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Old 07-30-2014, 11:19 AM   #1
Carnage27
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Default Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread


Quote:
From the files of HAMMER:

Everything they've told you is a lie. I know most of you have heard it nearly your entire lives. You must be thinking how can we have been lied to for so long? It's not what you want to hear, but it's what you need to know. The government, all the governments, have been lying to us all since they lost control. Since they let the genie out of the bottle. For decades they've been in a mad dash to hide, erase, and blind people from the facts that would cause a dramatic shift in the world's power base. But I'm not going to let the shadows continue to strangle our world.

What am I talking about, you might ask? Superhumans. Mutants. Magic. All these things that HAMMER supposedly is here to protect us from and keep us all safe from. We've all been taught from day one that these were things to be feared. That they were genetic freaks that could kill us all. That they all needed to be rounded up and put in prison so the rest of us could live our lives in a safe, happy world. All of them lies.

What they don't want you to know is that it all started with my father, Captain Steve Rogers. You'd know him better as Captain America, the world's first, true superhero. When he was lost, America and the rest of the world started a genetic arms race to try and replicate what made him what he was. Sloppy science in the name of world domination became common place, mistakes were made, and our world was forever changed. They may not have created the first mutants, but this negligence spurned their growth in numbers.

To compensate, the world gave us HAMMER, and the stories that mutants were to be feared. In reality, it was just the power base trying to clean up their own mess in the quietest way possible. And so we all went along with it. A lot of us ignored it, hoping the atrocities that were whispered about really were just rumor. I was supposed to be their secret weapon in this manufactured war. They blindly thought that I'd follow them out of love for a father I never knew or through some strong national pride. But I saw right through them, and will not rest until their crimes are laid bare in front of the world.

I'm here to tell you we are not a threat. Mutants and superhumans are not your enemy. Look at the X-Men, who have saved dozens of people in the past months. Or New York's so-called Spider-man. They have sacrificed their lives for you. They are the true heroes. HAMMER will tell you differently. But this is the truth.

My name is Stephanie Carter. I am Captain America. And this is where everything changes.




-Transcribed from rogue agent Stephanie Carter's address to the nation. Unknown origin. Illegal satalite signal hijacking. Trace unsuccessful.
Age of Marvels: Year One




Game Premise

In game, the only known superhero of the past was Captain America. In the present time HAMMER is the world's foremost defense against superhuman and mutant threats. Comprised of a multinational group of corporations, private military firms, and liasons to the UN, they attempt to stamp out mutant and superhuman activity across the world. Our heroes are new to the pursuits of heroism, and at most they have been active for a few months.

To apply for a character, fill out the application in the OOC Thread. There will be a 24 hour waiting period for all applications to allow for other apps to be submitted.

Rules

Quote:
1: You may choose any superhero or villain in the Marvel Universe and revise them for the new continuity. Being that this is strictly a 'Year One' continuity, the only real restraint would be that all the heroes and villains involved would be brand new to the job. The only known superhero before this time period was Steve Rogers, so keep that in mind.

2: You are allowed a maximum of two main characters. You also have free reign over the characters' supporting cast and rogues' gallery, provided that no other player is playing them. However, it is advised to keep sidekick characters and primary villains at least somewhat open as options for other players to take up.

3: You must post at least once every two weeks, preferably more, or your character will be up for grabs. Failure to post after 30 days will result in your character being removed from the roster.

4: PC's are not to be killed without permission. Nameless NPC's are fine, but PC's or important NPC's will require authorization. Don't do anything random, such as destroying the universe, either. Such behavior is frowned upon.

5: Several storylines can be going on at once, in order to interact with other players. If a player's character does not want to be involved in another's storyline, they do not have to. Likewise, please observe good etiquette and ask the other players' permission before jumping into a fight or interaction without their consent. Consultation and communication are the keys to a good PC-to-PC interaction.

6: Sidekicks like and legacy characters are technically allowed, but will be required to be permitted by the player in charge of the 'franchise' character.

7: You can travel anywhere on Earth or off-planet, provided it is within your character's means. Time-travel is forbidden, unless it is specifically required of your character choice.

8: You are your character, so act like them. Create or portray their mannerisms, powers, and ideals to how they have been established in the game. BE the character.

9: Respect the Gamemasters. If they make a request of you regarding the game, listen to them. Failure to adhere to GM, AGM, and Hype! Moderator requests will result in expulsion from the game.

10: Be creative, and do not be afraid to try new and exciting things with old concepts. This is a new continuity bound only by the constraints made by other players and yourself.

11: All regular Hype rules apply. Obviously.

12: Most of all, enjoy yourself. That's why we're here.
Please see our OOC thread for how to join and the current roster.

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Old 07-30-2014, 12:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread


Not much time left.

Stephanie Carter hurried through the streets of New York, the shield on her back shimmering in the strong, afternoon sun. She was cloaked in the red, white, and blue of America, and was drawing quite a bit of attention from bystanders. That was the plan, just as Fury had drawn up. The more people who saw what she was about to do, the better.

Weeks ago Nick Fury, a former HAMMER agent and supposed friend of her father, the original Captain America, hacked into the United States broadcast satallites, and Stephanie revealed herself as Captain America to the world. She had warned them how HAMMER wanted nothing more than control, and that superhumans were not their enemies. The message hadn't sunk in yet, nor did she expect it to. But she was going to show them.

"Instill hope in the populace," Fury told her. The two of them, along with Steph's mother, former CIA agent Sharon Carter, had been on the run since Stephanie broke away from HAMMER, stealing her combat suit and her father's shield in the process. It wasn't an easy life, but it was the righteous one. "Instill hope in the people, and you'll show them who you really are. You'll show them who they really are. The world needs Captain America. Now more than ever."

The plan made sense. It remained to be seen whether it would end up working, but to Steph, it didn't matter. She had seen what life for superhumans meant under the iron fist of HAMMER, and she wasn't going to allow that to continue. She had her mission, and she was going to see it through no matter what.

Hiding for the past weeks had worn on her, though. She was a woman of action, and waiting for the opportune time wasn't something she was a fan of. Steph wanted Captain America to get out there ASAP. She wanted Captain America to take the fight to HAMMER immediately. But Fury and her mother assured her that this was a marathon, not a sprint. In order to truly take down HAMMER's efforts, they would need help. In order to get help, they would need to garner goodwill. So she waited for Fury to find the perfect opportunity for her coming out party. Fury had operatives embedded in HAMMER and other law enforcement outfits across the world, not to mention undercover agents working in select criminal organizations. Steph had no idea how Nick had managed to stay undetected for so long inside HAMMER, but she learned quickly Fury wasn't one to answer questions. Still, she trusted him, and that was all that mattered.

Luckily, one of his contacts came through with a tip two days ago. The Fourth Reich was set to attack a pro-mutant demostration in Times Square this afternoon. The Reich had once been a small, but terrible, biker gang of Neo-Nazis in the American south. They were feared, but a small, regional threat. Since mutant rights had become a national issue, however, they began to expand, harassing mutants and their supporters across the country. This was due, in part, to their new leader, known only as the Red Skull. He emerged nearly the same time Stephanie began her training, and turned the hate group into a virtual domestic terrorist army. He was charismatic and dangerously devoted to their causes, a potentially lethal combonation. It wasn't a surprise the Skull wanted to hit a target like this. It would certainly get his name splattered across the world news.

Cap was quickly approaching Times Square, and as she did, she pulled the shield off her back, to prepare for whatever was waiting for her. The mob of people crowding the center of the square was surprisingly large. Most were carrying signs and chanting pro-mutant rights slogans. Steph couldn't help but notice quite a few "Cap is Right" signs in the crowd. She couldn't give herself a moment to internally gloat, but she had to admit it was nice.

She also noticed a small group of men approaching from her right, walking deliberately towards the police line guarding the citizens enacting their right of free speech. Cap moved to head them off, and was in position as one of them drew a sawed-off shotgun from his hip and readied to fire it into the crowd.

Before he could, Steph heaved her shield at the firearm, cracking it in half. The shield returned to her in time for Steph to protect herself as the other four men unloaded their own guns on her. By this time, the gunfire had created a panic in the protestors, and they began scrambling for cover, turning Times Square into a giant mess.

Captain America charged the Neo-Naizs as they attempted to reload their dual-barrel weapons, but they were too slow. She was on them in a blink of an eye. She disarmed the closest one to her, knocking him out with the butt of his own weapon. Another received a cross haymaker to the chin, shattering the bone and sending him sprawling to the ground. Two of the others ran back to their bikes, having no intention of crossing the superhuman.

The last one was the one that had nearly fired on the crowd. He backed away from her on his hands, dragging his bottom along the asphalt, "Please don't hurt me."

"Like you weren't going to hurt these innocent people, scum?" Cap seethed. "You're lucky I don't kill people. Because I'd really like to see you suffer. Instead, you're gonna give a message to the Red Skull."

"W-what? He'll kill me!," he begged.

"Then I hope you talk fast," Steph smirked. "Tell him I'm coming for him. Tell him he's got himself on Captain America's list."

Steph delivered a headbutt to the man, knocking him out easily. She turned to find a group of the police officers that had once been guarding civilians now pointing their weapons at the star-spangled superhero. She chuckled, "You guys cannot be serious."

"Orders are orders, ma'am," one responded. "You're a fugitive. We gotta take you in."

Before Steph could try and plead with the man, a large group of protestors formed a line between her and them, locking hands. They made it clear that they weren't going to let the police go after Steph.

One turned to her, a girl who had to be in high school, and said, "Go ahead, Cap. They won't bother you."

Stephanie smiled brightly at the child and nodded, "Thanks, kid."

Turning, Captain America picked up the nicest bike the Fourth Reich members had left behind, revved the engine, and sped off through the streets of New York. Before she got very far, she heard sirens, and turned to find three HAMMER SUVs coming up hot on her tail. On top of that, she was sure she heard the thump of a helicopter approaching.

"I was wondering when you'd show up," Steph smiled mischeviously. "Let's see what you guys can do."

She pushed the throttle, and the chase was on.

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Old 07-30-2014, 06:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

Meanwhile, in the far reaches of the galaxy...

"BLEEEEEEEEEURRRRGHHHH!"

In between the waves of vomit spewing forth from his mouth, Peter Quill was faced with something of a chicken and egg conundrum. Was it the searing agony of his cosmic hangover which had caused his first waking action to be to lunge for the sick bucket by his bed (which he would only later discover was actually his helmet) and spew forth hot, chunky buyer's remorse? Or was it actually the rising projectile pressing against his lips that woke him, with the gradual awareness of the anvil in his skull only coming on him in waves as he lurched back into the land of the living? Either way, on the morning after the night before, Quill had only one poetic response at hand:

"Kill me."

Sitting on the edge of his bed, doubled forward, Quill tried to comfort himself with the knowledge that he wasn't just ill with a hangover: he was ill with a hangover... IN HIS SPACESHIP... IN SPACE! He found adding "IN MY SPACESHIP... IN SPACE!" to the end of most sentences made them better. "I can't find honest employment... IN MY SPACESHIP... IN SPACE!" "I'm a deadbeat... IN MY SPACESHIP... IN SPACE!" "I'm developing a worrying rash... IN MY SPACESHIP... IN SPACE!" Quill told himself that the beer on Knowhere was surely better than the beer in Colorado.

"Mmmm...."

Mmmm?

Slowly, Quill sat bolt upright and looked over his shoulder. There was a beautiful woman covered in orange fur lying in bed next to him, covers pulled up to just under her arms, sound asleep. Quill has no idea who she was. Gently, he lay himself back down on the bed and rolled over onto his side, glaring at this dozing beauty with bleary eyes. Before long, her eyes opened, and she smiled at Quill. Then, she spoke in a low, guttural voice:

"MOOKAFULA KULAKALAKALAKAAAAAAAAAA!"

Quill's eyes widened and he recoiled back in bed a bit. The space lady smiled and leaned forward, helpfully pressing into the small chip embedded in Quill's neck and reactivating his universal translator.

"You are quite the lover, strange pale man," she said, "Tell me again, great Star-Lord, of your incredible defeat of Galactus."

"My what now?"

"Last night you told the tale," the lady replied, "Of a small lonely planet marked for destruction by the devourer of worlds, and how somehow you turned him away and saved this world. How did you do this?"

"Well..."

Quill was still trying to recall what this woman's name was, and where he'd even met her, never mind how he'd got her on his ship. Apparently it had something to do with a tall tale about Galactus. He'd have to improvise.

"I... you see, I.. flew my spaceship into his nose."

"...you what?"

"This ship. The Milano. Flew it right into his big nose. You know how, like, when you're attacked by a shark, if you bop it on the nose, it leaves you alone?"

"What is a shark?"

"What is a...? Oh yeah, right, the whole alien thing, yeah. Never mind... big thing, pointy teeth. Tender nose, apparently."

