, only to stop as words flashed across my cowl lens. An all points bulletin.

"I'm not done here," I said, tossing down a smoke grenade. The smoke poured out over the area, allowing me a chance to slip away.


*****


Arkham Island


I hit the ground running, knocking two crazed inmates to the ground with a swift jump kick. Just a few dozen feet ahead of me loomed the foreboding outline of Arkham Asylum. Another man jumped out of the bushes, a knife in his hands. I grabbed his wrist with one hand, stopping the attack. My free hand chopped his neck and dropped him to the ground.

"Scarecrow," the semi-conscious inmate mumbled under his breath. "Scarecrow."

I stepped over him and entered into the facility, preparing for whatever lay ahead.

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Old 06-14-2012, 10:54 PM   #707
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"You probably haven't had a chance to get caught up on all that you missed while you were on ice Cap, so let me sum up the geopolitical situation on the Latverian - Symkarian border in a word: Explosive. Fact is Von Doom, that's the monarch of Latveria, claims territorial rights over significant chunks of Symkaria. Of course he can't act on the claims, not with the US supporting the Symkarian royals, not because he's afraid of us mind you, but because he's too smart to go all rogue state. He wants to make sure he can claim the moral high ground, at least publicly. Now that he's got Hydra and alien bugs on his door step he's probably got all the excuse he needs to at least encroach on Symkaria's border"

Tony faces Cap once more with a fresh drink in hand.

"And that's without factoring the Ultimates going in into the equation. Believe me if Doom's got any proof you were there, or if he gets his hands on Hawkeye. Well, Hydra and their bugs will be the least of our worries."
Tony doesn't tell me anything I don't know. The situation between the two nations is frosty at best, and explosive at worst. And what the team did out there probably sparked something big. I haven't had the time to check the news of the day, so I can't say for sure. I make note to check them before getting some sleep tonight.

"Doom doesn't sound like someone HYDRA would be interested in," I respond. "They're not interested in sharing power. So at least we don't have to worry about that."

Stark takes another swig of his drink, and I eye him cautiously. The man drinks too much. That much is certain. Especially with how much action he sees in a super advanced armored battle system. And if he continues like this, he can hamper the team's mission.

"You might want to cool off on that," I say nonchalantly. I don't want to insult him like last time. "We've had a long day. And tomorrow might be even longer if we find Hawkeye and Hydra."

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Old 06-18-2012, 01:02 AM   #708
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Arkham Island

I hit the ground running, knocking two crazed inmates to the ground with a swift jump kick. Just a few dozen feet ahead of me loomed the foreboding outline of Arkham Asylum. Another man jumped out of the bushes, a knife in his hands. I grabbed his wrist with one hand, stopping the attack. My free hand chopped his neck and dropped him to the ground.

"Scarecrow," the semi-conscious inmate mumbled under his breath. "Scarecrow."

I stepped over him and entered into the facility, preparing for whatever lay ahead.

"Oh, dearie dear," said the Scarecrow, watching the array of security monitors from the office of Warden Sharpe, who was huddled in a shivering mass on the floor. "It seems we have bats in our belfry."

Quaking with insane glee, the masked horror pressed a long, skeletal finger against a command key, activating the asylum's intercom.

"Hello there," Scarecrow's voice resounded throughout the hospital, "You must be the Batman. Some of the most interesting people on this island have told me very, very much about you. I assumed you would end up in this place eventually, though not quite like this. Still, you're welcome here."

Keying in a series of commands, the madman opened the main gates of the asylum, and a rolling red mist came rolling from withing the hospital and penitentiary buildings. Out of the mist came figures, people hunched and shambling or flailing madly, their minds reduced to bestial states.

"The inmates, the guards, the doctors and nurses and everyone else on this island, all belong to me now. I've sown seeds of fear into their minds, and cultivated such a lovely crop of terror-fueled killers. Their minds belong to me, the first harvest of the Scarecrow."

With a savage howl, one of the fear-crazed lunatics charged towards Batman, and in short order a dozen more followed his lead.

"You can come try and stop me, hero," he taunted over the intercom. "I don't have a gun, I don't have special powers, I'm certainly not up for a fist-fight with someone like you. So really, you have nothing to fear, Batman. Nothing to fear, but fear itself."

As the snarling maniacs scrabbled and clawed their way to the Caped Crusader, the rolling red fog drifted towards him as well......

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Old 06-18-2012, 01:28 AM   #709
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"Hello there," Scarecrow's voice resounded throughout the hospital, "You must be the Batman. Some of the most interesting people on this island have told me very, very much about you. I assumed you would end up in this place eventually, though not quite like this. Still, you're welcome here."

Keying in a series of commands, the madman opened the main gates of the asylum, and a rolling red mist came rolling from withing the hospital and penitentiary buildings. Out of the mist came figures, people hunched and shambling or flailing madly, their minds reduced to bestial states.

"The inmates, the guards, the doctors and nurses and everyone else on this island, all belong to me now. I've sown seeds of fear into their minds, and cultivated such a lovely crop of terror-fueled killers. Their minds belong to me, the first harvest of the Scarecrow."

With a savage howl, one of the fear-crazed lunatics charged towards Batman, and in short order a dozen more followed his lead.

"You can come try and stop me, hero," he taunted over the intercom. "I don't have a gun, I don't have special powers, I'm certainly not up for a fist-fight with someone like you. So really, you have nothing to fear, Batman. Nothing to fear, but fear itself."

As the snarling maniacs scrabbled and clawed their way to the Caped Crusader, the rolling red fog drifted towards him as well......
I reached into my belt, pulling out a collapsible gas mask and wedging it onto my face. The red mist began to roll in with the rest of the inmates. I lashed out, striking one of the mental patients in the face with an open palm.

"Computer, run toxicological scan on the environment."

The tiny pores in my suit sucked in trace amounts of the air, running the results through the micro-processors in my suit. While the CPU works, I take on the rest of the men. Reaching into my belt, I pulled out a spring-loaded nightstick. The baton popped open in my hands and cut through the air as I drove it into the back of an attacker's leg.

Spinning around, I roundhouse kicked another man against the wall, pressing my boot against the back of his head and driving his face farther into the wall. A larger, muscle-bound prisoner grabbed me, launching me into the air and throwing me to the ground. I slammed hard against the ground and rolled to the right, avoiding his meaty fist. I struck up, driving my boots into his chest and knocking him on his back. Leaping up, I pounced and tackled the man, smacking him in the jaw with my baton.

While I incapacitated him, four inmates charged and tackled me to the ground. I struggled against them as the rained down on me with blows. Lashing out, I struck one in the chest with my gauntlets. Throwing two of them off me. I stood, struggling as one crazed inmate stayed strapped to my back, clawing at my neck. I shook and tried to throw him off as he reached out for my face. With one last shrug, I tossed him off my back and he flew to the ground... the gas mask that was on my face in his hands.

The metallic taste to the air was the first sensation I felt, the next was the feeling of the gas going down my throat, the new air filling my lungs and chest. Another insane patient tried to attack, I quickly countered and tossed him to the ground, coughing as I did.

My legs suddenly locked up, my calves spasming as I fell to the floor. The lenses in my cowl beeped to life, relaying the information from the scan.

Warning: Air is contaminated with heavy amounts of unknown hallucinogenic toxin. Do not breath.


That was the last thing I saw before I blacked out.

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Old 06-18-2012, 02:06 AM   #710
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I reached into my belt, pulling out a collapsible gas mask and wedging it onto my face. The red mist began to roll in with the rest of the inmates. I lashed out, striking one of the mental patients in the face with an open palm.

"Computer, run toxicological scan on the environment."

The tiny pores in my suit sucked in trace amounts of the air, running the results through the micro-processors in my suit. While the CPU works, I take on the rest of the men. Reaching into my belt, I pulled out a spring-loaded nightstick. The baton popped open in my hands and cut through the air as I drove it into the back of an attacker's leg.

Spinning around, I roundhouse kicked another man against the wall, pressing my boot against the back of his head and driving his face farther into the wall. A larger, muscle-bound prisoner grabbed me, launching me into the air and throwing me to the ground. I slammed hard against the ground and rolled to the right, avoiding his meaty fist. I struck up, driving my boots into his chest and knocking him on his back. Leaping up, I pounced and tackled the man, smacking him in the jaw with my baton.

While I incapacitated him, four inmates charged and tackled me to the ground. I struggled against them as the rained down on me with blows. Lashing out, I struck one in the chest with my gauntlets. Throwing two of them off me. I stood, struggling as one crazed inmate stayed strapped to my back, clawing at my neck. I shook and tried to throw him off as he reached out for my face. With one last shrug, I tossed him off my back and he flew to the ground... the gas mask that was on my face in his hands.

The metallic taste to the air was the first sensation I felt, the next was the feeling of the gas going down my throat, the new air filling my lungs and chest. Another insane patient tried to attack, I quickly countered and tossed him to the ground, coughing as I did.

My legs suddenly locked up, my calves spasming as I fell to the floor. The lenses in my cowl beeped to life, relaying the information from the scan.

Warning: Air is contaminated with heavy amounts of unknown hallucinogenic toxin. Do not breath.


That was the last thing I saw before I blacked out.

"Yessssss," hissed the Scarecrow as he watched the Batman collapse from breathing in his toxin. "Let the fear flow through you.....let it permeate your very being. Let it consume you until it is all you are......."

Cackling with delight, Scarecrow watched as the remaining inmates closed in on Batman, ready to finish him off. Either they would kill him before he came to, or he would kill them in a psychotic fear-induced frenzy when he woke up. Either way, his mind would be too far gone to be any threat to him now.

The madman was so caught up in visualizing the hero's demise that he almost didn't notice the boxing glove on the monitor, which erupted from just out of frame and caught one of the inmates in the head. The impact from the glove was so great that it snapped the man's neck, nearly tearing his head clean off before the body fell to the floor, limbs spasming in a final death rattle.

"What?" Scarecrow snarled. "No!"

As Batman lay unconscious on the ground, another figure came into view. Deathly thin and chalk white skin, offset by a filthy purple suit, the man threw himself into the crowd of crazed inmates. While Batman fought with skill and deliberately measured strikes, this one was wild slashes and claws, howling with laughter as he carved open a man's throat with a straight razor.

The last two tried to tackle him en masse, wrestling the razor away from him. As they did, the man pressed his palm against one of the inmates' chest, then laughed as the man shook violently, convulsing from a lethal electric shock. The maniac went limp, smoke pouring from his ears, and the clownish-looking killer happily waved to the camera, showing the joy buzzer hidden on his left hand.