"Are you seriously telling me that you flew your plane into Galactus' nose and he turned around and went home?"

"No," sighed Quill lamely, "Obviously I had to scare him off with my words, too."

"Ugh..."

The woman let out a groan of contempt and got up out of bed.

"EEEEEAAAAAAH!"

Quill tumbled backwards out the bed and landed on his bare ass on the cold steel of the Milano deck. This averse reaction to the lady's quite reasonable response of getting out of the bed was because she'd got out of bed by crawling up the wall with the 8 tentacles she had in place of legs.

"What's wrong with you?"

"You... you're an octopus woman!"

"What is an octopus?"

"I dunno... like a spider..."

"What is a spider?"

Letting out a moan of exasperation, Quill resorted to screwing up his face and waving around his fingers in front of his nose in his best attempt at a tentacle-like motion.

"My form displeases you?"

"How could I have sex with you!?"

"Oh, please, you had no problem with my form last night."

"No, I mean, in terms of sheer physics, how did I even pull it off? I'm kinda impressed," Quill remarked, "And in my defence, I evidently drank a whole lot of cheap liqour last night."

"You are a pig, Star-Lord!"

"Oh, so you know what a pig is?"

"What is a pig?"

"You just called me one!"

"Oh, the universal translator probably just substituted the word from my language into the... why am I still talking to you? Get out!"

"It's my ship! You get out!"

The nameless woman grabbed her clothes in a bundle, before turning round to face the naked, embarrassed Peter Quill one more time.

"You are no Star-Lord. You are just a bizarre little alien with pasty hairless skin... and your spaceship smells of sweaty undergarments. Goodbye."

And then Peter Quill was alone once more. It was at this point he noticed that his helmet was filled with vomit. Then he remembered the hangover of doom that was tumble-drying his brain. Then he realised, worryingly, that he was a little aroused by all of that.

"You're wrong, baby," Quill said in his now-empty spaceship, "I AM Star-Lord."

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Old 07-30-2014, 09:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread



Nelson and Murdock Attorneys


12:15 PM



"Matt! Matt! Did you se-Oh crap!" Karen Page, the secretary and receptionist for Nelson and Murdock skidded into Matt's office, cursing at herself for what she was about to say. She was, objectively, a beautiful young woman. Matt would never be able to tell her that, of course, but his radar sense gave him a terrific gauge on how people look. A few years younger than him, she was about his height with a slender build. Her smile was intoxicating, though. Matt had to remind himself constantly that she was his employee. She was a hard worker too, though she was overly cautious about bringing attention to his blindness.



"It's okay, Page," he chuckled. Matt had long since gotten over his ailment. Having all his other senses at superhuman levels certainly helped, of course. "If I was worried about people talking about me being blind, I wouldn't have studied law."



"Oh, right," she giggled. "Well, Captain America just saved a bunch of people and is now on a motorcycle running from HAMMER."



"Thanks, Page," Matt smiled at her as he pondered the ramifications of that. He had, of course, taken to the rooftops of Hell's Kitchen at night as a vigilante. HAMMER had yet to take notice of him yet, but they might one day. He wasn't a fan of their policies, but he also wasn't about to join up with Captain America against them. Still, it'd be nice to get them out of the picture.



Matt Murdock leaned back in his chair, realizing he wasn't going to get any more work done today. There were important things to do tonight.



***********



Matt Murdock's Apartment



11:30PM



As Matt suited up for his nightly activities, he ran his hand over the list he had hanging in his closet. On the paper were the names of the known members of the Maggia and Kingpin crime families. Some of the names lower on the list had been crossed off already, but they were small fish. Drug dealers that barely masked their movements were easy to pick off, but none of them knew anything. Tonight would be different. Matt had found Bobby Karnelli, one of the Maggia's drug pushers, and knew he'd be alone tonight.



The action involving Captain America that morning had weighed on his mind and made him think deeply about his mission. He may have not been attempting to change the world, but he was doing his damnedest to change this city. As long as no family ever had to go through what he did, he'd be vindicated.



Opening the roof access door that only his apartment had, Matt clambered onto the roof of his building, and the sounds and smells of New York came flooding in. He could smell the dishes cooking in the Chinese and Greek restaurants on his block. He could here the footfalls of the people on the streets below and the multitude of car horns going off in every direction. Years ago, these things would have overpowered Matt's sense. But thanks to his training with Stick, he was able to drown them out, only taking in what he needed.



Daredevil took a deep breath before taking off into a dead spring towards his target. Every footfall fell at the exact correct spot thanks to Murdock's radar sense and enhanced feeling. He knew where the rooftops started and ended. When they did end, he effortlessly leapt to the next roof. He had always loved free running, ever since Stick taught it to him. It made him feel free. It was the one time where his senses all worked together perfectly.



Still, this wasn't a pleasure stroll. Daredevil had a mission that night, and it was one he needed to complete in order to really show the New York crime families that he had arrived. Karnelli was going to be coming out of the brothel he frequented in an hour. Matt had managed to squeeze this out of a dealer he wrangled the day before. Karnelli was either ignorant or dumb, but he thought no one knew he liked the whores. He insisted on going alone so that word never got back to his wife. That made him an easy target.



Matt perched himself above the brothel and waited for Bobby to leave as the rain began to come down. Murdock heard every drop as it splattered on the kevlar and leather costume. Focusing, he blocked out the sound of the rain just as Bobby exited the brothel. Laughing and drunk, he went towards his car in the alley next to the building.



Daredevil acts quickly, firing the gas powered grapnel in his billy club at the man's feet, snagging him easily. The grapnel retracts, bringing Karnelli face-to-face with the devil, "Holy crap! You are real!"



"Bobby Karnelli," Daredevil snarled, "where are the drugs?"



"I-I-I don't know what you're t-talking about!" the mobster stammered.



"Lie to me again, and your brains will decorate the sidewalk," Daredevil threatened. He'd never do it, but making the guy think he would was important. "You distribute drugs for the Maggia. Which warehouse do you store them in?"



Just to buffer the bluff, Daredevil dropped the grapnel line a foot, sending Karnelli flailing, "Okay! Okay! 54th Street dock! That's where they are!"



"Much appreciated, Mister Karnelli," the Devil growled before knocking the man out and leaving him on the street out front of the brothel.



**********





The next morning, New York woke up to the news that the 54th Street Dock had burned down. The only clue was from a frightened security guard, the only person on the dock that night, who said, "The devil did it."








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Old 07-31-2014, 10:52 AM   #5
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Somewhere, on some God-forsaken moon or something...

A large metallic dome, the only artificial structure on the entire planet, looms against the otherwise barren grey landscape. Until...

KABOOM!!!


An enormous explosion erupts from inside the structure, sending pieces of steel flying into the emptiness of the atmospherely void around it. Suddenly, two figures emerge from the hole in the dome.

One of them, a tall, plant-like humanoid pulls the smaller one up and onto his shoulder. "I am GROOT!"

The smaller of the two, a small humanoid raccoon in a space suit, shrugs with a chuckle. "I know, but it sure looked cool!" He reaches into a pouch on his belt, and reveals a small device. "We got it though, didn't we? We always do."

Groot nods, apparently slightly annoyed at their success. Or, rather, the fact that his companion, Rocket, had yet to learn his lesson. "I am Groot."

Rocket chuckles, patting Groot's shoulder as hit sits down on it. "No hard feelings, pal. She wasn't that interested in me anyway." Suddenly, a barrage of laser fire begins erupting from inside the dome. "Oops, that's our que!" He smiles, holding his hand out in front of him. "After you."

With an enormous bound, the tree lunges forward away from the hole, and the two of them begin sliding down the side of dome. As they fall, Rocket presses a button on his wrist, and a couple hundred feet away, a small spaceship lights up and lifts off the ground.

"I am...Groot?" Groot's right...and they begin picking up speed too fast.

"Slow down, pal! Geez!" This wasn't something he had considered. This dome was getting pretty steep. REALLY steep.

"I AM Groot!" Groot slams his hands against the dome, trying to slow them down. "I am Groot!"

"Hey, don't get your flora in a twist right now! You didn't think of it either!" Suddenly, the incline become just short of a straight vertical drop. "Ahhhhhh!"

As they fall, Groot wraps his long arms around the raccoon and pulls him into his chest. At the ground below, half a dozen grunts with blasters have already emerged from the dome, and begin firing at them. "I am-"

KA-THOOM!

In cloud of splintered wood and moondust, two figures quickly emerge. Rocket pulls a ridiculously sized plasma rifle from his back and quickly takes out half of the grunts. Groot, now extremely angry, roars loudly as he swings his right arm (now in his left hand and slightly...broken off), sending two more grunts flying into the air.

"I AM GROOT!"

"Ugh...enought with the know-it-all act already. Jeez!" Just then, the shapeship flies just above their heads. As if they had done it a hundred times before, Rocket jumps onto Groot's back, and Groot grabs a hold of an open hatch on the underside of the ship. With one swift movement, both of them jumped into the ship just as the hatch closed and the thrusters sent them barelling back into the void of space.

"I am Groot."

The raccoon, now realizing he had wood splinters in his fur, sighed. "Alright already. We got it didn't we?!" He held it up so his friend could see.

"I am Groot," the tree said.

Rocket chuckles, allowing himself to sigh away some of his tension. "You have fun?!"

Groot stares at Rocket for a minute, then smiles an enormous wooden smile. "I am Groot!"

"Atta-boy! Now, let's go see what that canine fur ball wanted with this anyways."

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Old 08-02-2014, 04:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

6 Years Ago...

“I dunno Clint. I think we should get out of here.”

The younger Barton brother juggled 4 fresh apples with his left hand, whilst eating another with his right. Barney, meanwhile, sat on a tree stump and whittled at it with a small blade.

“Where would we go, Barn?” he answered, taking another bite of his apple “Two kids, no high school education. No experience. We’re lucky we’ve got this. And to be honest, this is working out pretty good for us, isn’t it?”

“Easy for you to say. Jacques and Buck love you. Hell, you’ll probably be headlining your own show in a few months. Me? I spend all my time cleaning elephant crap out of Bessie’s cage.”

Clint finished his apple with a final bite and tossed it to his left hand, while flicking out a new full one to his right. He flicked the finished apple with perfect spin to his left hand so he could juggle it with the top and bottom of the core between his thumb and forefinger, keeping his palm clean.

“Like I said though, Barn.Where would we go?”

“I went into town yesterday. They have an enlistment office. We could jump in there.”

“Wait a moment… you want us to quit here, to go get our asses shot off in the desert somewhere playing soldier?”

“You’re already getting shot at. 3 shows a day on weekends.”

“Yeah, there’s a difference between firefights with assault rifles, and the finest archer in the world performing entertainment AROUND you.”

“Huh. Not like you to be scared, Clint.”

Clint tossed another completed apple to his left hand and glared at his brother in a contemptuous pose. He held it for a few seconds, 5 apples never wavering from perfect harmonious rhythm by his left hand.

“Clint Barton ain’t scared of nobody or nothin’. Never has been, never will be.”

He flicked another full one to his right and took a big emphatic bite, grinning at his bigger brother.

“We hit East Rutherford this week, I say we go down to the recruitment office and enlist. We do our tour of duty, then we’re on our feet. The guy said they give you skills so you can get a real job when you get back. You want to be a circus geek for the rest of your life, Clint? We can’t afford schoolin’, neither of us are going to get a scholarship any time soon. They don’t give ‘em for juggling, or swordplay… archery… fine work on a trapeze.”

Clint looked disappointed at his younger brother.

“But I like it here. People seem ok, there’s freedom. Get cash so we can buy our own food if we want to go out and see the towns we're in. Get our own free food and shelter here as well.”

Clint finished another apple and flicked it across.

“You want me to talk to Buck? See if I can get him to spend some more time workin’ with you, he’s real good about that sort of thing. Hell, we pick your skills up a bit they could have a brother act. Both names on the marquee. They like that, helps sell tickets. We just spend a bit more time, Buck’ll get you there, you’ll see! He’s great!”

“Pfft… he’s not so great…”

Scchwifft!
Thuk! Thk! Thk! Thk! Thuk!

The two boys looked across startled. 5 apples were pinned to a tree by arrows.

A heavyset man with a bow, walked out. “Clint.We got training.”

“Buck! I was eating that!”

“5 apples? Kid, trust me. I just saved you from yourself. We got a show tonight, 5 apples will go through ya like the flume ride they got over at 6 Flags. Go get ya tunic on.”

Clint ran off to get changed while Barney looked down at the ground, hoping the middle aged man hadn’t heard their conversation. Buck gave the boy a look, then turned walking away.

The small boy breathed a sigh of relief.

“Ya brother’s a good kid. He’s been trying to get me to spend some time with you for a few weeks now. But if you expect help you first gotta learn some damn respect.” The old man grumbled. Standing right behind him.

Barney froze and stared white eyed into space, knowing he’d been caught. He turned red with embarrassment and tried to think of a reply, but the opportunity left him just as the older man had.

Barney knew he had to get out. The sooner the better.

__________________
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:02 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

Somewhere in deep space...

I'm an alligator, I'm a mama-papa coming for you,
I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n' rollin' b***h for you!
Keep your mouth shut,
You're squawking like a pink monkey bird,
And I'm busting up my brains for the words...

As a boy, when asked to close his eyes and think of his father, Peter Quill thought of Ziggy Stardust. His mother used to tell him that his father was a spaceman, that he belonged in the stars. And to a boy raised on the music of the 1970s, the first mental image he had of what an alien might look like was David Bowie's cosmic alter ego.

With his unexpected lady friend departed, and his ship, the Milano, once again in orbit, Quill was alone, save for his old, beaten-up cassette player and Peter's Awesome Mix Tape, Volume 1. Every song in this collection told a story. Each was linked to a memory of life on Earth during the good times. Of his mom. There was a time when those memories were all he had, and this music was his only solace. When you're nothing to nobody, when you see the same four walls every day and can see your future stretching out before you in all its narrow, bland emptiness, it means a lot to be able to close your eyes and let the music take you far away.

And then the spaceship came to take him away from that nothing life, and all of a sudden young Peter didn't need the music and his imagination to take him up into the stars where he'd always known he belonged. Those cherished songs became the backdrop to the life he should have had all along. No wonder he left Earth and never looked back.

The Milano was drawing near to the coordinates that Yondu had forwarded to him. The Ravagers would be getting a cut of this particular deal for setting this up. Quill knew little about the job at this stage, save for the fact that the client was a high-roller. He had little time to further consider the matter before a massive, heavily fortified space station appeared in the middle of the blackness of space before him. Evidently its shields had been up until this moment: the guy who owned this place wasn't getting found unless he wanted to be found.

A carrier door on the surface of the station opened up, revealing a docking bay. Quill took that as an invitation, and started to draw in the Milano for landing.

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe,
Put your ray gun to my head,
Press your space face close to mine, love,
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

When Quill emerged from the ship, he didn't find a battalion of armed guards waiting for him like one might have expected for a place so heavily armed. Instead there was only one white-haired, elderly man, standing with his hands clasped tightly in front of his chest.

"Peter Quill, yes?"

"Yeah, but I'm better known by the name... Star-Lord."

"Quite. I am Taneleer Tivan. And I am better known as..."



"The Collector. Now, please, allow me to share with you my collection."

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Old 08-03-2014, 03:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread


6 Years Ago…


“Kid, come here. I’m gonna show you something.”

The young, blond Clint Barton ran over to his heavyset mentor, who was putting a long box on a small foldable card table.

“Yeah, Buck?”

“You’ve been workin’ hard, and I figured you deserved somethin’ for the effort.”

He popped the lid open on the box.

“It’s yer first bow. To keep that is. Yours to maintain, yours to use without having to pester me to ask if you can get it out.” He lifted the dark blue bow out of the box.

“Might want to give it a paint job. And you’re going to have to re-tune it. It’s still set up for me, when I was a bit younger. Quality double recurve. Hell of a first bow, huh kid?”

“Whoa, Buck… this is unbelievable. I can keep this?”

“It’s what I said, wazzun it? Now you’re gonna need to wax the string at least once a month. Probably more, with how much you train. Here.” The older man tossed him a small tube.

“When that runs out, tell me and I’ll get you some more. Don’t just buy your own. Not all wax is wax, gottit?”

Clint didn’t get it, but nodded anyway.

“Daily, before you start using it and at the end of a session you inspect your bow. Any wear on it and you’re gonna want to get on that immediately. The bow breaks down, the archer breaks down. You can adjust for imperfections, sure, but it makes it harder to read.”

Clint held it up, the bow was only about half a foot shorter than he himself was.

“You’ll grow into it. Can already tell you’re gonna be a big guy. Best to get used to a bow early. Have it be a part of you. As you grow, you re-tune, but buying different sized bows? That becomes harder to adjust to.”

“Sure, Buck. Wow.”

“I’m just gonna ask you one thing. Don’t use it in tonight’s show. Give it a while to get used to it first, yeah? Showtime, stick with the little ‘un you’ve been using for a while more.”

“Absolutely!” The young teen marvelled at the craftsmanship.

“Oh, I was going to ask you something!”

“Yeah, kid?”

Buck closed up the box, and tapped the lid, gesturing that the box would go with the bow. Keep it dry and in good condition. Buck had turned and started sorting through a larger box full of gimmicky “trick arrows” that would be used at showtime.

“My brother, Barney. He kind of needs some help with—“

“I know where this is going…No.” Buck Chisholm responded without even pulling his head out of the box.

The small boy looked stunned. “No?”

“No. You’re going to ask if I can work with him some more, maybe get him some ringtime. The answer’s ‘No’.”

“But why?”

Buck drew an arrow out of the box, and turned to explain to the child.

“Because above all else, when you step in that ring you gotta have complete faith and trust in that other guy who’s performin’ with you. You don’t have to like ‘em - God knows me and Jacques have our issues – but you gotta trust ‘em.”

“But Barney…”

“I like you, kid. But that brother of yours… there’s something in that kid. He gets bitter. Gets entitled. You’ve both been through the same crap, with the orphanage and foster homes and s*** before you found your way here and I get that. But you both handled it in two very different ways.”

Buck held the arrow up to Clint as if to demonstrate.

“Kid, it’s like this… you’re a pretty straight arrow, but your brother’s got a busted fletching. He’s weighted all wrong and if you don’t watch him, that boy is gonna drag you down. And what we do, kid… it’s a William Tell game we play, and the one place you don’t want to miss is low.”

“I can’t train him, because he don’t wanna learn like you, and even if he built a stable skill base I still wouldn’t trust him in the ring.”

Clint looked at his shoes. He’d failed. Now he’d have to find a way to tell his brother. He didn’t want to join the army, didn’t want to have to go.

But he would.

“Pick up the lip though, kid. We got showtime in 15. Straighten out the tunic and get yourself set. I think it’s time we went with the Splitter.”

“The Splitter..?” Clint looked on, almost in disbelief.

“Why not? You’ve been working at it. Been getting it perfect for the most part. We’ll use a drag Splitter for the first time. From the audience perspective they can’t tell no difference.”

The boy’s eyes were as wide as saucers and he hurried off to get ready.

* * * * *

Ladies and gentlemen! We have for you this evening, the amazing antics of Trick Shot and Hawkeye! The pair start off with some rudimentary stuff, hitting set targets, some joke stuff built in. Shooting a water balloon over a clown’s head who “accidentally” had his hair set alight, then shooting another water balloon over the head of another clown who is now laughing at his misfortune. Standard schtick.

Then the drumroll kicks in, and the boy’s heart feels like it’s keeping time with the snare.

Clint drew his sword, and took a stance some 20 yards from Buck. He exhaled and nodded. This was it, the moment was here.

Trick Shot drew a specific arrow from his quiver and pulled back the nock with taught string. Practice is practice, but there’s always the element of chance that something unforeseen could happen no matter how many times the trick was rehearsed. The drag Splitter would give the boy an extra few hundreds of a second to aid his reaction time, but it was still a dangerous stunt.

Buck released.

Clint swung.

Slt! Thk! Thk!

He did it! Clint sliced the special Splitter arrow right down its shaft and the two halves each hit a different target behind the boy. The audience stood as one with applause. Clint couldn’t keep the smile from his face.

It was a good night.

* * * * *

The blond boy burst into his brother’s room after the show, with excitement still in his veins and elation in his heart.

“Barney! Barney! I did it! We did the Splitter and I did—“

He saw a note on the bed in an otherwise empty room.

“-it.”

And for the first time in the teenager’s alreadytumultuous life he felt completely alone.

__________________
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16,18, not much difference mentally or physically. It's a number over there. Here however it's the difference between mid life crisis with hot chicks with daddy issues and pound me in the ass prison. - Anubis

More Anubis' greatest hits:
"Families are Gods way of teaching us to get along with people we don't particularly like."

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread



The motorcycle roared as it weaved in and out of the New York City traffic, the HAMMER helicopter keeping pace the entire way. The SUVs had fallen back, victim of the crowded city streets, but Steph knew better then to assume they wouldn't be back. HAMMER didn't give up that easily, especially if Victoria Hand knew Steph was in the city. Hand, the leader of HAMMER, was heartless. If she had the chance to get Captain America, she'd take it.

"Fury," Steph opened up her comm to Nick Fury, "where are you? I'm ready for extraction."

"No kidding," Nick's deadpan reply came over the comm.

"Hey, you were the one that said to be visible," Cap shot back as she took a hard right turn onto a deserted street. She saw a police blockade waiting for her at the other end of the block.

"That I did," Fury admitted. "I'm twelve blocks to the east of you. In an alley. You'll need to lose the chopper before getting to me, or we're not getting out of here."

"Copy," she closed the comm before reaching the police barricade. They steeled themselves thinking she would try to burst through, instead she made another sharp turn, taking a detour through an open alley, bowling over a pair of HAMMER agents. Two other cars gave chase, but they didn't stand much of a chance. She was too maneuverable, and that stunt in the alley helped her lose the helicopter. Another few dodges of the same type, and she was home free to meet up with Fury.

She found him waiting in the alley, parked in a tractor trailer. Steph drove up the ramp, closed the doors and commed into Fury, "I'm in, let's move."

**********

Nick Fury's Safehouse
Northern New Jersey


The news had been flooded with footage from Captain America's heroic intervention that saved the lives of dozens of innocent Americans and their response in protecting her right back. Pundits argued back and forth whether she was nothing more than an outlaw vigilante or something more dangerous. Some argued that these citizens were helping a known, dangerous fugitive. But the prevailing theme of the day was that Captain America was back, and she was protecting those that needed it.

"Good job, kid," Steph's mother said as she beamed at her daughter. The two of them looked very similar. Both women had striking blond hair and a strong, athletic build. Steph had also inherited her mother's ice blue eyes. "I'm so proud of you."

"It's a start," Cap nodded. "But I hate how there's some arguing I shouldn't have been there. Those people would be dead if I hadn't."

On top of that, Steph couldn't believe that no one was mentioning the fact that no one went after the members of the Fourth Reich that had escaped. They were the real problem, yet they weren't even mentioned. The thugs were just called random assailants.

"Misdirection and lies will take time to completely wipe away," Fury said, taking a seat next to the two women. "Especially ones that have been entrenched for decades by those in power. But we made one heck of a start today. I expected the reaction to be worse, initially."

"So what's the next move?" Cap asked Fury.

He furrowed his dark brow, causing the scarring around his eye patch to bulge oddly. He hadn't yet told Steph how he lost his eye, but he said it was in service to his country. The real question, however, was how it was possible that he had met her father. Steve Rogers was lost nearly seventy years ago. Fury looked like he was no older than forty-five.

"We need to start recruiting," he said after a long pause.

"I thought that was your department," Steph replied. "You already have all your contacts."

"That won't matter when the fighting starts," the spy corrected her. "We need people on the front lines too."

He wasn't wrong. Steph could do quite a bit by herself, but she couldn't be everywhere at once.

"Fine, but I want to look into the Fourth Reich, too," she demanded. "There's something about them I don't trust."

"I might be able to help with that," Sharon added. "A friend and the FBI was looking into them. I'll see what I can get."

"Sounds good," Fury nodded. "Now, we need to go meet with our first recruit. Name's Sam Wilson. I think he'd be right up our alley."

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Old 08-04-2014, 05:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

The Collector's Menagerie

"Nice digs, man."

The Collector led Quill through the grand reception of his space station, making grand gestures as he walked.

"This is but the entrance. The real delights lie through this gate."

They approached a huge metallic structure, a doorway sealed off with two layers of glowing green energy fields. As Quill walked through the first field, the green lights turned red, and a harsh buzzing sound started ringing.

"Woah! I didnt touch anything..."

"You will not be allowed to proceed further until you rid yourself of all inorganic material," The Collector explained from behind the doorway, "I apologise for the inconvenience. Please insert all weaponry, tools and clothing into the drawers to your left. You may retrieve them on your way out."

"Hold on a second, buddy, this wasn't part of the agreement..."

"You can't get out of the gateway on either side without complying, so you have little choice in the matter," said The Collector, smiling thinly, "I hope you understand... I cannot risk any weaponry or unwanted contaminants making contact with my precious collection."

Quill paused for a moment, assessing the situation.

"Fine. Just... no peeking at my butt."

Star-Lord sheepishly disrobed, wondering how much more humiliating this day could get. The Collector flicked a switch outside, and a fine mist sprayed over his body from all directions, likely some kind of quarantine process. Then with a beep, the lights turned back to green, and Quill was able to walk through.