As the last inmate clawed at him, the figure drew the weapon in his right hand, what looked like a large pistol. When he pulled the trigger, a large red boxing glove sprung out, crushing the lunatic's face, pushing the cartilage in his nose up into his brain.

The pale thin man dusted himself off, muttering about having to 'use the same gag twice,' then walked over to the passed-out Batman. Grinning, he nudged Batman over onto his back, and slapped him hard across the face.

As the vigilante returned to consciousness, his rescuer couldn't help but smile.



"Good to see you again, Batsy!" the Joker said. "Crazy night we're having, isn't it?"

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Old 06-18-2012, 07:51 PM   #711
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Within two hours Talbot enters Lex's office holding a sheet of paper.

He hands it to Lex and says, "I called in every favor in the book and then some, but I got you your authorization."

Lex takes the paper and holds it up to the light. He looks at Talbot and then slides the paper into a scanner and says, "Alexis can the document for authenticity, and then access the U-S Government database and cross reference the order number."

Talbot looks nervous as Lex studies him.

Lex says, "Something this big Glenn I must make sure all my bases are covered."

Talbot nods and says, "Of course Mr. Luthor."

Alexis says, "Document scan complete. Authentication verified as 100% legitimate."

Lex smiles and says, "Excellent my dear. Scan a copy and file it away."

Alexis replies, "Acknowledged Mr. Luthor."

Lex says to Talbot, "Turn your back please. No one knows but myself where my secret files are kept. No offense."

Talbot nods and says, "None taken Mr. Luthor."

Talbot turns his back and Lex takes the original document and files it away.

Lex walks up to Talbot and slaps his hand on his shoulder and says, "Welcome to LexCorp Glenn."

He pulls out a phone and gives it to Talbot and says, "Call Homeland give them the good news."

Talbot takes the phone and walks away. After five minutes he walks back over and says, "It's done Mr. Luthor. Hope I don't see them again in this lifetime."

Lex says, "If you do my dear boy you now have an ace up your sleeve. LexCorp will back you up all the way making them your footstool. Trust me when I tell you this Glenn you just traded up."

Lex goes to his desk-phone and summons Mercy.

She enters and Lex says, "Take him down to H-R his paperwork and I-D should be ready about now."

Talbot looks at him and Lex says, "I had a feeling you would come through for me, so I began processing your paperwork and so forth about an hour ago."

Talbot nods and Lex says to Mercy, "After that take him to Henri on the 42nd floor and get him out of that Army uniform and get him in an Armani a-s-a-p."

He says to Talbot, "Call it my welcome to the family present."

Mercy nods and says, "Yes sir."

Lex says to Mercy, "Then after that escort him to ready room 14 on the 54th floor. Where we'll be having a briefing on The Hulk situation. We're tracking him as we speak within the next few hours I expect us to have the great Dr. Banner back in our custody."

Talbot nods and says, "Thank you Mr. Luthor."

The two men shake hands and Lex says with a smile, "No Glenn thank you."

Mercy escorts Talbot out and Lex lights a cigar and says, "To steal a quote from 'The A Team' 'I love it when a plan comes together' and this is a masterpiece."

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Old 06-18-2012, 08:22 PM   #712
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The Hulk leaps further and further away from Stabob.

Hulk don't like dogs attacking or men shooting. Hulk need to be alone. Hulk miss Betty. Where Betty Go? No matter Hulk now can do what Hulk wants. Hulk is now free!

He lands in the woods and takes a look around.

He lets a roar out, "AAAAARARRRRRRRR!"

It echos throughout the land and The Hulk smiles.

The Hulk sits and listens to a rolling brook.

Water sound nice. Very nice. Quiet.....and nice.

With that The Hulk walks over to the brook and sees himself.

He smiles for a moment and then is puzzled. He is seeing another man taking form over his face. A smaller man. A weaker man.

He says, "Who puny man in the water? Who...."

The Hulk is now transforming back into Banner.

Bruce sees his reflection in the water and takes a deep breath.

He says, "Well the downside to Betty being gone. I have no idea what's going on now."

He stands up and begins to slowly walk on.

Guess I should be trying to figure out how to get back to Metropolis. Maybe it's better if I just move on and try to fade out of sight and...

Just then Bruce slips on a rock and hits his head on a tree root.

Bruce is now unconscious.

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Old 06-18-2012, 10:40 PM   #713
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"Lanterns Sinstro and Jordan, you may stay," Ganthet, one of the Guardians says from his chair high above us. "The rest are dismissed."

Tomar Re and Killowag nod to us and float off to get some rest, no doubt. Being singled out has me worried. The Guardians aren't the most understanding of beings. And us basically going rogue to go and take on Ego probably doesn't sit all too well with them.

"Listen, about going after Ego-"

"That is of no concern to us, Lantern," they respond in unison. That is incredibly creepy.

Ganthet continues, "We have had distressing reports from the Shi'ar Empire of a catastrophic event. We have been asked to assist with the investigation."

"The Shi'ar?" Sinestro asks, obviously intrigued. "They haven't allowed us in their borders for eons. Why change their minds now? What aren't you telling us?"

"We are telling you all we know, Sinstro. Now go. There is no time to spare."

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Old 06-18-2012, 11:07 PM   #714
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A few hours later he wakes up to see Talbot and Lex standing over him and several armed LexCorp soldiers.

Bruce just looks around and says, "What's going on?"

Lex says, "We finally found you Dr. Banner."