As soon as he entered the menagerie, a helper droid approached Quill, offering him a silver jumpsuit to wear as substitute clothing. Quill slipped it on just in time for The Collector to enter the grand hall behind him, still dressed in his garb from before.

"Hey, how come you didn't have to ditch your wardrobe?"

"Every item on my person has been entered onto the database as approved, safe material. I never leave my home here, and so I am forever clean, with not one alien element to keep me apart from my treasures. Let me show them to you."

And here it was. A vast auditorium filled with what looked like glass display cases of all shapes and sizes.

"They call me The Collector because that is what I do. I collect. I house here the biggest collection of unique specimens in the cosmos. It is truly a rare gift you are experiencing, getting to lay your eyes on these delights."

Quill cast his eyes across the array of glorious, sparkling gems and diamonds, the awe-inspiring ancient weapons and stunning artifacts, a kaleidoscope of gold, silver, and shimmering colours Quill couldn't even describe. Then he looked at all the living alien beings sat in large cases the size of single-person cases, looking out at him with hopeless eyes.

"Rare, yeah, I'm sure it is," Quill muttered, before flashing a dopey smile at The Collector, "But I'm not really a museum guy, myself. All that high art and culture stuff goes right over my pretty little head."

Star-Lord winked at The Collector, who gave a barely noticeable roll of the eyes.

"I should have expected as much from a Ravager. Well, let us get to business, then. As you may have noticed, my fondness lies for the most unique of prizes, things that cannot be found anywhere else, that no one else has. I have lived for a long time, Mr. Quill..."

"Star-Lord."

"I have lived for a long time... Star-Lord, and so there is not much in this galaxy of ours that I would consider unique these days. But my surveillance networks on Knowhere have picked up two lifeforms that I find... most interesting."

The Collector produced a device from within his cloak, and with a click of a button, an image of a raccoon was presented to Quill.

"This creature goes by the name of Rocket..."

"A raccoon!"

The Collector looked at Quill with a touch of confusion.

"A raccoon?"

"It's an Earth-creature. A real pest in some places. Pretty common, actually."

"Ah. No, despite any similarity you may find to primitive Terran animals, Rocket is quite distinct. All the more distinct in that he appears to be a product of the experimentation on lower life forms conducted on Half-World, the only living specimen I am aware to have been discovered. I must have him."

The image of Rocket flickered, and was replaced by that of a giant tree-like creature.

"This is his companion, Groot. A floral colossus from Planet X. These creatures almost never leave their homeworld, so this one is very special indeed. My sources tell me they are frequent visitors to Knowhere. You are aware of Knowhere?"

Quill nodded.

"Starlin's is the finest drinking establishment in the cosmos."

"I shall take your word for it. Go to Knowhere, retrieve both these creatures, alive. Alert me when you have them in your possession..."

The Collector handed over a communicator to Quill.

"...and I shall give you the coordinates where you can find me. Payment will be 500,000 credits."

"500,000 CREDITS!?"

"Each."

"EACH!? That's a million credits!"

"I am a very wealthy man, Mr. Quill..."

"Star-Lord."

"...Star-Lord. I make sure those who do me a kind turn are well looked after."

Star-Lord cast one more grim glance at some of the mournful faces in cages.

Better looked after than some, he thought...

The pair exited the menagerie, and Quill put his clothes on once more. As he gathered up his possessions, he realised something was missing, and a tightness instantly formed in his chest. He rushed out of the gateway to find The Collector waiting in the entrance. Before Quill could say anything, The Collector produced, in the palm of his hand, the item Quill was looking for.

"I could not help but notice this amusing trinket amongst your possessions. An outmoded device for playing music back on your homeworld, yes?"

His Walkman. He had his Walkman.

"It is a charming little thing. How much would you be willing to sell it for?"

His cool demeanor slipping, Quill snatched the cassette player from The Collector's hands, fastening it onto his belt.

"Not for sale."

"My good man, you are a Ravager. Everything is for sale, yes?"

Quill didn't look back, marching towards the Milano with a steely glare on his face.

"Not everything."

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Old 08-05-2014, 07:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread



"You get woken up by the fire trucks for this dock fire last night? It wasn't far from you," Foggy says as he takes his normal seat across from Matt at their favorite diner. The two of them had come here every day since opening the firm. Jack, the owner, kept the booth open for the two of them as thanks for the business. The food wasn't anything to write home about, but Matt had to admit, they made a damn fine cup of coffee. Coming from someone with hyper sensitive taste, that meant something.

"Was already up," Matt shrugged, not lying. "I heard they found a bunch of drugs in there or something?"

"Yea, rumor has it the Maggia used it as a store house," Foggy nodded. "But of course with 'sloppy' record keeping and the cops doing a quick investigation, that's never going to be proven."

Matt nodded, but knew better. He had managed to hit one of the most important storehouses the Maggia had, and finally had his name out there. The family would no longer be able to ignore him. He had kicked the hornets nest. They knew he was dangerous, and they'd come after him.

And then they'd make a mistake.

"They know who did it?" he asked over the lip of his coffee cup, feigning interest.

"Speculation is rival gangs," Nelson shook his head at the thought, though. "But the security guard talking about a devil...I think they should be looking for an outside influence. Maybe a new vigilante."

"Like that Spider-man guy?"

"Yea, but this isn't his MO," Foggy shook his head. "I think we've got a new guy on the block."

Matt shrugged and took a sip of his coffee, "What an age we live in!"

**********

Silvio Manfredi sat with his head in his hand as he attempted to massage the headache away. This devil character had been a thorn in his paw for weeks, but he never thought the bastard would deal such a blow to his operations. He thought he was just some loon who would get shot before he did anything real. But here they were.

"What are we going to do about this?" Manfredi hissed at the group of men seated in front of him. His family had enough to deal with across the city with King Pin and Big Man's men. Having to deal with a vigilante on top of that would stretch their resources to the limit.

"Why don't we get the cops on it?"

"They've been on it for weeks!" Manfredi bellowed.

"What about the Enforcers?"

Manfredi smiled at the idea. The Enforcers had never failed them before.

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Old 08-07-2014, 12:12 AM   #12
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| Caracas, Venezuela
| South America

"No."

Twenty miles outside of Maduro's capitol, two men in black, nondescript suits sat opposite a barrel-chested Hispanic whose strung-out appearance did nothing to alleviate concerns over the copious amounts of heroine and ammunition lying around the opulent ranch-style house that resided behind guarded walls in a fortified compound. The drug czar's shirt was open, revealing a body that had - at one time - been impressively maintained. Now he was showing age, slowing from whoring twenties to rapidly approaching forty with every indication that he'd never live to see it.

"No. It is you who do not understand," the cartel lord snapped harshly, slamming the butt of the nickel-plated Glock that he was waving around as he spoke. "I am tired of having the terms of the agreement dictated to me by lackeys."

The two, roughly Egyptian-looking men exchanged a brief, almost bored, look between them.

The sound of a gunshot precipitated a splatter of blood along the back wall, as the suit on the left fell back out of his chair with a hole in his head. "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME!?" the drug czar demanded harshly, leveling the pistol at the remaining suit.

Nonchalantly, the man used the back of one hand to brush the flecks of blood from off his coat. Nonplussed, the olive-skinned man merely said, "Our employer is not in the habit..."

"**** your employer," the cartel lord screamed, pointing the pistol up at the ceiling. "That's right, cabron. ****. Your. Boss." Pounding himself on the chest with his pistol hand, the drug czar rose from out of his chair and stood, lording over the table, as he yelled, "I am Miguel Luis Escobar. And I refuse to accept this insult."

The man in the suit looked at the cartel boss with an expression that almost bordered on pity. "You... understand what you're asking?"

"Asking?" the cartel boss echoed, mockingly. "I am not asking," he barked firmly, leveling the pistol at the suit again. "My agreement is with Apocalypse. He wants to deal with Escobar? He will come to me."

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


| Akkaba, Egypt
| The African Nile

Thousands of generations before society as it was known now existed, he had been born here, in this place, this fertile crescent - the cradle of civilization - a slave.

His inheritance had been poverty, the scorn of men, and a life devoid of any higher meaning. He had been cast out before he had even left his mother's womb. Another slave, another worthless life, another piece of fodder to be used and discarded.

Yes, on the banks of this river he had learned many lessons about the value of life and the fickle nature of power. He had killed kings and crowned peasants, orchestrated the rise of innovative and benevolent monarchs... and then destroyed them with violent and oppressive uprisings.

Each tested the fabric of society, either expanding it beyond the limits of what it believed it could achieve, or else burning away the cancer eating away at it. Ensuring that which survived would be something worthy of survival.

The desolate sands of Egypt were a stark contrast from the lush green that spawned along the banks of the fertile Nile. The boy lay, relaxed, on a beach chair underneath a colorful umbrella, which shaded his ash gray skin from the bright sun overhead. A pair of board shorts left most of his body exposed, revealing the intricate, tattoo-like lines that decorated his body.

As it had always been.

As he had always been, since the dawn of modern man.

Resting back on the beach chair, the once and future ruler of Egypt scanned the Kindle that was propped between his hip and right hand, sipping on a cold bottle of carbonated water as the young-looking immortal perused an American treatise of the current state of politics in the Middle East.

Along this privately owned stretch of the Nile riverbank, the mutant overlord had no concern of being interrupted. For miles out, the only people in this part of the world were family. Descendants of the same Akkaba tribe that had birthed him three thousand years before a man named Jesus of Nazareth had even been born.

And still, he was interrupted.

The young woman's presence was noticed, but not addressed, the boy quietly continuing to read the Kindle until he had completed the chapter that he was on. And then, when that was done, he merely looked up.

The young woman immediately cast her gaze down, bowing her head so not to look at him. "Apologies, Ancient One," she offered in Arabic, the language of the second people to have conquered his conquerors.

Setting the Kindle aside, the boy flipped himself around so that he was seated upright, his legs thrown over the side of the arm-less chair. "What brings you to me?"

"The situation with the Escobar Cartel continues to be a problem," the woman reported succinctly, adding, "Your presence has been requested as part of the cartel's aggressive stance on re-negotiating our control over their operations."

Propping his elbows on his knees, the boy covered a fist with the opposite hand and then leaned his chin against his hand. He was silent for a moment. "What is the assessment of the removal of the Escobar Cartel?"

"Miguel Escobar has been careful to ensure that none of his lieutenants have either the knowledge nor the resources with which to challenge him. As a consequence, there is no single agent positioned to take control of the cartel's operations," the woman supplied in answer, keeping her head down as she spoke. "Escobar's removal would likely result in fracturing along family and locality ties, with violence escalating over a ten year period before control over the resources would stabilize and be consolidated once more."

"An appealing outcome then," the boy remarked flatly, looking up at the woman as he asked, "And what if the United States was the agent of removal?"

The audacity of that question, so simply answered by even a novice of international relations, nearly prompted the young woman to look up at him. Blushing in embarrassment at her faux pas, the girl bowed her head further as she answered. "Such a blatant operation inside Venezuela territory would be an incident in international media, Ancient One. I do not believe the sitting President would authorize such a risky endeavor for a single cartel boss. Or even a moderate-to-high level terror threat."

The black lines around the boy's mouth shifted as he smiled - a cold expression that was eerily similar to a serpent's smile. Standing, the boy left the water and Kindle behind as he stepped over toward the woman. "Then we will have to appeal to their American sensibilities," the immortal stated with a touch of mirth. Cupping the woman's chin in his hand, the boy tilted her head up so that he could look her in the eye as he asked, "Do you still have that friend at the NSA?"

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


| The National Security Agency
| Washington, DC

"...Charlie-two-five, this is Tango-nine-four. We have visual. I repeat, we have visual on the target."

The audio feed was crackling over the speakers recessed into the walls and ceiling of the situation room, as a pair of suited agents with Secret Service badges heralded the arrival of an even more familiar suited figure who needed neither a badge nor introductions.

"What's the situation?" the President asked simply.

A balding man in a dark suit, surrounded on ether side by generals, glanced up from a series of monitors depicting satellite imagery of a compound-like house in a forested area. Gesturing to the large screen on the far wall, the man looked at the President and answered, "Mister President, this is a live feed from an overflight into Venezuelan airspace. One of our deep cover informants just tipped us that ESN is meeting with one of the Dark Rider's money laundering agents. A cartel operative named Miguel Escobar."

Even without his Chief of Staff there to run the lexicon for him, the President indicated an understanding of the term. ESN. The three letter abbreviation for one of the more enigmatic financiers of 9/11. Evan Sabahnur. "Do we have confirmation?"

It was one of generals that answered. "Mister President, we still have no idea what ESN looks like."

So, no. No confirmation that their target was actually there, and a lot of hell to pay if Venezuela - or anyone - discovered that the United States attempted a drone strike in South America. "How reliable is this information?" the President asked, shifting the thought process slightly.