Bruce says, "Who?"

Lex says, "Dr. Banner are you all-right?"

Bruce replies, "I..." he rubs his head says, "My head is killing me but more importantly though..."

He looks Lex in the eye and asks, "Who am I?"

Lex is using every ounce of self control to keep from jumping from joy.

I don't believe it. He's an empty headed amnesiac! Oh this is too good to be true!

Lex extends his hand and says, "Come with us. Dr." he pauses for a moment and smiles and says, "Dr. David Banner I can help you recover your memory."

"David" takes his hand and Lex says to the lead guard, "Get him a blanket. Make sure he's taken care of and take him back to LexCorp use the section 50 protocols."

The guard escorts "David" away to a waiting copter.

Lex looks at Talbot and says, "The possibilities that we are seeing right now are endless."

Talbot nods and says, "Yes they are. The Rosses are about to be blindsided."

Lex smiles and says, "Oh my boy that is the icing on the cake."

They clear out of the area and head back to LexCorp.

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Old 06-19-2012, 02:34 AM   #715
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I walked across the highrise apartment towards the crumpled body on the floor. The man moaned, holding his sides in pain. Five hours ago, this animal abducted a six-year old girl and put her through an unimaginable hell before he dumped her body in a back alley like she was garbage.

"Please," he said feebly. "No more."

I picked him up and held him over my head like a ragdoll. "Is that what she said to you?! 'Please, no more?'"

Growling, I slammed him face first into the glass window. His head knocked against the glass, bleeding and bruised as he fell to the floor. "We're thirty stories up. That glass is reinforced. I can smash you against it until you turn into jelly and it won't break."

I grabbed him by the neck and slammed his head hard into the glass again, breaking his nose with a crack. "But, if I throw you against it enough times, the frame will bend around the glass. Let's see if I can bend the frame before you die."

"Please," he said through a blood-filled mouth, crawling across the floor away from me. "Mercy."

"Mercy?" I asked, grabbing him by the shoulder and ramming him into the glass again. "This is me, being merciful..."


*****


The door to the apartment burst open, Gordon and a SWAT team burst into the room. Their flashlight beams bounce around the room until they all fall on me, my hands, arms, and chest slick with blood. The tattered remains of the murderer are at my feet. "Strong stuff, that frame is."

"What did you do?" Gordon asks, his gun trained on me.

"Jim... I... did what I had to do."

"No. No, you didn't. You murdered a man."

"A man who killed an innocent girl!" I growled. "He butchered her like cattle!"

"And you returned the favor," he said, motioning to his SWAT officers. Slowly, the men began to spread out and form a semi-circle in front of me. "That's it. It's over."

"What is?"

"Our partnership. Your freedom. Batman. Gotham's hopes. All of it. With one act, you ended it all."

"No... I didn't mean to. I... lost control."

"You did, and you became jut like the people you fought against. You're a killer, just like them."

I heard footsteps behind me and turned as a figure stepped out of the shadows.



"Welcome to the club."

BLAM!



*****


My eyes snapped open, the red haze filling my vision. With a start, I look up at the horrific vision in front of me.



"GooD to sEE you aGAINn, BATsy!
CrAZY nIght WE're haVINg, IsN't iT?"

I crawled backwards from the monster, swinging wildly at it as I moved away from it.

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Old 06-19-2012, 03:46 AM   #716
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"And we're locking altitude... now."


Everyone aboard The Blackbird found themselves thrust forward in their seats, watching the fading colors of the world outside come back to a complete halt as automated systems from the cockpit responded to Jean's command. Wolverine fought off the temptation to lose his lunch, grumbling under his breath about how he hated flying - though the truth was, whenever he looked over and caught a glimpse of Magneto's little pet shapeshifter, Mystique, the feeling seemed to fight it's way back. Something about the way she glanced at him made him uneasy. And making someone like Logan uneasy wasn't any small task.

"Altitude's locked, but we only have a small window before somebody spots us with the cloaking off.", Jean mentioned, glancing back at Logan and giving him a nod. "Logan, gather your team and bring them up. Kitty, Erik, and his... friend... will be waiting to be teleported by Kurt."

Logan grit his teeth as he spoke.

"And I'd hate to disappoint 'em, wouldn't I..."

Unbuckling his seatbelt - a warning he should have heeded on the last mission, as Cyclops would have been quick to tell him - Logan stood up and walked through the entrance to the cabin, trading a glance with Dr. Light as he crossed the path. What awaited him beyond were the timid faces of the chosen students, each thrust into combat before their time. If there was one part of the mission that made him the most suspect of Magneto's intentions, it was this. There was no way this was all on the straight and narrow.

"Alright, we're shovin' off. Since there's six of you, need two'a you to step forward. Jean and the creep she's bringin'll need all the backup they can get."

One immediately rose to join Logan - an overeager Garfield Logan - and joined him at his side, giving a mock salute.

"Sir, yes sir!"

"Don't push it, kid. Anyone else?"

A second recruit, Virgil Hawkins - known around the school as 'Static' for his power over electrical currents - hesitantly unbuckled and walked up to the two whenever none of the other students seemed particularly willing.

"Count me in, man."

Logan sized the boy up and eventually grunted.

"You'll do."

"Dude, this is gonna be so cool!"

"Don't. Push it."

Joining the others in the cockpit, Wolverine, Beast Boy, and Static stood side-by-side with the waiting Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, Mystique, and Magneto. Jean looked back and gave them the go-ahead, instructing Kurt to lead them to the correct position.