"It's the best lead we've had since Cairo in 2009," the bald man stated, tapping a pen against the desk before adding, "Mister President, that was the last time we had any indication of movement by ESN. He's a ghost. This may be the only chance we get."

"Charlie-two-five, this is Tango-nine-four. The vehicles have stopped outside of the meeting location. They are exiting the vehicles. I am transmitting images now."

The bald man was on the move before the speaker had finished the last statement. "Facial recognition," he remarked, propping himself up over the shoulder of a female analyst. "We have anyone from Cairo?"

It was a minute before there was a response, as the woman worked at shifting the different images through filters and programs, scrubbing the data and then running comparisons of a database of terror suspects. "I've got seven possible IDs," the woman remarked finally, before pausing again to narrow the search. "Three matches from Cairo..." she began, only to trail off as one in particular flashed across the screen. Turning her head, the analyst looked up at the man with a grave expression on her face. "Sir, we've got KBR."

This time the President didn't get the reference. Seeing the man's perplexed, and annoyed, expression the bald man clarified, "Kabar Brashir." When the President's look of mild annoyance grew even more so, the bald man elaborated further. "He's one of ESN's top generals. Our analysts report that the Dark Riders call him War."

Pausing, the bald man looked at the file photo on the analyst's screen and then up to the satellite imagery of Venezuela. Finally, he turned back to the only man in the room whose opinion mattered. "Mister President, ESN is there."

All eyes shifted to the one person in the room who wasn't wearing any kind of ID badge on his suit.

Finally the President spoke. "Pull the trigger."


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Old 08-07-2014, 02:23 PM   #13
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ROCKET RACCOON
One of a Kind - I

Knowhere. No, not nowhere...KNOWHERE. You know, the floating severed head of an ancient god?!

"Groot, ol' buddy, ol' tree." Rocket stood on Groot's shoulder, looking out over an enormous crowd of mingling customers of all shapes and sizes. "This place is as close to home as we are ever gonna get."

Groot grunted as he gently nudged by a rather imposing looking man with bright pink spikes jutting out of his forehead. Knowhere was one of the few places where Rocket and Groot didn't stand out. Well, sure, they stood out anywhere they went, but Knowhere was like a central transportation hub for this entire quadrant. Anybody travelling a considerable distance in the galaxy would pass through Knowhere eventually. As such, it was constantly inhabited by just about every species, race, genus, shape or flavour of sentient scumbag you could imagine. Rocket and Groot, although unique to Knowhere, were no more out of place than that weird blue lump that was cussing out a vendor for selling him bad Sludgehorn.

The two figures eventually made their way to a small hut on the edge of an alleyway. To most passers-by, it would have looked like a little miniature house of some kind. To a Terran, if one were to ever come around Knowhere, it would have looked exactly like a doghouse made of battered scrap metal. Above the door, in Russian lettering, was one word. "Kocmo"

Rocket jumped off of Groot's back, landing with a light thud on the floor in front of the ramshackle residence. "Hello?! Hey Cosmo, it's your old pals, back with a delivery!"

<Gryzun i sornyakov vernulis.>The voice echoed in Rocket's head as the telepath inside the shack spoke to him.

"Funny, pal. I'll have you know my universal translator works in your crazy Terran Russian language too."



Suddenly, an emaciated golden retriever in a white spacesuit emerged from the doghouse. He wore a scowl across his face, letting Rocket know he was his usual chipper self. <Good. Then you can understand me when I tell you of your horrific odor.>

"I am Groot."Cosmo looked up at Groot, who leaded down and scratched behind Cosmo's ear. For a brief moment, he allowed himself to be overcome with glee as Groot scratched behind his ear.

<It is nice to see you also, Groot. Cosmo does not know why you hang around with this vermin.>

"I am Groot," Groot said with a shrug and a smile.

Rocket waved his hands in the air in exasperation. "Alright, enough of the touchy-feely pleasantries! This is business!" He turned to Groot. "Keep an eye out while we take care of the transaction, would ya?!" Groot sighed and nodded, turning his back to the doghouse and back to the crowd. "And don't look so tense! You need to blend in. If you're just standing there people will know what's going down!"

Groot turned back and looked at Rocket, then back to the crowd, awkwardly not knowing which way to stand. Rocket sighed, muttering under his breath. "I broke him again." He ran his hands over his face in frustration. "Just...STAND here. Watch people. If they try to come inside, STOP. THEM." Groot smiled and nodded, turning back to the crowd. "Excellent!" He then turned and walked past Cosmo and through the doorway. "Let's get this done. I give him three minutes before he pisses off that Dorgonian across the street."

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Old 08-07-2014, 08:45 PM   #14
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Prologue


"Melting pot Harlem—Harlem of honey and chocolate and caramel and rum and vinegar and lemon and lime and gall. Dusky dream Harlem rumbling into a nightmare tunnel where the subway from the Bronx keeps right on downtown."
-- Langston Hughes


Harlem.


There's nowhere else like it in the world. I always hated history in school, but I loved listening and reading about the history of this neighborhood. A bunch of Dutch settlers founded Harlem as a village way back in 1658, named if after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Back in the day everyone from Alexander Hamilton to Harry Houdini called Harlem home. It's where Jim Reese Europe invented Jazz music. It's where Norman Rockwell, that guy who painted all those pictures of happy white people, was raised.

In the early 20th century black people began flocking here in en masse to escape the Jim Crow south. Sometime during that migration a twelve year old boy from South Carolina by the name of Joe Lucas made his way up to Harlem. He'd be my great grandfather. Joe was here during the Renaissance, when Louis Armstrong blew his horn and Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred. The 20's and 30's were filled with beauty and intense horror. For every Marcus Garvey or Lena Horne you had gangsters like Queenie St. Clair, the Madam of Harlem herself, and Bumpy Johnson who ran numbers and pushed Horse for the mob. The speakeasies and underground jazz clubs in Harlem were the best in the world during Prohibition. Naturally white people came running. The Cotton Club, located in Harlem and built on the backs of every great Jazz musician of the day, was white's only. We were good enough to smuggle the booze, serve it, and even sing while they drank it but we sure as hell couldn't sit beside them and drink it.

The sixties brought Frank Lucas, the man who ran the East Coast heroin trade and forced the mob to bend the knee. Civil Rights and rent strikes existed concurrent to Lucas' drug empire. Half of the neighborhood were getting their heads stomped by riot police, the other half were blasting hypos full of heroin into their veins. Cheap and strong heroin gutted the neighborhood. Junkies and unemployment plagued Harlem over the years. Crime got so bad that anybody with any kind of money got out while the getting was good. Upper and middle class flight meant that only the poorest and most desperate were still around in the eighties.

That was when I entered the scene. Crack was king when I was growing up. Plenty of people I went to school with and knew around the neighborhood chased the rock until there wasn't anything left of them but skin and bones, so empty you could hear their insides echo when they walked. Those of us that didn't smoke it ended up selling it. I was sixteen years old when I left school for good to work on a corner. Four years of ripping and running on the streets and I got pinched. The funny thing was that, for all the crap I did as a corner boy, I actually went to jail for something I didn't do. Ten years away and I came back to a different Harlem. It was still tough and dangerous, but it was on the comeback. Good people were tired of how it was around here and wanted to change it. Right now they're trying to turn things around without reverting to the soul destroying process of gentrification, but it isn't easy. There's a lot of money to be had in that game. The temptation to gut that old rowhouse and turn it into a yuppie condo is fierce. But if there's one thing I've learned about Harlem over the years is that the people are tough. Black don't crack, and it certainly don't run.

Through good times and bad times, Harlem still survives.



****



Harlem, Manhattan
9:22 PM


Greasy moo goo gai pan was my dinner that night. Red Dragon's on West 131st Street near the playground. Mr. Hsu always made a new batch of it whenever I walked in, my ongoing payment for helping him out a few months ago when I stopped a would-be blackmailer from trying to extort him. Turns out the old man was in America illegally after he jumped ship on a barge in San Diego thirty years ago. A little flexing of my muscle and the blackmailer stepped off and handed over what he had on Hsu. The old man to his credit turned himself over to immigration who decided he'd been in the country too long to deport. Also didn't hurt that he was the rare illegal that paid taxes. For helping him out I get half off moo goo gai pan and get to make eyes at Hsu's hot daughter while she works the register.

There was a pretty steady rain outside that night. That's usually good news for everyone. Rain means the gangbangers are too scared to go out, lest they get their sneakers dirty, and the cops aren't up to getting out of their cruisers unless they really need to so they avoid banging people up on the small fry stuff that really pisses off communities. My previous observation was contradicted almost at once. Two NYPD patrol cars with rooftop lights flashing sped by the restaurant. Like I said, the rain is usually good news but not always.

Joannie Hsu rung my meal up without giving me her number once again. That's alright, I'd ask again next week. I walked out into the rain and pulled my yellow hoodie up over my head. There weren't many people on the street, but the few that were all headed in the same direction: down the street and around the corner. The corner blocked the sight, but I could see the blue and red flash of police lights reflecting off the buildings.

A few minutes later and I stood in front of police tape. My hood kept my head dry against the slow pitter patter of rain. The crime scene was at the playground just around the corner from the Red Dragon. Two uniformed cops kept the small crowd gathering back from the scene but everyone could see through them to the white tarp covering a dead body sprawled out in a sandbox. There were murmurs and talk rippling through the crowd. I didn't take part, but I listened and got the gist. The body under the tarp was Bobbito Garcia, seventeen years old and a nearby resident. Someone said he had his girlfriend with him when he got shot, someone said they heard the shots and turned around to see Bobbito falling to the ground and an unknown shooter running from the scene.

A detective in a cheap suit walked trough the crowd, flashing a badge. I started to fade back into the crowd to avoid being seen. The less police attention I attracted, the better. From my vantage point I could see the crime scene and the few places the officers had protected from the rain. Bobbito's body was covered, as was a small space I assumed covered up the murder weapon. A plastic baggie lay on the ground with a small card inside. I couldn't make out the words scribbled on the card, but I saw the logo in the middle of the card as clear as day. A bright red crown, dripping blood.

Who murders a seventeen year old kid execution style and leaves a calling card?

I didn't know, but I was going to find out.


Luke Cage
Hero for Hire

in

The King of Harlem

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Old 08-08-2014, 02:52 PM   #15
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Default Re: Rise of Marvels: Year One -- IC Thread

Knowhere



The severed head of an ancient Celestial, floating at the edge of the universe. But really, it's a lot more homely than that description would suggest.

Star-Lord paced through the bustling marketplace, knowing that the people (if you could call them that) he was looking for would be close by. Then, he spotted one of them. Even amidst the collection of weirdos and oddballs that Knowhere attracted, a giant, humanoid tree stood out. Quill marched towards him.

"I am Groot!"

Groot stretched out his branch-like limbs across the doorway he was standing in front of, evidently thinking that Quill was trying to get past him.

"Woah, woah, easy there, big fella. The name's Peter Quill, though you're likely to know me by the name... Star-Lord."

"I am Groot?"

"Yeah, you said..."

Smiling up at the strange creature, Quill rested his hand on the gun on his holster. Time to get down to business...

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Old 08-09-2014, 06:13 AM   #16
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| Caracas, Venezuela
| South America

The line of black Cadillac Escalade SUVs and expensively appointed sedans rolled through the open gates of the compound. It was the kind of motorcade expected of a head of state. The fact that Evan Sabahnur was the name of an individual that no one had heard of prior to September 11, 2001 begged the question: How did he have these kinds of financial resources? Where had he come from? And why had no one known about him until now?

As the vehicles stopped just outside the massive, double doors which led into the hacienda, Escobar's rag-tag band of miscrients filed out with submachine guns and AK-47s slung across their bodies, forming a slovenly guard between the vehicles and the house as the richly appointed dark suits began filing out of the vehicles.

None of them appeared armed, but all of them seemed dangerous.

Dark hair slicked back into a pony tail that reached down to his shoulder blades, an Arab looking giant with a goatee got out of one of the Escalade's. Kabar Brashir was a descendent of the Akkaba bloodline that had originated with the Pharaoh Menes, his family remaining in Egypt through the Roman Conquest and subsequent Arab invasion. He was a barrel chested man whose musculature threatened to rip the seams of the Armani suit that he wore, as the man casually adjusted his tie and proceeded into the house with only a handful of his entourage trailing behind him.

Through the scope of a modified M-14A6, the Marine Recon operative concealed in the foliage overlooking the ranch-style, fortified mansion, moved carefully to snap pictures of the men getting out of the cars. And then, reaching a hand up to a laser device on the side of the barrel, spoke into his radio transmitter and said, "Rough Rider, this is Tango-four-nine..."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
| USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71)
| Caribbean Sea

"Rough Rider, this is Tango-nine-four. The target is lit. Over."