"Everyone join hands. Zis vill be tricky."

Logan raised an eyebrow as the others complied, eventually prompting him to grab the hands of both Beast Boy and Mystique. Mystique smirked, causing Logan to immediately turn away.

"Maybe we should jump for it. Ain't this a little dangerous?"

"Nein. Zhough ve should be careful not to get stuck in a vall or somezing."

Logan's eyes widened as he and the others were immediately caught in a dark blue puff of smoke, followed by an immediate flash of light. If all went according to plan, they'd reappear in the courtyard of a remote Stark Industries facility overlooking the east of Brooklyn.

If it didn't, their atoms would be scrambled so far apart that they'd all be rendered toothpaste.

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Old 06-21-2012, 04:55 AM   #717
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Tony doesn't tell me anything I don't know. The situation between the two nations is frosty at best, and explosive at worst. And what the team did out there probably sparked something big. I haven't had the time to check the news of the day, so I can't say for sure. I make note to check them before getting some sleep tonight.

"Doom doesn't sound like someone HYDRA would be interested in," I respond. "They're not interested in sharing power. So at least we don't have to worry about that."

Stark takes another swig of his drink, and I eye him cautiously. The man drinks too much. That much is certain. Especially with how much action he sees in a super advanced armored battle system. And if he continues like this, he can hamper the team's mission.

"You might want to cool off on that," I say nonchalantly. I don't want to insult him like last time. "We've had a long day. And tomorrow might be even longer if we find Hawkeye and Hydra."


Tony shoots Cap a challenging look, but his expression quickly softens as he presents an easy smile.

"I may be able to help with that." He says as he puts down the empty glass and walks away from the bar.

"With Thor missing and Hawkeye kidnapped, that's two Ultimates unaccounted for. Now I may not be much of a team player but they're still my teammates and I want them back. Now I was thinking about it on the way back from Antarctica and while I still don't know what we're gonna do to find Thor, I may be able to find Hawkeye."

"These communicators you gave us." Stark says as he pulls out his Ultimates ID card and communicator. The card has obviously been tampered with and modified and Rogers raises an eye brow at Stark when he sees it.

"What? You really thought I'd resist the urge to pop open some Checkmate tech and have a look inside?"

"No I suppose I didn't"

"Ok then. So anyway the cards already have a built in tracking system so we can locate each other and so Fury can find us if need be (I've gone ahead and disabled that feature in mine) but Thor's is out of range and Barton's isn't transmitting. Fortunately the card design is fairly unique and it makes use of some rare alloys, so I'm pretty sure that I can rig Jarvis track the card itself whether its transmitting or not. The problem is the effective range is going to be extremely limited, probably no more than a few hundred yards. That's the bad news"

"And the good news?"

"The good news is that I've got...well let's just call it a history, with the Symkarian Royals and by this time tomorrow I should be on Symkarian soil I'll be well on my way to finding our misplaced archer friend."

"I find Hawkeye and I'll find Hydra" Tony concludes by leaning back in his chair, raising his arms and crossing his armored fingers behind his back while wearing an expression that shows just how pleased with himself he is.

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Old 06-21-2012, 06:31 AM   #718
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Thor waves at the Lanterns as they head into the void then, once he is alone, stops to look around and take in his surroundings. The planet is dormant and will likely remain so for the near future but Ego would surely awaken eventually and Thor has no doubt that when he does the Living Planet will good on his promise to attack Earth and the Lantern planet Oa. Then there was the matter of the Colonizers. Another new threat that would have to be dealt with eventually. He would have to talk to Odin when next the opportunity presented itself, for while he was eager for his exile to end, it was quickly becoming obvious that this plane was going to need his protection for longer than he had initially thought.

But now there was another matter than needed to be dealt with and Thor lifts Mjolnir above his head and sets is spinning so that the hammer's energies flow outward and form a vortex of mystical energies which quickly engulfs Thor. Then in a crack of Thunder both he and the vortex are gone from Ego's surface.

The vortex dissipates moments later as Thor's slows Mjolnir's motion and allows the hammer to come to a halt.

"Back so soon?" Terrax sneers at Thor from his green prison on Earth's moon. "I don't see your Green Lantern friend so I guess he's dead and you're running."

"Nay Terrax. It is not Thor who has tasted defeat this day, but Ego." Thor says, noting with satisfaction the way that the alien's eyes widen.

"Impossible." Terrax growls "Ego cannot be beaten."

"Ego has been beaten" Thor insists "And I have come to offer you your freedom."

"Freedom?" Terrax looks off into the distance as if in a trance, when he repeats the word. He can scarcely believe that he is now being offered that long abandoned dream. "Can it be?"

"Aye."
Thor says as he raises Mjolnir "Now stand back."

Terrax backs away and a bolt anti force strikes the emerald prison causing it to shimmer then fade away.

"Free." Terrax says disbelievingly as he looks at his hands "Free to go where I please, do as I please."

He looks at Thor

"But I attacked you. Tried to destroy you. Why would you do this for me?"

"Because no sentient should live as a slave." Thor says as he puts a hand on Terrax's shoulder.

"My people?"

"Are gone I fear. While Ego saw fit to allow you to retain your sense of self he showed no such mercy to them."

"Hmmph." Terrax grunts "Believe me it was no mercy."