The warm, equatorial ocean waters parted in a white capped wash as the massive aircraft carrier cut through the high seas. On the flat deck which distinguished the mobile air operations terminal, a crew of brightly color-coded Sailors prepared a drone for launch.

Up in the pilot house, a man wearing twin eagles on his collar turned away to look over at his executive officer. "Confirm execute order."

The commander spoke into the red phone for only a moment, before holding the receiver away from his face as he announced, "Sir, I have a confirmed execute order from National Command Authority."

The captain's face remained stoic as the weight of his next order weighed on his conscience. "Launch the bird," he ordered finally.

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

| Caracas, Venezuela
| South America

The Horseman known as War strode through the cartel lord's house, rising up the marble, spiraling staircase until he arrived at the upper room where a Dark Rider lay dead and a second merely stood, awaiting the inevitable. The latter of which respectfully bowed his head as Kabar's dark gaze fell upon him for a moment.

And then he looked over at Miguel Escobar.

"So, Apocalypse at last," the drug czar remarked, standing up on trembling legs as he sniffled and wiped traces of a white powder away from his nose. Looking the powerful, suited figure up and down, the drug lord almost laughed. "And unarmed," the Venezuelan commented, whipping his Glock out and leveling the pistol at the Horseman's head. Drawing back the hammar, the cartel boss uttered, "You have a lot of cajones to come here."

"You have bigger ones to have invited me."

The voice was not Kabar's. It echoed from behind, spinning the drug czar around to discover a gray skinned boy sitting in the chair which the drug lord had occupied only moment's earlier. The dark haired, skinny youth was dressed in the same dark style of suit as the others, save for that he wore shorts instead of trousers. Like a schoolboy.

The drug lord stagged back, laughing even though it was clear that he was not amused. Gesturing vaguely with his gun, the man turned his head back toward Brashir and demanded, "What is thi..."

The drug lord stopped in mid-sentence, his jaw going slack as he turned his head and realized there was no one there.

"That was my associate, Mister Brashir," the boy's voice, raspy and almost otherworldly, announced, turning the man's attention back to the pale youth. "My name is En Sabah Nur," the youth announced, rising from out of the seat and smoothing out the front of his suit coat. Raising his eyes to meet the drug lord's, the boy said, "But for the last eight hundred years, men have called me Apocalypse."

The false smile fell away from the cartel czar's mouth, instead twisting into a snarl as the man leveled the Glock at the youth's head. "Adios, chico."

He pulled the trigger.

...and nothing happened.

"Modern weapondry is its own enemy," the youth remarked flatly, casually clasping his hands behind his back as he lectured the drug lord almost like a teacher talking down to a pupil. "Complex machinery has many potential points of failure. I prefer more direct means of attack."

Like a child throwing a temper tantrum, the drug lord slung the useless pistol at the boy like a broken toy. Contorting his body, the youth casually ducked out of the way of the flying Glock, watching with thinly veiled amusement as the cartel czar rushed at him.

Before the drug lord could have reacted, an arm whipped out from behind the boy's back, an elongated hand wrapping around the man's head as the youth lifted the cartel boss up...

...and then slammed him to the floor in a single motion.

"You judge me by my size?" the youth snapped, mockingly. As he spoke, the boy's form began to fill out and grow, expanding upward and outward until a massive, muscular form reared up to the twelve foot ceiling. "Then perhaps this is more fitting to what you believed I would look like."

As the ashen giant's now massive hand closed around the upper body of the struggling cartel lord, Escobar continued to fight in vain while the immortal mutant effortlessly lifted him up and began to walk him back toward the exit of the house.

The appearance of the monstrous mutant sent cries of terror through the rag-tag army outside, as the stucco of automatic weapons fire rained through the open doors into the house. Without breaking stride, the immortal continued walking forward, as bullets rained to the floor. The brass compacted as though the bullet had struck some kind of invisible wall.

"You wanted the Apocalypse to come to you. Look now and look well," the immortal giant roared, hefting the man's body up so that he could see through the open door up to the sky above. As he continued to struggle, the man winced at the bright sunlight and saw only that.

And then a dark spot.

Growing larger, and larger.

"THIS is what the Apocalypse brings!"

The drug czar's struggle abated as realization set in. In the last seconds of his life, the man screamed.

The sound was engulfed in the explosion, as his body melted down to bone as the fires swept across the compound and consumed the house.


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Old 08-09-2014, 11:18 PM   #17
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The King of Harlem Part 1
El Barrio



Spanish Harlem
12:37 PM


It's officially East Harlem on all maps and zoning documents, but everybody knows this area's true name: Spanish Harlem, El Barrio. Hard to believe it but in some places Spanish Harlem is rougher than Harlem. Poor latinos, working stiffs, and gangsters alike all shoved up under each other in public housing can only lead to clashing. El Barrio is a lot like Harlem was a few years ago, rough but proud. They're either too proud to run or too stupid. I suppose in the grand scheme of things pride and stupidity aren't too far apart.

The victim of last night's murder was from both Harlem and Spanish Harlem. Bobbito Garcia had a black mother and a Puerto Rican father. He grew up near Marcus Garvey Park, the dividing line between the two Harlems. The kid was apparently a hell of a pitcher with a fastball so fast that it was getting several long looks from college and MLB scouts. In both neighborhoods every boy clings to the dream of sports as their ticket out regardless of how remote the possibility. Hell, I was three years into my prison sentence and still thought I had a chance to go the NFL. Pipe dreams are often just that, but Bobbito had promise... and then he had all that potential got snatched away in the blink of an eye. His life, and everything it may have amounted to both good and bad, was gone.

That afternoon I found myself in a back alley near a fruit market. It was the weekend so the sidewalks near the market were bustling and alive with people enjoying their weekend. A few street artist had set up near the market and were playing salsa music. I had a fresh apple in my hands that was half eaten. The unmarked police car pulled off the street and into the alley as I was going in for another bite.

"Cage," Sergeant Marcus Stone said as he got out. "Am I late? I forgot which street you said."

"It's cool, you ain't that late."

Stone works as a detective in the 28th Precinct, the NYPD's central Harlem headquarters. Like me, Stone was born and raised in Harlem. Unlike me, Stone was able to graduate high school and move on the NYPD academy. He's the supervisor of a four man detective squad working out the 2-8. Stone's a good man. His detectives? Eh, they leave something to be desired. Now the NYPD's official line on costumed vigilantes and other people like me are that they are taking the law into their own hands. Thankfully Stone doesn't look that way. We have a deal that I help him out in any cases he catches, ones he doesn't think his men can solve, and they get the arrest. I get police info and they get the stat. Everyone wins. I like to think of myself as an... aggressive confidential informant. Last night I texted him about Bobbito Garcia. Another squad caught the murder, but Stone said he'd help me out anyway.

"Here," he said, passing me a manila folder with the NYPD logo stamped on it. "Can't let you keep it, unfortunately. but it'll give you enough to go on. You probably have a better idea of what to do than Hitchcock or any of his detectives."

I grunted and took the file, tossing the half eaten apple into a nearby trashcan. The papers inside the file left something to be desired. Two pages on the crime scene, a sole page devoted to the bullet trajectory of how Bobbito was shot. The report indicated that he was shot in the back at close range, no shell casing found on the scene so a revolver is suspected as the likely murder weapon. The trajectory and statements from two eyewitnesses at the scene verified the rumors I heard in the crowd last night about Bobbito being shot in the back and the gunman running.

"What about this," I said, showing Stone the photo of the bloody crown card.

"No idea," Stone said with a shrug. "I think the detectives in Hitchcock's squad were putting in some calls to the Street Gang Taskforce, see if they had any logo like that on file. I thought at first maybe a new logo for the Latin Kings, but who knows anymore."

"Hold this." I handed Stone the photo while I pulled out my phone. "I can't keep it so I'll take a picture."

The picture taken, I gave the file back to Stone. He tucked it under his arm and leaned against his car.

"You know the deal, Cage. You find any kind of viable lead or suspect and you send it my way."

"You know I will. I know you're not working on this case, but what do you think? I asked around last night and this kid seems like he had a good head on his shoulders."

"Good kids don't get killed gangland style," Stone said with a shrug. "I hope to God I'm wrong. I'd be a goddamn tragedy for a kid like this, someone on the way out, to do something stupid and get themselves killed.

"On the surface Bobbito appears to be that rare innocent victim you sometimes see pop up. Mostly around here the people who get got have had it coming for quite a long time." I paused and then slowly nodded "Cases like this are why I started doing what I'm doing. True victims out there who can't get anybody to speak for them, you know?"

"That why?" Stone asked, a switch seeming to flip his face from normal to impassive. "Or is there another reason? Altruism is noble, but I often find guilty is a much more powerful motivator."

I shrugged. "You're right. Thanks for the info, Stone. I'll be in touch."

"Mmm hmm," he said with a suspicious eye.

I pulled my hood up and walked down the alley into the throng of people gathered in and around the fruit market. Stone's files didn't give me much to go on, but I was able to get another look at that card. With the people I know, that should be more than enough to get the ball rolling.

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Old 08-10-2014, 05:59 AM   #18
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Somewhere in deep space...

Peter Quill once again found himself steering the Milano into the docking bay of The Collector's space station. But this time he wasn't alone. He looked across at Rocket, strapped into the seat across from him, his hands and feet bound together in shackles. Quill flashed a smirk at him?

"You ready for this?"

Rocket merely let out an ill-tempered growl in response.

"Should have put you in a container box," Quill muttered to himself.

The Milano landed, and as before, The Collector was waiting for him, hands clasped behind his back. Quill led Rocket out of the ship, a blaster pointed at his back.

"Stay back from this one, bro," Star-Lord called over to The Collector, "He's a biter."

"Marvelous!" The Collector exclaimed, "What a delightful addition to my collection! He'll look most charming on display."

The Collector, who had been pretty reserved on their first encounter, now seemed positively giddy with excitement.

"This way," he said.

Quill and Rocket were led over to the two-level security gates leading into the menagerie that Quill had passed through before. This time, a security droid was waiting in the quarantine zone to transfer Rocket into storage. Quill hung back this time.

"I'll wait outside today," he said, "I'd rather keep my guns on me 'til I'm paid, if you don't mind."

So Rocket went ahead into the quarantine zone. The scanners confirmed that he had no non-organic weaponry on him. He did have some cybernetic implants, however, which the server droid manually processed as a non-contaminant, while disinfecting his clothing. Rocket cast one more look over his shoulder at Quill, before being led out of the quarantine room, into the menagerie, and out of Quill's line of sight.

"Well, half your fee is settled," The Collector replied, "But you had two targets to acquire for me. Where is the flora colossus?"

"Groot? Yeah, about that..."

Star-Lord shifted uncomfortably on his feet, scratching the back of his neck.

"You better come with me. I'll show you."

The Collector followed Quill back over to the Milano. Quill disappeared inside for a moment, then returned with a large box.

"I was able to get Rocket to come quietly. But the big dumb tree wasn't as smart as his buddy. Tried to make a move on me, so I had to... well..."

Quill dropped the box at The Collector's feet. Inside was a clustered heap of shattered branches and twigs. The remains of Groot's body.

"If you've got a bit of superglue and a lot of time, you might still have enough to put on display, right?"

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Old 08-10-2014, 07:20 AM   #19
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Today.

Darkness. Silence.

Hard rock blasts through the silence, an eye opens and a hand slams down on the snooze button on the standard issue alarm clock.

Clint Barton sweeps the blankets back and reveals himself to a new day. He gets to his feet and moves to the window, opening the shutter. An albatross seems to hover no more than 15 feet away outside. He taps on the glass and the bird veers away. With a smile he puts on the H.A.M.M.E.R uniform that’s balled up on a chair in the corner. He loved the view and found himself needing to find the silver lining more and more before suiting up for duty. When H.A.M.M.E.R first recruited him things seemed very different, there seemed to be more of an honour to it. When you’re joining an organization put together in response to a flying crazed fishman in scaly hotpants threatening to sink Manhattan, there’s a bit more honour to it than chasing around people born different... or this new girl who claims to be the descendent of Captain America.

Barton had made mention of these concerns in the lunchroom one day, suffice to say he’s been a lot more cautious about where he expressed those sentiments since then. Never let it be said he wasn’t a fast learner.

Checking the small standard issue mirror, he checked his uniform and then looked to the closet with a smirk.

* * * * *

“BARTON!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Must I remind you daily that that mask and tunic are not standard issue!?”

“Is H.A.M.M.E.R planning on relenting on its fascist, confining uniform regulations?”

“Barton...”

“Then it would seem that the answer would be ‘Yes’, sir.” Barton gave a smirk.

“Go and get changed...”

This little song and dance had been taking place daily since Clint enlisted. His superior had even arranged for all first briefings to take place 15 minutes earlier just to allow time for it. He had of course gone above and reported this to his own superior, but Clint Barton had a skill set that was deemed too valuable to be lost on minor technicalities such as uniform indiscretions.