Thor's heart aches for this alien, who was once a warlord but he can think of nothing to say so he simply nods in response.

"What am I to do now?"


"Here." Thor says as he hands Terrax the cosmic axe he once wielded "Take it and do as you wish. Stay on Earth or travel the cosmos, all I ask is that you remember what happened here today and treat others with the same decency I now offer you."

There is a long pause as Terrax considers Thor's words, then he smiles toothily and accepts the axe.

"I thought you were nothing more than a puny primitive but you've earned my respect Thor." he says before a hunk of moon rock separates itself from the surface and rises, taking him with it. "Perhaps one day our paths will cross once again."

With that he leans forward on his stone platform and shoots off into the blackness of space. Thor watches him go then takes off himself, making for Earth and home.


"Welcome back Dr. Blake" Dr. Jane Foster says with a teasing smile as he enters their shared clinic in Spanish-Harlem.

"Jane. Good Morning." Blake says as he crosses the threshold and lets the door swing shut behind him.

"First name basis huh? That's awfully familiar for a stranger like yourself?" Jane says. She's obviously not ready to let this go "I mean if we're going to be on a first name basis I'll have to see you more than once a week."

She's joking, still smiling, but she's right and Donald nods and returns her smile.


"You're right. You're right."He concedes "Its just been a hectic couple of weeks for me."

He offers no more details. Its not like he can tell her how he's been making it rain over Africa or fighting aliens on the far side of the galaxy. Fortunately for him she doesn't seem interested in prying for more information.


"Just remember this the next time I decide its time I took a lengthy vacation of my own ok?" She says in a friendly tone.

"Ok." He says with a grin "First name basis?"

"Not unless your buying my lunch today."

"Today and tomorrow."

"Great to have you back Don." She says as she pats him on the shoulder while the door opens again behind him as their staff shuffle in to start their day.


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Old 06-21-2012, 09:44 AM   #719
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Lex and Talbot enter a secret bunker under the Northern LexCorp tower.

Talbot says, "I gotta know. How are you able to have all these secret bunkers and warehouses?"

Lex smiles and says, "It's my secret Glenn. Let me just say paying cash and not writing checks does wonders for people's willingness to help, and keeping certain politicians at bay."


They enter a control room where a security guard is watching the cell holding Banner.

Lex says to the guard, "Is everything in place?"

The guard replies, "Yes Sir Mr. Luthor. The gamma security measures were just brought online about 5 minutes ago and appear to be functioning within limits."

Talbot says, "Gamma security measures? I didn't know there was such a thing."

Lex replies, "I learned to be ready for anything when dealing with Dr. Banner. and his green friend. If he so much as begins humming 'It's not easy being green" a few hundred jigawats will come raining down on him causing the gamma in his blood to boil and his cells to rip themselves apart."


Talbot asks, "Isn't that risky?"

Lex says, "Could be, however I'm constructing a special containment unit for that green skinned monster which should be ready in the next day or so. Then once I get what I want from him in that containment unit if Banner Hulks out after that and is killed, so be it."

Banner says, "Hello? Is anyone there? Hello? I've got a right to know what's going on!"

Lex says to Talbot, "I think it's time we go see our guest."

The two men enter Banner's cell and Lex says, "Sorry We're late Dr. Banner. My name is Lex Luthor and this is my associate Glenn Talbot."

Banner shakes hands with both men. He looks at Talbot and asks, "Have we met before?"

Talbot replies, "I don't think so David."

Banner sits on his bunk and says, "I would just like to know what's going on and get my memory back. I feel like a prisoner here."

Lex says, "David I assure you're not a prisoner. I promised you that I would help you get your memory back, so allow me the opportunity to fill in some gaps for you. You're Dr. David Banner and you are a gifted and renowned scientist. You work for me here at LexCorp."

Banner nods and asks, "So why am I locked up here?"

Lex says, "For your own protection. There are those within the Government who would seek to exploit you and your gifts for themselves. I want you to share your gifts with humanity and to make the world a better place for all and not just a select few."

Banner asks, "What was I doing out in the woods? I seem to have flashes of a young lady as well."

Talbot chimes in, "You were doing work on solar radiation versus gamma radiation when your campsite was attacked. We received your distress call and came to get you as soon as we could. As for the young lady? David ever since I've known you haven't had a serious relationship you are all about your work."

Lex says, "There will be more time to talk later right now you've had a hard day David get some rest. If you need anything press the button by the door and we'll take care of it."

Banner nods and lays down as Lex & Talbot leave.

Lex says, "Well done back there."

Talbot replies, "Just trying to do a good job sir."

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Old 06-22-2012, 01:05 AM   #720
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Despite my protests, Alex made me swear I wouldn't tell Tyler about the dead alien in the alleyway. She said that we should keep it to ourselves - at least, until her exclusive pictures were run in the Daily Bugle. Frankly, I think she'll have a hard time convincing her blowhard editor that the pics aren't faked. Still, I suppose she's right. I've seen enough sci-fi to know that when an alien drops out of the sky, some government suits track down witnesses and interrogate them. So far, no government suits, but I didn't want to risk getting Tyler mixed up in that.

Anyway, I kept the alien dude's helmet. Alex would kill me if she knew, which I why I didn't tell her. It's really cool, actually. It makes for a poor fashion statement, but I like the way it shrinks and folds down so that it can fit in my pocket. I haven't put it on again, not after the first time where it seemed to talk to me. That was just a little much for me. But after a few days of staring at it as it sat on my coffee table, curiosity bested me.

I pick up the helmet, considering my reflection in the shining gold. Should I really do this? I mean, some dead alien's head was inside this thing. That can't be sanitary. Still, if it's a talking helmet, who's the voice? Is he lonely? Maybe I'll just put it on really quickly...

You are not the Centurion Nova-Prime, Rhomann Dey.

"Umm... hi?"

Identify yourself.

Okay, this is officially weird. I'm talking to a helmet. "... I'm Kyle Rayner?"

Kyle Rayner, where is the Centurion Nova-Prime, Rhomann Dey?

"Is that the alien guy?" I ask sheepishly. "He's... uh... he's dead."

Silence.

"Who is this?"

The voice you hear is the Xandarian Worldmind.

Ask a stupid question...

"Which is... what, exactly?"

The Xandarian Worldmind is a Class G Collective Artificial Sentience created to govern and maintain all of Xandarian culture. It is made up of the collective consciousness and knowledge of the deceased citizens of Xandar.

"So... you're, like, an alien supercomputer?" I ask.

In a manner of speaking.

Maybe I shouldn't have put on the helmet. Persevering, I continue, "But you're speaking English?"

I act as a universal translator, among countless other capabilities. How did you come upon this helmet?

"I... I found the dead guy, and... took it."

What of the criminal Kanjar Ro?

Y'know, it says it's translating, but I'm not convinced. "I don't know who that is."

Then he has escaped. Kyle Rayner, you are needed.

"Me? How?"

Your planet is many star systems from Xandar and the nearest members of the Nova Corps. Rhomann Dey was assigned to track Kanjar Ro and bring him to justice. The Centurion Nova-Prime failed, and still Ro eludes capture. You must bring Ro to justice.

The words catch in my throat. I'm not sure I heard this helmet computer thing right. "I'm supposed to catch a space criminal?"

The circumstances are... unusual. However, Kanjar Ro cannot have gotten far. The Nova Corps is too far to pursue. He will escape to the far reaches of space. In the name of Xandar, Queen Adora, and the Nova Corps, I now grant you a portion of the Nova Force.

Now, I don't know if you've ever licked a battery, but it's like that - intensified by a thousand. My entire body tingles as a bright light blinds me. For a moment, I swear that I'm lifted off my feet. My limbs course with raw, warm energy. When the sensation has passed, I find myself standing in my living room, wearing a blue and gold suit of armor. I realize that it's the same outfit that the dead alien was wearing.

Kyle Rayner, welcome to the Nova Corps.

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Old 06-24-2012, 12:16 AM   #721
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My eyes snapped open, the red haze filling my vision. With a start, I look up at the horrific vision in front of me.




"GooD to sEE you aGAINn, BATsy!
CrAZY nIght WE're haVINg, IsN't iT?"

I crawled backwards from the monster, swinging wildly at it as I moved away from it.

"Whoah, watch it there, slugger! You could hurt someone!" the Joker said, putting his hands up mockingly. "What's got you acting like you've seen a ghost?"

The clown ran his thin bony fingers through his greasy green hair.

"It's the hair, isn't it?" he said, musing. "Sorry, I didn't have time to style it in the middle of all the fun here. I'm sure I must look just an absolute fright."

That hideous yellow-toothed grin crept across the Joker's face as Batman struggled to regain his composure.

"Or maybe it's that weaponized terror-inducing hallucinogen floating around in your lungs?" he asked, strolling around the hero. "You've got all the symptoms of Scarecrow's toxin all right--and I should know, since I was the guinea pig he used to make the stuff."

Joker threw back his head and let out a sharp laugh.

"HA! Funny, isn't it?" he asked, leaning against a blood-splattered wall as he began to lazily finger-paint in the splashes of red. "I spend months injecting people with a killer mind-altering poison, and then as soon as I'm locked up in here to keep the world safe from me, someone uses me to make a killer mind-altering poison of their own! Yes sir, it's a funny old world."

The Batman pulled himself to his feet, and the Joker turned to face him, ready in case the vigilante tried to attack.

"And that's not even the really funny part," he said, giggling. "No, the really funny part is that since I've been pumped full of Scarecrow's toxin right from the start, I'm completely immune to the stuff now. You could hook me up to a scuba tank filled with it and you wouldn't get so much as a flinch from me."

The clown casually lifted his boxing-glove gun and shook the blood and brain matter from the red leather fist on the barrel.

"Which means if you want to save anyone on this island tonight, yourself included......you need me, Bats."


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Old 06-24-2012, 12:53 AM   #722
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That hideous yellow-toothed grin crept across the Joker's face as Batman struggled to regain his composure.

"Or maybe it's that weaponized terror-inducing hallucinogen floating around in your lungs?" he asked, strolling around the hero. "You've got all the symptoms of Scarecrow's toxin all right--and I should know, since I was the guinea pig he used to make the stuff."

Joker threw back his head and let out a sharp laugh.

"HA! Funny, isn't it?" he asked, leaning against a blood-splattered wall as he began to lazily finger-paint in the splashes of red. "I spend months injecting people with a killer mind-altering poison, and then as soon as I'm locked up in here to keep the world safe from me, someone uses me to make a killer mind-altering poison of their own! Yes sir, it's a funny old world."

The Batman pulled himself to his feet, and the Joker turned to face him, ready in case the vigilante tried to attack.