Basically every day, Barton could come down to first briefing in the same circus getup he had every day, and so long as he got changed immediately after being ordered to he would evade the greater charge of Insubordination.

Clint jogged back to his quarters and returned his mask to its resting place and his tunic to its hanger, before jogging back to the briefing.

“... you go with Cho. And finally, since you’re now back, Barton, Romanovich you’ll be on the ground. Standard sweep, make your presence felt. It’s a major holiday weekend, keep Times Square safe. Wear the uniform with pride...”

One of those days, huh. They went through this daily, but usually Koening wasn’t so smarmy about it. He’d normally just let it slide.

“So, you’re with me again? Lucky me.” Romanovich said.

Clint couldn’t pick up any sarcasm on the comment, but it was often hard to get a read on Natalya Romanovich. Red-headed and stunning, Clint chose to believe there was no sarcasm and quickly dispelled his thoughts on Koening. The pair had worked before and worked well, Romanovich an expert on infiltration, slipping amongst the crowds and staying on top of situations undetected and Clint. Clint was a sharpshooter beyond all else. They’d probably work the same way again, Clint would secure an elevated position and steer Natalya to any threats via comm-link. Natalya would work the ground better than damn near anyone H.A.M.M.E.R has on payroll. A real pro. And not bad on the eyes either...

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Old 08-11-2014, 10:51 PM   #20
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The King of Harlem Part 2
Fast Break



Rucker Park
Harlem
4:30 PM



Remember earlier when I was talking about the history of Harlem? Rucker's one of those landmarks that's just as important as something like the Cotton Club or Alexander Hamilton's home. If Madison Square Garden is the basketball mecca of the world, then Rucker is the Sistine Chapel of playground hoops. Yes, I understand they're landmarks of two different religions but I'm the narrator here so shut up. Everyone from Jordan and Kobe to Magic and Bird have all passed through Rucker at one time or another. Back when the NBA and NCAA were tight-asses about the rules, Rucker was the one place a baller could let it all hang out and play his game. It's where Kareem perfected the skyhook, it's the launch pad where Dr. J first took flight. It's also where my snitch happens to spend his Sundays.

I rolled through the park that afternoon to find a good size crowd at the court. Sunday pick up games in the fall are usually devoid of any serious pro ballers, most of them are away getting ready for the upcoming season. At most you'll find a few pretty good college players and the usual pack of talented street ballers. I hung back in the crowd and watched the better part of the first half before slowly making my way over to DeJuan. He was too focused on the game to notice me come up from behind. He didn't even turn away from the court until I touched his elbow.

"What the fu--," he started before he saw me. "Cage..."

"You got money on the game?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

"What do you think?"

I looked over DeJuan's head at the sight of a boy about 5'5 crossing over a man a foot taller than him and dashing towards the hoop for an easy lay up between two taller defenders.

"I hope you got the team the little guy's on."

The look on DeJaun's face answered that one for me. I started to guide him away from the court to the fence around the park. He shrugged out of my touch once we were at the fence. He leaned against the chain-link and stuck his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. Trying to mug tough is DeJuan's MO.

"What the hell you want with me?"

I pulled out my phone and showed DeJuan the picture of the calling card with the bloody crown on it.

"Recognize it?"

"No," he said too quickly.

"No wonder you always broke, boy. As bad a poker face as you got, you might as well give them your money."

DeJaun sucked his teeth and looked away, cursing under his breath.

"A boy died last night, DeJuan. Not much older than yourself. He got killed by someone running with this crew."

"I don't give a damn. World's tough, s*** happens."

The thing with DeJuan is that he sometimes needed a firm touch. I popped my knuckles loudly. The hardened skin made the pops sound like the loud ding of an aluminum baseball bat. DeJuan continued to look away, but his hostility melted away.

"You getting your jaw shattered and having to eat through a straw is s*** happening too."

"Look," DeJuan finally said. "All I know is I seen that logo on some tags up at the Wagner homes. All I heard is that it's territory for some new crew, and that's it."

"Alright," I said with a slow nod. "I find out that's a bunch of bull and I will be back. Believe that."

DeJuan scuttled off back to the crowd watching the game. I couldn't see what was happening, but the gasps and cheers told me someone had just dunked. I hoped it was the team DeJuan had bet against and started for the nearest bus stop headed downtown.



Robert F. Wagner Houses
8:08 PM



I had my hood up while walking through the project courtyard. The projects here are a war zone, one of the few remaining bastions of the old ripping and running drug trade of the 90's. NYPD and the politicians promise every year to clean it up and clear the criminals out, but they never do. Lots of good people living here, lots of bad people too. Clockers on the stoop of every building, kids acting as runners carrying bags of product from the stash house to the dealers out front. I get a lot of hard stares, but nobody tries anything. They know I ain't 5-0. but they also know I ain't someone to take lightly. Halfway across the courtyard DeJuan's info paid off. A bright red tag on a wall, a crown with blood dripping off of it. Twenty yards away from the tag were a crew of five clockers sitting on a stoop, drinking malt liquor and BSing.

"You up?" one of the kids asked. He looked about all of thirteen. "You deaf, *****? I said you up? What you want? Crack, coke, speed, weed?"

"Which one of y'all is running this crew?" I asked the pack of kids.

"Yo, what the **** you care for?" the same kid trying to sell asked. "You one of them civic pride having *****s? Want to do a citizens arrest, *****?"

"Need to stop using that word. You call yourself and each other *****, makes it even easier for a white man to call you that."

The crew busted out laughing wildly. Laughing too loudly to be genuine. It seemed more exaggerated. False bravado like DeJuan's resistance at Rucker. They want to show me I'm a fool and that what I'm saying don't mean a damn thing to them. Finally, one of the older boys in the crew stepped forward. Maybe sixteen with a lazy eye and a Melo Knicks Jersey, I had six inches on him, but he still eyed me up and laughed.

"Yo, listen to this Fredrick Douglass mother****er over here. Spouting all that we shall overcome ********."

"I'm starting to lose my patience with you little--"

"Keep talking," the droopy eye kid said as he pulled a pistol from his waistband. "And you gonna lose your ****ing life, *****. Now, walk it off mother****a before the Kings **** you up."

I moved before he could even register it. The gun went off as I snatched it out of his hand. The bullet hit my forearm and bounced off the skin, burying itself somewhere in the brick of the apartment building. The crew of dealers looked on shocked as I crushed the gun with my bare hands and tossed it on shocked.

"Now, which one you little mother****ers is gonna tell me about the Kings?"

"SCATTER!" droopy eye shouted.

The five kids all took off in different directions. I cursed under my breath and took off after the older kid in the Knicks jersey, hauling ass across the courtyard to catch him before he disappeared into the the projects.

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Old 08-14-2014, 08:53 PM   #21
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Wilson and Son's
Philadelphia, PA

The three fugitive agents pulled up to a garage with rusting, rotting cars stored in back. It certainly looked like it had seen better days. Still, there were newer cars being worked on by the two men bickering back and forth. One was Sam Wilson, Fury's contact, and the other was his father. Sam had been a pararescue trooped in the Army Rangers during the conflicts in the Middle East before requesting a discharge after the death of his rescue partner.

"That's the guy then?" Steph eyed the mechanic suspiciously. He didn't look like anything spectacular. As a Ranger, he was bound to be skilled, but to fight HAMMER they needed a lot more than a few skilled soldiers.

"He's got more to him than he lets on," Fury said, getting out of the car.

Steph nodded to her mother as her and Nick approached the two men, the older of which hopped up and approached them with s friendly smile, "What's up, folks? Need help with anything?"

"Actually," Fury started, "I was hoping to speak with your son, Mr. Wilson."

"Nick Fury," Sam Wilson said, realizing who had come calling at his business. He looked over at Steph, and instantly realized who she was. "Why don't we step inside? Get a little more comfortable."

Once inside the office of the garage, Sam took a seat. It was obvious he was a soldier. He had a strong build, and carried himself with confidence. Once he was situated, he addressed Steph, "Out in public after the stunt you pulled the other day. You're braver than I thought, Captain America."

"Just trying to do my job, Sam," she responded, shrugging her shoulders and pushing up the ball cap she had been wearing low over her brow. "Being out in public is kind of the point. The more HAMMER knows I'm here, the more uncomfortable it makes them."

"And what do you want with me?" Wilson asked, more or less seeming sure of the answer.

"We want your help, of course," Cap answered him.

Wilson looked up to Fury, his eyes narrowing, "Nick, you can't be serious."

"Have you ever known me to joke, Wilson?" Fury responded. "We can take down HAMMER. You of all people should know the kind of fanaticism that runs that place. They're vulnerable to a guerrilla effort."

"And what, we're gonna be the guerrillas? Me and Captain America here?" his voice rose. "And you. You're going from being the pawn of HAMMER to being Fury's lap dog?"

Steph clenched her fists in anger. Who was this guy to throw accusations at her?

"I'm no one's dog," she shot back. "I'm doing this because I've seen the real HAMMER. I've seen what they do to innocent families. I've seen the prisons, the experiments, and the plans for the future. If we sit around and do nothing, a lot of innocent people will suffer. I'm not one that's gonna sit by and watch us degrade into a police state. Freedom is every person's right, no matter what genes they have."

"And what makes you think you'll be able to do anything about it?" Sam shot back, looking down and wringing his hands. "I was told I'd make a difference in the army. All I did was get my best friend killed and sent back here like trash dropped off on the street. If it wasn't for my old man who knows where I'd be."

"What you went through was hell, Wilson," Fury agreed. "But this is an opportunity to make things right. You didn't kill your partner. You didn't decide to go on that mission. They were orders. Orders handed down by HAMMER."

"History has shown us time and time again that a small group of people can change everything, Sam," Steph added. "Hell, my father and the Howling Commandos helped turn the Nazis back nearly on their own. We could do the same thing, and inspire the world to join us. But we can't do it alone."

Steph leaned back and saw the conflict raging within Sam Wilson. Fury hadn't told her what happened on the fateful mission that killed his partner, but he mentioned it wasn't a normal assignment. Survivor's guilt was hell, Steph was sure. Even though she had no desire to go back to HAMMER, there was still a twinge of guilt for betraying the one friend she had there. The look on Romanoff's face when Steph turned on the organization was burned into her memory.

But to lose someone you had worked with so well for so long must eat away at your soul.

"I can't," Sam shook his head without looking up. "I'm sorry, but I can't. It'd put a target on my old man's back, and I dunno how I'd live with myself if something happened to him."

Captain America was about to say something when Fury shook his head at her, silencing the superhuman. "I understand, Sam. I hope you think about it some more, though."

Then, Sharon burst into the office frantically, "You're not gonna believe this, but the Reich just showed up in Philly. They've taken hostages at Independence Hall."

"Get the car started," Steph said as she stood. "I'll get my gear on."

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Old 08-17-2014, 09:06 AM   #22
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| Celestial Ship
| Above the Arctic

The outline of a monstrous creature took shape out of the light, as the immortal mutant was transported from the fires of Venezuela to the ancient starcruiser that hovered over Earth's icecaps. Steam rose from off of charred flesh, as the gargantuan form began to collapse and compress itself back down into the more familiar shape of the gray-skinned youth. Holding out his limbs, the ageless mutant grimaced against the feel of his burned skin as he stretched and flexed. Pieces of burned flesh dropped from off his body, revealing new skin underneath as his mutation kicked in to replace and recycle the injured cells.

It was a very uncomfortable sensation.

So he was not entirely in the mood for an assassination attempt.

The flash of a blade catching the light gave away the otherwise fluid motion, the boy pausing just long enough to appreciate the fact that the technique was one that he had taught. Holding out a hand, the young ancient allowed the blade to strike him, impaling through the flesh of his palm as he elongated his fingers to wrap around the offending hand wielding the dagger.

And then he pulled his arm back, wrenching the knife and the hand holding it to one side. As the hand was twisted with the movement, the boy felt the bones and connective tissue in the wrist snap, and heard the man's squeal of pain.

"Pathetic," the youth snapped coldly, casually stepping from off of the teleportation platform and leaving the injured War to nurse his broken wrist. Of course, the boy would have been disappointed if anyone hadn't tried that.

The rule of survival of the fittest required it.

He'd been injured in the explosion at the cartel house in Venezuela. It was only a matter of course that one of his Horsemen would seek to exploit that injury as a weakness. Sadly, it was not. As War rose up to strike at his back, a telekinetic backlash knocked the Egyptian mutant back down. Pausing in mid-stride, the youth turned to direct his scorn at his blood descendant.

Another attempt like that would be a mistake.

His unvoiced message delivered, the immortal pharaoh stepped from into the adjoining chamber. "Ship, Mister Brashir has business elsewhere," the youth announced coldly. Even though he did not direct his words to the man now behind him, the intention was well and clear. It was an invitation to get off his ship. "Please see to his safe transport there," the youth added vapidly, noting the sound of a door closing as the Horseman took the hint, along with his leave, from the dark lord.

Discarding what charred or smoldering remains lingered of his clothing, the youth donned a robe from one of the ship's internal lockers and made his way through the interior of the vessel. "Summary of current media," the youth ordered coolly.

"The continued genocide in Dafur and South Sudan continues to get some media coverage."

The black lines that marred the boy's face turned up slightly at the announcement. "Death is doing good work for us there," the immortal mutant noted smugly.

"A new outbreak of the avian flu virus in China has down attention for a potential epidemic."

"Pestilence wastes no time."

"A suspected drone strike on a Venezuelan cartel lord has drawn attention and criticism. Venezuela is already accusing the United States of the attack."

"Only two remain,"
the youth noted cryptically, as he proceeded further inside of the dark, labyrinthine ship. "Famine and War."

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Old 08-18-2014, 02:22 PM   #23
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ROCKET RACCOON
One of a Kind - II

Location: Some weird museum in deep space...

Rocket stumbled along the walkway and toward a metallic structure, with green energy field serving as the gateway. He kept uncharacteristically quiet. He was not in a talking mood right now.

As he walked through the first field, the green lights flashed red and a loud buzzing echoed in his ears. "What the frack is it now?"

A hovering metallic orb with two extendable arms entered the scanner and began waving two appendages around him, scanning him further. "INORGANIC MATTER DETECTED. PLEASE REMOVE ALL CLOTHING AND PROSTHETICS."

Rocket stared at the drone, exactly where a face would have been if this thing had a face. "Do you know what I am? They're called implants for a reason. I ain't gonna be gettin' rid of 'em." He waved his paws in the air, rattling the shackles. "It would be nice if you could get these off of me though."

The drone hovered for a moment, seemingly pondering the comment. "AFFIRMATIVE. BE ADVISED THAT THE PREMISES IS GUARDED BY SECURITY DRONES. ATTEMPTED ESCAPE WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE PAINFUL SEDATION AND PUNISHMENT." A beep came from the shackles, and the opened and clanged to the floor.

Rocket grunted. "So much for hospitality."

The drone continued to wave its hands around Rocket for a few more seconds, then fixed upon his belly area. "FOREIGN ORGANIC MATTER DETECTED."

Rocket dragged his paws over his face in exhasperation. "It's called lunch, you idiot."

The drone again sat there, pondering, with its stupid faceless orb of a body. "AFFIRMATIVE. PLEASE ADVISE ATTENDING DRONES WHEN EVACUATION IS NEEDED."

"Evacuation? You mean I can just leave?" He suddenly stopped, realized what the drone meant. "Oh you mean tell you when I have to take a s***?! Thanks, but I'm a big boy. Just give me a good magazine and I'll call you boys when its time take it away."

The faceless imbecile sat in an idiotic stupor for another few seconds before responding, "AFFIRMATIVE. PLEASE REMOVE YOUR CLOTHING." The energy fields remained red while the floating orb waited for Rocket to strip down.

"You gotta be frackin' me." The orb didn't move, so Rocket stripped down naked and the orb picked up Rocket's clothes.

"PLEASE PROCEED TO DISPLAY 4A-3. THE SECURITY DRONE WILL ESCORT YOU. ENJOY YOUR STAY." The red field in front of him became green once again, and the floating ball bearing returned into a small hole that opened up in the wall.

Rocket walked through the second green field and into a large museum open area. Waiting for him was a drone nearly identical to the previous one, although this one had additional ports on the front of it. Rocket made a mental note: Drones most likely carry a bunch of weapons and sedation equipment.

"Please follow me." This drone's voice was much more natural than the previous drone, but also completely gender neutral. He couldn't tell if it was supposed to be an androgenous women, or a really feminine man. Then again, the Collector appeared to be like that too. Huh. Rocket made another mental note: The Collector and his security drones were hilariously gender ambiguous. Then again, this one was a floating ball, so maybe it was male. If you're a giant floating testicle, does that mean you're male?

Rocket followed the drone in between glass cases of different alien specimens until he reached an empty one with an open door. The drone motioned for Rocket to enter. When Rocket stopped to stare into the tube of smokey green glass, the drone bumped into him with his ridiculous ball of a body, shoving him into the tube. As soon as he was inside the tube, the hole quickly sealed, and the glass became much easier to see through. "Welcome to your new home, Rocket." If that stupid faceless steel testicle had a face, Rocket was sure it would be smirking like an idiot. "If you need anything, please let us know."

Rocket plopped down on the metallic floor of his new home. The cold metal chilling his bare behind. "How about some friggin' water?" With a whoosh, a port opened up on the floor, and a bowl of water rose from the floor. "Nice...a water dish. You know, because I look somebody's pet. How about a glass?" Again, the floor opened, and a tall glass appeared.

Rocket sighed, slumped up against the glass, now taking time to remember his busted up old pal, Groot. He poured the water into his glass, and raised a toast. "Here's to you, old buddy." He kicked back the water, letting himself feel the water trickle down his throat. He then began pacing back and forth, humiliated and angry, staring out into the museum around him, taking inventory of his surroundings. It was only a matter of time before he got out of here. He just needed to wait for something inside him to strike with the exact way to get out of here. Suddenly, it did, and it hurt, and he felt something rising up from his throat.

Rocket fell to all fours, and violently vomited once. He panted for a moment, wiping his face. The fur around his mouth was already wet. "Aw frag...this sucks." He lurched forward again, his stomach feeling like it was turning inside out as he vomited again. This was going to hurt.

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Old 08-19-2014, 03:33 PM   #24
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"What have you done, you fool!? You were supposed to bring him back alive!"

The Collector was furious, pushing past Quill to gape in horror at the wreckage of splintered branches that had once been Groot.

"Easier said than done, pal," replied Quill, "A raccoon, sure, you can bundle over your shoulders and drag into your ship. You try doing that to a tree."

The Collector kneeled down over the splinters, a look of sadness on his face.

"Such a disappointment. This rarest of creatures, which could have been preserved and protected by me... now it is gone forever."

Quill patted The Collector on the back.

"There, there, big guy. If it makes you feel any better, I'll use some of the bounty money I get for bringing him here to plant a shrub on Knowhere as a memorial or something..."

The Collector spun round, angrily batting away Quill's hand.

"Do not touch me, mortal!" he spat, "You believe that you deserve any money for this disaster?"

"Hey, hey, you never specified that the vegetable had to be alive. I'll raise my hands and say he's in... less than pristine condition, but I still deserve at least half."

"Ah, yes, half. I find myself doubting whether you either deserve the half of the payment gained from bringing Rocket to me."

"Oh, that half I'm not counting. I know you're not stiffing me out of that half. What I mean is that I'm owed half the fee for the late Groot..."

Before The Collector could let out an exasperated reply, there was a mighty crash from inside the menagerie. Both Star-Lord and The Collector froze in shocked silence, then exchanged worried glances.

"Rocket!" gasped Quill.

"My collection!" exclaimed The Collector.

He charged ahead, pushing past Quill and running ahead of him through the doorway. He was in such a hurry to see what was going on inside his menagerie that he didn't notice Quill wasn't running behind him. When The Collector entered through the first door of the gateway, the lights turned red and a warning siren blazed.

WARNING! INORGANIC CONTAMINANT DETECTED!

The Collector was trapped between the gateways, baffled by this turn of events.

"No, you are mistaken. I am The Collector! I have no inorganic contaminants on my person. Let me in... let me out!"

But the same reply boomed overhead.

WARNING! INORGANIC CONTAMINANT DETECTED!

The Collector didn't know it, and might not figure it out for quite a while, but he did have an inorganic contaminant on his person. Quill had put it there, when he patted him on the back. The tiniest of microchips, barely visible to the human eye, given to him by Cosmo when they were concocting this crazy scheme. Quill had slipped it into the lining of The Collector's coat. He'd take his sweet time finding it.

"Oh, man," said Star-Lord, swaggering up to the doorway, "That must really suck. You know, like, being stuck on display in a little cage, like you're some animal in a zoo?"

The Collector's eyes widened, realization dawning on him.

"You! You did this, Quill!"

"Me? No way! I'm just a dumb, uncultured Terran... no way I could outwit The Collector, right? And I told you... the name's Star-Lord."

Star-Lord flashed a wink.

"I'm sure you'll find your way out eventually, or you'll get through to some manual override to release you. You're a smart cookie. But I'll be long gone by then..."

Quill smiled mischievously, pointing past The Collector into the menagerie.

"Me and my new pals in there."

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Old 08-20-2014, 01:16 PM   #25
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Rain.

I have no idea why but it has always been a comfort to me, felt right, almost like a security blanket. Thunder never frightened me and lightning only ever dazzled me as it danced across the sky. Medicine is more like a hobby sometimes, compared to storm watching for me. When the sky opens up and pours down, there's nothing like it and I could watch it for hours. It's hard to do that though when you're on call in NYC as an EMT.

The pressure is always on when you come to the scene. People are crying, screaming. It up to you to keep a level head.

"Callahan, what's happened?" I call over the noise of sirens and shouting, Callahan's an old beat cop. We somehow end up at a lot of the same scenes when people get hurt in this city. He holds out an arm, puts it on my back as he guides me to a van that's been turned to a steel girder pin cushion. Jesus.

"Crane gave out, dropped its load and the girders came down into the streets." We keep approaching the van, the sound of a woman screaming and a child in pain rise up over the rest of the noise. "Mother got out pretty much fine. Kid's caught in the back, leg crushed."

I swear under my breath, mom wouldn't appreciate that really but I can't help it when I peek my head inside the only way in, it once was a window in the top, but now its a smashed out doorway to the inside of this deathtrap. I can hear the instability in the girders, every so often the grinding becomes audible as they weight down on each other.

"Hey there," I start talking to the kid, let him know I'm there and hopefully, by talking to him, I can get him to focus on me and not the fact his leg is under a steel girder and crushed into a thousand little pieces. "My name's Jake, what's yours?" He looks up at me, his eyes are filled with terror. It's a look I've seen in countless people's eyes when I come crawling through some hole in debris. Not that I've crawled through a lot of those. I've seen more gunshots, more stabbings than I have car wrecks and construction accidents in the last few years. World's coming down around us isn't it?

"Kevin." That's all I can get out of him for now.

"So, got a favorite sport's team, Kevin?" I take a look around. Yea, his leg below the mid-thigh is pretty much destroyed. He's slipping into shock I will have to move fast.

New York General Hospital, 1.5 Hours later

It wasn't an easy thing to do, taking a kid's leg like that. But I did save his life and God willing the surgeon will be able to re-attach the limb and Kevin's chances at joining the soccer team won't change any.

As the day winds down, I head into the locker room I'm punching out, going home for some sleep. On the way I pass Jane Foster and give her a smile and a little wave. Her return of the gesture brings the flutter of butterflies in my belly. I won't lie, I have a major crush on the lovely doctor. She's smart, professional, beautiful, her patience is even worth note. Her father had been a physicist, a brilliant one. He was a former teacher at Empire State University. His good friend Erik Selvig and my former attending doctor from medical school, Abner Corvo, seemed to be a triumvirate when it came to teaching in this city. Being one of their students was a guarantee of success in the field. I could have been a doctor, white coat, nice office. But I'd rather be out there doing the good where it needs doing than waiting in the hospital to treat patients.

This time of night the locker room is empty. People coming and going as they start and end their shifts. In the shower I wash off the stink of sweat and what I've crawled through. Rust, dirt, blood. I wouldn't change what I do for the world, but you never want to go home smelling like a seven-year old's arterial blood and the dirty and rusty insides of a punctured van.

Dressed and on my way out I literally bump into Darcy Lewis. She's an intern at the Hospital, her attending is Jane Foster, and she's one of the most impulsive people I've ever met in my entire life. Whatever she has on her mind comes out of her mouth. Sure sometimes it can be cute, or sweet. Her mouth has also gotten her in trouble once or twice.

"Hey, watch where you're going." That snappy little comment is the first thing that comes out of her mouth. I open my mouth to apologize, but she keeps going, smiling as he recognizes me. "Hey,you're that EMT guy crushin' on Doctor Foster."

"Uh yea." It might be one of the worst kept secrets of all mankind that the EMT has a crush on the doctor. It sounds silly and like what you would hear from school girls gossiping.

"Might have a shot if you worked out or somethin'. I think she's got a thing for muscles." I push past her towards the door, Jane is nice, her intern, she's cute but I could live with running into her less. "Catch ya later!"

"Thanks, yea, you too." There's three friends waiting for me at the bar. Can't be late for weekly fun can I? I'll never hear the end of what I missed.

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C.Lee once fought President Washington in a no-holds-barred cage match. He lost and was cursed with immortality.
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