"And that's not even the really funny part," he said, giggling. "No, the really funny part is that since I've been pumped full of Scarecrow's toxin right from the start, I'm completely immune to the stuff now. You could hook me up to a scuba tank filled with it and you wouldn't get so much as a flinch from me."

The clown casually lifted his boxing-glove gun and shook the blood and brain matter from the red leather fist on the barrel.

"Which means if you want to save anyone on this island tonight, yourself included......you need me, Bats."

"No," I rasped, looking at the monstrous, twisted figure I knew was the Joker. "Tell me... where to... find who done this. I can... do the..."

My knees buckled and I collapsed back to the ground. My eyes cast upwards at the ceiling. It moved and squirmed, each individual tile made of maggots and worms. A rotten, swollen hand pushed out of the maggots and began to pull the rest of its body from the ceiling. A black and bloated face came out the worms, a groan coming from its putrid lips.

"Son," the voice of my father groaned out in despair. "What have you become?"

The sight was too much to bear. Panicking, I stood up and dashed down the hallway, deeper into Arkaham. My heart pounded wildly as I ran as far away as I could get from Joker and the corpse of my father.

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Old 06-24-2012, 04:17 PM   #723
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"Oh-ho-ho," the Joker said, licking his lips as he watched Batman flee in a panic. "Now this is interesting. You're not scared of me at all, but then you saw something that made you jump right out of your skin."

The clown chased after Batman, his unnaturally-enhanced speed closing the gap in quick leaping strides.

"One of these days," he said, "I'm gonna have to pry open that skull of yours and see what makes you tick. It might do ya some good, y'know--I'll bet a couple of minutes with me and a flat-head screwdriver will get you to spill your deepest darkest secrets better than years with a psychiatrist!"

As the Batman scrambled to get away, Joker stuck out his leg, and the panicking hero tripped and fell to the ground.

"But sadly, we don't have time to go rooting around for skeletons in your closet tonight," he said, a tinge of disappointment in his voice. "I don't know your name or where you're from or what screwed you up enough to dress like a big flying rat.....yet.....but I know who you are, Bats. You saved the Enforcers when I was gonna let them blow up in the toy factory. You saved Sal Maroni when I put a bomb in his car. You can't let people die on your watch, even the absolute scum of the absolute scum. Which means you're going to go stumbling around on this island trying to save everyone from gnawing their own faces off until you get yourself killed."

Joker held out his hand, offering to pick the hero up.

"And as much as I hate to use a tired old cliche like 'nobody gets to kill you but me,' well.....there it is. So let's do this, hero. You want the Scarecrow, and I want you to myself. You make with the punch-kick, and I'll tell you if what you're seeing is real or not. Deal?"


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Old 06-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #724
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"

"But sadly, we don't have time to go rooting around for skeletons in your closet tonight," he said, a tinge of disappointment in his voice. "I don't know your name or where you're from or what screwed you up enough to dress like a big flying rat.....yet.....but I know who you are, Bats. You saved the Enforcers when I was gonna let them blow up in the toy factory. You saved Sal Maroni when I put a bomb in his car. You can't let people die on your watch, even the absolute scum of the absolute scum. Which means you're going to go stumbling around on this island trying to save everyone from gnawing their own faces off until you get yourself killed."

Joker held out his hand, offering to pick the hero up.

"And as much as I hate to use a tired old cliche like 'nobody gets to kill you but me,' well.....there it is. So let's do this, hero. You want the Scarecrow, and I want you to myself. You make with the punch-kick, and I'll tell you if what you're seeing is real or not. Deal?"
The hand, covered in worms and maggots, beckoned me to stand. I took it, the squishing noise that accompanied the grip stained my gloves with the guts of the rotten insects.

"Joker," I said, standing. His pale-white forehead had a bullet hole in the center, blood running from the wound and pouring down his face. "Tell me where this Scarecrow is."

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Old 06-24-2012, 11:30 PM   #725
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The hand, covered in worms and maggots, beckoned me to stand. I took it, the squishing noise that accompanied the grip stained my gloves with the guts of the rotten insects.

"Joker," I said, standing. His pale-white forehead had a bullet hole in the center, blood running from the wound and pouring down his face. "Tell me where this Scarecrow is."
"What, and let you run off by yourself to get knifed by some idiot while you think you're fighting Richard Nixon made of worms? Or fall off a cliff into the ocean, or charge headlong into an electric fence while you're running from flying baby-heads that puke eyeballs? No sirree."

Joker glanced over his shoulder, to a security camera by one of the gates.

"Besides, if Scarecrow is where I think he is, then he's watching everything we're doing right now," he said, winking at the camera. "Which means if we get close, he's going to bail and move to somewhere else on the island. If we're gonna nab him, the first thing we're gonna need to do is knock out the place's surveillance network. And the main control room is at the heart of the penitentiary building."

The madman pointed to the imposing concrete fortress on the far side of one of the island's courtyards.

"You're a smart guy, for a nut-case in a cape. So tell me, smart guy, do you really think you can storm a fortress full of murderers and heavily-armed and rabid guards all on your lonesome, especially when you can't even tell what's really there?"

As the Batman gritted his teeth, Joker smiled, and began casually sauntering across the courtyard.

"Of course, you can sit back and let me take a whack at it first," he said. "But just so you know, I'm not the kinda guy who's going to keep the body count to a minimum."

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